Writer: Al Ewing
Art: Joe Bennett, Ruy José, Paul Mounts, Cory Petit, and Alex Ross
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Release Date: August 4th, 2021
As the penultimate issue of IMMORTAL HULK kicks off, Al Ewing must find a path to get our hero back to Hell. However, more importantly, Ewing must find a direction and purpose before this series wraps. Will we ever get all the answers surrounding the One Below All and his connection to the Green? Or how Sam Sterns controlled the Green Doors? And, is the One Below All still on a collision course to destroy the 9th Cosmos as seen in IMMORTAL HULK #25? Moreover, will the IMMORTAL HULK break free from the One Below All forever? Or, is he destined for something even bigger? Let’s smash into IMMORTAL HULK #49 by Al Ewing and Joe Bennett to see if this penultimate issue brings readers any closer to some of these nagging questions, conclusions, and so much more.
The best description of IMMORTAL HULK #49 overall is a set of prose, diary entries, journal articles, or a short story that basically explains how the HULK arrives at his final showdown with the Leader and the One Below All. On the surface, it’s not like a normal comic. Its side column narrative style depicts a short story in hopes to promote feeling and vision. Yet, the difference between a short story and a comic is the intermingled illustrations and dialogue that partially take the imagination away from the reader and elevate the artist in the telling of the story. Ewing and Bennett do some type of hybrid throughout IMMORTAL HULK #49 and blur the premise of a comic. It’s almost as if Ewing and Bennett were thinking two opposite things with two different visions in respect to this issue.
Sure, Ewing’s prose were deep, intuitive, provided amazing insight into the other characters (especially the FF), and all from the perspective of Jackie McGee. The description in the writing from Jackie was outstanding and truly did add a powerful outlook on the situation and characters involved. They almost provoked this emotion that the HULK has had his entire life, along with the struggles and trials he’s faced since becoming the Jade Giant. Plus, with the column narrative style, Bennett had (almost) full-page spreads to showcase his remarkable abilities. However, this journalistic, nearly diary-like style of narrative from the viewpoint of Jackie McGee deflated the story while diminishing its intent.
McGee is the person telling the story so her perspective isn’t as important to the narrative development as the HULK’S. Additionally, she doesn’t know his deep feelings and emotions but tries to pull it off as if she does. It’s not entirely her fault, however, the scope of her understanding is simply limited nor does the story feel immediate. Sure, she’s been along for the ride throughout IMMORTAL HULK. Nevertheless, there is a history surrounding the HULK that she’s only recently been a part of. Therefore, it hits home a bit artificial not only because of the above-mentioned but also because no one would tell their own story with this much emotion or detail about another person. This approach just came across as weird and forced in an attempt to swing for the fences.
Many comic fans don’t care much about continuity. However, some do. That said, this issue of IMMORTAL HULK doesn’t have direct continuity errors yet the AVENGERS and the FANTASTIC FOUR don’t seem characteristic of the current iterations within their respective books. Why are the AVENGERS, who work hand in hand with She-Hulk, not as receptive to helping the HULK, as the FANTASTIC FOUR are? Ewing makes it clear that Jen talked with the FF about helping. But, why not the AVENGERS? Why wouldn’t her current team trust her? Furthermore, what changed to make the FF so understand and willing to help out? Was it one conversation from Jen? Yet, that same conversation wouldn’t work with her current team?
Well, maybe it was Ben Grimm who came to his senses? The last time the IMMORTAL HULK came in contact with Grimm was in issue 41. And during that time, he was literally deflated while listening to Grimm give him a Sunday School Lesson on the Book of Job. Now, how that translates into the FANTASTIC FOUR understanding the dilemma in front of them, as well having a willingness to help after all the destruction the world thinks the HULK has caused, is just crazy. Realistically, the FF were needed to get the HULK to Hell while the AVENGERS were simply in the issue for pomp and circumstance. Nevertheless, both groups seemed uncharacteristic of their current iterations with their ongoings right now, which is a bit disappointing. Therefore, their addition was simply a quick fix to wrap up the series.
Ultimately, IMMORTAL HULK #49 was unique in its layout and style. I feel a handful of pages with this setup would have been enough. However, the entire issue was a bit overkill. Therefore, was this a book or a comic book? Ewing was certainly aiming for something different, distinct, and unusual. Well, on that Avenue, this issue of IMMORTAL HULK was a success. However, in the larger scope, we get very few answers other than how the HULK is getting to Hell for his final showdown. No other questions are really answered and Ewing appeared to be attempting something really heavy and thought-provoking for readers, like the last issue, instead of bringing the story to a close.
Many will love this issue for its intricate display and stylistic approach that was meant to incorporate a sense of emotion into the issue. However, this reviewer left the issue a bit unsatisfied after craving answers and conclusions for months now and not receiving any. At this rate, will the 80-page culminating issue actually conclude anything? And, what has really happened in the past 10 issues overall? Nothing. We needed something these last two issues and instead got a moment with Joe Fixit and Betty as well as perspectives and points of view from Jackie McGee. Heck, technically Bruce hasn’t been in the series for months. Fans of this series who’ve been along for the ride since day one needed a bit more before the last issue. Let me know what you think, have a great week, and God bless!