Al Ewing and Aaron Kuder are delivering a holiday present to readers this week with a King in Black tie-in featuring the Immortal Hulk. What glee, what surprise, and what a beautiful comic! The new one-shot features a comic without a single word balloon which is always an exciting treat for longtime readers, but can it pull off the visual feast? The answer may surprise you.
When it comes to comic books that feature no dialogue or captions, it’s a tricky thing to wrap your head around. On the one hand, the creators are playing with a visual medium to the extreme, but on the other, these books tend to be quickly read and consumed. It also puts a lot of pressure on the artist to do all the work. Whether you read this comic in two minutes or ten depends on how long you linger on the page, and for the most part, Kuder excels at making us sit and look at the Hulk and wonder what he could be thinking.
That’s where the joy in reading this comic resides. There are many close up shots of Hulk thinking or reacting to something and it’s fun to ponder what is going on in his head. That’s further interesting because we’re experiencing a childlike Hulk who isn’t quite sure what is going on. It’s a rare example of how Hulk needs help, especially in this issue where many of his alter egos are missing, like Bruce Banner. Enter Joe Fixit, whose help is especially needed in these modern Immortal Hulk times.
This book is also a great horror comic. The Symbiotes Knull has unleashed on the Earth are plenty, but here Hulk only has to deal with one. That one is ferocious and wild and incredibly dangerous. Kuder draws some gnarly stuff when it comes to the Symbiote eating the flesh of human victims. There is a horror that resides in the things Hulk does to it too, and we also get another showstopper transformation of the Hulk to Joe Fixit that’ll make you feel sick. In a good way. There is also a bizarre nature to how Kuder draws the Hulk’s face which is childlike, but embellished and weird. It’s an unnerving sight.
Color artists Frank Martin and Erick Arciniega do a wonderful job with this issue. Set right after the sun has set, there’s faint darkness that’s unmistakable by those who live in the city. The use of blues in the sky suggests the city is lighting the snowy night ever so slightly. Light is used quite a bit, from a broken electrical circuit on a lamp post to the headlights of a police car. The colors in this book are telling just as much story as the pencils.
King In Black: Immortal Hulk #1 is an enjoyable visual feast that succeeds in pulling off a holiday horror story. It ties into King in Black just enough to offer something for fans of the event, but Immortal Hulk fans will enjoy the rich play of what goes on in Hulk’s head and the grotesque art they’ve come to expect.
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