Publisher: Marvel Comics
Writer: Al Ewing
Artwork: Joe Bennett, Javier Rodriguez
Colors: Paul Mounts
Release Date: 29th January 2020
Brilliantly bookending issue thirty-one of “The Immortal Hulk” with a fascinating insight into the distinctly dark origins of Charlene McGowan, Al Ewing probably still managed to dishearten a fair few of this comic’s 49,545 readers on account of him having to significantly cut down his coverage of the titular character’s highly-anticipated confrontation with the extra-terrestrial Xemnu as a result. Indeed, considering the build-up to Bruce Banner’s alter-ego matching brawn with the cybernetic alien, this publication’s eight-page long ‘fight footage’ is frustratingly brief, especially when their frightful fracas is cut short without a clear victor by the “science woman” translocating the green Goliath back to U.S. Hulk Operations in the blink of an eye.
Admittedly, this momentary displeasure bodes well for a rematch in a future issue of the ongoing series, and quite wonderfully plays into Dario Agger’s fiendish plans to portray “Xemnu from the Magic Planet” as a victim to the American media. That said, it’s still a pity that the pugilism couldn’t have continued for at least a sheet or two more, if only to cover the arrival of Crusher Creel and his eagerness to test out his ability to absorb the engines of Gamma Flight’s high-tech flying ship; “Ha. Know what I like best about these powers of mine? I got ‘em off a Trickster God. So it ain’t like there’s rules, exactly.”
On the plus side, the aforementioned flashback to Doctor McGowan’s time working for the Kingpin at a Mutant Growth Hormone (MGH) laboratory is thoroughly enthralling, and doubtless helped a lot of Hulk-Heads better understand the scientist’s desperate desire to once again work ‘legitimately’ when offered the opportunity by General Reginald Fortean. In addition, and despite the fact she is clearly medically abusing “our source for mutant DNA”, Glowboy, the woman still manages to imbue her criminal actions with an aura of kindness, worrying that the young mutant “always looked tired.”
Regrettably however, Charlene’s scenes do somewhat disappoint when it comes to their artwork, with Javier Rodriguez’s pencils proving a bit too simplistic-looking when compared to the much more dynamic illustrations of Joe Bennett. It is abundantly clear from the pulse-pounding panels depicting Daredevil bursting through the drug centre’s sunroof that Ewing’s “old partner in crime from Royals” can produce some sense-shattering sequences. Yet somehow, the Spaniard’s sketches of McGowan debatably lack the energy Bennett provides the researcher with later on when she is talking down an enraged Hulk.
[PREVIEW ARTWORK – CLICK TO ENLARGE]