Immortal Hulk #18 Review

by Charles Martin on May 29, 2019

Immortal Hulk #18 Review
Writer: Al Ewing
Penciller: Joe Bennett
Inker: Ruy José
Colourist: Paul Mounts
Letterer: Cory Petit
Publisher: Marvel Comics

I have to rein in my smugness when I see that the Immortal Hulk is up for an Eisner award for best ongoing series. True, I said this creative team was aimed at an Eisner very early on. But that was hardly a unique or daring prediction; the Immortal Hulk is too bloody good not to attract "best of the industry" acclaim.

What's remarkable, looking back, is that this series kicked off with powerful one-shots that jerked away the curtain concealing its scary star one little peek at a time. 

It's segued into a remarkably nuanced story that effortlessly weaves ongoing multiple plot threads together in a way that few comics - particularly Marvel comics - dare attempt these days.

Immortal Hulk #18 gives us a slightly bigger glimpse at Betty, stitches Doc Samson into Gamma Flight, and finally reveals the new Abomination. It also brings the Hulk face to face with it (ooh, that feels spoilery) while putting off the real confrontation to the next issue.

That's plenty of plot-balls to keep in the air, but Al Ewing's script doesn't come within a mile of fumbling any of them. It also introduces a new thread: Bruce Banner wakes up after an eight-day blackout and discovers Joe Fixit's been busy.

The art makes a treat out of this. Bruce can feel lip-fuzz and deduce he has a mustache now, but he refrains from making a closer examination. He has a brilliant reason: These days, all he sees in a mirror is Devil Hulk.

What he's missing out on is a nasty trick Joe Bennet and Ruy José show the reader with incredible skill: Joe hasn't just grown a mustache. He's made the Banner body look like Brian Banner to a disturbing degree.

This visual surprise ties neatly onto the plot during an engaging conference between Bruce and the Devil Hulk. Bruce is trying to take his sprawling committee of Hulk-personalities in hand. His current look reminds us that he's attempting this with woefully incomplete information. He knows less than he thinks about what they're up to. And the reverse may also be true: We have no reason to assume he's being entirely truthful when he tells the Devil Hulk they're on the same side.

The artists continue to excel at pursuits beyond human portraiture, of course. Their new Abomination is a memorably terrifying stalker. The texture and details of its body link strongly to past incarnations, but its head is a horrifying keep-you-up-at-night novelty. It terminates in a clutch of grasping claws, and it has no compunction about gobbling up innocents headfirst while it shambles after the Hulk.

Paul Mounts orchestrates a suitably creepy colour palette. There's a little neon gamma green involved - because c'mon, it's the Hulk - but most of the colour choices are nuanced and remarkably subtle. Mr. Mounts's work evokes dim nighttime settings without sacrificing any detail. I'm particularly enamoured with the heavy blue shades he uses to cast the Alpha Flight Space Station into plot-appropriate gloom.

With sales figures, awards nominations, and nigh-universal acclaim verifying their storytelling talent, the creators of the Immortal Hulk forge confidently ahead with a delightful dose of long-form storytelling. #18 fascinates even though the big fights and twists are largely restricted to foreshadowing. The creators believe their story is compelling enough to keep readers riveted even in its quieter moments. They're absolutely right.

Our Score:


A Look Inside


Charles Martin's picture
You might be thinking the Abomination's "reverse facehugger" design is a bit silly. The Big Reveal at the end should change your thinking in a hurry.