|THE IMMORTAL HULK #18 BY AL EWING AND JOE BENNETT|
THE IMMORTAL HULK #18 continues the book’s newest story arc with another senses-shattering issue. This time, Bruce Banner wakes up to find that Joe Fixit made some changes to his style, while Jackie McGee comes face-to-face with a high-flying source. Al Ewing, of course, gives this issue his all, and, boy, does it show. I feel like a broken record, repeatedly singing this book’s praises, but it really does deserve all the acclaim it’s getting.
This issue proves that this is the best book on the stands, with more tremendously interesting characterization work by Ewing regarding Bruce Banner and his many Hulk personalities. Plus, the horror/mystery plot involving both the new Abomination and Betty Banner’s whereabouts makes for the most engrossing issue I’ve read this week. Joe Bennett’s design for the new Abomination is, in a word, terrifying. He’s outdone himself in the horror department.
A Series of Surprises in THE IMMORTAL HULK #18
In the last issue, Bruce Banner’s mind and body were taken over by his Joe Fixit personality. He was able to escape certain death at one of Shadow Base’s abandoned facilities. Joe hit the road — still in Banner’s form, not in his usual Grey Hulk look. Meanwhile, Shadow Base awakened its newest creation: a new Abomination created from Rick Jones’ corpse and Gamma-irradiated tissue from Emil Blonsky. In THE IMMORTAL HULK #18, Leonard Samson crawls from the wreckage of the Shadow Base site only to find Gamma Flight, who pick him up and take him to their base. Meanwhile, Jackie McGee continues her hunt for facts regarding Betty Banner’s disappearance. As she dictates her notes, Betty confronts McGee in her new form: a red, harpy-like She Hulk. McGee asks for an interview.
In Reno, Bruce Banner wakes up in the back of a cab, dressed in a dapper new suit and a mustache. While his personality stayed dormant, Joe Fixit apparently had some fun in his body. He’s taken to a motel on the outskirts of town, and he tries to piece together his current state, with help from the Devil Hulk persona. After Bruce exits the cab, the cabbie is met by another sight. The new Abomination, in all its grotesque glory, smashes the car and, seemingly, eats the driver’s face off.
Which personality will square off with Abomination? And what of Samson and Gamma Flight?
Read THE IMMORTAL HULK #18 to find out!
Stupendous Writing in THE IMMORTAL HULK #18
I love the continuing saga of Betty Banner in THE IMMORTAL HULK #18. It’s amazing how Ewing can decompress their mysteries, only revealing a little bit at a time, while still making each issue feel exhilarating and beyond interesting. In this issue, all he does is show Betty’s look and a small bit of her character. It’s so great how he takes an oft-overlooked part of Betty’s past (her brief stint as the Hulk villain “The Harpy”) and melds it with her current situation. Just that small bit of information increases my investment in her story tenfold. Ewing truly understands how to decompress a story like nobody’s business. That alone is a masterful feat.
The other part of this issue I loved (besides everything with the Abomination, but I don’t want to get into spoilers) is Banner’s “discussion” with the Devil Hulk personality. He speaks to him through a mirror, listing out all of his past and present personalities. It’s, quite literally, a one-sided conversation, since the Hulk does nothing but make menacing faces in the mirror. However, Ewing still makes it feel like Banner’s having an actual conversation and not rambling to no one. I really admire how Ewing makes Banner friendly with the Devil Hulk. It’s refreshing, after so many stories where Banner fears, and outright despises, his other half. It’s like they’re brothers who love each other rather than two personalities.
A Terrifying Design
The new Abomination’s full design is unveiled in THE IMMORTAL HULK #18. The page which introduces him is a masterclass in horror art. Joe Bennett nails the design and the menacing presence of this seemingly mindless creature with this page. Granted, much of the design is a direct adaptation of the Abomination’s original design, but the changes truly stand out. The major change, of course, is his head. Multiple fingers surround a possible “face” covering it up and sitting under the chin. This is such a bizarre, horrific visual that it really could have been something pulled straight from a nightmare. It has the dreamlike quality of something a delirious, horrified person would think up.
I especially love the eye peeking out of a crack between two fingers. It’s somewhat hard to see, but that eye is one of the most menacing parts of this page. It stares angrily at the cab driver, a person who did absolutely nothing to him. It’s not just mindlessly rampaging. It seems legitimately angry.
Final Thoughts: THE IMMORTAL HULK #18
THE IMMORTAL HULK #18 has some top-notch writing and art. I can’t overstate how much I enjoyed this issue. It’s perfect, from start to finish.