Predominantly focused upon what is a debatably dreary, word-heavy conversation between Bruce Banner and Amadeus Cho at Everett’s diner in Massachusetts, it is easy to see just why Issue twenty-six of “The Immortal Hulk” saw its monthly circulation figure almost halve to just 45,522 copies within the space of a few weeks. Indeed, as comics about the nuclear physicist’s monstrously super-strong alter-ego go, this twenty-page periodical’s pedestrian-paced plot seems to be distinctly lacking in either pulse-pounding punch-ups or even the green goliath himself; “That could have gone better. I… didn’t lose my temper with him, did I?”
As an alternative, Al Ewing pens a disagreeably long discourse concerning the titular character’s growing concerns about corporations failing to suffer the consequences of their actions, “the unsustainability of current human systems” and “human short-sightedness… currently being exacerbated — manipulated — for profit.” Intermixed with an equally lack-lustre array of cut-scenes featuring Doc Samson, Doctor McGowan, Roxx News broadcasters and a local radio show host, this conversational piece rarely gains any perceptible traction, except for a few fleeting panels where Banner’s disconcerting passion to become a terrorist seems about to trigger his famous transformation.
Fortunately however, the British author does manage to throw a few spicy ingredients into this publication’s rather bland bowl of goulash, with the revelation that Bruce has allied himself with none other than “Marvel’s first and mightiest mutant”, the Sub-Mariner. Namor’s continuous presence throughout this publication, subtly pencilled by Joe Bennett, is impressively handled, and the pointy-eared Atlantean’s eagerness to become “an excellent non-team” with the new incumbent of Shadow Base Site B rather excitingly harks back to the days when the New York City-based publisher featured the Scourge of the Seven Seas in its bi-monthly “Super-Villain Team-Up”.
Encouragingly, the former “Judge Dredd” writer also provides this book’s bourgeoning story-arc with a marvellously sinister main antagonist in the form of Roxxon Energy Corp’s CEO, Dario Agger. Imperiously stood before his cowering board members at the very summit of his company’s high-rise headquarters, the Minotaur absolutely exudes villainous menace, especially when the “nine-foot man-bull who betrayed the Earth to elves” shockingly shatters the half-filled wine glass he was delicately drinking from just mere seconds before so as to simply emphasize a point.
[PREVIEW ARTWORK – CLICK TO ENLARGE]