05th Feb2021

‘The Immortal Hulk #43’ Review

by Dean Fuller

Written by Al Ewing | Art by Joe Bennett, Jose/Brabo | Published by Marvel Comics

Word of mouth on this book has been blistering hot at times, and I am annoyed that apart from the occasional peek at individual issues I haven’t found time to sit down and read through the run. The Alex Ross covers I have noticed though, and they’ve been worth the price of admission alone. What made me pick this one up and review it is that people I know were getting irritated with me that I hadn’t, The cover, and the fact it guest stars both Alpha Flight and the U-Foes. I’m a man who knows what he likes, and likes what he knows, and those things ticked the boxes. So, as a reader coming in for the first (ish) time, will this all make sense? is Ewing newbie friendly, or just writing for the already following? Is it all overhyped? Time to see.

Luckily for me, there’s a little exposition at the beginning of the issue telling me what’s happened. Banner’s gone, apparently, taken to Hell by The Leader which resulted in the end of the all powerful Devil Hulk. Which so much gamma energy sucked away, the Hulk is still alive but incredibly depowered. Banner’s body is still alive, now inhabited by the former Grey Hulk/ Joe Fixit. Keeping up? Fixit is conning his way around town as a small time thief, to survive, which I’m sure would please Bruce no end.

A change of scene takes us to the Alpha Flight space station and one of my favourite supervillain groups, The U-Foes. Or, favourite government sanctioned groups I should say. Probably worse. Gyrich is putting them through their training to prepare them for taking down the Hulk when he is found again. They certainly look ready. Shift of scene again, to Los Diablos New Mexico, and a return to the original Gamma Bomb test site. Who would come here? A green Sasquatch (Doc Samson it seems) Shaman, and Puck. Shaman’s come to help Samson’s consciousness return to his body, one hundred feet below, so Walter Langowski can return to his Sasquatch body. That’s all soon disturbed by something from a John Carpenter film crashing up from below. Yikes.

Back to New York, and Banner/ Fixit still laying low. He knows that letting The Hulk out is a no-go for two reasons. One, he’s no hero like Banner so why would he? Two, he’s savvy enough to know that once he does Gyrich and company can track him down and capture him. He’s sitting pretty and nothing can change that. Except, he’s not quite the non-hero he tries to make out. He sees the Police laying into a Teen Brigade kid, that is kids who support The Hulk and wear a Hulk Smash hoodie, and try as he might he cannot ignore it. He transforms, and becomes The Hulk. Kind of. This Hulk is a skeletal shell of his former self. Skinny, ribs showing, weakened. Truly monstrous. Although weakened, he can still toss a few cars around, and the Police run off. All’s well. That is, until The U-Foes make their last page dramatic entrance. Pain’s a-comin’.

You can look at this issue two ways. One, not a whole lot happened. Which is true. Lots of talking, little doing. Or two, it was the ‘take a breath and reset’ issue, an issue setting the scene for what’s about to happen. Me, I think the latter. I enjoyed the fact that the issue brought me mostly up to speed naturally through the story telling, had some great dialogue and monologuing, and had fun characters. A special mention for Joe Bennett’s art, which was excellent. Big, bold and brash when necessary, small conventional panels when more intimate, and a constant switching between conventional and haphazard panel layouts that keeps the reader on their toes. Ewing and Bennett make a good team, giving the book a sort of contradiction, a modern yet retro feel. Whatever it is, it works.

Comfort food for the comic book soul. I’ll have seconds.

****½  4.5/5


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