THE IMMORTAL HULK #15 is beautiful in every aspect of the book. Al Ewing plots and scripts the book impeccably. Joe Bennett fills the issue with incredibly detailed, beautiful art. Just a tremendous book all around.
100 %
Superb and Stupendous

How does Al Ewing do it? How is he able to consistently deliver one of the sharpest-written, perfectly-plotted books of the past decade? THE IMMORTAL HULK #15 continues the ongoing saga of Bruce Banner and his gang of Gamma-irradiated do-gooders. This issue focuses on Doc Samson, Banner’s former psychiatrist, who was thought dead until CIVIL WAR II. We finally learn (sorta) how Samson came back to life, but we still don’t know why.

This issue stands out from many of the prior issues because it’s got quite a bit of humor in its pages. There are quite a few legitimately funny one-liners this issue. That doesn’t detract, in any way, from the rather serious plot, but it adds something new to the book. As always, Joe Bennett does some fabulous work when drawing the Hulk and his many personalities.

Dead Men Still Tell Tales in THE IMMORTAL HULK #15

In the last issue, Bruce Banner was finally reunited with his ex-wife, Betty Ross. Unfortunately, this happy occasion was cut short by Bushwacker, one of Shadow Base’s operatives. Unable to get a good shot at Banner, he accidentally shot Betty instead. This led the Hulk to go on a rampage, then Bushwacker shot him in the head, taking out a huge chunk of Hulk’s brain. In the nick of time, Leonard Samson showed up to try and calm the rampaging monster down. In THE IMMORTAL HULK #15, Doc Samson first recounts the events of his death and his subsequent resurrection. Back during the WORLD WAR HULKS event, he sacrificed his life to save Banner and countless others from a villain group called the Intelligencia. Not long after, he rose from the grave, not knowing why. SHIELD conducted tests, and found that he truly was Doc Samson.

He didn’t want to approach any of his friends, since he wanted to figure out his own problems before intruding into their lives. However, the deaths of Banner and Rick Jones prompted him to visit Betty, who he was reconnecting with when the Hulk sightings from the beginning of the series surfaced. Now, he fights the nearly-brainless Hulk, who’s slowly regenerating the brain tissue. Samson quips the whole time. Eventually, the Savage Hulk persona reappears, before quickly giving way to the Devil Hulk. Samson and the again-intelligent Hulk discuss their situation and decide to check on Betty. When they get back to the house, they realize Betty’s gone.

THE IMMORTAL HULK #15 page 2. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

What happened to Betty? Will this new Hulk persona clash with Samson, or become his ally? Read THE IMMORTAL HULK #15 to find out!

Humor and Heart in THE IMMORTAL HULK #15

THE IMMORTAL HULK #15 is, surprisingly, pretty lighthearted for a book about death, resurrection, and the strange mental space Samson finds himself in as a result. In prior books, Samson’s been both serious and more lighthearted. He’s always reminded me of Hank McCoy, and that definitely shows this issue. Like McCoy, Samson is highly intelligent, but he also has a lighter side to him. He doesn’t necessarily make light of his whole situation when speaking about his resurrection, but he also doesn’t sound deathly serious. When he speaks with Nick Fury shortly after coming back, there’s a great little exchange. Fury posits that maybe he wasn’t dead “all the way,” since that tends to happen to superheroes. Samson merely replies “I suppose…” It’s a dryly witty exchange which really amused me. Ewing has a knack for quippy, off-the-cuff comments, as evidenced by his U.S.AVENGERS and NEW AVENGERS runs.

Having said that about the quips, Ewing doesn’t overload the book with humor. When Samson talks about how he felt regarding Bruce’s and Rick’s deaths, he’s very serious. He clearly has many regrets due to his decision not to approach Banner or Jones, since they ended up dying not long after. There’s a very dark, yet somehow wholesome moment when he meets up with Betty, who also died and came back, about their shared experience of death and resurrection. In this universe, it’s somewhat commonplace for powered individuals, or their friends/family, to come back to life for unknown reasons. This one comment really stood out to me. There’s something tragic about two souls who seemingly feel like they need a reason why they’re alive again before they can go back to living their lives as it was before they died.

Bennett’s Astounding Art

Joe Bennett returns to the book in THE IMMORTAL HULK #15, and he continues blowing me away with his art. The pages featuring Samson’s death and resurrection look beautiful. I especially love the panel where Samson knows he’s going out a hero, and smiles while crying before the machine vaporizes him. Bennett really knows how to convey a message through art alone.

Another moment like that occurs after the Savage Hulk persona shifts to the Devil Hulk persona. I love how Bennett captures that change visually. In the first two panels with the Savage Hulk, he looks scared and confused. His mouth is agape and his brow is furrowed. The Hulk’s eyes are wide open.

THE IMMORTAL HULK #15 page 15. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Then, once the other persona takes over, his eyes immediately close to a near-squint. He has a look of derision on his face when glaring at Samson. He closes his mouth to a slightly-open frown. The disparity in the two facial expression say all that needs to be said about their two wildly different personalities. Just beautiful work from Bennett.

Final Thoughts: THE IMMORTAL HULK #15

THE IMMORTAL HULK #15 proves that the book keeps getting better with every issue. I can’t figure out how Ewing outdoes himself every issue. It still amazes me.

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