Comic Review: The Immortal Hulk Volume 1

Marvel Comics killed the Hulk off a couple times in quick succession between Civil War IIUncanny Avengers, and Secret Empire.  But this is the Hulk, one of the company’s most recognizable heroes.  He can’t stay dead.

That’s actually the premise of the new series The Immortal Hulk.  The first volume, subtitled Or Is He Both?, covers the first five issues and a short bit from a recent issue of The Avengers.

In the stories mentioned above, Bruce Banner was shot through the head with a special arrow to keep the Hulk from going on another rampage, briefly revived by the Hand, and then briefly again revived by HYDRA, each time leading to his supposedly permanent death.  But can the Hulk be killed?  That is the angle writer Al Ewing looks at in this series.  His answer?  Bruce Banner can die.  The Hulk can’t.  If Banner dies for any reason, once the sun sets, his body will transform into the Hulk and both will live again.

Now there also seem to be some twists here.  Ewing seems to be embracing the horror aspects of the Hulk here.  After all, Hulk is a monster.  Beyond some talk of some kind of supernatural “green door,” Banner sees the Hulk’s face looking out at him in various mirrored surfaces, and the Hulk himself seems to have developed some crafty intelligence.  This isn’t a dumb Hulk, and Banner even at one point speculates if the Hulk might actually be the smarter one right now.  Whatever the Hulk’s intelligence is, it seems to be aimed mostly at solving crimes of different kinds.  The first two issues deal with more morally ambiguous criminals causing deaths out of fear rather than out of malice.  Are they bad people?  The Hulk doesn’t much care as he will just hurt them as badly as he wants to in order to bring them to justice.  Hulk also claims he can smell lies.  Whatever intelligence he now has seems to be more instinctive than anything else.  No one would normally assume the Hulk is suddenly the world’s greatest detective, and yet here we are.

One of the things I’ve always appreciated about the Hulk is how much the character lends himself to experimentation.  Plenty of interesting stories about the Hulk came about because some writer decided to play with the formula a bit.  Ewing is merely the latest, and his new take on the character is intriguing.  Heck, it appears the Hulk and Banner might actually be somewhat working together now as the Hulk may find himself insulted if he’s addressed as “Banner,” but he still seems to be inclined to follow the puny scientists leads and even avenges insults on Banner that he otherwise might not have even cared about before.  I’m certainly very interested in seeing where this series goes, but the volume here certainly is a bit on the short side at only five issues and a short story.  I wanted a bit more, but I did really like what I got here.  9 out of 10 Roshomon effect stories.

tomk74

Defender of the faith, contributing writer, debonair man-about-town.

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