Writer: Al Ewing
Art: Joe Bennett, Ruy José, Belardino Brabo, Paul Mounts, VC’s Cory Petit, and Alex Ross
Release Date: August 7, 2019
Shadow Base has one goal: to stop the monsters, the forces of chaos, and to give their power to men of order. But the monsters have goals of their own and now they’re working together in this week’s all-new IMMORTAL HULK #22 by Al Ewing. Is Rick Jones alive and if so, does he remember everything? Plus, does Rick still have abilities leftover from his “connection” with Abomination? Let’s smash into this one and find out!
WARNING SPOILERS AHEAD!!!
Al Ewing uses this issue as an explanatory and recap narrative to catch fans up on where the story is at and where it’s going. Normally, Ewing’s issues are fast and loose. However, this one was strictly more informative, no-nonsense, and left fans right as the action was about to be unleashed. Readers discover that Doc Samson continues to come back to life faster each time, Rick Jones is resurrected with some type of Gamma ability, and General Fortean’s insane decision to combine himself with the Abomination shell will definitely have some long-lasting consequences.
The standout features of this week’s issue were definitely from Joe Bennett and his magnificent art team. The smallest details Bennett introduced into each panel are what truly reinforced how amazing this series has been since issue one. For example, the glazed look in Fortean’s eyes or the subtle green blood running from his nose showed readers the depths to which the General is willing to go in order to stop the Hulk and any other Gamma Monster in his path. Furthermore, the panel progression of the Abomination shell snapping shut with Cory Petit’s lettering leaping off the page just enough to practically startle readers in the middle of the page was out of this world and horrifyingly charming.
This reviewer also thoroughly enjoyed how well Ewing worked with his entire creative team. Looking at the panel progression as Banner is talking to Betty through the door, readers will notice a change from the Bruce persona to the Joe persona through dialogue as well as facial expressions and mannerisms. This reviewer was seamlessly able to transition between alter egos and even tone of the character flawlessly. Mentally, my inner monologue while reading the character changed along with the panel progression unknowingly as the personas changed. Meaning, Ewing and his creative team make each transition so natural without any physical transformation to or from a Gamma Monster or verbal introduction. The blend of art and story really was remarkable.
Additionally, the true genius of Ewing tying the Hulk, his transformations, and McGee’s Trans Right piece together was phenomenal. Joe subtly connects the dots for readers with his comment “I get that folks want to be themselves.”, which opens the door to Ewing’s thought experiment within the issue. Earlier, we see Betty desiring to stay as Red Harpy because she wants to be herself. Plus, since the creation of the Hulk, he’s only wished to simply be left alone and wanted to be himself as well. Yet, people continue to poke, antagonize, and fear change, including McGee’s death threat comments on her Trans Rights article. People fear what they don’t understand and view anything out of the norm as some type of “abomination”. When in all reality, these are real people who want to be comfortable in their own skin. Even though Ewing is telling a story about Gamma Monsters, he’s also using his platform to teach readers an important lesson about acceptance, respect, and knowing who we really are inside.
Ewing’s clever storytelling is on display again in issue 22. Even though fans get an issue focused on explanation and less action, Ewing evolves the story and takes it to an entirely new level with the character development and the subtle cultural nuances connecting his story with our society today. Fans will leave the issue excited for the throw-down to come at the beginning of issue 23. Even though many fans may disagree, this reviewer hopes Ewing will refocus on some of the more religious aspects from prior issues that were so interesting to this fan. Either way, Hulk fans should get there popcorn ready for the next issue because $&@$ is going to hit the air conditioning unit… or fan. Readers, as always, pick this one up!