THE IMMORTAL HULK #16
THE IMMORTAL HULK #16 BY AL EWING AND JOE BENNETT
Art
Characterization
Story
Summary
THE IMMORTAL HULK #16 proves that Al Ewing is, very likely, in the midst of the greatest Hulk run of all time. It’s another stupendous issue. Joe Bennett draws the best Hulk transformation I’ve seen. It’s horrific, and I love it!
100 %
Positively Smashing

Rick Jones, the Hulk’s former friend and sidekick, posthumously narrates THE IMMORTAL HULK #16. He describes the Hulk’s first transformation and his feelings at the time. Meanwhile, Jackie McGee returns to the Hulk beat and Bruce Banner searches for clues with Doc Samson. Al Ewing delivers yet another smashing issue. From Rick’s haunting recollections to Doc Samson and the Hulk’s repartee, Ewing pulls out all the stops.

It’s fascinating just how tremendously well-written this book is. Ewing is beginning to rival Peter David in terms of having the best Hulk run of all time. I’m hoping it lasts as long as David’s run, too, if not longer. Clearly, this issue is just as strong as all its predecessors. Joe Bennett, as usual, draws yet another grotesque, gory Hulk transformation. His interpretation of the transformation is, by far, my favorite.

You Know Something is Happening, Mr. Jones

Ever since the Hulk returned from hell, he’s visited, and been visited by, many figures from his past. He met up with Betty Ross, only for Bushwacker to shoot her and for her body to vanish. Then, he teamed up with Doc Samson to track down Betty, which took them to the graveyard where Rick Jones was buried. However, when they got there, they noticed that his grave was exhumed, and his body was missing. In THE IMMORTAL HULK #16, Bruce Banner and Doc Samson team up to find Rick. Hulk thinks General Fortean took the body. They end up at the site where Fortean trapped the Hulk a few issues ago, before he escaped.

Meanwhile, Jackie McGee returns to the newspaper where she works, and reads Rick Jones’ autobiography. Much of the narration in the issue comes from excerpts of that book. Jones recalls the first time Banner turned into the Hulk. Jones was sure Banner was dying a gruesome, horrific death, but he realized that he witnessed something even worse. He remarks that it was a fate worse than death; Banner turned into an inhuman monster. McGee, who has all but given up on her Hulk story after literally going to Hell, gets a tip from her editor. He informs her of the wreckage that once was Betty’s house, and that Ross has gone missing after meeting a man who fit Banner’s description. McGee is intrigued, and books a flight to California. Back at the Shadow Base site, Hulk and Doc Samson find that Fortean left behind some surprises.

THE IMMORTAL HULK #16
THE IMMORTAL HULK #16 page 3. Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

What do they find at the site? What happened to Betty and Rick? Read THE IMMORTAL HULK #16 to find out!

Mr. Jones and Me in THE IMMORTAL HULK #16

The opening to THE IMMORTAL HULK #16, where Rick describes the first transformation, adds a new, horrific layer to the Hulk’s origin. It brings up something I haven’t thought much about in the past. Rick Jones was the catalyst for the Hulk’s birth. If he didn’t go out to the test site, nothing out of the ordinary would have happened. He knows this, and he felt horrible guilt after the bomb went off with Banner still in its blast zone. In this issue, he admits that he thought that Banner was dying when he saw him transform. It’s an understandable reaction to seeing a human’s entire body stretch, contort, and snap into a huge, discolored abomination. He notes that his first feeling was one of guilt. He prayed that Bruce wasn’t dying, since then it would have been all his fault.

That abject fear, mixed with horrible pangs of guilt, added so much more to Hulk’s origin to me. It goes from just a strange, horrific body transformation to an even more tragic story. Ewing’s new contextualization of the events is downright brilliant. It’s just a small example of the wonders he’s achieving with this series. Nearly every issue includes something new added to the Hulk mythos. It would be easy for this to feel like he’s messing with other writers’ works. Instead, it feels like he’s being incredibly reverent to the writers who came before him. It’s clear that he’s a huge fan of the character, which is why he brings back obscure side-characters, like Fortean. He makes subtle additions that only work to add another layer to prior stories, rather than totally change their meaning or context within the Hulk mythos.

A Gruesome Transformation in THE IMMORTAL HULK #16

Joe Bennett has drawn Bruce Banner turning into the Hulk, and vice versa, many times in this series. THE IMMORTAL HULK #16 includes my favorite out of any of them. When Banner and Samson arrive at the former Shadow Base site, the sun goes down and Banner turns into the Hulk. In a perfect companion to Rick Jones’ description earlier in the issue, Bennett draws one of the most gruesome, Cronenbergian transformations I’ve ever seen. It’s a true piece of body horror. Banner’s nearly emaciated body convulses in what looks like agony, as he becomes contorted in an unnatural pose. This figure melds, in the most disgusting-looking way, with the Hulk’s mass of green muscle. The Hulk’s eye socket seems to stretch over Banner’s. Everything about it is repulsive, which is why I love it so much.

THE IMMORTAL HULK #16
THE IMMORTAL HULK #16 page 12. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

After all, it makes sense that it would look so horrific. A human body isn’t meant to grow multiple feet taller and hundreds of pounds heavier. If that were to happen, it would look disgusting and unnatural.

Final Thoughts: THE IMMORTAL HULK #16

THE IMMORTAL HULK #16 is another ridiculously amazing chapter of this series. It’s at the top of the heap in terms of quality.

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