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MORTAL ENGINES (December 8, 2018)

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Top Of The Pile: The Immortal Hulk #1


Fresh off the success of The Amazing Spider-Man #1, and my on-going ambivalence to the new direction Superman is heading, is this early signs of a new resurgence from Marvel?

I think it's a bit to early to call that, but The Immortal Hulk #1 (Legacy no. #718) is a magnificent return to the character's roots by British writer Al Ewing.

While, I believe, continuing the premise established in previous issues of the Hulk titles, Ewing draws major influence from his childhood fascination with the original, first few issues of the Hulk, when Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Steve Ditko were experimenting with it as a horror title.

In this issue, the Hulk is very much "the other", the creature in the shadows, the monster that comes in the night.

A young man, Thomas Hill, robs a Roxxon gas station, but the robbery goes wrong and people die, including a 12-year-old girl and a mysterious drifter with a familiar face.

Only the drifter doesn't stay dead. When the sunsets he awakes as something big, green, and pissed off.

And heads out to dispense Hulk-sized justice on Hill and the biker gang that had driven him to commit the crime.

Hill is the primary POV character for the majority of the story, although some of that spotlight is shared by local police detective Mayes and reporter McGee, who provide The Greek Chorus overview of events in the aftermath of first the robbery and then the Hulk's vengeance.

Bruce Banner doesn't really show his face until the end of the issue, with a suitably cinematic reveal that also mirrors the mirror-themed opening of Hill sizing up the gas station.

I only picked this issue up on a whim as a Facebook friend - whose opinion I respect - had said great things about it. And he was right.

This is the old school, monster Hulk I knew from my early days of reading comics, very different from the Hulk of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and I welcome this return to basics.

Beautifully illustrated by Joe Bennet (on pencils), Ruy José (on inks), and Paul Mounts (on colours), this is terrifying, dark, creepy stuff, where you don't know what Ewing's Hulk is going to do from one moment to the next.

And that visceral unpredictability makes for a thrilling read.

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MORTAL ENGINES (December 8)

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