Writer: Al Ewing
Art: Joe Bennett, Ruy José, Belardino Brabo, Cam Smith, Paul Mounts, Javier Rodríguez, Álvaro López, VC’s Cory Petit, and Alex Ross
Release Date: February 12th, 2020
As the last issue ended, the Kaiju Monsters were wreaking havoc on the people and buildings of Phoenix Arizona. Hulk and his gamma crew from Shadow Base teleported in to save the day but appeared to be met with much resistance. What appeared to be a monster melee of grand proportion turned ugly fast as the large Kaiju Monsters (sent by Roxxon and Dario Agger) began leaking these smaller parasitic monsters that lived deep inside these gargantuan beasts. Nevertheless, once things appeared too much for our Hulk to handle, Xemnu The Living Hulk arrived using some type of telekinesis and saved the day on LIVE TV. But are Xemnu’s intentions purely on the up and up? Or, is there something more happening behind the scenes? Let’s dive into IMMORTAL HULK #31 by Al Ewing and see what happens when the Immortal Hulk battles the Living Hulk!
Readers, you are in for a treat. Now, it’s a bit confusing of a treat BUT it’s still a fun ride before the narrative is all said and done. Al Ewing uses this issue to catch people up on Dr. McGowan’s background, proposes a new wrinkle into the multiple personalities of the Hulk, and introduces Xemnu into the comic landscape for many readers. Granted, the elements involving Xemnu were extremely weird, over the top most of the time, and blatantly confusing Saturday Morning Cartoon references. However, the information on McGowan was well needed as well as the explanation of the more kid-like Hulk into the fold while fighting the giant Kaiju beasts.
To backtrack, I loved Ewing’s background on McGowan. He highlights who she’s been involved with, what she’s been dabbling in, and her own personal addictions she just can’t shake. Furthermore, Ewing places sly connections to elements of Daredevil and the X-Men that place McGowan in a sturdier foundation within the Marvel Comic Landscape. Thus, this new character feels grounded and is perceived as she’s always been here, which is a difficult task for any writer to do. But, Ewing does it wonderfully.
Additionally, this reader loves clarity (I know, don’t we all?!). Now, I reference this belief because of Hulk’s weird personality disorder that had him pivoting into the angry kid-Hulk we’ve all grown to love. Personally, I’ve been wondering now for two issues as to how his speech and personality changed so drastically. Well, Ewing appears to give readers at least an inkling of an answer… or again at least references it. This means his temperament shift was planned and not a mistake by the creative team, nor will it just be skimmed over to be forgotten as many other writers would do in this situation. This reviewer thoroughly appreciates the inquiry and is looking forward to discovering how and why the personality transition happened.
Now, the biggest issue I had with the title this week was the almost psychotic dialogue from Xemnu. I could tell what was going on without the over the top conversations that just came off as silly. Thanks to Joe Bennett’s outstanding art, the panels would zoom in to his eyes bulging out of their sockets, which basically implied some type of mind control technique occurring with everyone watching on TV or fighting him, except for the angry kid-Hulk. Therefore, the creepy dialogue wasn’t necessary and actually continued to take me out of the anecdote every time Xemnu spoke. I feel the same effect could have happened without the nonsensical conversations, which only made what was going on even more confusing until the very end of the narrative.
Overall, this was a very strong issue of IMMORTAL HULK this week. Readers get incredible action from the Hulk, a brand new villain to many new readers ( or at least one that’s been out of distance memory for a bit), an intriguing plot twist, a well-needed background check on Dr. McGowan, excellent Joe Bennett monster art, and a sweet cameo from my boy Crusher Creel! This week’s IMMORTAL HULK was wildly entertaining and full of energy that will keep you excited for what’s to come while also feeling like you gained some pertinent information about the story that’s currently unfolding. As the issue closes, the cliffhanger provides a fascinating direction for the next couple of stories and provides Hulk fans with something substantial to hold on to and discuss at the local water cooler. Grab this issue of IMMORTAL HULK and put this series on your pull list. It may not be the best place to hop on board BUT it will still be an amazingly fun issue for anyone to read.