We all knew how this confrontation was going to end between the Immortal Hulk and Fortean Abomination, but knowing that and what would happen in the events of this battle were two very different things. Now as much as we looked forward to that moment, I’m sure that plenty of us also looked forward to what would come next. As some of the solicits suggested, this was only the start of some big changes to come to the world of the Hulk.
Actually, let’s not even say the world of Hulk, because off the bat we discover that Team Gamma here has plans for the whole world. This was a huge change in direction for the story, yet also one that makes sense. For the majority of this Immortal Hulk run, the Hulk and friends have been hunted and disturbed at every turn they took. It was only a matter of time before they began to push back. They did, and they earned themselves one of the biggest victories for the gamma powered. Though now they take on the next step in addressing a world that is plagued with a problem that digs deeper than abusing the power of gamma. It was all quite brilliant if you ask me because Ewing found a way to tie the abusing of gamma to the general selfishness of humanity as a whole.
One of the better developments from this issue was actually getting an explanation of Banner’s plans straight from his mouth. Up to this point you could pretty much connect the dots yourself, but there was as much power to those impressions you got as you would have gotten from Banner being straightforward. We know he has the underground fortress, the allies, and even people working under him. Yet there was so much more that we needed to grasp about the long-term plans since the devil is in the details. It was a chilling moment as well. It’s one thing to know what is going through his head, but it is another thing entirely to know that there is also an acceptance in what he does best.
Bringing in a Hulk who is naturally outside of the circle was also a great move for the fact that we needed to see this whole developing situation from a different angle. An angle where someone who knows the experience of losing control to the Hulk might see this all as a red flag that everyone else is losing control. They very well could be, but for right now you have to love this contrast in viewpoints that Banner has addressed between humans, heroes, and hulks. Speaking of viewpoints, I was surprised to see that Jackie is still a central character in this. I was surprised, but also happy for this. It would have made little sense if this was the end of her story. She sits in a great position currently as someone in the human world who offers insight from the public perspective. Not too much of that was seen in this issue, but down the road there’s no doubt her part will add more to the story.
One of the big things for this issue has apparently been the creation of this term, “Hulk Syndrome”. I get what some readers assumed Ewing was trying to science away, but at the same time that is not what he was doing here. At the end of the day, being a Hulk will always be a mystery. Something you can’t simply put into words. When you try to throw a scientific term at it like this? It is only natural that people will associate it with just about anything familiar. You know, like how we all use the word trigger, but don’t really understand that there is a REAL diagnosis for it?
Even with the moment coming in a couple of issues, I still find myself destroyed by the idea that Immortal Hulk #28 could be Joe Bennett’s final issue as the artist. How the heck do we get over that decision? As marvelous as this story has been, it was a huge balance between that and what was told visually. Joe Bennett tapped into that old school horror that I don’t think anyone else could have if they were drawing this. It was never just about the thrill of the action, it was the embracing of everything unnatural about the world of Gamma. The mutations, breaking of natural laws, even the trip to their metaphoric Hell. He did things with the human body which sticks with you! I’m not sure I’ll ever get over the sight of the Hulks skin being repeatedly melted off through acidic vomit. Now let me take a step back before I get too deep with this. In the case of Immortal Hulk #26, the artwork was more so tame this time around. Not a problem at all because at the same time there was a stronger character focus, and it did not hurt to really see what made Bruce tick during this period. To be calm one minute, angry the next, and all if it seem so natural right now.
Immortal Hulk #26 has changed the game in a big way. Who would have ever thought that it would be Banner like this that is so dangerous to the world around him? The build-up to this point was worth it because I’m sure there was not a single reader who hasn’t been wondering for countless issues what was meant by Banner and his other personas wanting to destroy the world. Now we know he means the human world, and who doesn’t want to see the greatest war he could start?