Writer: Al Ewing
Art: Joe Bennett, Ruy José, Belardino Brabo, Marc Deering, Roberto Poggi, Paul Mounts, VC’s Cory Petit, German Garcia, and Alex Ross
Release Date: November 6th, 2019
He’s got an underground fortress. He has powerful allies. He’s even got henchmen. He’s got everything he needs to declare war on human society as we know it in this week’s all-new IMMORTAL HULK #26 by Al Ewing making him the most dangerous man in the world… and Bruce Banner is just getting started. Let’s smash into this week’s issue and see what Banner has in mind for the human race!
After Al Ewing’s double-sized issue 25 that this reviewer left scratching his head, this Hulk fan dove into this issue thrilled for something uncomplicated, less confusing, and some over the top grotesque horror graphics from Joe Bennet. Sadly, this comic contained very little warfare and very little mesmerizing art from Bennett. Don’t get this reviewer wrong, this narrative was definitely straightforward and much easier to follow than the last issue. However, it was cluttered with heavy dialogue and diatribes about society and the vague course of action Banner is going to take against the human race.
Where has the action been in these past two issues? Where are the outstanding Bennett illustrations that featured our Green Goliath’s viciously fighting in some of the most insanely intense battles seen in ANY comic? Instead, Ewing delivers a slow-moving and weighted discussion on the world at large and how the Hulk thinks he can fix it by ending humanity altogether. Moreover, this arrives after the far-out, future rendezvous in issue 25 that had a cliffhanger involving the Leader. Honestly, one of the coolest villains the Hulk has to face is thrown out there as a cliffhanger but readers get absolutely nothing more referenced about the Leader in this comic. Is Ewing simply toying with us? Heck, this reviewer is still waiting to see if the ”Hulk” running the show is the Maestro or if we get an answer to issue 20 about Metatron and his relationship to the series. Seriously, this comic feels like it’s stalled out and answers to the overarching questions are being trickled out now for shock factor alone.
Readers need to look no further than my dozens of prior reviews for this series to see how much this critic has truly adored Ewing’s run. Al Ewing was on the money for months and now everything has come to a crashing stop. Furthermore, why would people who use to work for Shadow Base continue to work for Banner, especially after the massive declaration Banner made to the world? Additionally, this reviewer received the impression that somehow this Hulk base is being funded by our government still… somehow. Really? And why is Doc Samson simply helping Banner? Does he agree with him? Again, there appear to be too many plot holes for this critic right now to get behind the current direction this narrative is going.
Not only was the issue heavy and a bit complicated, but Joe Bennett didn’t have the opportunity to creatively let loose throughout the issue. In a way, this issue felt like it stifled his talents. There was very little to no action at all. There were limited monstrous opportunities showcased and almost no chance for Bennett to play with all the tools in the toolbox! The art wasn’t bad by any stretch. Frankly, this critic loves Bennett’s art from top to bottom. However, after witnessing what he’s capable of and what he can put on display, this reviewer knows he’s capable of so much more when given the opportunity to shine.
Overall, this issue isn’t bad but it’s missing something that I feel the prior months issues were able to give readers; action, suspense, jaw-dropping moments, fantastical illustrations, mesmerizing art, clear direction, just enough dialogue, and conflicts (mental and physical) that encapsulated the drama of the narrative at large. To use a football analogy, It’s as if Ewing has been throwing for over 400 yards a game for the past 6 games and now decides to run the ball, which has never worked before. The issue was still perplexing at times, wordy, slow, and had very little action for an Al Ewing Hulk comic. Hopefully, Ewing can turn this around soon because it seems like he’s in a bit of a slump, which every writer or series has from time to time. Pick this up only if you’ve been collecting it to date. Otherwise, don’t bother this week. It’s not a great place to jump in and ultimately a new reader will be bored and find it a bit flat and confusing.
2 thoughts on “IMMORTAL HULK #26 Review”
You do a good job with these reviews, just wanted to say that first and foremost.
I would like to point out that Ewing has been seeding an arc like this for quite some time, it’s just not as apparent as the Cosmic Destroyer and Body Horror that this book has been acclaimed for.
I recommend rereading Immortal Hulk #15, when Devil Hulk describes how he views the world as it is, and I would also recommend rereading Immortal Hulk #18, as this issue establishes that Banner wants to help Devil “destroy the world”. Though what that means is not fully clear until this issue, when he make his manifesto clear and pronounced.
He wants to enact change, and he’s doing it the only way his system (Banner and his alters) know how. To smash corruption by any means necessary.
One thing I’ve enjoyed about this run, is that I don’t really know if Bruce is a hero or a villain. Sure you would typify the Hulk as one of Marvel’s heroes, but the nuance here of what he’s done in this run feels like it borders towards the other side. Or he’s neither, and chooses his own path, and anyone who gets in the way of that path, well they get smashed.
This, at least to me, is what this issue, and to a larger degree what this run is about. Who is Bruce Banner, and what does he want from this world? He even asks himself in the mirror in issue #1, “I’m not the Bad Guy Am I”, to wit, we get the response quote at the bottom “What do you think”. It offers an interesting take on where Bruce is currently and what he wants to do next with all that he’s accomplished so far. The Psychology Of Banner is the most important thing this Run has given us, and I would be remiss if I didn’t commend this issue for giving us this insight into how he views the Human World as it currently is.
Seems to me McGowan and the scientists were convinced after issue #24, the goal being to study Bruce being the whole reason they were recruited by Shadow Base in the first place. Feels like they are there willingly, so I’m assuming Bruce gave them a choice, and they went with the option they felt was right, especially when they saw how Fortean (a government funded military man) treated them.
Samson, seems to be unsure, though I’d probably argue he seems to be acting as he’s always done, towards the manner of containing Bruce, so that if things got out of hand, he and his Gamma Flight compatriots would take him down. His explanation of Hulk syndrome is fairly important as it does give a good generalization as to why Hulk personas exist, and is a solid lore building idea that Ewing has added to the mythos. Seems like Betty and Rick are on board, though that seems air apparent based on how they have been treated by institutions lately. I do miss them, and they should be back by issue #29.
Lastly, the notion of this black budget seems to be that anyone in operational control of Shadow Base, has access to it, with McGowan being the most familiar with how it works, though I wouldn’t try and take that too much farther, it’s really just small detail if anything.
What I find interesting is the mention of Krakoa, which certainly puts this after HoX and PoX at least. We needed a quiet issue where Ewing could flex his lore and world building skills, and this was just that, similar to issue #6 and issue #22.
Lastly, I will say that Bennett’s art while not being as vivacious as it’s usually been, we did get some very intricate paneling overall, lots of 6 and 9 panel grids being used to convey news and The Banner/Amadeus conversation. The Namor reveal being very well drawn, and also making a ton of sense since he also hates Roxxon. Plus Agger in Minotaur form is beastly and mythic under Bennett’s pencils.
In summation, I’d just say, that quieter issues are good to, we need them to pace the story, and as I’ve read your reviews for the next two issues, I’m sure your stance on this arc has improved. I hope you find enjoyment out of it, just like I will, because I’m very excited for the Hulk that Was in Xemnu.
Thanks again for the comments and read of the reviews