Immortal Hulk continues to be a standout new book in Marvel’s so-called “fresh start”, delivering another tight and compelling horror-tinged Hulk story.
Al Ewing’s horror-tinged reimagining of the Hulk has thus far been one of the most captivating new titles of Marvel’s so-called “fresh start”, and that trend continues in Immortal Hulk #4.
Bruce Banner himself takes something of a back seat here; he’s barely present in the issue aside from in flashbacks, and his jolly green alter-ego doesn’t appear at all. Instead, the focus is on Walter Langkowski, former football player, space diplomat and superhero who, alongside reporter Jackie McGee, is hoping to track Banner through the various mysterious “sightings” that have followed in the wake of his bone-breaking do-gooderism.
The attention devoted to Walter, a long-time friend of Banner’s, allows Immortal Hulk #4 to delve briefly into the scientist’s past as an odd, temperamental genius, and the events that led to Walter attempting to emulate his research and becoming “Sasquatch”. There’s an obvious contrast between Banner’s insistence that science is “his”, and Walter’s casual approach to research as extracurricular “fun”.
While it feels like a slight step down from the previous issue, which was a masterful juggling of four perspectives, art and writing styles, Immortal Hulk #4 is still a tight, unnerving comic that develops the series’ underlying themes of duelling dual identities. It also, towards the end of the issue, touches on the idea that altruism can have unpleasant, unforeseen consequences; that involving yourself in the problems of others, whether you’re super-sized or a regular Joe, can lead to bigger problems for yourself and those around you.
Ewing’s writing is still the standout here, with Joe Bennett’s art complementing the story rather than stealing the show, although there are some great panels depicting the fallout of Hulk’s cross-country tourism. The sequencing builds suspense particularly well, especially during the build-up to the cliffhanger ending, and the Hulk as the centrepiece of a horror story, even when he’s barely around, continues to make for a riveting read.