Immortal Hulk #29-31
Roxxon CEO Dario Agger (who is also an actual Minotaur) visited Monster Island to recruit the giant furry monster from outer space named Xemnu for an offensive against the Hulk. It turns out he found a few more creatures of interest while he was there.
But who or what is a Xemnu? Xemnu is an old favorite from Marvel’s monster comics of the 60’s, a big hairy cyborg from outer space with extraordinary mental powers that allow him to mesmerize entire populations. He appeared before the Hulk was created, and in his early appearances he was called “The Living Hulk”. So, a lot of writers over the years have enjoyed bringing him back, and artists love to draw him.
#29: This issue shifts between Agger giving orders and terrifying his subordinates at Roxxon, Reporter Jackie McGee at her newspaper’s office building, and the Hulk and friends at Shadowbase.
Agger unleashes four giant kaiju monsters he brought from Monster Island to wreak havoc on Phoenix, Arizona where Jackie McGee, friend of the Hulk, lives and works. They wreak actual destruction and carnage throughout the city. Back at Shadow Base, the Hulk knows this is a trap, but has no choice but to try to defend the city from the Kaiju (who are codenamed Harryhausen, O’Brien, Lovecraft, and Bradbury after two special effects legends and two sci-fi/horror writer/legends).
At the issues end, the Hulk and his team leap once more into the breach, teleporting into Phoenix, the hulk literally diving into the maw of a beast.
#30: The Hulk’s team of himself, Betty/Harpy, Doc Samson, and Rick Jones battle the giant Kaiju monsters attacking Phoenix Arizona. Agger watches and gloats archly, pausing to crush a subordinate’s head (his version of a stress ball). We find that the Hulk personality currently fighting his way through creatures inside the kaiju is “Savage Hulk”, really everyone’s favorite big-hearted, mad child-like lug.
Doc Samson figures out that the Kaiju’s bodies are also hives for thousands of creatures just waiting to get out, just in time to watch Savage Hulk smash his way out of the one who ate him, releasing thousands of these xenomorgons all over Phoenix. With reporters present, it’s a PR disaster.
The government sponsored superteam known as Gamma Flight (at this point consisting of Puck, Absorbing Man, and Titania) show up and try to lend a hand and at least look like they want to fulfill their standing orders to apprehend the Hulk. Finally, Coach Agger puts in his ringer Xemnu, who appears in an angelic blast of light.
#31: We begin the issue with some perspective from Dr. McGowan, as she remembers her days working in a drug lab. Her backstory has yet to be fully revealed, but it is clear that a run of bad luck and tragedy led this chemist to a life of crime that she regrets. We find out that the drug lab where she worked was busted by Daredevil.
Savage Hulk is fighting Xemnu. Throughout the battle, Xemnu is using his mental powers on everyone watching to implant fond memories of himself into their minds, and it works extremely well. McGowan wisely teleports Savage Hulk back to Shadow Base before he causes more damage, but its clear that even she is already affected by Xemnu, blaming Savage Hulk for everything going wrong in the battle. Savage Hulk tries to explain that Xemnu is using his mental powers, but McGowan doesn’t understand. The Devil Hulk personality takes over, but then we learn that neither he nor McGowan remember what the word “Hulk” means, due to Xemnu’s mass mesmerism. McGowan thinks again about the night her drug lab got busted, but in her minds eye it is no longer Daredevil crashing through the skylight. It is Xemnu.
29-31 are an intense, fun, and exciting read. All of the characters get their moments to shine. I am obsessed and besotted with the idea of Betty as Harpy, so any Harpy rampages are great for me to see. I love having Rick be this scary, powerful force of destruction. Samson’s presence always adds humanity and good character interaction, and I’m very interested in Dr. McGowan’s back story.
As mentioned, Savage Hulk takes center stage. Ewing has a really good grasp of this character’s personality and mannerisms, and also his frustrations. Excellent characterization really brings Savage to life. His take on Devil Hulk is great as always, portraying him as this serious badass who terrifies his associates more for how they recognize themselves in him, even as they instinctively know that he’s more trustworthy than society in general.
Xemnu is having a lot of fun screwing around with people’s minds. His dialogue is funny. He is a big, powerful monster, but he talks like Peter Ustinov in a children’s production, with lines like, “Hello-hello, Boys and Girls! It’s me, Xemnu from the Magic Planet! Remember the smell of a new toy? Remember how soda used to taste?” His strategy here seems to be to insert false memories and positive, sentimental associations of himself in the minds of the population which replace their memories of their heroes.
These three issues are rich with character moments, monster horror, and insane kaiju action, as well as development of this fascinating overall story. I can not get enough of Ewing and Bennett on IMMORTAL HULK.
The Immortal Hulk #29-31: Please Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood...
- Writing - 9/109/10
- Storyline - 9/109/10
- Art - 9/109/10
- Color - 9/109/10
- Cover Art - 10/1010/10
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