Review: A Trap Is Sprung In ‘Immortal Hulk’ #38

by Tony Thornley


The Leader discovers whether ego alone makes him the strongest there is… 


After a long time away, the Hulk’s greatest nemesis, the Leader, has made himself known in recent months. However, in Immortal Hulk #38, the Hulk shows the Leader what happens when you mess with his family.

Cover by Alex Ross

The Leader has always been one of the most entertaining villains in the Marvel canon. Best of all, he’s a rarity in comic villains- he’s used sparingly, so his presence is seldom wearing out its welcome or too soon after his last appearance. However, after this issue, he may never show up again… The issue comes to us by Al Ewing, Joe Bennett, Ruy Jose, Belardino Brabo, Paul Mounts, and Cory Petit.

The Leader’s plan is in motion. He has the Hulk’s allies in his clutches. He’s taken control of the Hulk’s most powerful alter. He’s even cowed Brian Banner into submission. However, he’s made a terrible mistake. He’s assumed that HE is the strongest one there is…

Arch-nemeses are a tricky narrative device to pull off. Use them too often and the idea of the eternal struggle quickly loses weight and feels tired. Use them not enough and the whole concept of their conflict with the hero dissipates. Ewing strikes that balance here perfectly, showing that Samuel Sterns has been a presence the entire run of the series, but also forces the villain to confront the fact that his ego might be his undoing.

Beyond that though, he continues to find ways to examine the past of Bruce Banner, even at nearly three years into the series. Through flashbacks and narration we continue to get deep into who Bruce is. It’s angry and shocking, but it’s one of the best things about a series that has been all about redefining the Hulk and Banner as human beings.

Bennet and Jose continue to shock. Their depiction of the Leader’s puppets is one of the creepiest visuals to date in a series that’s been defined by it’s gross-out body horror. Brabo steps in to assist on the inks as well, and the art doesn’t miss a beat for it. Mounts colors create a sickly shine over the entire issue, ensuring the reader is off-balance the entire issue.

Immortal Hulk continues to be one of the best reads in comics. I’m excited to see where this goes next.

Immortal Hulk #38 is available now from Marvel Comics.

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