“Green door. What’s the secret that you’re kee-ping…” The question of what’s been behind that door has been haunting the edges of this run ever since it (unofficially) kicked off in Avengers: No Surrender, with Bruce Banner returning over a myriad of resurrections after his death in Civil War II. But while Banner can die, the Hulk never can, which the title and Al Ewing’s writing have done their best to drill in since issue #1. While the past two issues have focused on Banner’s journey to find solace in his (or rather the Hulk’s) inability to die, while his other half meted out questionable punishment to the people he deemed deserving, this issue takes a different approach giving four different points of view on one of Bruce Banner’s encounters with another gamma-irradiated being who’s seen the door. In addition to the regular art team of Joe Bennet, and; guest artists Leonardo Romero, Paul Hornschemeier, Marguerite Sauvage, and Garry Brown illustrating different points of the same day.
Al Ewing’s work has never been a stranger to long-term plotting. Going back to his run on Mighty Avengers everything has fed into something else. Though Immortal Hulk has taken a bit of a different track so far in seeding one-off issues that lean on the same mystery one that’s more slow-moving, but still massive in scope, whilst evoking the tone of the classic Hulk stories and the Bill Bixby TV show. Ewing leans on the various viewpoints at play in this issue showing how the same meeting evokes different feelings in what the Hulk is. A man. A hero. The devil. A monster and so forth. But as always, the Hulk’s motives remain inscrutable to everyone that isn’t him, even without Banner being the reader’s primary narrator. It also doesn’t hurt that as always, the people the Hulk deems to punish are people he may be worse than, his primary method of interacting the world being ironic violence rather than empathy. In that regard, Ewing does a great job in writing a very engaging continuing story, one that seems rather Lovecraftian in scope.
Of course this issue doesn’t work half as well without the quartet of guest artists assembled for this issue; in addition of course to the regular team of Joe Bennett, Ruy Jose, and Paul Mounts. The division of labor between Leonardo Romero’s superheroic rendition of events via the Cop, Marguerite Sauvage’s more romance comic-oriented version of the Old Lady, Paul Hornschemeier’s Bartender, and Garry Brown’s more Frank Miller-esque grimy and gritty telling of the Priest’s version of events tell a very contradictory, interlocking, and rather unnerving puzzlebox of what actually went down at the church between the issue’s villain Hotshot and the Hulk. All told this run of Hulk while only three issues in is already looking like a real classic. Now is as good a time as any to jump into the pool. If you’re looking for a classic horror comic with a capital “H”, you’re in for a treat here.
5 Green Doors out of 5