Immortal Hulk is starting to stand alongside classics like Dark Night Returns, Daredevil: Born Again, and maybe even the Dark Phoenix Saga. The series is not only reinventing Bruce Banner and the Hulk, but making them relevant on a cultural level. Al Ewing and Joe Bennett have taken the character further than I ever expected and that’s more apparent than ever in the sixth volume, collecting issues #26-30. Bruce Banner and the Hulk are now working together to stamp out the greatest threat to humanity there is: corporations.
The opening issue in this collection establishes the fact that Bruce is very angry and more dangerous than ever. He’s going to strike out at those who are destroying our Earth for capitalist gain. What better villain to put in front of him then Minotaur, a variable allusion to the charging bull statue outside of Wall Street. This volume forces Hulk/Bruce to come to grips with allies, prepare a first and mighty strike, and show the world he is the hero they want. Ewing aptly has Hulk call back to Planet Hulk in an invigorating and somehow empowering moment in the issue. This underdog approach only gets more real by the end of the book when Minotaur reveals how those with power and money can manipulate the masses.
Once you reach the point where people are taking to the street with Hulk masks at rallies, there’s no turning back. Hulk may break the rules by smashing private property, but he does it for humanity’s sake. By the end of the book, it’s quite clear we need a Hulk of our own and sadly we won’t get it. In an apt moment between Amadeus Cho and Bruce, Banner explains how heroes like Iron Man are part of the establishment. They aren’t changing anything. Hulk, however, can smash and break the things that are truly holding this world back and poisoning it at the same time. Given the political climate of today, it’s hard to argue with Bruce’s point of view. Maybe utter annihilation from a giant green hero is what we need.
If you enjoy monsters, you’re going to love this issue. The Hulk is frightening enough–there’s a scene with Bruce changing that’s horrific and we can only see him change via shadow–and Bennett gets to draw a hell of a lot of freaky monstrosities in this issue. Minotaur is freakish enough with his drooling open mouth which adds a refinement to the monster madness in this volume. Then you have giant kaiju beasts for Hulk to smash too. There are enough beasts in this book to fill a monster museum.
When you put this book down I dare you not to feel empowered and also very angry. We’re all under the thumb of something, and it usually leads to corporations and the greed of the super-rich. If you take anything from this book, hold dear the fact that becoming aware of the problem is the first step to a resolution at all.
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