This week marks the third to last issue in Al Ewing and Joe Bennett’s incredible Immortal Hulk run. Can they close the Green door, bring these characters to a natural and fulfilling ending, and do it while blowing our minds with intense body horror? Judging how great this series is, the answer is almost certainly yes, but in this 48th issue, the Hulk and Betty Ross need to have a chat.
If you need to catch up, Marvel recently released volume 8 of this series which will get you to Immortal Hulk #45. Ewing and Bennett also open this issue with a recap of the relationship Bruce Banner and Betty have had over the years. It’s a nice reminder their relationship has had more good moments than bad. This first page cuts to Hulk — currently controlled by Joe Fixit — and Betty in bed. Hulk is literally zipping up his pants as they discuss what their relationship really means. For the most part, this issue evaluates Betty’s relationship with not only the Hulk, but Joe and Bruce Banner too.
Ewing smartly adds an element of tension a third of the way through the issue by having the Hulk reveal to Betty he left Bruce in Hell. Considering the two were getting on well enough up until that moment, and Betty was practically admitting her and Bruce are over, the tension in the room escalates. The conversation they have is compelling, not only as two monsters but as two characters who have suffered for years. Hiding their true selves, lying, and coming to grips with the truth of why they rage add interesting wrinkles to both characters. Hulk makes an interesting point about growing up that ties into his anger and that understanding will play a part in Joe growing.
Also in the issue is a scene with She-Hulk and Jackie, who are waiting for Hulk and Betty to rest up. Ewing gives Jackie thoughtful points to make — she started with this series and she’s going to be an important factor till the very end. Ewing writes a good She-Hulk too, as she’s a matter of fact and kind of over all the Hulk drama.
The art by Bennett with inks by Ruy Jose and Belardino Brabo and colors by Paul Mounts are exceptional. It’s cool to see the size of these characters in a normal hotel room, or the horrific glow of Hulk’s eyes give him a ghostly appearance. The pacing is on point on every page, slowing down with more panels, or speeding up with wider ones. Hulk’s face is truly ghastly and deeply cut with a brow that makes it practically indiscernible from a human face at times. Meanwhile, Betty’s entire look is grotesque, like the tear in her cheeks that elongates her mouth, or her tubular long neck. These characters don’t throw a single punch and it’s as impactful as the most epic fight comics. Speaking of epic, there’s an excellent cut-away to other superheroes you’ll linger on to take in all the details.
In a quieter issue, Immortal Hulk #48 slows things down to allow Joe Fixit and Betty Ross a chance to speak their minds. It pays off, with thoughtful commentary on their desires and fears, but also who they really are underneath the ghastly monsters they walk the Earth with. The horror of these characters is present on every page and Ewing never lets us forget that horror exists inside them as much as outside them.
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