Immortal Hulk #26 Review

by Charles Martin on November 06, 2019

Immortal Hulk #26 Review
Writer: Al Ewing
Penciller: Joe Bennett
Inker: Ruy José
Colourist: Paul Mounts
Letterer: Cory Petit
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Feeling lost or underwhelmed by the Immortal Hulk's recent digression into the realm of super-hard sci-fi

#26 is here with a new direction for you. How do you feel about political commentary, environmental activism, and all-out war?

While the future looks bright and green and deadly, this issue is very much a stage-setting exercise. Bruce attacks a new antagonist, and he takes his war surprisingly public, announcing his mission and his target in a pirate video address.

Al Ewing artfully tweaks the timeline, spacing the address itself out between other scenes to build a rising sense of tension and add impact when he slams new pieces down on the game board.

(And some of those new pieces are doozies. Beware the short-order cook at Everett's diner!)

There's plenty of intellectual debate; this issue features a long (and long-overdue) chat between Bruce Banner and Amadeus Cho as its centrepiece. And Doc Samson is still providing psychological commentary; this issue's serving is closely tied to the Banner/Cho chat.

This is also possibly the longest look we've gotten at Bruce Banner since the volume began. Undoubtedly insightful but also pretty disturbing; Amadeus has a penetrating opinion of the company Bruce is keeping in his head these days: "Uh-huh. The two most heroic Hulks aren't up for this. But you're not sure why. C'mon, dude."

The talk-heavy script tasks the art team with squeezing in a lot of dialogue balloons and a lot of faces. That means a pretty rigid panel layout; it's mostly six-box pages with a bump up to nine to make extra space for the most complex part of the Cho-chat.

Ruy José and Paul Mounts do their usual sterling work injecting depth and life into the art. Penciller Joe Bennett is playing some stylistic tricks with all the faces this issue calls for; there are exceptionally heavy shadows (with Mr. José's help) and a certain wall-eyed grotesquerie to many of these characters. It has the feel of early, heavily-inked Dan Clowes art. And I mean that in a mostly but not entirely complimentary way.

As to the content of the script, it's a dramatic shift in focus. It's contentious and political and drenched in social commentary. The above-mentioned structural tricks allow Mr. Ewing to show the effects of Bruce's war declaration before the reader gets the specifics. "Hulk Smash" becomes a rallying cry and a protest slogan, and in-universe pundits are already chewing up Bruce's words into an infuriating mish-mash of biased conclusions.

This is a dense issue with plenty of ideas to ponder. It's also a pretty slow set-up for more active stories to come. And it's charting a path that feels awfully distant from the cosmic madness the title just got through showing us. 

With these creators' impeccable track record, I have little doubt that Immortal Hulk #26 is the start of another wild and unmissable story. Considered strictly on its own, though, this is a slower issue. It offers plenty of food for thought, but few of the signature spectacles that past issues have burned into my brain. This is surely another important chapter, but it's all about setup rather than payoff.

Our Score:


A Look Inside