The Immortal Hulk #3 // Review
The Immortal Hulk #3, written by Al Ewing, with art by Joe Bennett, Leonardo Romero, Paul Hornschemeier, Marguerite Sauvage, and Garry Brown, inks by Ruy Jose, and colors by Paul Mounts, is an issue that pulls the focus away from the Hulk, and dials into the reporter, Jackie McGee. Previously, Hulk returned from the dead and began traveling across the country righting wrongs, but while Banner believes he is using the Hulk to do good, there seems to be something sinister about the Green Goliath’s methods. McGee, based on the reporter from the old Bixby/Ferrigno television series, has been following his trail of destruction, trying to figure out why he is doing the things he is doing. Now, she has stumbled across the aftermath of Hulk’s most recent altercation and is gathering the details of it from several of the town’s citizens.
This issue is told from several different points of view, as McGee interviews people who had a firsthand experience with the Hulk when he came to stop a gamma-irradiated teenager from taking hostages in a church with his radiation-blasting hands. This is a clever and entertaining device used to tell the story, as seeing the troubled, gamma-powered teenager and the Hulk from different perspectives is fun. Each person McGee interviews has a different opinion about Hulk and the young man, and every story has a different feel to it, from romantic to horrific. Unfortunately, this device just seems to be coming a little too early in the series. Understandably, Ewing is trying to keep some of the mystery of the Hulk alive, but, at this point, it is slowing down the story. Out of three issues, readers have only gotten one real chapter of being with Banner/Hulk and getting answers about their motivations, and, even then, it wasn’t much. This issue just seems to be establishing more of something that’s already been set up: Banner travels around looking for trouble, finds it, lets the Hulk loose, and old Jade Jaws violently ends the trouble (without killing). This chapter needed to add more, and it really didn’t until the last couple of pages, which are really just a teaser for the next story.
This issue also lets McGee take front and center...kinda. She is the series’ second lead (third, if you don’t count Banner and Hulk as one person), and readers haven’t seen much of her yet. Surely, there is some character development coming for her, but it seems like this would have been the issue to do it. Instead, she is present, but she takes a backseat to the stories her witnesses are giving. Ewing has done a great job in the first two issues of setting the table for this book. The tone and mental state of the Hulk is intriguing. Now, it’s time to start digging into that. If the answers to the big questions keep getting delayed, or stretched out over filler issues, then Ewing is in danger of losing his audience for this grand experiment in making the Hulk a horror-themed book.
The art this issue was extremely fun. Each point of view of the people being interviewed by McGee had its own artist, and they all varied wildly from each other, much like their stories. Of course, even though he only drew the framing device, Bennett did a great job, as usual. The only downside to this issue is that readers don’t get to see his wonderfully sinister version of the Hulk. Fortunately, a handful of other talented artists tackle the Jade Giant, with hilarious/terrifying results. Romero provides an old-school version of the Hulk in a cop’s take on the events, which portrays him as a classic hero. But Garry Brown’s take on the Hulk is decidedly more monstrous in a priest’s telling of the tale. Marguerite Sauvage also brings this story some humor in an old lady’s version of the story, where the teen is a tragic, romantic figure resembling James Dean, and the Hulk is a giant, inarticulate ogre. Jose provides a great atmosphere to his parts of the story, and while some of the guest artists colored their own work, Mounts shines in his sections of the issue, too.
Overall, this is not a bad issue. It’s actually pretty entertaining, but the placement of it, three issues in, while readers are still clamoring for details about what is going on with the main character, makes it come off more as filler than an extension of the last two issues. Filler is fine when it’s done well, but three issues into a series is not the place for it. Hopefully, given the intriguing ending, this was just Ewing providing the quiet before the storm. Either way, it should be worth sticking around as long as he keeps moving forward, instead of treading water.