Comic Book Review: Immortal Hulk #11
Expect the unexpected. I never once thought those were the words I would ever use to describe a run of the Hulk, but here we are. It’s a great feeling of course. Who isn’t blown away by a story where there is more to the thrill than the next thing that the Hulk will smash? Not to mention when there’s a dynamic between the Hulk and Banner where there is a simple acceptance of what they have, and what they are. What are they now? Unfortunate for them, in Hell.
Unexpected was also what we got from the get-go in this issue. I was caught off guard by the discussion that Jackie McGee and Hulk were able to have upon arrival of this land. I mean, before we get into hell itself, lets take a step back to appreciate the fact that we are back to a version of the Hulk where he is capable of full sentences and thoughts. Not that this hasn’t been him in the past, but not like this. Not with the kind of diction that gives you chills for what looks like a monster, yet is not. Certainly not in this weakened form either. This was a great time for Jackie McGee as well when we could finally have that moment to find out what makes this woman tick. Her role in this story was always the human perspective to this madness, but this is the first time that we took that step forward to understand what goes through the mind of someone who chases after stories of the Hulk. Do you fear him? Do you marvel at him? Do you question where the line in the sand is drawn for someone like him? We got so many answers and so much more. I appreciated her answer to this more for the fact that this was also taken from the perspective of someone colored who sees another person who can get away with so much for what he is capable of. It also made sense coming from a journalist as well. Everything was right on the mark for a woman in her profession.
What made this all the more memorable of a moment shared between Jackie and Hulk is the way that he responded to her questions and breakdown of his relevance to the world. To see that even he never acknowledged certain things about himself that put him in these cycles was brilliant. Honestly, for as long as the Hulk has walked this Earth, I don’t think he has ever had anyone try to explain why he feels the way he does. Maybe this is a problem on other writer’s end for sticking to basics, to actions above everything else, but this was a great time to shake things up.
The use of Puck here was admirable for the fact that Ewing took us all the way back to a story involving this character that made this more of his element than most. Some of the best dialogue I have seen from him too when he takes things seriously. You would not believe half the things about him if you didn’t have this other side to him that has been through some stuff.
Aside from this, the horror and mystery kicked off once again. Not as terrifying as the issue before, but definitely had you doing a double-take at some of the ways this Hell tries to mess with their minds. The only question we are left with by the end is what we are truly dealing with in terms of who is pulling the strings of this new development. That and how in hell (pun intended) the Hulk in the state he is in will overcome this obstacle.
For this issue, this was some of the best artwork produced by this art team so far. Not for the quality of the work, that has had a commendable consistency up to this point. What jumps out at you is the creativeness put into the story-boarding of this chapter. It made such a big difference in the way they visualized this tour of Hell on Earth like something out of a classic movie. It looked poetic by the way we cut to that sequence of black and white panels capturing what the rest of the world looks like in relation to Hulk’s philosophical ramblings. The way they rendered this hell was also unique for the post-apocalyptic vibe and atmosphere they gave to the world. It was empty, the colors were pretty bleak, but it was nothing you were too used to when others would be quick to jump to hellfire and demons in every direction. Aside from this, I enjoyed the continued look of this weakened Hulk. You just don’t get used to seeing him this flabby and stripped of power. Somehow it also helped make some of his expressions more human in the process which is a cool development. As for Jackie, it also should be said how fun it was to see this woman who was more concerned with the talk she could finally have than the idea that she was in Hell. Her basic responses in general were shocking for someone who on the surface seems to have jumped straight to acceptance of what was unfolding around her.
Immortal Hulk #11 got my head turning in the best way. I did not think one of the most engaging issues would come of a trip to Hell. Not like this, and that is what continues to make this series so standout. It’s not about the scare tactics or the things you do for shock, it is the way you set a stage and embrace everything out of the ordinary in the Hulk’s orbit.