Review – The Immortal Hulk #23 (Marvel Comics)

Publisher: Marvel Comics
Writer: Al Ewing
Pencils: Joe Bennett
Inks: Ruy Jose with Belardino Brabo
Colors: Paul Mounts with Matt Milla
Release Date: 4th September 2019

Chock full of numerous super-powered heroes and villains, as well as more high-grade military hardware than General Ross could probably have ever imagined possible when he first sought out the Incredible Hulk in the early Sixties, Al Ewing’s script for “The Face of The Enemy” does a good job of setting in motion “the culmination of the war between Hulk and [Reginald] Fortean that’s been back-and-forthing for a while now”. Indeed, despite a somewhat sedentary opening flashback scene to a time before Jackie McGee “got a journalism degree at Arizona State on a scholarship award”, this twenty page-periodical’s narrative simply doesn’t let up until its horrifically gory cliff-hanger when the latest incarnation of the Abomination confronts Bruce Banner’s alter-ego mano-a-mano.

Disappointingly however, despite all of this comic’s pulse-pounding pace, the British author’s “twisted version of the traditional Hulk Family” arguably doesn’t produce quite as many ‘stand-out’ moments as this book’s 56,734 readers probably expected. For starters, Leonard Samson, having been simply dispatched twice before in previous instalments with literally just a couple of bullets, is once again impotently ‘killed in action’ before the good, green-haired doctor can shake a fist in anger. Elsewhere, Betty Ross and Rick Jones are similarly side-lined by a sub-plot which sees the two grotesquely-transformed monstrosities tediously traverse Shadow Base Site B, ‘sniffing out’ gamma signatures and terrorising Charlene McGowan for incarcerating the living corpse of Delbert Frye.

Even the likes of Titania and the Absorbing Man are pencilled by Joe Bennett as being little more than mere hapless pawns in Gamma Flight’s fight against “the might of the U.S. Military”, with neither Mary MacPherran nor Carl Creel demonstrating the sort of formidable-fighting skills which saw the Masters of Evil members go toe-to-toe with She-Hulk and Thor, God of Thunder. Strangely, only the bouncing adventurer, Puck, seems capable of holding his own against a cybernetic Solar Emitter Unit, and even then, Eugene Judd is quickly electrocuted afterwards by a cowardly attack from behind; “Once we took Samson out, it was just a matter of time.”

Of course, Ewing has penned General Fortean as having something of “a good track record fighting the Devil Hulk”, and “would have captured what was left of him for Shadow Base” had Betty not “intervened” during the jade giant’s previous unsuccessful battle against the flesh-melting bile of Subject B. Even so, the veteran soldier’s ‘strategic’ ability to best some of the most savagely strong characters within the Marvel Universe with a couple of specialist firearm teams must surely have jarred the sensibilities of a significant proportion of this comic’s audience.

The writer of this piece was: Blax Kleric
Blax Tweets from @Blaxkleric ‏

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