THE IMMORTAL HULK #14 delivers a more subdued, heartfelt issue that delves deep into Betty Ross’ character and her tumultuous relationship with her deceased father. Al Ewing delivers one of the most engaging Betty Ross stories in recent history. While ever so slightly less engaging than the prior story arc, it's still one top-notch book.
98 %
Solemn and Somber

THE IMMORTAL HULK #14 focuses on the real world once more, after Hulk escaped Hell in the last issue. Like in past issues, this book shifts focus from Bruce Banner and, this time, places it on Betty Ross. Bruce’s former partner and ex-wife’s father, Thunderbolt Ross, died in the pages of CAPTAIN AMERICA, and his funeral is shown this issue. Al Ewing uses this issue to delve into Betty’s psyche, as well as to show what Shadow Base has been up to since the Hulk’s trip down under. While not quite as astounding as the last arc, this issue still ranks among some of the best Hulk stories, thanks especially to the scenes where Betty reminisces on her estranged relationship with her father. Kyle Hotz’ artwork captures quite effectively the solemn tone of Ross’ funeral.

Ashes to Ashes in THE IMMORTAL HULK #14

Last issue, Bruce Banner emerged from Hell victorious against his father. He finally decided it was time to contact his ex-wife, Betty Ross. He seemingly hasn’t spoken to her since his Doc Green persona took away her Gamma-fueled powers in the pages of HULK. Meanwhile, in the CAPTAIN AMERICA book, a mysterious figure killed Thunderbolt Ross and framed Cap for the murder. In THE IMMORTAL HULK #14, General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross is finally laid to rest. At a West Point chapel, a relatively intimate crowd gathers for his funeral. Among them are Tony Stark; General Fortean, the head of Shadow Base; and Betty. Betty’s none too happy to see Fortean, her father’s former protégée. He chased her down and tried to capture her back when she was Red She-Hulk.

THE IMMORTAL HULK #14 page 2. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Betty seems to feel almost nothing about her father’s death. She notes that Fortean had a closer relationship with him than she did. They had an antagonistic relationship, since he was always gunning for her former beau. Plus, she notes that he died before, as did she. As she mulls this over, she notices that a visitor appeared at her house. That visitor? Bruce Banner. What does Betty do when she sees him? And what plans does Fortean have for Betty and Bruce? Pick up THE IMMORTAL HULK #14 to find out!

A Complicated Relationship in THE IMMORTAL HULK #14

Al Ewing shines a spotlight on the Ross family in THE IMMORTAL HULK #14. Much of the issue is devoted to Betty’s musings on her relationship with her father. She notes that he was behind bars the last time she saw him. He was since released and worked for the White House, but she never visited. I really love how Ewing doesn’t outright tell the reader what conclusion Betty jumps to when noticing this. He frames it as though she’s almost coldly, scientifically dissecting her relationship with him. Thaddeus hadn’t been a loving part of her family for years. He never really forgave her for loving, and marrying, the subject of his rabid obsession. Now he’s dead, and she hasn’t connected with him emotionally in years, if ever. Ewing brilliantly highlights this by having Betty show next to no emotions over his death.

The most emotion she shows at his funeral is the pure, seething resentment she feels when looking at Fortean. Ewing brilliantly references a lesser-known book from the MARVEL NOW! Era, RED SHE-HULK, by showing Betty so riled up by Fortean. This issue is filled with callbacks and references to prior series, from RED SHE-HULK to SECRET EMPIRE. These references aren’t just fan service or a way for Ewing to show how literate he is with Hulk lore. No, they all work in service of the plot. By making Fortean the head of Shadow Base, rather than some new general, Ewing pays tribute to his predecessors — chiefly Jeff Parker, who co-created the character. It shows just how much affection Ewing has for both the Hulk and his writers.

Solemn Artwork

Kyle Hotz steps in for Joe Bennett for THE IMMORTAL HULK #14. Hotz uses his skills to craft a truly depressing look for Thunderbolt Ross’ gravesite and funeral. He frames the funeral on a rainy, dark night. Hotz, along with colorist Paul Mounts, makes the scenery as dreary as possible. The dark, muted color palette blends in with the heavy, drenching rain. Betty’s stern, nearly emotionless facial expressions throughout the entire burial show just how unaffected she is by his death. The grimmest page, though, is the one showing Ross’ gravestone. The dark, muted grays of the marble barely stand out against the dark black background of the shadowy trees and colorless sky. It says all you need to say about the occasion.

THE IMMORTAL HULK #14 page 4. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Final Thoughts: THE IMMORTAL HULK #14

THE IMMORTAL HULK #14 showcases a character who hasn’t had the spotlight since her book was cancelled in 2013. Ewing does right by her character, delivering a superb issue that ranks among some of the best Betty Ross-focused issues in Hulk history.

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