PopCultHQ received an advance review copy of IMMORTAL HULK #2 from Marvel Comics. Available July 4th, 2018, the creative team for this series features writing from Al Ewing, art from Joe Bennett, inks by Ruy José, colors by Paul Mounts, and lettering from VC’s Cory Petit & Travis Lanham.
Here’s PopCultHQ’s review of…
Immortal Hulk #2
Page Count: 23 Pages
Print Release Date: July 4, 2018
A random small-town tragedy. A mystery illness that spreads with grief. A green glow on a lonely mountain. Three puzzle pieces that fit together to make a nightmare. And the only mind on Earth than can connect them up…belongs to the Immortal Hulk.
PopCultHQ’s Comic Book Review:
Immortal Hulk #2
The Incredible Hulk has always been something special to me. Ever since I was a child, growing up with Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno on the small screen as Doctor Banner and the Hulk himself. Jumping into the comic with the arc by Bill Mantlo and Sal Buscema and filling in the earlier issues as I go. The Hulk was my ‘Gateway Drug’ into comic books.
When they ‘cured’ Bruce Banner of being the Hulk for the backstory of the whole ‘Totally Awesome Hulk’ to make room for Amadeus Cho, who became the new totally awesome Hulk for a while back when Marvel was going all diversity crazy. It wasn’t enough, they went a step further and killed off Bruce Banner in Civil War II. Apparently he wasn’t completely cured, as his death was arranged between himself and Hawkeye. This was just to insure that Cho could remain the current Hulk without being hindered or having to live in the shadow of the original.
Well, with Incredible Hulk #717, Cho is through being the Hulk as he allowed his inner, darker Hulk to take control, and with the help of the Champions and Captain Marvel, Cho and his inner Hulk were merged into one being much like the 90s Professor Hulk incarnation. This ejects Cho from the series and also ends the title but Immortal Hulk carries on with the Legacy number of Incredible Hulk as 1/718.
But HOW does he Come back?
In All-New Avengers, we see Banner’s body being resurrected by the Hand and a zombie Hulk being dealt with. Brother Voodoo puts Banner’s body and thus spirit to rest. We watch him walk off into the Afterlife. Then during Secret Empire, Arnim Zola is able to resurrect Bruce Banner and the Hulk for a unspecified amount time. Now, Hydra Cap can try and win him over by allowing him to extract physical revenge on the ones who shot an arrow through his eye. However, as Zola mentions, he didn’t imagine this Banner would remain for long or Kobik placed things right and returned Banner to the grave. Then in Avengers #684 during the ‘No Surrender’ story arc, the Grandmaster resurrects the Hulk to use him against the Avengers, referring to him as ‘The Immortal Hulk!’ The issue even begins by examining the various times throughout the Hulk’s history, which he should be dead but he is not by some saving grace or just explained by his own Gamma-charged healing factor.
The real culprit behind Banner’s resurrection is Al Ewing. The writer even lends a hand with his (Hulk) return in Avengers, thus creating a very flawless transition from the end of Avengers – No Surrender right into his Immortal Hulk #1. It’s just about flawless! Immortal Hulk #1 was a decent read, if not for the fact of having Bruce Banner back, but that was last month. This month brings us forward with Immortal Hulk #2!
Immortal Hulk sees Banner traveling from city to city, town to town, much like his old television incarnation. Even so far as to include a female reporter named McGee, very much in homage and inspiration from the same TV show.
“All that a man hath will he give for his life.”
It’s a quote from the Bible, Job 2:4. The second issue opens with this biblical quote which reflects on the story at hand. This is akin to the pilot of the TV series title card, “Within each of us, oft times, there dwells a mighty and raging fury.”
