Immortal Hulk #43
New York City holds eight million people...and harbors one monster. A creature of chaos and anarchy, driven by rage and contempt for the structures of man. His criminal activities continue even while the beast is hidden in the skin of an ordinary human. But don’t be afraid, citizens. This radioactive disease has a cure. The U-FOES are here... and they’re going to kill the HULK. Say “thank you.”
Al Ewing’s Immortal Hulk is excellent, one of the most consistently great titles on shelves right now. It can be hard to find anything new to say about it, but the current arc, and this issue, have begun a process of raising the tension to almost unbearable levels.
Things are slowly spinning out of control on every front right now, and the ease with which Ewing keeps it balanced is commendable.
This issue could be reasonably called a “breather,” given that it’s light on action and horror, but what it’s really doing is raising the stakes and foreshadowing a potentially cataclysmic confrontation between Hulk and the One Below All. Joe Fixit is in the driver’s seat in Banner’s body right now, and he’s working on laying low and keeping out of sight. Ewing’s work on Fixit has been great, showing him to be alternately vicious and practical, but capable of the same compassion that marks each one of Banner’s alters. Sure, he steals, but it’s from a guy who wouldn’t really notice the money was gone, and he eventually allows the Hulk to intervene when someone is being roughed up by the cops. This triggers his confrontation with the U-Men, which is the cliffhanger—another one of the hallmarks of the series.
Along the way, readers are treated to scenes showcasing the U-Foes’ powers, and a particularly horrifying double-page spread of Rick Jones, fully transformed into a monster. It’s the only true “horror” scene in the issue, but it’s smartly placed midway through a more mundane, caption-heavy Joe Fixit sequence, maximizing its impact. Everything is paced and plotted with precision. Ewing knows how to keep people reading.
None of this would be possible without the assistance of the rest of the creative team, and, as usual, they deliver. Ewing and penciler Joe Bennett have been working together for so long now it’s easy to see how well they sync up. Bennett knows how to use layouts to lull readers into an easy trance, and then hits the splash pages with Dutch angles to jolt us back into the comic. It’s a simple but effective trick. And Bennett’s versatility is on full display here, getting to big sci-fi action, body horror, and character work, all working together seamlessly. Ruy José and Belardino Bravo’s inks, Paul Mounts’ colors, and Cory Petit’s letters round out the visual end of the storytelling, all doing fantastic work on a fantastic book.
Immortal Hulk has been on a hot streak since its debut, and it’s probably going to stay that way for a while longer. It’s quite unlike any other superhero book on shelves today.
Immortal Hulk #43 continues to build tension and raise the stakes, checking off every box on the list: body horror, examination of identity, action, and a cliffhanger ending!
Immortal Hulk #43: The Creepy Calm Before the Creepier Storm
Writing - 9/10
Storyline - 9.5/10
Art - 9/10
Color - 9/10
Cover Art - 10/10
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