The Immortal Hulk #4 // Review
The Immortal Hulk #4, written by Al Ewing, with pencils by Joe Bennett, inks by Ruy Jose, and colors by Paul Mounts, continues the focus on Jackie McGee, the reporter who is tracking the supposedly-dead Bruce Banner across the country, as he Hulks out and fights bad guys along the way. This issue, she meets up with Walter Langowski, aka Sasquatch of Alpha Flight, who was once the college roommate of Banner, a relationship that changed the course of his life and led to him becoming Canada’s own gamma-powered monster.
Ewing’s first three issues were all one-and-done, self-contained stories, each focusing on a separate incident where the Hulk showed up in small towns and trashed some seemingly-random bad guys. This issue switches gears, barely having the big guy show up at all, with a cliffhanger ending that will lead to, at least, a two part story. While the opening three chapters of this title did a nice job setting the table for what this book is going to about in story and tone, this issue is a nice change of pace. The Hulk isn’t really missed at all, with Ewing focusing on the effect that Banner and his monster had on the lives of Langowski and McGee.
McGee herself finally gets fleshed out a little in this issue, as Ewing shows that she has had some sort of traumatic interaction with the Hulk as a child. Suddenly, her investigation is personal, and readers are left wondering if she’s really only on this story for professional reasons. Hopefully, there will be more information on this soon, because it’s only slightly teased in this chapter. Either way, it’s good to see that Ewing has plans for her beyond being an analogue to the reporter Jack McGee from the old Hulk television show.
Ewing also seems to have special plans for Langowski. From his appearance at the end of last issue and throughout this entire chapter, despite being his normal, friendly self, Walter has had an undercurrent of creepiness that pervades his every action, right down to his smile. It’s an interesting take on a normally jovial character that adds an air of mystery and suspense. Ewing reminds the readers of the oddity that is Sasquatch’s origin: gamma experimentation much like Banner, but with the additional weirdness of being possessed by an ancient beast from another dimension. Even when Langowski assures McGee that the beast is long gone, it feels like his words can’t be trusted, and by the end of the issue, it’s apparent that there is something very wrong with the former Alpha Flight member.
Possibly the greatest strength of this issue is the art. Bennett continues to be the MVP of The Immortal Hulk, providing disturbing visuals on every page. Even though the Hulk barely appears in this story, Bennett makes the most of Langowski and his general eeriness. There is not one panel where readers aren’t expecting Walter to go full Sasquatch and eat someone, despite the smile plastered across his face, and that is due entirely to Bennett’s work on his facial expressions and body language. Jose and Mounts also do amazing work, enhancing Bennet’s already horrific pencils. Keeping this art team together is a must for this book. Even though it served a purpose of having several different artists last issue to show different points of view, the issue was lacking its definitive visuals. They come back with a vengeance in this chapter, though, with the team not only getting back to the Hulk, but also getting to sink their teeth into the image of Sasquatch at his most monstrous. Anything less than this top-notch artwork is going to be disappointing on this title.
Overall, despite Banner and the Hulk playing much smaller roles in this issue, this turned out to be one of the stronger chapters of the book so far. Ewing really knows how to build suspense, and he is definitely working towards something big with this story. His pacing has been slow, but purposefully so. Don’t expect things to stay that way, though, especially with next issue promising a huge throwdown between the Hulk and Sasquatch. This book is only going to get better as it goes, so sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride.