REVIEW: ‘The Immortal Hulk,’ Issue #42

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Immortal Hulk #42

Immortal Hulk #42 is published by Marvel Comics, written by Al Ewing, art by Alex Lins (Leader sequence), Adam Gorham (Gamma Flight Sequence), Rachael Stott (Jackie McGee sequence), Joe Bennett, and Ruy José (U-Foes sequence), colors by Chris O’Halloran and Paul Mounts, and letters by VC’s Cory Petit.

Previously, a weakened Hulk had crash-landed in Coney Island after having escaped from the Gamma flight space station. His welcome party? Ben Grimm, a.k.a. The Thing. After going multiple rounds, Joe Fixit steps in to rescue the childlike Hulk, and to explain to the Thing what exactly is going on. Meanwhile, the Leader’s earthly body escapes from shadow base site G, with the mutated form of Rick Jones meshed horrifically with the Gamma mutate from the lab, creating a true monster.

When we rejoin the action in Immortal Hulk #42, the world of the Hulk is looking very different. Gamma Flight has a new boss who isn’t pleased with their current job performance. Jackie McGee’s newspaper has restructured its current organizational output and staff, leaving her in a precarious position. Things for everyone at this point are unpleasant, but no one more so than Bruce Banner. When we last saw Bruce he was kidnapped by the Leader from his own mind and dragged into the Below to serve the One-Below-All, and things are going no better for the hero.

My overarching opinion for the issue is tied more to the organization of the plot. Sadly, it comes across quite chaotically. The main plot of the Leader torturing Bruce in the Below and Jackie’s plot seemed more primary to the issue. Whereas the Gamma flight story, while clearly layering the steps for the next issue, just didn’t really go anywhere quickly. It felt like that plot could have been condensed at the end of the issue to really drive home the impact of the cliff hanger.

The issue ultimately suffers from trying to do much in 25 pages, while losing the substance of what has made Immortal Hulk such a brilliant series.

Additionally, there are four artists brought in for different sequences within the issue, and it generally becomes quite jarring to jump from the different art styles. Each artist definitely had moments where they shone, but the end result wasn’t visually cohesive.

Lins has the most consistent work of the issue and the style is perfect for the Leader sequence. The depictions are frenzied and anarchic but it works, given Bruce is being tortured in the basement of Hell. The full-page spread showing the One-Below-All was magnificent as you feel the sheer scale of this godlike being coming down from the skies. Again, it feels like more time should have been spent here to really reinforce the consequences of what the Leader wrought.

Gorham’s work during the Gamma flight scenes was decent. The artist was able to render some brilliant detail with the anatomy of each character’s body type and facial features. Sadly, the scenes suffer as the plot lingered on this section longer than it should have.

I struggled with part of Stott’s images early on, but enjoyed that they were able to be creative with the perspectives for each panel trying to keep it fresh. The biggest issue was on the facial features of Jackie, or distinctly the lack of them. As her story goes further though, when Jackie uncovers her very own secret, Stott delivers a brilliantly twisted metaphysical one-page image that’s worthy of being included within Immortal Hulk as Jackie McGee receives a disturbing vision. I wanted to see more of this from Stott, but ultimately they needed more room to explore this particular plot point then what was allotted.

Bennett and José cover the rear of the issue, and it’s difficult to really dive in deep with specifics of their work as it borders on spoiler territory. Given the two are the series’ regular artists and were only responsible for two pages of work, it was ok. I will say the big character reveal at the end was a great visual, but something with the colors from Mounts throws off the impact. The use of overly dominant colors and styles compared with the prior sequence doesn’t allow the story to flow as it maybe should.

O’Halloran’s colors were used during the Leader, Jackie McGee, and Gamma Flight scenes. Interestingly, two out of three sequences I have very little issue with, but the Gamma Flight section comes across quite dulled and bland. Perhaps the intention here was trying to capture the darkness of space, but the end result feels like the images are very washed out. This leaves the impact of this scene massively uneventful. However, in defense of the work, his coloring for the Leader showed a real depth, and you can see there was time spent on getting the shading just right.

I had no issue with the lettering of Petit, and given everything highlighted previously the lettering was a solid delivery.

Overall, this just felt like a messy issue and at all in tone with the amazing previous issues. One of the many standout points of this series is the time the plot takes to marinate and develop so that when there are big reveals it lands with a massive amount of gravitas. Sadly, Immortal Hulk #42 suffers from too many contrasting art styles and a lack of balance within the plot. Not a great performance, but there are threads of story developing that could be taken somewhere in the future.

Immortal Hulk #42 is available now wherever comics are sold.

Immortal Hulk Issue #42
2.5

TL;DR

Overall, this just felt like a messy issue and at all in tone with the amazing previous issues. One of the many standout points of this series is the time the plot takes to marinate and develop so that when there are big reveals it lands with a massive amount of gravitas. Sadly, Immortal Hulk #42 suffers from too many contrasting art styles and a lack of balance within the plot. Not a great performance, but there are threads of story developing that could be taken somewhere in the future.