The Immortal Hulk #15 // Review
The Immortal Hulk, on top of being a horror genre book, has also mostly been a mystery about who this new Hulk is, and what he wants. In The Immortal Hulk #15, writer Al Ewing finally starts doling out some serious answers, with the help of Joe Bennett on pencils, Ruy Jose on inks, and Paul Mounts on colors. Previously, after returning from literal Hell, Bruce tracked down his ex, Betty Ross. She welcomed him into her home and gave him shelter, but it wasn’t long before General Fortean, and his lackey Agent Burbank, figured out she was harboring their fugitive. An antsy Burbank managed to shoot Betty and Bruce in the head, but as Fortean pointed out, “unless the sun’s up...none of them die”. Betty mysteriously seemed to have survived the shot, and Bruce turned into a raging mad Hulk, only to be stopped dead in his tracks by his supposedly deceased ex-psychiatrist, Doc Samson. Now, while Hulk and Samson try to find out what happened to the suddenly-missing Betty, Doc must do what he does best to figure out just who the Immortal Hulk is.
A good chunk of this issue is Ewing filling you in on what Doc Samson has been up to since he died, but it doesn’t come off as filler in the least. Ewing manages to tie Samson’s resurrection in with Bruce’s story nicely and re-introduces a classic Hulk supporting character seamlessly in the process. Samson is portrayed as a psychiatrist first, and a hero second, so he manages to get some answers out of the new Hulk that the readers have been wondering about since issue 1. Samson, of course, is the perfect character to draw this information out, as he has been the longtime doctor of Bruce Banner, and was even responsible for the famous “Merged Hulk,” in which the Banner’s main personalities were supposedly healed and combined into one healthy persona. Obviously, that didn’t last, and it was only a matter of time before Bruce’s psyche was shattered again, but Samson has always remained dedicated to helping Banner and the Hulk sort out their mental issues.
As mentioned above, the Hulk’s wants and needs are fleshed out in this issue, and the results of those developments are as satisfying as any fan could imagine. Ewing draws from a deep well of Hulk mythos to explain which Hulk the “immortal” one is, and what he wants. As is always the case with Ewing’s take on the Jade Giant, these revelations only serve to show how endlessly complex the character is. His motivations are portrayed as somewhat altruistic, but his goals are relatively dark in nature. It remains to be seen if Ewing is crafting a hero or villain with his iteration of the Great Green One, but this chapter seems to suggest he might be a bit of both.
Bennett, Jose, and Mounts are, as always, the dream art team for this book. Not since the days of Dale Keown, has the Hulk looked so good, and few pencilers have ever pulled off such deep character and emotion (outside of rage) for Banner’s monstrous side. This version of the Hulk, with his beady eyes and toothy grin, will go down in history as one of the most physically distinct, and memorable, iterations of all time. And, if there were a hall of fame for Marvel art teams, this one would be inducted immediately, for the sole purpose of being born to work on this comic.
Overall, this issue might be light on action, but Ewing took advantage of the slower pace to give the readers the answers they’ve been clamoring for. If you’ve been following this book from the start, this is a must-read. It is, without a doubt, one of the most critical issues of the series, so far, not just for its main character’s personal revelations, but also for the startling, game-changing cliffhanger.