Immortal Hulk #37

by Charles Martin on September 16, 2020

Immortal Hulk #37
Writer: Al Ewing
Penciller: Joe Bennett
Inkers: Ruy José & Belardino Brabo
Colourist: Paul Mounts
Letterer: Cory Petit
Publisher: Marvel Comics

I think "good comic" is the lower bar for issues of the Immortal Hulk. There are plenty of "excellent" issues and, I'd argue, a wonderfully unlikely number of "greatest of all time" comics. One sign of an exceptional issue is the presence of head-cracking new ideas about the title's "Green Door" mechanics.

#37 is setting off my head-cracking alarm like a mother☠️☠️☠️☠️☠️☠️.

The Leader is the motive force of the action again, like the excellent Immortal Hulk #34. This one goes a step further by shifting the Leader's focus from "how I got here" to "what I'm actually planning."

It means revealing a lot more of what he knows about the Green Door and the Below-Place. It would be simply unconscionable for me to spill the beans here, but discussing the story at all does require sharing some ideas. 

So let me rip just one band-aid off: Previous issues have clearly established that the Leader's hag-riding poor Rick Jones. #37 reveals that Rick isn't his only puppet.

A second is revealed straight away and used as a mouthpiece for an extensive conversation with Doc Samson. And I think I can discuss the issue meaningfully without flat-out revealing the identity. (Recalling the end of Immortal Hulk #36 will make it easy to figure out, though.)

Anyway, while the Leader is subjecting Samson to one of the all-time nastiest villain gloats, the Savage Hulk is still going toe-to-toe with Gamma Flight and a pissed-off Crusher Creel who's taken the form of a Gamma tornado.

This issue has something of a Dr. Jekyl/Mr. Hyde thing going on. The Leader's section is (appropriately) cerebral, while the Hulk's part is spectacularly physical. The ideas in the Leader section are so provocative that they risk overshadowing the fighty part.

But the fight must not be overlooked, thanks mainly to the undeniable brilliance of Joe Bennett and his faithful inkers. "Hulk vs. a human storm" is a hard sell but this art team sells the Below-Place out of it. Paul Mounts's colours help a great deal here, particularly on the cinematic double-spreads.

But they do even more in the Leader's section, where the Below Place takes shape as a delicate balance of green vs. red. The artists are also working hard on the Leader himself in his part of the book.

Have you noticed that the Leader's character design has been pretty inconsistent so far? This issue has a marvellous justification for it. He is the chameleon, the grass snake, the shape-shifter in this title's mythos. I have no problem with him changing looks even more. Mr. Bennett comes up with several fresh ones for this installment that are spectacular in their creepitude. 

Al Ewing's script hits all of the usual high notes. The pace is outstanding, and the hops between the two ongoing stories are perfectly timed. The language is smooth and the dialogue sounds natural, but this is one issue where the heft of the ideas far outweighs the aesthetic value of the prose. Mr. Ewing's going to blow your mind with what he's saying here rather than how he's saying it.

Immortal Hulk #37 swings the spotlight back to the Leader, and watching the current storyline deform around his well-laid plans (and insider knowledge) is horrifically fascinating. Bodyguarded by its usual artistic excellence and a finely-wrought script, this issue is more than just a great read. It's a delivery system for a fresh load of fascinating new hints about the title's wider mythology -- and thus an indispensable treat for fans of the series.

Our Score:


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Charles Martin's picture
Maybe we spent one page too many in the memories of "Gamma zombie kid whose name I can never remember." On the other hand, the memory scene has a brilliant structural trick the requires repetition.