Calm Before The Storm: Reviewing ‘Immortal Hulk #35’

by Brendan M. Allen

The war with the Minotaur is over — and a grateful humanity knows who saved them all. Can Shadow Base come out of the shadows? Can the world believe in Bruce Banner? Can there be a happy ending… for the Immortal Hulk?
Bruce Banner’s got issues. Probably knew that already, but it doesn’t take much more than briefly reading the “Previously in…” page that kicks off The Immortal Hulk #35 to really get a sense of what the guy’s up against. I needed that, because I am brand new to this series, having just been turned onto it as a result of one of the New To You Comics pieces I did with Tony Thornley back in April.
That being said, I had absolutely no issues finding my way around. Banner is trying to sort out the identity issues that have plagued him forever. Actually comes close to a consensus with Savage Hulk. There’s some PR stuff to work out, and Banner’s having some marital issues. Apparently the missus doesn’t really appreciate being hunkered down in an underground fortress? Something along those lines, anyway. 

Al Ewing pulls out some slick little devices in this chapter. Bruce Banner’s mindscape sequences are a brilliant way to show Banner’s internal struggle with his multiples. Not so much Sherlock, more Identity. And he doesn’t hold back when piling it on. At all.
Balancing the five separate personalities would have been enough. Throw in the PR business, repairing his relationship with the public, and then keeping his love life afloat with everything Bruce and Betty have been through?  Mashing all that together in just these few pages adds a sense of urgency, a tension, that really conveys just how hectic this dude’s life is.

This chapter is shockingly light on the horror and gore, which gives guest artists Mike Hawthorne and Mark Morales a lot of space to play up the character moments. There’s a lot of emotion playing out on Banner’s face and through his posture and movement. From the ‘oh shit’ moment where he realizes Hulk has a valid point, that Banner has mostly been the heel in their relationship, to the shock and pain of realizing he may lose Betty.
This is kind of a reset chapter, letting everyone catch their breath and get caught up to speed. That makes for an excellent place to jump in, but… I did mention this is a very mellow chapter in an incredibly intense horror series. If I hadn’t read that first arc, I wouldn’t know from this sample that this was anywhere near that genre. 
It’s a great chapter. Opens up a lot of avenues to take this thing next. I’m really looking forward to the horror show, though. That’s what brought me on board in the first place.

The Immortal Hulk #35, Marvel Comics, 15 July 2020, Marvel. Written by Al Ewing, art by Mike Hawthorne and Mark Morales, color by Paul Mounts.

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