Immortal Hulk #29 Review

by Charles Martin on January 08, 2020

Immortal Hulk #29 Review
Writer: Al Ewing
Penciller: Joe Bennett
Inkers: Ruy José, Belardino Brabo & Cam Smith
Colourist: Paul Mounts
Letterer: Cory Petit
Publisher: Marvel Comics

This issue of the Hulk is all about traps. Dario Agger dumps four giant nightmare monsters on Phoenix, Arizona in a transparent and successful attempt to draw out the Hulk and his friends.

I appreciate the transparency. It's a key part of the way this arc is characterizing Agger and Roxxon: Utterly without shame in their destructive schemes. And I also appreciate the heroic characters being aware of the transparency. Dr. McGowan and Bruce both immediately conclude the trap is a trap; Jackie McGee discusses Roxxon's shamelessness in a thematically-related chat just before the monsters strike.

This issue wraps up before the "Hulk vs. Kaiju" fight can get properly started. In addition to smart strategic talk about the conflict -- coming from both the heroes and the villain -- #29 delivers a little Hulk psychoanalysis courtesy of Doc Samson.

Betty is his audience, and she is a pretty bored one. Though Betty's characterization is by no means the focus of the issue, I'm still endlessly fascinated by what Al Ewing is doing with her. 

She's bored by the psychoanalysis because she has her own, very private thoughts on the Hulk's character. The one glimpse we get here is her continued enforcement of a personal rule: Bruce Banner doesn't get to see Betty anymore, ever. The instant he enters the scene, the Harpy is there in Betty's place. 

Betty's rule is so complicated and ambiguous and meaningful; I love it! And it also suggests a little bit of a personality divide for her as well as the Hulk. Betty and Bruce are on the outs for sure, but later scenes show that Harpy and Hulk are at least civil with each other. 

Artist Joe Bennett brings his usual level of scrupulous detail to the calm before the kaiju-storm. The inking team follows him closely, using copious hash-shading to bring the characters into three-dimensional life.

So much work on that front is handled by the lines that colourist Paul Mounts simply needs to put the cherries on the top with a few carefully-considered highlights and shadows.

He saves the high-intensity colours for the kaiju unleashed at the end. While I'm sure each of Roxxon's four monsters will distinguish itself, for now, they look rather similar. Mr. Mounts paints them grey, green, red, and blue, and the colour-coding is already a tremendous help in keeping them straight.

It's assistance that I wish wasn't needed. While Mr. Bennett makes the monsters look formidable and frightening, they blur together a bit in terms of design. Part of this, I think, is down to the script and the larger structure of the arc. Because the real kaiju fight isn't happening until the next issue, this one doesn't give the artist a lot of space to give all four of his monsters the love they deserve.

On a more detailed level, though, Al Ewing does an admirable job of structuring this script. The individual scenes adroitly raise the points he wants to make. Then the author begins cutting between them to examine the relationships between those points. Agger's second scene intermingles with Jackie's first one in a tremendously skilled way.

Immortal Hulk #29 blasts us quickly toward a monster fight of truly titanic proportions. While this issue is all about setup, there's ample attention paid to both the conflict between Shadow Base and Roxxon and the characters at the heart of it. Solid art (on the characters more than the monsters) and compelling writing demonstrate once again that this series can easily hold our attention in between the big battles.

Our Score:


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Charles Martin's picture
Check the ticker on the TV news report on the monster attack: "Wade Wilson unavailable for comment." Mr. Ewing must be reading the new volume of Deadpool; he knows Wade is currently technically King of the Monsters.