The Immortal Hulk #2 // Review
The Immortal Hulk #2, written by Al Ewing, with pencils by Joe Bennett, inks by Ruy Jose, and colors by Paul Mounts, continues the story of the newly-resurrected Bruce Banner and his attempt to walk the Earth while using Hulk to right wrongs wherever he may go. Previously, Banner released the Hulk on a man that committed murder while robbing a convenience store, and now he has come across a town plagued by mysterious deaths.
While the first issue of this series might have been considered a tease of what this series is all about, this issue, Ewing gives a full set up, and some explanation behind what is going on in Banner’s mind. Borrowing heavily from the old Bill Bixby show, the plot revolves around Banner being on the run, finding people that need help, and then, inevitably turning into the Hulk to dole out justice. Unlike the old t.v. show, Ewing’s Hulk is smart, talkative, and more than a little menacing. If you end up on the wrong side of his fists these days, he’ll do everything short of killing you, and he’ll do it with a smile on his face.
Another of Ewing’s additions to the Banner/Hulk equation is that Banner has lost his “super genius” status, now just being a regular nuclear physicist (smarter than the average person, but no longer one of the smartest people on the planet). He also believes that Hulk is currently much smarter than him. However, when Hulk finally shows up to scare the living daylights out of a man who is a walking gamma radiation emitter, he states that Banner is the “science guy”. If that’s a little confusing to you, you’re not alone. Ewing isn’t giving the audience a full explanation of what is going on just yet, but it seems like Banner’s intelligence has been split between his two personalities, which is a fresh take on the idea that he and the many versions of Hulk are all fractured bits of his whole psyche being forever rearranged.
Some might find the pacing of these first two issues to be slow, but Ewing has used his space well to set a dark, eerie tone, and introduce us to a Hulk whose motives the audience can’t quite be sure of. Banner is clearly out to help people, but when Hulk shows up to do the dirty work, he really seems to be enjoying it. Ewing is masterfully giving the readers little hints of difference between the personalities of Banner and the monster that show they might not be on the same page. He is also building off of the events of Civil War II, where Banner was shot and killed by Hawkeye, with Banner hypothesizing that the arrow to his brain might be the cause of this new iteration of the Hulk.
The art team also does an amazing job lending to the suspenseful tone of the issue. Bennett’s take on the Hulk, with his big smile, and beady eyes might just go down as a classic in the long run. Additionally, Jose’s inks enhance the dark, disturbing atmosphere to horrific levels, and Mounts’ colors give all of the gamma-green in the book an extra special glow. You couldn’t ask for a better art team for old Jade Jaws, so here’s hoping they stick around.
All in all, Ewing’s slow burn storytelling might drive away some fans of the classic “Hulk Smash” version of the character, but if you’re a fan of Peter David’s prolific run, which was all about Banner and his ever-changing, fractured mind, then you just might enjoy this story if you give it a shot. Ewing is flexing dramatic muscles he rarely put to use in his runs on Mighty Avengers and U.S. Avengers, and he’s turning in some of the best work of his career, so this book is worth checking out for his writing alone.