The Immortal Hulk #23 // Review
It’s Hulk and his Incredible Friends versus General Fortean and the Hulkbusters for all the money in this week’s The Immortal Hulk #23, written by Al Ewing, with pencils by Joe Bennett, inks by Ruy Jose and Belardino Brabo, and colors by Paul Mounts and Matt Milla. The results? As disturbing as usual for this book. Previously, Fortean dogged the Hulk across America, obsessed with bringing him down, but he crossed a line when he resurrected Banner’s old pal Rick Jones. “Grafting” his decayed body to the remains of the Abomination, he was more than a match for the Great Green One. Fortunately, Bruce’s ex, Betty (who also happens to be a gamma-powered monster named Harpy) showed up to save the day. Now, with Hulk successfully separating Rick from the Abomination leftovers, Fortean has used them to turn himself into a monster capable of taking on Banner’s dark side. Can the combined forces of Hulk, Harpy, Rick, and Beta Flight finally bring down a gamma-powered Fortean and the Hulkbusters? Outlook not so good.
Al Ewing continues to seal his future as one of the best, and most unique, Hulk writers of all of Marvel history with this issue. Every time you think you’re safely in the middle of a classic Hulk adventure, he goes and reminds you that he’s telling a horror story. Most of this chapter is a good, old fashioned rock ‘em, sock ‘em punch fest, but there’s a note of terror at the end that will haunt your dreams. Unless you’re one of those cold-blooded psychopaths, all the kids are talking about these days.
That’s not to say Ewing doesn’t do his character work, though. This issue is narrated by Jackie McGee and provides a much-needed status update for Rick Jones. Since his resurrection, he’s been a bit of a mystery. What are his powers? Is his personality altered? Can he even speak, or is he some kind of gamma zombie? All of these questions are answered through Jackie’s personal observations of Rick. Revealing as much about her as they do about him.
This book has been blessed with a steady art team throughout it’s run, and may they never leave, because (as stated many times in these reviews) they are the perfect collection of people to be bringing the Hulk alive on the pages of a comic book. Bennett can do no wrong with his menacing, darker take on the Hulk, and Jose, Brabo, Mounts, and Milla, on inks and colors, serve that darkness perfectly, while also making each panel crackle off the page.
Overall, this issue doesn’t have a sour note. If you’ve been reading this book, you know this is what been building to for a while. Ewing definitely seems to be coming up on a milestone for the title, but he also appears to be nowhere near slowing down or running out of ideas. This is one of Marvel’s best books out right now, and if you’ve been sleeping on it, you should take some time to catch up. It is, without a doubt, history in the making.