After reading Essential Iron Man vol. 1 I started in on this guy. Some of The Hulk's origin and early adventures were quite intriguing. It didn't matter to me that it was black and white (although you do miss a bit of the flash and awe of the art with black and white). I think some of the stuff is funny (like Hulk transforming at sundown in the very early issues). The episodes with iconic characters were of more interest to me. General Ross, The Leader, and Abomination all great. I'll admit I tended to glaze over some of the episodes with lesser villains whose names escape me.
After The Avengers came out I bought this, Essential Iron Man Vol. 1 and Essential Thor Vol. 1, and if i were to recommend one, it would be Thor. Although they are all worth a read. Due to how much I like them I will continue to pick up the Essential volumes.