Immortal Hulk #13 // Review
Al Ewing leaves not a dry eye in the house writing The Immortal Hulk #13, with pencils by Joe Bennett, inks by Ruy Jose, Belardino Brabo, and Rafael Fonteriz, and colors by Paul Mounts, and the relationship between Banner and the Great Green One might be forever changed. Previously, the Absorbing Man (Carl Creel) was sent by the government to take down the Hulk once and for all, but he was manipulated by an evil entity into absorbing all of old Jade Jaws’ gamma energy, and ripping open a “Green Door” to Hell. Now, separated from Banner, and facing a being that might actually be the Devil, Hulk must find a way to shut the door and make his way back home.
Ewing continues to revolutionize the character(s) of Hulk/Banner with every issue, but this one really digs in deep to give you one of the most touching moments in all of Hulk history. These two sides to one man have had their share of confrontations in the past, and there have definitely been times that they don’t get along...like, most of the time. But, this issue includes a scene that really shows you what is happening beneath all of that rage and confusion, and it might be the best single page of a comic for the year. True, this is coming from a huge Hulk fan, so there is some bias here, but it’s just so extremely satisfying to have a writer onboard this title that truly understands the character, after years of stories that have ranged from decent to not-so-great.
The only gripe with the issue is the attempted redemption of Carl Creel. This is a pretty irredeemable character by anyone’s standards, as he is a known rapist (his son, Jerry Sledge aka Stonewall, being the product of said rape). This is a plot from the Secret Warriors series that explained Sledge’s similarities and resemblance to Creel, and is not likely to be retconned since it’s Stonewall’s entire origin. Now, whether or not it’s on Carl’s criminal record in the Marvel Universe, is unknown, so the in-story reason for heroes being so readily accepting of him when he seems to be genuinely trying to change himself for the better, is understandable. But, the writers and editors of Marvel should be pretty aware of this heinous act, so redemption for Absorbing Man should be off the table. Add to the rape all of the other terrible things Creel has done in the past, and he shouldn’t be anywhere but a jail cell for the rest of his life.
The art for this book is always top notch. Bennett’s pencils, alone, could put this art team on the list for best artists of all time for Hulk. He just gets everything that the Hulk needs to be, and then adds his own flavor to deliver one of the most emotive, disturbing, and (sometimes) endearing versions of the Green Goliath ever. Add to that, the amazing inks of Jose (with an assist by Brabo and Fonteriz this issue), and the irreplaceable colors of Mounts, and you have a team that should never be allowed to leave this book. Seriously, Marvel, hold them at gunpoint if you have to.
In short, this book hasn’t had a creative team on it this good since the days of Greg Pak’s first run. Ewing understands that even if you’re creating a new personality for the Hulk, you have to understand what came before. He’s treading new ground while completely playing by the rules of the great stories and writers that preceded him. This issue is a perfect example of that, portraying Banner as the vulnerable man that needs his monster, even if he doesn’t always want him. If you’ve ever considered yourself a fan of the Hulk, you should be reading this book.