The Immortal Hulk #22 // Review
Team Green finally gets a little downtime in The Immortal Hulk #22, written by Al Ewing, with pencils by Joe Bennett, inks by Ruy Jose and Belardino Brabo, and colors by Paul Mounts, but that doesn’t mean there’s any lack of excitement in the issue. Previously, it was revealed that anybody affected by gamma radiation had a tendency to rise from the dead. Bruce Banner’s former friend and sidekick, Rick Jones, was dug up from his grave and grafted into the remains of Hulk’s old enemy, Abomination, to make the ultimate monster. The two titans clashed, and Betty Ross (Banner’s ex), now the monstrous Harpy, showed up just in time to help Hulk defeat Rick and pull him from the Abomination body. Gamma Flight, retrieved the remains only to have the unhinged General Fortean infiltrate their base, kill Walter Langowski and Doc Samson, and steal back the body. Now, Hulk and company are on the run, Gamma Flight is in shambles, and General Fortean has grafted himself to the Abomination remains to become one of Hulk’s all-time deadliest enemies.
A good bit of this issue focuses on Gamma Flight, which is great because the team has been lacking the spotlight since its formation. An odd assortment of characters, including a mix of old Alpha Flight members, a newly-reformed Absorbing Man and Titania, and now Doc Samson, this ragtag group is chock full of potential fun. This issue finally sees the team get motivated--even if it is after losing one of its members--and introduces the first wrinkle in the whole “gamma people always come back” theory: Walter Langowski didn’t rise from the dead this time. Even though it’s still a little weird to see former rapist, Carl Creel, trying to be a good guy, the dynamics of the roster are interesting enough that you want to see more of them, especially when their plan for revenge goes hilariously wrong.
The rest of the issue is devoted to Team Green as they hide out in a motel and regroup. Betty watches over Rick, who still has not fully recovered from his stint as the new Abomination, Banner let’s his “Joe Fixit” personality out to play rather than deal with his problems, and reporter Jackie McGee asks why she’s even still with them. These quiet bits all add up to some great character moments for the group, like Joe getting used to (and enjoying) the sun for the first time in years, or Betty weirdly avoiding Banner, so you hardly miss the Hulk. In fact, it’s not obvious that he’s even gone, until the end, because you’re having too much fun with everybody else.
The art team, as always, does an amazing job this issue. It cannot be said enough how much Bennett, Jose, Belardino, and Mounts contribute to the success of this book. Yes, Ewing knocks it out of the park on writing, but half the magic of this book is how the art really brings the story to life. The creepy visuals make the horror aspect of this book all the more horrific, and all of the down- to-earth human moments all the more human. There is nothing that this team can’t do, and it will be a shame if Ewing ever loses them, because they are so vital to the story.
If you’re a fan of this book, then you know that there is some genuinely groundbreaking storytelling happening here. Not just as a Hulk story, but as a comic book story, in general. If you’re not a fan, do yourself a favor, and start picking up the trades now. If Ewing’s writing has one flaw, it’s that you really have to have been following the story to know what’s going on, but it truly is one of the best comics out right now. This issue is no exception. May Ewing, and his entire team, never leave this book, because they will be an impossible act to follow.