THIS REVIEW OF ‘THE IMMORTAL HULK’ #25 IS SPOILER-FREE.
by Clyde Hall. Accepted truths from the history of the Hulk: 1. “Hulk just wants to be left alone!” 2. “The madder Hulk gets, the stronger he gets!” 3. “Hulk is strongest one there is!” 4. “Hulk smash!” To various degrees depending on who’s crafting the tale, these tenants are proven portions of the emerald behemoth’s continuity.
The more nebulous portions beg parsing out. Is there a limit to mortal rage? If there is, can it be exceeded by an immortal’s rage? Things subjected to smashing have expanded over time. The list includes people. Armies and their equipment. Powered humans. Aliens. Immortals. City blocks. Cities (Las Vegas, anyway). Countries? Didn’t he nearly sink the eastern seaboard of the U.S. with a foot stomp? Shook the Multiverse? Supported the weight of a star? Smote a planet or two? Thus, the name World Breaker became prevalent among Hulk’s smashing résumé.
Granted, parts of Hulklore could be discarded as fanciful or ignored by writers who find his feats of smash-dom too extreme. Al Ewing has fearlessly embraced the entirety of Hulk’s continuity in his work on The Immortal Hulk. He’s never shied from the extreme elements or problematic past of his Gamma-irradiated subject. Verdant warts and all, there’s much in his storyline that links back to specific, varied moments of Hulk history. This usually is a side effect of accenting the gruesome element of Banner’s alter ego and those who oppose him. In this title, the opposition is at least as monstrous as their quarry. At least we believed so.
Ewing’s done a superb job of making his horror case through any means necessary. Supernatural moments. Mad Science-gone-way-past-wrong moments. Personal and introspective moments of character revelation and development gone pitch-dark.
Why not continue the trend with trepidations born of a Cosmic moment? Given over completely to the vilest parts of his mind and soul, would a Hulk unleashed and embracing his immortal nature kill time by spending his eternity endlessly smashing?
In The Immortal Hulk #25, we get a vision of Hulk taking a universe-wide Lay’s Potato Chip smash challenge. The story is an exercise in taking established factors to their logical and most terrifying conclusion, another Ewing talent. He’ll make us misty for the simpler days of a peckish, wandering Galactus settling down for a meal.
In issue #24, readers saw a Hulk having overcome fiendishly orchestrated adversity and taking charge of a vast black ops network. Gamma-irradiated associates at his side, less morally questionable allies dismissed. Banner’s congress of Hulk personas lining into agreement on how to proceed. All was green and right with world. Naturally, in this title such tidings are to be dreaded, not celebrated.
#25 requires some patience. It unravels at its own pace. But overall, take the four Hulk tenets above and expand them exponentially. Immortally. Across the universe, over billions of years. When your mind catches up with Ewing’s scripting, you’re looking at a new designator for Hulk: Creation Breaker.
Past iterations of the Hulk, able to level mountains and cities, may have strained the expansion bridges of reader disbelief. I’m not sure of the percentage of readership sold on Ewing’s take in Immortal Hulk. But for my money, he’s expanded the most bizarre, unlikely frontiers of what being the Hulk means, always with a believability and logic that’s frightening.
Germán García and Joe Bennett bring us alien skies, curious interplanetary craft and distant spaceways. When the narrative hits its stride, they touch cosmic storyteller greatness blazed by Kirby and Ditko. This extends to the Alex Ross cover, which folds in a dollop of Starlin.
VC’s Cory Petit maintains a grounding, simple letter style. It’s not reliant on large effect fonts. The tale told is rather above that, beyond it. The mirror image words near the issue’s conclusion are brilliant.
Will everyone keep up? Will some seek asylum in denying the grim inevitability of what’s been building? More to the matter, will every reader remain onboard with the scope of this issue? I hope so. It’s a destination infinitely worth the journey. It isn’t a terminus quickly reached, but that’s been true of the title’s run. Each time, however, the final act has offered resolution and a further sense of unease. Of the horrific. This chapter completely seals the validity of those diabolic portends. It’s the end of existence as we know it, and Hulk feels fine. The rest of us are long past feeling anything but sympathy for those final extinguished lights far across stellar sea’s expanse. Only Ewing’s version of Mr. Rogers can save us now, as if that concept provides any comfort from the nightmare. Happy Halloween.
Marvel / $5.99
Written by Al Ewing.
Art by Germán García, Chris O’Halloran.
Pencils by Joe Bennett.
Inks by Ruy José.
Colors by Paul Mounts.
Letters by VC’s Cory Petit.
9 out of 10
Check out this 5-page preview of ‘The Immortal Hulk’ #25, courtesy of Marvel!