Writer: Al Ewing
Artist: Joe Bennett
Colorist: Paul Mounts

FINALLY! I’ve been waiting for Marvel to release a contemporary title that is such a great read, and it’s absolutely addicting! After all, no one can doubt some of the legendary storylines the company has produced in its past. But lately (and sadly), their books have been extremely lacking in terms of plot as well as — according to fellow Source writer Keith O’Neil — art (check out his article here).

I enjoyed Avengers #675 but it fell flat for me after the second issue. It seems like ever since Disney bought the company in 2009, the stories have been overrun with juvenile dialogue and situations, muddled with no new, original, or interesting characters, and a majority of the art (I don’t care whether it was hand-drawn or done digitally in a computer) in most major titles is a bit too cartoonish for my liking. So, when I heard there was yet another reboot of Marvel’s main characters (because they have one each year) called “Fresh Start,” I wasn’t very excited or enticed. In fact, it didn’t even show up on my radar until I saw it on the new release rack of my nearby comic store.

All of Marvel’s new number ones were lined up: Ant-Man & The Wasp, Deadpool, Doctor Strange, and even Dazzler. I flipped through each of them, and none of them really caught my eye … until I looked through The Immortal Hulk.

Image courtesy of Marvel Comics

I remember watching the Incredible Hulk TV show excitedly as a kid — a COMIC BOOK TV SHOW — starring Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno, and thinking it was a horror-type show. In the series, Hulk (Ferrigno) doesn’t speak, but is just full of rage, sometimes doing more harm than good. The concept of a man who turns into a green, violent beast is horrific. It’s a classic Jekyll & Hyde story, and I believe that’s something that got lost along the way throughout all of the iterations of Hulk in the comics. Until now.

For those who have enjoyed or been intrigued by the horror-type feel of the Hulk concept, you will love this issue! While some may say the story here is bleak, I say the brevity and direness is long overdue and is very welcome.

At its heart, the story of the Hulk is a horror story about a cursed man, Bruce Banner, who turns into a rage-filled, violent beast, and his attempts to stay away from people in an effort to keep them safe. Of course, he ends up atoning for his violence by helping people as he drifts from town to town. It’s a simple concept that works well enough but over time, his story has gotten lost along the way.

The Immortal Hulk #1 returns to that concept as writer Al Ewing flips the hero concept on its head, making Hulk appear more monster than man. In this story, the Hulk is somewhat of a vengeful vigilante, having no issues with hurting anyone who he thinks has done wrong. This Hulk justifies why Bruce Banner and others in the Marvel Universe are so terrified of him. It may sound dark, but I like it! It’s almost as if Marvel is doing a Watchmen-like treatment of one of its most popular heroes, and it’s about time they got back to the kind of writing the company had pre-2009, making the stories more for the adults who enjoy these characters and not just for kids.

The story here shows the world as not just black-and-white (even though that’s how Hulk sees it!), but rather going back to the moral ambiguity that makes comic book stories great.

Tragedy riddles this issue (image courtesy of Marvel Comics)

But this isn’t just about Hulk. Also featured are the policeman, Detective Mayes, and reporter, Jackie McGee, who are trying to figure out the mysterious events only to come to a startling surprise. The story is masterfully edited, from the scene shifts, to the art (love the way artist Joe Bennett draws Hulk!), to the narration. What stands out most about this issue is the exploration of that monster — Banner’s dark side — making for a thrilling, exciting story. The kind you can’t look away from!

Hands down, this is one of the best issues to come from Marvel in a long time! This is what I imagine Stan Lee and Jack Kirby had in mind when creating the creature, and it is glorious! There have been a few decent issues of Marvel titles I’ve read but all of them fell short of their potential, and their inaugural issues pale in comparison to Immortal Hulk #1!

If there’s one Marvel book you pick up, The Immortal Hulk should be at the top of the list!

Immortal Hulk #1 (cover art by Alex Ross)
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