I like the title of this series so much I think we need to start spreading it across Marvel Comics. Immortal X-Men, Immortal Spider-Man, Immortal…Squirrel Girl? I had the opportunity to read this book early and my immediate response to it after putting it down was, “Why haven’t we seen Hulk done this way before?”
So what’s it about?
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Why does this matter?
Al Ewing has been writing very good comics for such a long period now you have to trust what he puts out. This is an intriguing take on Hulk who is often seen as more of a scary figure than a superhero. It’s also a take on the hero that’s more character-driven and more interesting as we probe Bruce Banner post-death.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
This issue opens with a quote from Carl Jung that reads, “Man is, on the whole, less good than he imagines himself or wants to be.” It’s the kind of quote that makes you think about your own life before applying the quote to Hulk and Banner’s life. It’s followed up on the next page by the caption, “There are two people in every mirror.” Ewing is going full introspective, full philosophical right out of the gate and I love him for it. It makes you ponder life and also how its meaning applies to the comic pages that follow. Hulk has always been a story about the dichotomy of the man and the monster, about addiction, self-loathing, and ultimately fear of self. It’s one of the reasons when done well, Hulk can be one of the most satisfying superhero comics because it gets at the core of all of our fears and all of our darkest sides. Ewing opens this book with this thought-provoking stuff only to throw the entire story into disarray as terrible violence occurs and disrupts the characters within.
There are points in this comic where you’ll ponder how this story might be lit or shot on film. Joe Bennett encapsulates the horror of a giant indestructible man with unfathomable strength very well. He also does a fantastic extreme close up. This is the sort of comic that gets by on five or six panels and you can’t tell the difference in comparison to something with 16 panels. Bennett completely nails the double page splash that is followed up by an additional double page splash. Yeah, he went there. The horror element is also strengthened by the Hulk himself who has a knowing eye and a smirk that Satan himself could envy. It’s strong stuff. Props to Paul Mounts who colors this issue with the right amount of bright green mixing with a darker atmospheric tone.
Many have argued Marvel Legacy never really begun, but with this and Venom, I think it’s already here. Ewing has made me need the next issue and his story here, which is introspective and dark, has made Hulk new again. That includes some new, and very down to earth, detective characters. Ewing makes you care about these characters who are approaching a Hulk attack like any of us would. Mostly with fear, but also disbelief. I’m curious where he takes these characters.
It can’t be perfect can it?
I can already hear angry fans saying, “But how did Banner rise from the dead?” or “When does this take place!” Those are questions that I had too but the story is more closely tied to Banner and his current internal conflict than to any outside source. I will say Alex Ross’ cover did make me question how he came out of the grave, but reading the book it never came up. This will infuriate fans who want to know the bigger picture, but for those who are game to take on a singular character story, you won’t know the difference.
Is it good?
I’m on board with what Al Ewing is cooking up here with the excellent Joe Bennett. This is a series that has got me by the throat scared, but loving every minute of it.
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