Horror Takes Shape in The Immortal Hulk #5

Mitch Nissen Mitch Nissen
Expert Contributor
September 11th, 2018

Grew up reading comic books in the 90's. Marvel fan at heart. Hulk, the Midnight Sons, and Marvel's cosmic universe are my favorites.

Horror Takes Shape in The Immortal Hulk #5
Comics
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The Immortal Hulk #5 recently dropped in comic shops everywhere, and with it, writer Al Ewing takes everything we thought we knew about the book and turned it on its head. ComiConverse contributor Mitch Nissen takes a look.

Review: The Immortal Hulk #5

In July of 2016, Bruce Banner and the Hulk were seemingly killed off in the pages of Civil War II #3. Earlier this year the Hulk and Banner returned albeit a little different than before. Returning in the pages of The Avengers readers saw a decidedly darker side of Hulk. This Hulk spun off into his series The Immortal Hulk.

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Written by Al Ewing, pencilled by Joe Bennett, inked by Ruy Jose, and coloured by Paul Mounts, The Immortal Hulk at first appeared to be a series of standalone stories leaning into the horror genre. Issue #4 saw the series’ first story that didn’t conclude after one issue.

In issue #5 the creative team challenges everything we believed about the series, showing readers that maybe all these stories aren’t as independent from each other as we thought.

Synopsis:

Walter Langkowski a.k.a. Sasquatch has lost control of the beast inside him. Turning a local hospital into a bloodbath, a lone hero sets himself in Sasquatch’s path: Bruce Banner. During the battle, Hulk attempts to draw out the entity possessing Langkowski. When Hulk finally discovers who the invading spirit is, Hulk finds himself as much a victim of fear as the innocent bystanders around him.

Credit: Marvel Comics

The Breakdown:

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SPOILERS AHEAD

When Al Ewing combined the Hulk with the horror genre, it was like discovering the wonders of mixing peanut butter and chocolate.

Issues #1 through #3 felt seemingly independent, reminiscent of EC Comics with a portmanteau horror vibe. Issue #3 even channels a bit of Rashomon. The overarching plot thread was hidden so well it appeared as if there wasn’t a story arc in the works. Instead, we readers were being treated to a new “Tales of Terror” with each issue. I can’t remember the last time I read an ongoing series from Marvel Comics where each item wasn’t a chapter in a four to six issue story arc.

In issue #5 however, we discover that the issues are connected, that a more significant plot is afoot that even Bruce Banner and Hulk were unaware of. Banner’s boogeyman, his long-dead father, is back. Brian Banner is somehow able to connect with gamma mutates, using the gamma energy as a means of possession. In issue #5 he finally reveals himself to ol’ Jade Jaws, immediately striking fear in a once fearless Hulk.

Al Ewing manages to pull off the rare “Wow!” moment, a feat so challenging to accomplish nowadays in comics. And if you’re a long time Hulk fan, the wow effect runs even more in-depth with the revelation of villainous mastermind: Brian Banner. Without us realising it, Ewing has been crafting a story rich in continuity. This issue is packed full of content.

Then there’s the horror fan service. Horror movie references abound such as opening with a quote from The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, name drops of Rob Bottin and Rick Baker, a scene that seemed like a homage to the doctor’s office sequence in The Howling, images evocative of Ridley Scott’s Alien, and more.

Credit: Marvel Comics

The Art

Playing directly into the horror esthetics of the book, Joe Bennett’s art channels the emotions of the characters. The fear in the characters’ eyes shows through as well as the menace and malevolence of Hulk and Sasquatch. In the faces and emotions of the figures herein does the horror of the story succeed.

Bennett’s pencils are smooth and precise, leaning more towards realism rather than more abstract works such as the art of Chris Bachalo or Christian Ward. His Hulk is terrifying and compelling. And his Sasquatch is downright scary. Joe Bennett and Al Ewing have found a synergy that works. Along with the inks of Ruy Jose and the colours of Paul Mounts, the book looks fantastic.

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The Immortal Hulk is incredible. Ewing, Bennett, Jose, and Mounts are killing it.

I’ve long wanted an ongoing horror title from Marvel, ever since Gerry Conway and Mike Perkins’ Carnage book ended. I had always hoped for a book where Marvel used their horror characters, i.e. Ghost Rider, Morbius, etc. Never did I expect I’d find a horror title with the Hulk. For someone who was eagerly awaiting Bruce Banner’s return, I couldn’t have asked for a better revival.

Now if only we could get an epic revival of Abomination and The Leader I’d be ecstatic.

What did you think?

Drop us a comment below

Mitch Nissen is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter: @NinjaMitche

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