There are books whose reputation precedes them, books that are talked about in hushed, reverential whispers by the clued in, switched on and astute people in the know. The Immortal Hulk is one of those books. As I don’t move in the same circles as the hip and happening folks who are always sat in the front row of the cool bus before it departs, and up to this point, wasn’t exactly the world’s biggest fan* of the green goliath, it’s taken me a while to play catch up and get with the program. But having finally clambered aboard the V-8 powered Immortal Hulk charabanc, I’m trying to figure out a way to kick my own arse and cursing the fact that I didn’t listen to the net bound gossip and jump straight in after issue one hit the shelves of comic book stores everywhere. Because boys and girls, this is the best darn Hulk book since Greg Pak brough tBruce Banner’s alter-ago back from Sakaar.
Lovecraft once famously said that given strange aeons, even death may die and it seems that mortality won’t be alone when it’s end eventually comes, as the Hulk will be there waiting to cross the final threshold with the only other thing left in the Universe. Having returned from the grave on numerous occasions, the reason for Bruce Banner and his monsters tenacity is at long last revealed to the world, they’re immortal. They cannot die. Kill Banner by day and he returns as the Hulk when night falls, attempt to kill the Hulk during the hours of darkness and you’ll be lucky if you ever leave the hospital. Having accepted his fate as the Hulk, Banner now walks the Earth looking to bring justice, courtesy of his big green inner demon, to those who would hurt others in much the same way Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno did in the seventies television series, but with a lot more smashing, broken bones and destruction.
Al Ewing’s story is a love letter to the series that first made so many of us slightly longer in the tooth fans aware of the Hulk and is littered with sly winks and nods to David Banner’s journey. That said, at the same time it’s also one of those all too rare books that immediately draws you in, burning its way into your feverish imagination with a devastating combination of superb dialogue, incredible story-telling and vibrant characterisation that punches its way out of every panel and off every page thanks to Joe Bennett’s stunning art. Tackling murderers, former friends, mad scientists and the ghosts of their past, Banner and the Hulk, like a super steroid infused, Charles Bronson inspired avatar of jurisprudence, have finally, thanks to Ewing and Bennett, found their place in the world. Let the smashing begin… Tim Cundle
*Apart from Planet Hulk and World War Hulk both of which completely blew my mind. They ruined every other Banner story for me because nothing else even came close to them. Until now. Until the Immortal Hulk arrived.