I tire of hearing this. At the end of the day, Thor is as much a fantasy as Batman; you get out of what you put into either. Yet I can't necessarily deny an affinity for Marvel's conflicted image of Spidey saving the world while ruining his personal life on a daily basis. I do believe that the DC characters are more affecting once a writer finds a way past their iconography (see Kurt Busiek's Superman: Secret Identity, or The Dark Knight Trilogy, for two examples), and reveals the twinned angst and hope that fuels all superheroes. But honestly, asking me to choose one corporation or one set of characters over another is asking me to stop talking to you pretty much immediately.
Because I demand much more than simplicity and tropes from my superhero comics. I demand the artists working on them have something to say about things that have existed in American culture since the 1930's. I was pretty much done with comic book movies last summer, as they'd fully adopted the lazy plotting of mainstream comics storytelling. I'm tired of DC's marginalzation of its female fans (though there's one bright spot lately). I'm tired of people complaining about comics going pop culture (it was extremely popular stuff once upon a time, folks). What I still love is the work itself, when people are trying something fresh and unexpected.
And that's where the Hulk comes in. Or, more simply, Bruce Banner, the Smasher's alter ego:
"Hulk breaks, Banner builds." That is Bruce's mission statement. Waid is putting Bruce front and center in this story. Bruce is the hero, not the misunderstood Hulk, though the accomplishments of both sides of his personality are given equal merit. Waid digs into the character's roots to get at something fundamental -- that we all fight demons, and Bruce's physical fight for control of his body mirrors our everyday struggles without having to get too literal about the metaphor. (For a different take on the Hulk, follow this compelling creature.)
Elsewhere at Marvel, Hawkeye's precise target-based perception taunts his inability to make good choices in his personal life, and Professor X's mentally imbalanced son tries to do some good after years of being a jerkface. At DC, Batgirl rises above her post-traumatic stress and Superman experiences alienation in a city of millions. Such problems are relatable, but they often come to us through flights-and-tights-focused glasses.
This is the true power of superhero comics to me. To be theatrical, to transport, to surprise visually as well as emotionally, through carefully chosen obstacles. If we split things down company lines, or movie lines, or even trope lines, we're losing what's unique about the medium: that conflict can be ridiculous and still hold water, that it can be magical and still tell us something about ourselves. That we can build something even after we break it.
And I guess I just needed a minute to say that.