Since 2018, Immortal Hulk, written by Al Ewing with art by Joe Bennett, inker Ruy José, colorist Paul Mounts, and letterer Cory Petit, has been the most consistent, surprising, and satisfying superhero comic released by any major publisher. Together, building off the character’s nearly 60-year history, the creative team has established Hulk as the ultimate hero for a bleak age, complete with social commentary defined by environmental collapse and institutional corruption.
A New Type of Hulk… Defined by Horror
You might be taken aback but the first issue of The Immortal Hulk featured no super villains or evil aliens bent on world domination. It was about the sort of evil that people do every day. It was dark, ruthless and unforgiving. Nobody would have guessed a Hulk comic that features very little smashing while it wallows in austere darkness would be the talk of the industry, but we have arrived here faster than expected.
Hulk has always been one of Marvel’s most malleable figures, a superhero with unpredictability built into his character. Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Bruce Banner and Hulk started as a nuclear-powered Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and future creators expanded on the concept by bringing in new personas with different abilities and dispositions.
Darker Than Any Other Hulk Series
More cunning, merciless and powerful than he has ever been before, the gamma-spawned monster can now defy death itself, forcing the resurrection of host body Bruce Banner no matter the extent of his injuries. This is unquestionably shaping up to becoming one of the defining runs in Hulk comics history, taking an inherently dark look at the motivations and abilities of both Banner and his other self, while casting a grim shadow over the world in which he now inhabits.
The drastic shifts in Hulk’s character are terrifying elements of horror, religious symbolism, and character pacing tangential to upheavals, almost. Forget the angry giant that punched into things, The Immortal Hulk is a fantastic horror comic that may have given a new life to an otherwise stock superhero character.
Horrific Atmosphere and Superb Artwork
Storyline and plot aside, the excellence here is indeed in its execution. The best creators understand how to use page turns to build and resolve tension, and Ewing structures his scripts to maximize suspense. Unlike a prose novel, where a page turn doesn’t reveal anything until words are read, a comic can immediately hit the reader with a powerful image, particularly in two-page spreads. In Immortal Hulk, the reader can feel the build-up to those huge moments, and might even pause to take a breath before flipping the page and discovering the terror on the other side.
And the horror on the other side is nothing less than stellar surreal artwork. With a heavy emphasis on body horror, The Immortal Hulk’s art team understands how to morph anatomy in abnormal ways while still maintaining weight and texture that grounds these forms in a tangible reality. Bennett, José, and Mounts excel in this regard, with the inker enriching Bennett’s intensely detailed pencils. Colourist Mounts’ fleshy colouring give the visuals a tactile quality that taps into the same pleasure centres as practical special effects in old horror movies.
It’s taken a while for Ewing to score a blockbuster hit, but he’s done it with Immortal Hulk thanks to an impeccable combination of high-concept ideas, visceral thrills, deep psychological exploration, and thoughtful collaboration. His scripts bring out the very best in his team, with the haunting atmosphere and grotesque gamma transformations they bring to the page.
Verdict: Must Read!
An outstanding read, which shows that in the right creative hands there are still new and entertaining stories to be told about a character now over half a century old.
Immortal Hulk has countless psychological layers to peel back with its cast of traumatized characters, but despite the darkness and severity of the narrative, this creative team never skimps on delight. There’s a palpable sense of joy that radiates off the page; not in the content, but in the conveyance. These creators are reinventing these characters, embracing all of the wild storytelling opportunities when dealing with a central hero who has such a vast power set and gone through so many different iterations over decades.
Until then, stay gold for the Jade Giant!