So yeah. We are going to talk about the current Hulk book from Marvel comics. This isn’t a standard review of an individual issue because those are all over the internet. This is more of a review of the series as a whole that will speak to those who aren’t already big Hulk fans who have read many years of comic books.
Way back in the first few years of Hulk’s existence he was grey… gray… greay yeah we’ll go with that. Stupid English/American respellings. So we had a Greay Hulk that came out at night instead of whenever Bruce got angry. Yes it makes the Jekyll/Hyde parallel much more obvious, that’s okay though. During this first era Hulk was treated more as a monster than a superbeing. A man with a curse that made him a monster that fought other monsters. Or humans freaked out by him. Hulk was The Nightmare all people could relate to. Becoming a version of yourself that seemingly has no control and no regard for the safety of other humans.
As different writers came in Hulk became a troublesome Avenger and more sympathetic. “Hulk just want be left alone”. Hulk had multiple lady loves, some of which died to reinforce that Hulk was at his center a being destined for loneliness and no happiness. We got backstory of Bruce having witnessed his abusive father kill Bruce’s mother. Obviously Hulk becoming green and anger being the transformation trigger happened as that’s the version we all know. Hulk himself varied in levels of intelligence and physical power. We even had a pseudo-cure for a few years with the Professor Hulk persona. Hulk was a good-old fashioned superhero like any other. We saw a future despot version of Hulk who became known as The Maestro.
Eventually Marvel went back to the idea of Hulk being too dangerous for his own good and we got Planet Hulk/World War Hulk which left us with a de-powered Bruce Banner.
We had She-Hulk, Red Hulk, Red She-Hulk, other She-Hulk, Son of Hulk and Abomination along with a re-powered Bruce Banner. Through all of this BruceHulk was still portrayed as a heroic person at his core but as a being of anger and rage one that was hard to control. Later writers told an extended story where Hulk got Bruce’s genius intelligence and stayed in Hulk form similar to Professor Hulk but with more aggression and a manipulative streak that turned out to be fueled by his fear of turning into The Maestro as well as a secret goal of de-powering all of the other Hulks to save them from his “Gamma Curse”. The sole exception being She-Hulk who had been shown over the years as being the one most able to handle it psychologically.
Then things happened, the Hulk power was transferred to Bruce’s ally Amadeus Cho. Cho was a different Hulk that in any body strives not just to be a great hero but to show that being a Hulk wasn’t an inherent danger. So where am I going with this? Well Bruce found out that his Hulk powers were returning and had his friend Hawkeye kill him. Bruce was gone and the monster gone with him. Later Cho himself had to deal with his own anger issues and lost most of his Hulk powers to save his friends from himself.
Bruce sadly didn’t stay dead though. Revived by a cosmic being as a pawn, Hulk was once again a nightmare to everyone around him. Hulk attacked heroes and villains alike before the grand story was resolved and Hulk vanished, most of the world believing Bruce Banner was still dead.
This is where Immortal Hulk comes in and is a wondrous hybrid of nostalgia and new hotness. Just like the earliest years of Hulks story the Green Goliath was a being who came out at night and kept Bruce hiding from the world, The Hulk chasing monsters and slowly unlocking a mystery that pointed to a greater evil. A monster so devious and linked to the Gamma Powered world that Hulk has ruled as King Buttkicker that it’s clear who has to stop him. Shady Government/Military types want a piece of Hulk for their own reasons and there is a reporter tracking Hulk for reasons both personal and professional.
This is what makes Immortal Hulk such a treat to read. You don’t have to have read any Hulk comics before this and it speaks to what Hulk always was when written best: The darkness of humanity that still does what is best for the world. This is a Hulk that is green, strong, but cunning and cruel to the other monsters of the world. Sometimes monsters that are like Hulk a fallen human who let their flaws consume their soul. After several issues we find out what this behind the scenes evil is and the revelation leaves just enough suspense for the upcoming battle that you find yourself excited for the next issue without feeling like you were left hanging by a writer just trying to be mean-spirited. Each issue can be read alone and enjoyed for what they are. This is comic books done right, dramatic with enough humor to prevent it from being too depressing and beings with powers that are fantastic enough to stimulate the imagination of any reader. Personally, I think this is the best run of Hulk since Peter David ended his iconic twelve-year run. Here’s hoping this version of Hulk lasts for many years as “Green Superhero who might punch another good guy” is good as a supporting Movie character but for ongoing books not so much.