And not only do we have that, but we have the comic version of a villain from the TV show for the first time in Incredible Hulk history. The town Banner wanders into has a plague of deaths and dissaperances. A high school star quarterback named Del Frye died as his father, a scientist, Doctor Frye was trying to cure his son’s radiation. Del Frye was the was the caretaker of the Clive Estate in an Incredible Hulk two-part story called ‘The First’. In these two episodes, Banner comes to a lone town which has a history of its own monster like the Hulk. Here, Banner learns that Clive had tried to heal Del Frye’s arthritis with Gamma rays, only turning him into a Hulk-like creature. Doctor Clive also cured Del, which has Banner interested! Del convinces Banner to redo the experiement in an attempt to help cure him, but tricks Banner and once again becomes infused with Gamma rays and turns back into his own Hulk, which is a darker, distorted version of Banner’s monster. Of course, MacGuffins ensue, Del dies, and Banner is left without a cure and has to move on before reporter Jack McGee shows up.
So back to this issue, Banner looks to investigate as he realizes the grave of Del Frye emanates low levels of Gamma rays. Banner alerts the proper authorities, but goes looking for a green flash he saw on his way into the town. It’s here on a mountain that Banner confronts Doctor Frye and learns that he first experimented on himself. He also explains how his son died. The Hulk then makes him answer for his ‘crime’.
The way the Hulk deals with Doctor Frye is complex. No real fists are thrown. This Hulk is…different. Perhaps changed by death and resurrection? This Hulk is very akin to the old days of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, like the Hulk from those first six issues of The Incredible Hulk. Remember, the classic “Don’t make me angry” Hulk didn’t show up until Tales to Astonish #59-63, when anger was first used as a trigger of the change. This new, darker Hulk is intelligent, he seeks not so much vengenace but balance. He wants to even the scales for whomever has wronged.
In the begining of the issue, Banner is being driven, influenced by where he goes. As he sits on the bus and sees the Hulk’s reflection in the window as his own, he suddenly feels uncomfoatble on the bus. He can’t sit, his narrative is even ‘Message received,’ the Hulk is influencing him. It’s interesting to see the Hulk and Banner in such an…understanding and almost camaraderie. As a matter-of-fact, the Hulk tells Doctor Frye, “Don’t bore me with all that science stuff. Science is the other guy.” Not punny Banner, not someone he hates, simply just the other guy. As if the Hulk has come to finally understand his relationship with Bruce Banner.
Speaking of relationships, even though Banner is miantaining a downlow, he mentions he will eventually contact Better and Leonard. It would also be interesting to see what and how Banner feels when he learns Rick Jones is dead from the events of Civil War II as well.
I hate critizing artwork unless it’s really terrible. And Joe Bennett’s pencils are anything but bad. His work has a simplicity to which is added depth by the inks of Ruy Josè. Add the attention to color scheme, especially for the Hulk by color artist Paul Mounts, and you are left with an awesome package. As stated earlier, the combination of Bennett, Josè and Mounts gives us a Hulk who is very much the spitting image of the Hulk from the Stan Lee and Jack Kirby era! As a matter of fact, who is to say that this Hulk… isn’t that Hulk?
PopCultHQ’s overall assessment:
I know I look forward to more issues of Immortal Hulk (although I wish we’d simply get “Incredible Hulk” back as the title) by Al Ewing. It very likely could be Mr. Ewing will become the next Peter David if he can keep this atomosphere up.
Okay before you yell that I’m utterly bias and maybe I am… but in an age of diversity out of control and having to endure almost 3 years of a Hulk I didn’t ask for, THIS – even with 2 issues of his own series and the lead in from Avengers: No Surrender – THIS Hulk is MY Incredible Hulk, even if the book is called Immortal Hulk. I feel as if I know him and understand him. Al Ewing’s also brought a breath of fresh air. I felt the first issue was a bit lacking but this issue definitely makes up for it! Get on this book NOW while you can!
IMMORTAL HULK #2 can be purchased on ComiXology and available
at your local comic shop and online retailers on Wednesday, July 4th!
Be sure to follow the creative team!
Writer – Al Ewing
Letterer – Cory Petit
Letterer – Travis Lanham
Publisher – Marvel Comics