Immortal Hulk #20 Review

by Charles Martin on July 03, 2019

Immortal Hulk #20 Review
Writer: Al Ewing
Penciller: Joe Bennett
Inkers: Ruy José, Belardino Brabo & Marc Deering
Colourist: Paul Mounts
Letterer: Cory Petit

"Post-Credits" Page:
Writer: Al Ewing
Artist: Brian Level
Colourist: Paul Mounts
Letterer: Clayton Cowles

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Al Ewing is nice enough to hand us this gem of a line in the first act of Immortal Hulk #20:

"Everything is more than one thing, Bruce."

It's cool, it's clever, it's ominous, it's ambiguous. It's a hint and a decoder ring for managing the manifold meanings packed into this title; everything Al Ewing and Joe Bennett and their collaborators put on the pages is worth a second, closer look.

On the most direct reading, that lovely line is Brian Banner's/The One Below All's statement on Gamma radiation. Bruce wants it to be a purely scientific phenomenon, but it is undeniably more than that. It is magic as well as science.

#19 ended with Betty Ross in her monstrous Harpy form chowing down on the Hulk's heart, Goya-style. I don't think it's too much of a spoiler to reveal that that doesn't put the Immortal Hulk out of action for very long. 

In fact, when it comes to the wham-bam physical fighting that continues in this issue, the latest death of the Hulk is barely a speedbump. He's back to smashing with head-spinning speed, defeating Shadow Base's "War Wagons" and then hitting the road just ahead of Gamma Flight with a new entourage that we are positively desperate to see more of.

Joe Bennett and his inking crew balance the book's visuals neatly between intense conversations and intense combat, bringing ample detail to both. The fighting is headlined by a pair of big double spreads that showcase first the Hulk and then the War Wagons.

My favourite art moment is a little later on, though, just after the Hulk conclusively wraps up that battle. One big panel shows the aftermath in an extreme long shot. The Hulk is a tiny dot, off of the center. But his gravity is enormous; the panel rotates around him. He's balanced by a huge explosion on one side and on the other by the huge shadow he casts.

It is a visual "wow" moment for sure.

It's also a full-spectrum demonstration of Paul Mounts's continued colouring excellence. This issue's characters and settings challenge him to use every part of the rainbow and keep it all harmonious. The fight is set in a moody blue night and has to balance the Hulk and the Harpy; the allegorical conversation between Brian and Bruce similarly needs to swing between hellish red and gamma green. Mr. Mounts makes it all work with a deceptive smoothness.

Al Ewing's script is also a balancing act. In the "real" world, the forces in conflict with each other settle into a fascinating three-way standoff between Shadow Base, Gamma Flight, and the Hulk's new crew. 

Bruce Banner's foray into a more allegorical mindscape renews his conflict with The One Below All and gives us a peek at a potential counterbalance to TOBA, something just as powerful and mysterious on the other end of the moral spectrum.

Bruce's terrible father is still in the mix, but further family developments put even him into a potential position of balance.

We're 20 issues deep and the creators are confidently showing us there's no end to the complexities and mysteries we'll encounter when we follow the Immortal Hulk. It's a book of duality and tension, and this beautiful installment twists the knives even further with its deft balance of real-world and allegorical troubles.

Our Score:


A Look Inside


Charles Martin's picture
I'm glad this book remains jam-packed with conceptual detail along with its visual and verbal subtlety. It's surely neither accidental nor meaningless that Bruce Banner spends the first scene holding up the Hulk's too-big purple pants.