After the Hulk’s death in Civil War II, I was left with one question: when and where will he come back? As it turns out, the answer was “In one of the freshest Hulk comics I’ve ever read.” The Immortal Hulk got off to a great start, and now the series’ second volume is available to read. Collecting issues #6-10, Immortal Hulk Vol. 2: The Green Door features government conspiracy, the Absorbing Man, the mysterious titular door, and more. Does the series’ sophomore installment meet the same high bar set by its predecessor?
Story-wise, this volume’s first half is strong. The writing’s total leaning into the Hulk’s horror elements continues to pay off. There’s a more successful sense of suspense here than in most American superhero comics, and the pacing is right on the money for building up tension without getting too decompressed. The dialogue in this section is quite well-written and effectively establishes the various government agents’ personalities. There’s even an unexpected dash of dark humor here and there that underlies the horror. The question of just how immortal Hulk is gets addressed directly as well, and boy does the answer have major ramifications.
Unfortunately, the book’s second half loses considerable steam. There are a number of reasons for this, one of them being the almost total absence of Bruce Banner. There’s nothing wrong with the Hulk persona steering the ship for a while, but writer Al Ewing’s take on the character doesn’t feel as well-defined as his takes on the rest of the cast. The Absorbing Man also enters the fray, but he doesn’t contribute much of note.
With that said, the second half’s main flaw is probably that it doesn’t successfully make its mysteries interesting. There’s a lot of dramatic narration about the titular Green Door and other mysterious forces, but the unveiling of these elements leaves something to be desired. It’s all so grandiose that it feels abstract as opposed to grounded in the story, and it’s difficult to care about the implications until the very end.
Art-wise, this volume is a mixed bag but it works well more often than it doesn’t. Joe Bennett pencils the majority of the volume, and when he’s on he’s on. There are some great facial expressions throughout, and Bennett is good at choosing the right angles from which to frame images to maximize their suspense.
With that said, the action scenes don’t pack a whole lot of punch. The battle between Hulk and the Absorbing Man looks like fairly standard superhero drama until things take a shift for the weirder plot-wise. Colorist Paul Mounts delivers good work, although it varies a bit in terms of how effectively it enhances the scenes’ moods. Again, the earlier more mysterious moments are quite effective, but the action in the latter half isn’t as effectively rendered.
Overall, Immortal Hulk Vol. 2: The Green Door is good but not great. It starts off fantastic, but the second half feels generic and doesn’t create suspense nearly as well as the issues before it do. All in all I would recommend this volume, but it’s not the must-read that vol. 1 was.
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