Writer: Al Ewing
Artist: Filipe Andrade
Colors: Chris O’Halloran
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Release date October 2 2019
Review by D. Brown (WolfCypher)
Bruce Banner recounts in his mind the events that have led him up to Absolute Carnage #3’s conclusion, discussing with three of his Hulk personalities the temporary addition of the Venom symbiote, which has hijacked his body to fight Dark Carnage.
Al Ewing, the regular writer of the Immortal Hulk book, adds his entry into Cate’s Absolute Carnage event by serving us with both a recap issue of the most recent events from his own Hulk title, and tying together how it fits in-between the chaos happening in New York with Dark Carnage, and even makes sense of how and why the Hulk would get involved.
Over in Ewing’s Hulk book, Gamma-powered individuals have been dying and coming back to life. When Thaddeus Ross’s (Red Hulk) grave is found unearthed due to Carnage harvesting Ross’s spine, the Hulk wants to know where the body’s gone. Even with all the trouble he’s dealing with with Shadow Base (see Immortal Hulk), Bruce decides to head to New York, where he gets involved with Spider-Man and Venom’s troubles, catching us up to Absolute Carnage #3.
The book begins as a recount of Immortal Hulk #22, concludes with the last thing we see happen in Absolute Carnage #3, but thankfully most of the middle is new ground covered. A majority of the comic is Bruce going about getting to the gravesite of Ross and going over the events inside his head with his personalities (Joe Fixit, Savage Hulk, and the third as far as I could tell being Devil Hulk…?). The comic has enough content to stave away from just being a full-on play-by-play of things readers have already seen in either series (Cate’s or Ewing’s), but its still a recap in the sense that its connecting dots for us to show us how Bruce has gone from one incident he’s dealing with to this current event, and tries to plot out its canonical timeframe.
Immortal Hulk is one of my favorite books on the market right now, and I’ve enjoyed every issue Al Ewing has written. Dare I say, this Venom fanatic holds Immortal Hulk over this current Venom run. Tie-ins for Marvel events usually don’t worry about fitting into a sensible timeframe; if a book spills over into an event, aforementioned book may not address when or how it takes place in relation to what’s happening over in said event. Absolute Carnage: Immortal Hulk spends its entire page count making sense of this problem, proving to be the exception. This comic reads more as a gateway from those invested in Venom/Absolute Carnage, yet not reading Immortal Hulk, than as an important continuum for the Absolute Carnage book itself. I don’t fall into this category myself, but I would guess if you aren’t reading Ewing’s Hulk and you pick this up, it will titillate you into doing so; this books serves as a perfect sampling of his comic. Despite being a one-off tie-in, it’s written exactly how Ewing writes and dialogues his main book. While regular Immortal Hulk artist Joe Bennett may not be on pencils here, Filipe Andrade fills his shoes. Their styles are very different, but I really did like Filipe’s take on these characters. I said this about Nick Spencer’s contribution to Absolute Carnage over in my review for Amazing Spider-Man #29, and it applies here: this is an Absolute Carnage tie-in that doesn’t really have that much Absolute Carnage content in it at all, and like Spencer’s AC tie-in, it still ends up being very damn good. It leans more into its own home territory, being a decidedly Hulk issue that even reads way more like a regular Immortal Hulk story than anything having to do with Cate’s story, and it ends up being one of the better tie-ins, due to being an enjoyable read, though not for adding anything necessary to the event its supposed to be tying into.
This comic serves to bridge the Shadow Base/Gamma Door arc from Ewing’s Immortal Hulk book and Cates’ Absolute Carnage event while explaining both when these two ongoing stories take place and how the Hulk gets involved in the latter. It doesn’t serve a lot of Absolute Carnage fare, yet I still found this to be a very enjoyable comic to read. This one may cater more to the Ewing/Hulk fans out there.