Comics Corner - The Immortal Hulk (2018 - Present)
One comic that has been garnering a lot of praise recently is Marvel's latest take on the Hulk, aptly titled The Immortal Hulk. This is partly a fresh approach, but it also serves to turn back the clock to the days when everyone's favorite green behemoth first hit the scene. Once upon a when, the Hulk was more of a monster that men feared who only became a hero when greater threats arose--sort of like Godzilla in the flicks where he gets to play the good guy.
Writer Al Ewing has certainly cast the Hulk as a creature to be feared in this stellar run, and he has conjured up some wicked threats to pit against the titular character. Joe Bennett has done a gnarly job of translating Ewing's vision to the medium. Combine their fiendish efforts, and this book somehow manages to give me the Hulk I crave while seemingly paying homage to the grotesque delights of John Carpenter's The Thing, or perhaps some of Sam Raimi's work when he's in "paint the screen red with blood" mode. Then there's the icing on the cake: the covers from Alex Ross, who is always impeccable, but has taken things up a notch with these diabolical visions of everyone's favorite raging jade goliath.
With Marvel being known and loved the world over for its playful sense of humor, I feel that people probably underestimate what I and other fans mean when we refer to this as a horror comic featuring the Hulk. It's not a typical Hulk book with him facing off against a few beasties with red eyes, it runs much, much darker than that. The Hulk himself is a tortured creature, and he has been dismembered, corrupted, and even taken to hell in the fourteen issues of this title released to date. He has faced off against some deeply malevolent foes, and the pages have dripped with sinister imagery. Is it on the same level as Alan Moore's legendary take on Swamp Thing so far as plunging a beloved entity into the very depths of the macabre is concerned? That's a good question. Maybe it hasn't gone quite that far, but then again, maybe it has.
It hasn't been as surreal as Moore's work with DC's green force of nature, though it has paused to ask some very profound questions and there have been some metaphysics in play. I like the way the supernatural elements have been portrayed in a straightforward manner--it's quite unique, somewhat akin to marrying high adventure to the sort of body horror that David Cronenberg is famous for. Seriously, I'll stand by that. I have always enjoyed the Hulk, but this direction caters directly to my sensibilities, and I will join the choir in hailing it as perhaps Marvel's finest offering in 2018 and 2019.
In short, if you dig comics, and you like the Hulk, you may well be intrigued. If you dig horror and you like material with some serious oomph, you too may enjoy this title. And if you dig the Hulk, you have love for comic books, and you're a horror fanatic like yours truly, this is looking like "can't miss" territory, isn't it? While there are a lot of good books out there these days, and the last couple of years have been really kind to horror lovers (Elvira, Gravetrancers, Blackwood, Justice League Dark, and The Spider King are among my recent favorites), this is probably the title I look forward to most on my pull list these days. The hype is real, my friends. Long live The Immortal Hulk.
Final Grade: A