Shot and bleeding out. Hunted by a menacing Bushwhacker. Observed by his mysterious would-be captors. Banner must fend for himself and survive… only… that’s not Bruce Banner.
If you thought that Al Ewing would forge his own legacy on the Hulk without showing love to what came before, this issue will prove otherwise. While the horror theme is a call back of sorts to earlier Hulk works, it’s Peter David’s run on the character that is the behemoth of Hulk history.
Maybe Ewing will one day eclipse even that if he can maintain this level of quality, but it may be an impossible task for a writer to beat his issue count. PAD stayed on the book for 12 years plus change. In that time, he worked with names like Gary Frank, Todd McFarlane, Dale Keown, Adam Kubert, Jeff Purves, George Perez, Sam Keith, Mike Deaodato Jr and more. He took the character through countless creative iterations from rampaging brute, to Vegas bruiser, to the professor that you may or may not have seen on the big screen lately.
What does this have to do with the Immortal Hulk run of today?
Everything. What came before feeds Ewing’s innovative and supremely creative works on the book. Ewing shows some fan love and reverence as he finely lays in the best elements from Hulk’s rich history. Taking things to greater heights in some instances.
Don’t worry though, it isn’t ALL just homage. The story still moves forward in giant strides under its own gamma powered steam. The nuanced notes of every character, big or small, is present once again here as Ewing and Bennet manage to make Bushwhacker both a terrifying pursuer and a snivelling subordinate in the bigger plan.
He lays on a cold intrigue to the bigger villains of the piece who are orchestrating the plot against Hulk and, as is expected with this book, Ewing still manages a big ending to leave you camped out on the floor of wherever you plan to buy the next issue.
Bennett matches Ewing’s writing with yet another awe-inspiring and horror-inducing display of his skills as an artist. It’s the way he plays with angles and perspective to disorient the reader and really emphasize the urgency of Bruce’s plight. The finer details that give you the subtle indication that a fuse is lit or that pressure is mounting, and things are about to explode in a monumental way.
He even stays on brand with showing love to the previous runs. See if you can find a visual indication of who Bennett’s favourite previous Hulk artist might be.
The man knows how to visually capture evil on a character’s face. How to draw fear so that it transfers from the atmosphere of the page deep into the reader’s psyche.
Together, the creative team that is clearly firing on every cylinder, work in perfect tandem to give you a book that will twist your emotions, play with your senses sadistically, and beg them for more next issue.