Immortal Hulk #39 Review

by Charles Martin on October 28, 2020

Immortal Hulk #39 Review
Writer: Al Ewing
Penciller: Joe Bennett
Inkers: Ruy José & Belardino Brabo
Colourist: Paul Mounts
Letterer: Cory Petit
Publisher: Marvel Comics

This issue opens up with a long flashback scene that gives us all the details of exactly how Brian Banner and the Leader "teamed up" in the Below-Place.

Why yes, it does involve a giant-sized dose of body horror! 

Before I talk about the climactic battle that fills out the contemporary part of the issue, let me commend Al Ewing for an amazing job of long-term story-smithing. I'm pretty sure that Brian Banner was locked in as a key antagonist from the very start of the volume. And I'm equally sure that the Leader was added to the mix later on, after the creators had proven the quality and longevity of their work.

This flashback is how Mr. Ewing hammers the two villains together. It's not a seamless fusion; the Leader's Johnny-come-lately status is still apparent. But Mr. Ewing uses tremendous craft to embellish the joint and make it appealing -- this is essentially a textbook example of how to join a newer character arc into a story.

The contemporary action involves a showdown in Bruce Banner's mindscape that pits his key alters (Bruce, Joe, Savage Hulk, and Devil Hulk) against the Leader. I don't want to spoil any of the twists, but suffice it to say, things do not go well for Bruce.

On the visual front, I risk re-using past superlatives in praising Joe Bennett's amazing body horror art. He remains incredibly consistent and ever-imaginative; this issue's serving involves a lot of face-splitting and evisceration. Mr. Bennett's latest designs are moving into very Geiger-esque territory, causing carnage with striking memorability.

Mr. Bennett's artistic teammates are holding up their end of the work just fine. Inkers Ruy José and Belardino Brabo put down a plethora of hash-lines with precision and care, fully executing Mr. Bennett's vision. Paul Mounts's colours are a low-key spectacle, using strongly-contrasting palettes to ensure each character is distinct. And he's making magic with ambient lighting, too, using reds in the Below-Place and blues in the mindscape.

Besides the orchestration of the big picture plot, Al Ewing's script also delivers some praiseworthy prose. Each character has his own voice, with the Leader coming off utterly megalomaniacal and Savage Hulk delivering some tearful, heart-wrenching lines. The overall tone that unites the dialogue is clarity. It's remarkable how much range there is within that tone; where the Leader's clarity sounds brutal, the Savage Hulk's is childlike.

Immortal Hulk #39 is another dark chapter in the Leader's assault on the Hulk. The latest developments are terrifying and the visuals break yet more new ground when it comes to body horror. This climactic episode just serves as another proof of the fact that this series is one of the best horror comics being published by Marvel -- or by anyone.

Our Score:


A Look Inside


Charles Martin's picture
Like the Leader's amorphous new form wasn't scary enough! Joe Bennett cranks the body horror up to 12 here.