Written By Al Ewing
Pencils by Joe Bennett
Inks by Ruy Jose
The Story So Far:
After dying and coming back to life, it’s apparent to Bruce Banner that the Hulk is immortal—he cannot die. Roaming the countryside in an attempt to “aim” the Hulk in the direction of danger, or where he can be the most help, Banner runs into Walter Langkowski. Hulk and Sasquatch, who is somehow possessed by Bruce’s father Brian Banner, fight and in the end, Hulk wins by siphoning off the gamma radiation that makes Langkowski become Sasquatch. But he seems to have brought Brian Banner with him. Bruce is trying to get Hulk home to New Mexico when he is confronted by the Avengers, who mean to take him in by any means necessary.
Captain Marvel evacuates a small town in Iowa as the rest of the Avengers fight the Hulk. Everyone’s efforts seem to fail, Thor’s, T’Challa’s, Iron Man’s. Hulk shrugs them all off, his power is off the charts. His fight with Thor leaves the God of Thunder rattled, and he confides in Captain America that perhaps the Gamma Bomb that unleashed the Hulk actually created a new god. Or Devil.
The Hulk seems to like the idea of “Devil Hulk” and he proceeds to continue beating on his old teammates, overloading Black Panther’s suit and ripping Tony’s Hulkbuster armor to shreds. Stark wants to use their last resort: Code: Helios, but Carol Danvers objects. While they argue the pros and cons, the Avengers send in their own Hulk—Jennifer Walters. Walters and Banner go toe to toe, and Banner taunts her, telling her that she is becoming more and more like him, which gives her pause and allows him to get the upper hand, launching her two miles away with a punch.
The area is cleared of civilians and Tony fires the Helios laser at Hulk, as the evacuees mourn the loss of their town from a safe distance. Captain America stands with T’Challa over the remains of the Hulk, and mourns the loss of a friend. A friend that they killed. Black Panther points out that without the sun lamp drones preventing him from regenerating, the Hulk would come back from the dead.
The issue ends with the Hulk having been delivered to Shadow Base by General Ross and it is revealed that they have managed to chop him up into pieces and are keeping those pieces in jars, separately, to prevent him from regenerating.
The story kept me genuinely engaged, as has every issue of this series so far. Ewing certainly does know how to write an action scene. The exploration of the Hulk as a god-being is an interesting perspective. I’m not sure where it is going, but that makes for the best mystery.
The ending. What an ending. While the Shadow Base operative was talking to Hulk, and Hulk is off-panel at the very end of the issue, I didn’t know what to expect. Why is the art upside down? Why is it off-color? I couldn’t wait to turn the page. The payoff when the page was turned was perfect. It leaves you with a real sense that the “Immortal” Hulk is in a real tough spot. How does he come back from that?
What doesn’t work:
The art, still. Sorry, Joe Bennett, I just can’t deal with the wacky proportions you use. I’m sure there are some out there in comics-land who love this art, but it’s not for me. I’m coming back for the writing, much as I did for Peter David’s writing when Jeff Purves was handling the art chores in the late 80’s.
The story is fantastic as usual, but the art drags the book down.