The Immortal Hulk #17 // Review
Joe Fixit is back, but like you’ve never seen him before, in Immortal Hulk #17, written by Al Ewing, with pencils by Joe Bennett, inks by Ruy Jose, and colors by Paul Mounts. Previously, the body of Bruce Banner’s deceased friend Rick Jones was stolen by a government agency called U.S. Hulk Operations, sending Banner and his gamma-powered ex-therapist Leonard Samson in search of it. Tracking the body to Shadow Base headquarters hidden under a mountain, they walked right into a trap. Samson was shot dead by a shapeshifting assassin named Bushmaster, and Hulk was reverted to Banner by ultraviolet light. Unfortunately for Bushmaster, who is now tracking Banner through the Shadow Base facility, Banner’s body is under the control of his old Hulk personality that goes by the handle of “Joe Fixit.” Joe, always the weakest of the Hulks, had a penchant for being able to think his way out of situations, and fighting dirty.
This issue is hugely entertaining, as it’s essentially “Die Hard with a Hulk,” but with the twist of the personality being Fixit, and him having to operate using Banner’s body. That may sound like a lot, or even a bit too much going on all at once, but Ewing orchestrates his story perfectly and uses his Hulk history to enrich the plot, rather than bog it down with needless details. Though not much happens to move the overall story forward, it’s still a fun ride that ends on a couple of horrific notes that will stick with readers until the next issue arrives.
The main attraction of the issue is Ewing’s use of Fixit, or as some may know him, the “Gray Hulk.” It’s been a while since fans have gotten a glimpse of this version of Banner’s alternate personality, but his distinct appearance and unique persona always made him a standout favorite. Ewing, as stated above, knows his Hulk canon well, and uses it cleverly to spotlight this long-missing personality. With the ultraviolet rays holding the Devil Hulk at bay, and Banner being unfit to survive the dangerous situation, Joe comes to the surface to find a way out alive, as only he can. The results are brutal, but satisfying for longtime readers, and this chapter of Ewing’s story will go down in history as one of his most memorable moments.
Bennett, Jose, and Mounts, the central art team for the Immortal Hulk title since the beginning, never turn in anything but A+ work. This issue is no different. They don’t get much time to do anything flashy, because the chapter mostly consists of a half-naked Banner running from Bushmaster, but this team still manages to make the visuals some of the most dynamic, and captivating, in the industry.
In the end, this wasn’t a plot-heavy issue, but it will be held in high regard for longtime fans of the Hulk. Others may find themselves a little confused by Fixit’s presence, and what he means to the story, but Ewing does give a brief explanation that should keep people from being completely lost.