The Immortal Hulk #5 // Review
Immortal Hulk #5, written by Al Ewing, with pencils by Joe Bennett, inks by Ruy Jose, and colors by Mounts, pits the green one against one of his oldest frenemies with a new twist that will surely shock longtime Hulk fans. Previously, reporter Jackie McGee, who has been on the trail of Banner and his monstrous alter ego since they returned from the dead, recruited the help of Walter Langowski (Sasquatch) in her search. And, while Walter was helpful, he was acting strange from minute one. Mortally wounded in a confrontation with a local, Langowski changed into a savage version of his normally-friendly alter ego in the emergency room, just in time for Banner to show up and (hopefully) save the day.
This issue is a mostly action, centering around the Hulk and Sasquatch tearing into each other in the middle of a hospital, and that’s fine, because Ewing has been building up tension with a slow burn story so far. This is the first issue of the series that really feels like it’s holding nothing back, even providing several nice character moments for Hulk, Banner, and Jackie McGee amongst all of the carnage. Though the storytelling has been excellent in the first four issues, this is the issue that has been by far the most satisfying.
Ewing provides an interesting look into the new Hulk/Banner this chapter, showing that they really do seem to have a mutual cooperation going on. Banner has talked about his wanting to use the Hulk to go after bad guys in previous issues, but this time the audience gets to see Hulk wanting to get out to confront Sasquatch, and that he takes the attack on Banner personally. Many times in the past, these two have been at odds, but in this iteration, with a more reasonable (though sometimes scary) Hulk, they seemed to have come to an understanding on who gets out, when they get out, and why. Even more interesting, readers get to see a side of the Green Goliath that is rarely glimpsed: fear. What would have the Hulk quaking in his boots, you might ask? That would be a major spoiler, but it’s worth picking up the book to find out.
Ewing’s mysterious Jackie McGee and her motivations are also revealed slightly more this issue, when she finally gets to have a brief conversation with the Hulk. In the previous chapter, a flashback showed that she had a violent exposure to the monster when she was 15. With this issue, she explains that her fascination with Hulk stems from her wanting to be like him. Surely there is more to this, but for a character that started off as an ode to the antagonist of the Bixby/Ferrigno tv show, Ewing is really making McGee into quite an interesting character.
Bennett knocks it out of the park again this issue, and you can tell he has been waiting to see Hulk really cut loose as much as the readers have. With the demonic Sasquatch and old Jade Jaws ripping each other apart, and the possessed Bigfoot killing anyone else that crosses his path, Bennett had plenty of panels to enjoy letting his creepy version of Hulk off the chain, and he completely delivers. Hopefully, his sly, smiling Hulk will be remembered as one of the bests ever, because, even in the short time he’s been working on this book, he’s earned it. Similarly, Jose and Mounts on inks and colors elevate already spectacular pencils to legendary status, providing creepy depth and glowing-green colors that practically radiate off the page. This team needs to stick around, because, even as amazingly as Ewing is handling the writing chores, this book will suffer greatly without them.
In the end, if you’re not reading this book, you’re missing out. Even if you’re not a Hulk fan, this is something different, and unique enough, that you should be at least giving it a look. Ewing is turning in the best work of his career with this dark, violent take on the Hulk that still manages to stay true to everything that came before it. It should be at the top of everyone’s pull list, no matter what kind of comics you like.