The Immortal Hulk #1
Written by Al Ewing
Art by Joe Bennett, Ruy José, and Paul Mounts
Lettering by Cory Petit
Published by Marvel Comics
‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10
Going back to the character’s roots, The Immortal Hulk #1 sees writer Al Ewing and artist Joe Bennett provide a fascinating take on Bruce Banner’s alter ego. With inker Ruy José and colorist Paul Mounts rounding out the art team, the debut issue delivers the goods promised by the premise. This is a horror comic, and an exciting take on the character.
After a quote by Carl Gustav Jung, Al Ewing’s story for The Incredible Hulk #1 begins with a line, “There are two people in every mirror.” This line calls to mind every run on Hulk, and even the take in the movies (Ewing will later explicitly refer to Hulk as “the other guy”). But what’s fascinating is how Ewing takes these tropes and turns them on their head. Hulk has always had a Dr. Jekyll/Mister Hyde aspect to his character, but here that is dialed to 11. Calling back to the original appearances of Hulk, Banner no longer turns into the monster when he is angered, instead rising only with the night – a werewolf of gargantuan proportions and cunning intellect.
Joe Bennett’s take on Hulk is truly horrifying; with a deranged grin that menaces the page. It’s one thing for Hulk’s giant frame to be imposing, but Bennett’s lines make Hulk more frightening once he starts speaking. Bennett frames Hulk as criminals see him, a towering figure, engulfed in shadows. As a way to emphasize this monstrous take on the character, Bennett finds a way to fit in a moon, giving the scenes a gothic feel.
Ruy José’s inks add a tremendous amount, not only to Hulk himself, but to the shadows of the world he inhabits. Color artist Paul Mounts does a fantastic job making these scenes come alive in a surreal way. From the purple glow of police lights flashing, to the bright green eyes that emerge from Hulk’s furrowed brow, the colors build a great atmosphere. It’s the combination of these two aspects that really helps The Immortal Hulk succeed as a horror tale rather than a “creature feature.” For comics to create terror they need the artists to build and maintain the sense of tension and Bennet, José, and Mounts all do a superb job with it.
While references are made to the Avengers, The Immortal Hulk #1 feels firmly in its own horrific world. The issue is focused on building up this new take on Hulk, and it does a fantastic job at it. In a nice wink to the ‘70s TV show, Ewing does introduce Jackie McGee as a reporter who is covering the aftermath of Hulk’s wrath. It’ll be nice to see how she uncovers the mystery, especially as most of the world believes Banner is dead. Future issues will also have to address how the series will maintain its horror-bend if Hulk ends up facing off against supervillains or other heroes. There’s not a lot of Banner in this debut issue, but what is there hints at how he will be haunted by Hulk’s actions.
A debut that delivers on the horror elements promised, The Immortal Hulk #1 is a great new direction for Marvel’s green behemoth. While there are some questions that future issues will need to answer, Al Ewing, Joe Bennet, Ruy José, and Paul Mounts all contribute to a fascinating tale about power and those who choose to wield it.