Immortal Hulk #44 Review

by Charles Martin on March 10, 2021

Immortal Hulk #44 Review
Writer: Al Ewing
Penciller: Joe Bennett
Inkers: Ruy José & Belardino Brabo
Colourist: Paul Mounts
Letterer: Cory Petit
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Sometime in the (hopefully very distant) future, the Immortal Hulk will end and comics scholars will start analyzing it as a complete opus.

I hope that one of those future scholars tries singling out the issues that start with a quote from the Book of Job -- of which #44 is the latest.

Is the Job quote a sign that this is a "Hulk must suffer" issue? Signs point to yes; we see a particularly brutal Hulk-death here. (Surely the Hulk dying is not a spoiler at this point?)

The U-Foes tearing into the badly-weakened Savage Hulk is the meat of this issue. They all do significant damage, punting the Hulk from Manhattan to New Jersey before finishing him off.

Off the track of the main plotline, we get a few vital nuggets of development in New Mexico, including a subtle-but-huge power-up for one of the title's supporting characters; a little narration from professional government hemorrhoid HP Gyrich; and (maybe this is spoilery) a return to the Below-Place.

What this means from a scripting point of view, I think, is that all of this arc's threads are on the page and running. Now it's up to the author to tie them together, as he's done so splendidly in the past.

If any comics writer has earned reader faith with his long-form storytelling skills, it's Al Ewing. In this issue he delivers plenty of tight dialogue; the U-Foes, in particular, emerge as a believably nasty team of villains play-acting at being heroes.

But #44's serving of plot development is a bit loose. Gyrich's narration is not nearly as structural as that of Joe Fixit in the previous issue, which provided a spinal viewpoint for the whole comic. Gyrich sprinkles the occasional caption all the way through the book, but by the end, they're more distracting than constructive.

The art team is working to its usual high standard. At first, the use of a now-familiar Hulk design -- the skin-and-bones low-power version of the Savage Hulk -- lulls you into a false sense of familiarity.

Joe Bennett's trademark inventive horror roars in with a vengeance once the U-Foes go to work on him, though. And the Leader-husk in the New Mexico scene (Is that the Leader?) is also rendered creepily enough to spark a fresh nightmare or two.

Inkers Ruy José and Belardino Brabo and colourist Paul Mounts remain integral parts of the title's artistic glory. They do particularly well with the U-Foes. Different inking strategies emphasize the different textures of the villains, and their splashy powers give Mr. Mounts an excuse to explore under-represented sectors of the palette: fiery oranges for Vector, angry magentas for X-Ray, and a distinctive combination of muted lines and colours for Vapor.

This issue is definitely a 2nd-act comic, a thread of connective tissue that pulls together the ongoing arc without delivering much resolution. In a lesser title, one that hadn't gone above and beyond my expectations over and over again, I would probably rate a "process" issue like this a little lower. 

But this is the Immortal Hulk. I know all the pieces matter and I have no problem waiting for a payoff. Plus, of course, it looks and sounds fantastic, showcasing a level of storytelling skill that few other comics can match.

Immortal Hulk #44 spools out a few more story threads, defining the scope of the arc without bringing the story to the boiling point (even though it does, technically, kill the Hulk). The words and art are more than strong enough to string me along through a slow set-up process; I have every confidence that the results will be fantastic.

Our Score:


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Charles Martin's picture
I don't feel the need to review every issue of this title anymore because quality-checking the Immortal Hulk is like checking to see if a Japanese train is on schedule. You can just assume the operators are doing a world-class job because that's what they always do.