Even before this week, Immortal Hulk is a property that will stand the test of time and is clearly an instant classic. Then Mike del Mundo and Jeff Lemire had to come along and add their greatness to the series with a new one-shot! This is a comic set mostly in the day and yet it is deeply dark. This is a story about monsters and yet the main character is a child. This is a story about Hulk being a monster who does what he must for justice, and yet he squishing a lot of heads.
The Immortal Hulk: The Threshing Place opens with a quote from Joel 2:24-25 about “the threshing places.” It sets up the story in a way to convey that hard times happen, but God will provide and turn things around with a bounty. Soon, though, we learn a little girl is missing and Bruce Banner realizes some kind of monster situation is afoot. It’s a detective story, more or less, and Bruce is teaming up with the Hulk to resolve it. It’s a nice reminder these two are in fact two personalities in one body and thus have different opinions and tackle problems differently. More importantly, they both care.
The art by Del Mundo is fabulous, especially when it leans into body horror. It’s totally in his style, not too hyper-realistic, and it comes with lots of colors and eye-catching beauty. Hulk himself looks great with an impressive forehead which you can see on the cover and a body that’s dark green and filled with shadow across his bulbous muscles. There are fight scenes too, which play around with the layout to draw your eye well. Overall, the use of color creates a foggy and subtly terrifying look to the book. Backgrounds seem to sit in a haze, creating a mysterious atmosphere throughout the book. When the Immortal Hulk pops up, backgrounds continue to be in a haze, but his terrible violence is only heightened in the use of deep color in contrast.
The use of color, with Marco D’Alfonso on colors too, is great. There’s whimsy here and there, strong use of shadow throughout especially in the final pages, and a heightened sense of emotion on the page thanks to the colors. Effects like motion blur and focus are also used expertly to draw the eye and enhance the story on the page.
Something Immortal Hulk fans will love about this book is how this version is heroic, but as ruthless and violent as ever. The nightmare that is Immortal Hulk is a bit more rational than we’ve seen when the series started under Al Ewing, but his terrible rage is still on display. There’s a point where a character pleads for their lives and Hulk cares not, which is not customary of normal heroes, but this isn’t any normal hero. In this way, the creative team has created something here that feels nostalgic and of a time before Smart Hulk ever entered the scene. This all adds up to a narrative that’s tantalizing since it’s so different from modern hero-Hulk and may even make you wish the traveling hero who commits terrible violence is a good format for the character.
The Immortal Hulk: The Threshing Place is the perfect Hulk story both for readers who loved the classic monster version of Hulk and for those who have enjoyed the recent run. This is a version of Hulk that’s terrifying and yet holds the preciousness of life dear. This is a story about how an untamed monster finds justice in a world where justice is hard to come by due to the nature of protected entities larger than ourselves.