The Hulk is one of the more complex characters in the Marvel Universe. It’s a pretty simple premise: a mild-mannered scientist becomes a gigantic Frankenstein monster of anger. It’s also one that’s endlessly been reshaped and changed over the years, so much so that a character who can’t seem to get along with people is now an Avenger proper again and has a legacy. But sometimes there are characters that can indeed benefit from a new coat of paint and a fresh start. Al Ewing takes a pretty simple premise: the Hulk can’t die and manages to make quite a comic out of it.
Ewing has managed to write pretty brilliant team and ensemble comics such as Ultimates, Mighty Avengers, New Avengers, and Rocket previously; but what’s the approach with a comic where the lead character is alone and can’t die? The answer is pretty simple: see the consequences of his anger on everyone else around him. The comic hearkens back to the more hard-traveling Bruce Banner of several decades ago and in the Bill Bixby/Lou Ferrigno TV show. That influence is pretty clear with a more familiar Banner who’s wandering alone and can’t help but be caught in the gravity well of human cruelty.
What makes this issue work is that Ewing goes out of his way to remind you just why the Hulk is terrifying. The last decade or so has relied upon the Hulk whether it’s been Banner, Amadeus, or Ross fighting people at their weight class and then some, the comics understandably to some degree moved away from the Hulk as a destructive force. What Ewing does to make this worse is pretty simple: sending the Hulk up against people who are completely helpless against him, in their shoes he’s far more frightening than any supervillain. Moreover, opens up the question of whether what the Hulk is even doing is justice when lives are ruined in his wake.
Now the other half that makes this work is the art. Joe Bennett and Ruy Jose do a great deal of selling the tension that keeps this comic humming along. The early gas station robbery is a chilling sequence that keeps you pretty worried about what’ll happen next. For that matter Bennett does one of my favorite renditions of the Hulk in ages. It’s one that’s far closer to the classic version of the Hulk than we’ve seen recently between Banner or Amadeus. That vision of a giant inhuman beast with a sinister smile on his face is genuinely terrifying and disassociates from the films in a meaningful way. Paul Mounts’s darker lighting in the nighttime sequences help move the comic into the realm of horror, which is quite necessary given the comic’s premise. If you’re looking for a fresh comic, or just a Hulk comic in general, you’re really not going to go wrong with Immortal Hulk.
4.5 Graves out of 5