Writer: Al Ewing / Artist: Joe Bennett / Marvel
This issue of the Immortal Hulk did not go at all the way that I expected it to. Packed with great character moments, shocking surprises, and all the horror genre vibes that you can ask for, this has to be one of the best issues of Hulk yet. For the first time in Al Ewing’s run with the green goliath, he has managed to make his take on the Hulk look vulnerable. That’s saying something considering we had an issue where the Hulk was chopped up into several different pieces and put little jars.
The first surprise has to be the current state of Abomination. The character has returned as a grotesque (I find myself using that word a lot with this book) amalgamation of Emil Blonsky and Rick Jones’ corpse. While this revelation happens at the end of issue #18, there is a lot to unpack here. From the Abomination’s new abilities to the realization that there is no line that General Fortean won’t cross to bring these monsters under his control.
The Abomination’s new Frankensteinesque form actually reveals less about poor Emil and Rick’s new state and more about General Fortean. More than any other issue before, it feels like Ewing has given us the most in-depth look at the character yet. In the process, he’s established that Fortean is more than a General Ross clone. He’s an extremist who will do whatever it takes to get the mission done…collateral damage be damned. Fortean also holds a fascination with these creatures that borders on the perverse. I’d go as far as to say that he’s the one monster of this book that’s in human form.
Another character who gets the spotlight is Betty Ross. As we saw, she has been lurking around in her new bird-like from since her “death.” Yet, we have yet to see her mental state since this moment. Ewing corrects that with this issue with a fantastic self-evaluation by Betty, who is forced to consider her selfhood apart from Bruce and her father. Bennett’s pencil work evokes fear and horror in each panel of Betty, sending chills down your spine. I haven’t had a feeling like this for a character since the Devil Hulk was introduced in the first issue. Don’t even get me started on the last panel/page of the book. It is the most unsettling imagery I have seen from the series so far. It just feels like Bennett’s talents were made for this story.
10 “Hearts Eaten out of the Marketplace” out of 10
Reading The Immortal Hulk? Find BNP’s other reviews of the series here.