Sometimes a story needs to take a step back to reveal something very important. That something in this week’s issue of Immortal Hulk is a man by the name of Reginald James Fortean. He’s a character who hates the Hulk as much as “Thunderbolt” Ross, but these days he’s on his own. After Ross turned into the Red Hulk, it seemed like the playing field changed. This is the story of a man willing to go against his values to do what he thinks is right. Even if that means becoming a monster himself.
So what’s it about?
Read the preview.
Why does this matter?
This issue may take a huge pause after the incredible last issue and its cliffhanger, but fear not, as sometimes narratives should take a moment to establish something important. In this case, it’s Fortean’s journey up until this point and the ideas he has instilled in him before he turns all his energy on killing Bruce Banner and the Hulk.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
This is a thoughtful and methodical issue, opening with Fortean wearing a giant suit ready to bust some Hulk-level enemies. He’s a bit crazy, willing to take chances as he speaks about controlling chaos. That’s a key element that is explored right up until the last page. Writer Al Ewing opens the issue with a quote from Carl Jung that reads, “…in all chaos there is cosmos, in all disorder a secret order…” and it’s in this idea of creating order everything sprouts. Fortean needs to create order and we see in this issue what he’s willing to do to make that so, even if it means selling his soul and very belief system.
I wasn’t familiar with this character going into the issue, but I found the flashbacks and character writing sufficient in explaining who this man is deep down. The most fascinating element is how he has no personal grudge to kill Hulk and those like Hulk, but it’s more about controlling an uncontrollable villain. Much like alcohlism, it appears this character is willing to destroy things in order to enact control and that makes him all the more interesting. Once again, Ewing explores deep psychological elements in his characters to further bring meaning to their actions.
This issue is drawn by Ryan Bodenheim with colors by Paul Mounts and letters by Cory Petit. I can see why Bodenheim was the guest artist this round since most of the narrative is focused on humans talking. Layouts are generally pretty simple, to give Ewing and Petit the room to have these characters talk. To impart their ideas, fears, and frustrations. The real horror of this issue is to see how good men can become so infatuated and stuck on their goals, however wrong or right, that they can turn them into something they are not.
It can’t be perfect, can it?
This is certainly a slower issue overall. It definitely feels like Ewing and company are slamming the brakes to focus on a new threat and a threat that feels like it’s coming in at the 11th hour. It has to do some heavy lifting to get us there and truly the change of pace is a nice reminder of how good this comic is every issue.
Is it good?
Immortal Hulk is an impressive series as it seems to impress in so many different ways. This issue is no different. Witness the struggle of a man who wants to control chaos and pays for it.