THE IMMORTAL HULK #13 finishes out the “Hulk in Hell” story with another fantastic issue. In this one, the deceased Rick Jones tries to help the Hulk fight an army of demons in hell. All the while, Puck and Absorbing Man try to save Bruce Banner from his evil, demonic father. Al Ewing writes another very engrossing tale with this issue. Much like the past two issues, Ewing adds in some elements of religion and folklore to analyze the Hulk as a character and as a force of nature. Joe Bennett adds even more creepy designs by showing a truly sickening interpretation of how Rick Jones transforms into A-Bomb. Overall, another home run.
The Final Battle in THE IMMORTAL HULK #13
In the last issues of this arc, The Hulk, Jackie McGee, Puck, and Absorbing Man all got transported to Hell by Brian Banner. Brian was seemingly possessed by some sort of demon and separated both Bruce and the Gamma power from the Hulk, turning him into an emaciated husk of a monster. After traversing Hell, Hulk and McGee came into contact with reanimated corpses which look like Rick Jones and McGee’s father. Eventually, Brian, who captured Banner, used him as a conduit to call forth a gigantic, cloud-shaped demon, possibly Satan itself.
THE IMMORTAL HULK #13 opens with the huge demon expelling a vast army of lesser demons, which descend upon Hulk, McGee, and the corpses. Hulk tries to fight them off, but they’re too much for him in his weakened state. Rick Jones’ corpse notices this, and turns into A-Bomb to help.
Meanwhile, Puck and Absorbing Man scale a large mountain where, at the top, Brian Banner stands with the imprisoned Bruce. Absorbing Man believes that he’s the reason why all this happened, since Brian used his body to create the portal to Hell in the first place. He charges at Brian while Puck calls for him to stop. Does Absorbing Man stop Banner? Does this motley crew ever escape from Hell? Read THE IMMORTAL HULK #13 to find out!
A Lesson in Folklore in THE IMMORTAL HULK #13
For the past two issues, Ewing has included brief interludes where an unnamed narrator muses about the nature of the Hulk, God, and the Devil. THE IMMORTAL HULK #13 is no exception. I want to highlight these interludes here, since they’re both legitimately informative, and also add a deeper layer to the greater story of this series. The narrator describes the origins and meaning of the Tree of Life in mythology, Satan, and Kabbalah’s 10 emanations of the divine. In this issue, Ewing dives deep into two of these emanations. One of them is Geburah, the emanation of “strength and severity.” Kahmael is an archangel who watches over Geburah by burning all forms of evil. The narrator also describes Golachab, which stands for strength through destruction.
The narrator poses the question as to which of the two sides Hulk represents: Geburah or Golachab. Without going into spoilers, Ewing makes interesting points for both theories. Either way, this folklore/religion lesson is a truly fascinating part of this arc. It gives the book educational value (beyond just how to make a nearly perfect comic). I really enjoy how I learn something new with each issue. This is a perfect example as to why comics are a valid form of literature, even though some blowhards in the media say otherwise. Ewing creates a work of art with each issue, and these folkloric interludes are major reasons why that’s so.
Genuine Nightmare Fuel
Joe Bennett continues his transcendent run on this series with a truly scary, sickening interpretation of Rick Jones mid-transformation into A-Bomb. While THE IMMORTAL HULK #13 includes amazing art throughout the book, this page in particular really blew me away. Jones becomes this intense, Cronenbergian mass of flesh, exoskeleton and bone. The way Jones’ husk tears apart from A-Bomb’s form like a piece of clothing is sickening. I love when comics have sick, twisted art, and this is a prime example of that. It’s scarier than something you’d see in most horror movies. It’s the exact sight one would expect to see while traveling through Hell. Bennett, once again, interprets the horrors of Hell absolutely brilliantly.
Final Thoughts: THE IMMORTAL HULK #13
I say this with every issue, but THE IMMORTAL HULK #13 truly is yet another nearly-perfect comic. I don’t know how Ewing and Bennett are able to so consistently churn out such quality work. I’m in awe of just how stupendous this series is.