We talk about Immortal Hulk on the AiPT! Comics Podcast every time it comes out due to it consistently being among the highest rated comics by critics and fans. It’s also up for an Eisner award for ongoing series. It’s just that good. The twentieth issue drops this week and it features Betty Ross and Harpy, Bruce Banner learning new truths, and more.
So what’s it about?
Read the preview.
Why does this matter?
This is great body horror comics. This is great thought-provoking comics. This is possibly one of the greatest takes on Hulk ever. Need I say more?
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
This issue opens with a quote from Timothy Leary: “This is now the hour of death and rebirth.” I’m a sucker for quotes like this since it adds a layer of meaning to what you’re about to read. How does this connect to the content? Does it add to something I’m missing, and what does it mean in itself? Al Ewing has been giving us a quote in every issue and it’s a profound way to add to the reading experience. Holding this quote in your mind very much adds to Bruce Banner’s conversation with his father, as well as the final page.
About half this issue is about Bruce’s conversation with his father and then Hulk smashing things in the real world. I don’t want to spoil a thing, but Ewing offers a different kind of explanation for Gamma that’s insidious and right in the wheelhouse of good horror. It adds another layer to the bigger picture of what Hulk is and helps define Bruce’s journey of self-control and understanding self. This scene with Bruce is capitalized on with a moment of horror for him I think many of us can relate to.
Jump cut to Hulk and Harpy smashing and such and it’s epic in scale and scope. Joe Bennett continues to wow in the monster department and there’s some truly unnerving body horror to be seen here. I’m quite amazed at how he can continue to twist my stomach with gross-out imagery. You’d think by now he’d have topped himself, but here we are making readers dry heave. Horror elements like Bruce’s nightmare moment and how his father looks so strange and surreal are other examples of how good Bennett is at what he does. Props should go to Paul Mounts for the colors that are so very good at capturing a dreamlike and in this case nightmare-like look and feel.
The Hulk scenes are also quite good at progressing this side of the character. He’s self-aware and you see this when he reflects on a comment about how Bruce was always subconsciously working to stop the Hulk from killing anyone. His answer is an interesting one. Ewing continues to play around with who the real monster is and that adds emotional weight to the character.
It can’t be perfect, can it?
The only thing that catches me as imperfect is the layout design. Panels can sometimes be turned for no good reason. Maybe it’s to add a bit of chaos or energy to a beat, but it can look sloppy and almost chaotic. It only struck me twice when reading this issue, though.
Is it good?
There is a reason this book is hailed every single issue. It’s thought-provoking, dark, twisted, unnerving, and the best kind of superhero horror storytelling. Immortal Hulk will twist your stomach, your head, and your heart.