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Review: Immortal Hulk #4

Immortal Hulk (2018-) #4I’ve never been a big fan of the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo’s work in the MCU and the “Planet Hulk” arc are notable exceptions.) so it’s kind of a big deal when I say that Al Ewing, Joe Bennett, Ruy Jose, and Paul Mounts’ Immortal Hulk is one of my favorite current Marvel comics. In this series, Ewing and Bennett go the old school horror movie route and have the Hulk/Bruce Banner appear rarely and tell the story from the POV of the towns and people he affects. Most of Immortal Hulk #4 is told from the POV of intrepid journalist Jackie McGee, who doesn’t just want to write about the Hulk’s destruction, but get an interview with Bruce Banner himself. And if Banner is still MIA, she is perfectly fine with interviewing his old college roommate, Walter Langkowski aka Sasquatch of Alpha Flight.

Immortal Hulk #4 is predominantly a character study of Walter Langkowski, including almost watercolor flashbacks of his origin by Bennett, Jose, and Mounts. Bennett isn’t a flashy artist, and his steady photorealism with bursts of red or green from colorist Paul Mounts works well for the interview/road trip framing story. Bennett’s take on Langkowski is genial and energetic, and he and Ewing craft a balanced portrait of the NFL player/scientist who became a monster. And in a move that is best for McGee’s story as well as book that features the Hulk as a protagonist, Langkowski provides insight into Bruce Banner for a couple pages showing his insecurity and anger around the “jock” Langkowski and then cutting to a more humorous scene that reveals the origins of the Hulk’s trademark purple pants. The interview with Walter Langkowski shows that McGee is willing to go beyond the usual suspects (Thunderbolt Ross, Betty Ross) to get close to Bruce/The Hulk and find out the reason for his rampages.

Immortal Hulk #4 reminds me a lot of the original Universal The Wolf Man from 1941. It’s a werewolf movie, but director George Waggner spends quite a bit of time letting the audience get to know Larry Talbot Jr and humanizing him before he become a monster. Ewing and Bennett do the same with Walter Langkowski while connecting it to the larger nocturnal Hulk rampage narrative instead of going down a complete sidetrack to focus on a character who only appeared at the very end of Immortal Hulk #3. The recurring theme in Langkowski’s speech and actions is control. He has the right mix of brains and brawn to be Canada’s deterrent to the Hulk, he can control his transformations into Sasquatch, he can break up a bar fight. Well, maybe not that last part. With the help of rage filled reds from Mounts, Ewing and Bennett turn on the suspense when Langkowski is stabbed and badly injured by a couple angry men and goes to the hospital. But it ends up being the bite, the inciting incident responsible for his transformation into the monstrous, slavering Sasquatch because, like the Hulk, he is more of a monster at night.

Part road story, part monster story, Al Ewing, Joe Bennett, Ruy Jose, and Paul Mounts’ Immortal Hulk  is a master class in pacing and build up fleshing out characters, like Walter Langkowski, and then turning the tables because control is a myth when there is a gamma powered monster inside you.

Story: Al Ewing Pencils: Joe Bennett Inks: Ruy Jose
Colors: Paul Mounts Letters: Cory Petit
Story: 8.6 Art: 8.2 Overall: 8.4 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review