THE IMMORTAL HULK #19 is the most heartbreaking issue of the series. It delves deep into Betty Ross’ wounded psyche. Al Ewing crafts one of the most beautifully tragic books in Hulk history. Joe Bennett draws the Red Harpy with so much rage and sadness, it’s haunting to look at her.
99 %
Tragic and Compelling

THE IMMORTAL HULK #19 continues the Abomination story arc with the full debut of Betty Ross’ new persona: the Red Harpy. We finally see her in action this issue. Jackie McGee brings her to the Abomination/Hulk showdown in order to help Bruce, but does Betty agree? Al Ewing writes a devastating issue about a woman who, for years, suffered so much pain, heartbreak, and anger at the hands of the various men in her life, from Bruce Banner to her father. She finally lets her incredible, boiling anger come through in her Red Harpy persona. This issue is, by far, the most tragic issue of the series. Joe Bennett draws the Red Harpy with a haunting combination of anger and pain, reflecting the inner monologue she has throughout the issue.

Warning: This review contains slight SPOILERS!

The Red Harpy’s Violent Debut in THE IMMORTAL HULK #19

In prior issues, Betty Ross was shot in the head by Bushwacker. Jackie McGee went to investigate, and deduced that the bullet may not have killed her, as there was no body and a gigantic hole in the wall. After days of reporting, Betty finally revealed herself to Jackie as a red version of her prior Harpy persona. Meanwhile, the Hulk and the new Emil Blonsky/Rick Jones Abomination fought outside a Nevada motel. In THE IMMORTAL HULK #19, Fortean watches from the new Shadow Base as the Abomination fights the Hulk. The Abomination lets out an acidic secretion which melts the Hulk’s hand. Surprisingly, the Hulk can’t heal from this wound. As he panics about this new development, he reverts to his Savage Hulk persona.

THE IMMORTAL HULK #19 page 7. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

A few feet away, one of the hotel workers runs from the fight and comes face-to-face with a band of mercenaries hired by Shadow Base, who shoot the woman to, presumably, get rid of witnesses. Unfortunately for them, they shoot in front of Jackie McGee and the Red Harpy, who’ve just arrived on the scene. This sends Betty into a rage, and she brutally dismembers and violently kills the mercenaries, as McGee looks on in abject horror. McGee regrets bringing Betty here, but Betty explains that this is her. This is who she is. She repeats that phrase to herself in her inner monologue. A few images flash before her of the many times she defended and, later, argued with Bruce. That only serves to make her angrier. Eventually, they reach the Hulk, or what’s left of him.

Whose side will Betty take? What happened to The Hulk? Read THE IMMORTAL HULK #19 to find out!

A Trip Inside Betty’s Psyche in THE IMMORTAL HULK #19

THE IMMORTAL HULK #19 focuses on Betty Ross and an aspect of her that’s only been touched upon a bit, mainly during her days as the Red She-Hulk: her anger. One thing that connects all Hulk books is the idea of anger. That’s what powers the Hulk, after all. However, Betty’s anger shouldn’t be overlooked. Her life has been a tragedy since meeting Banner. She met him, fell in love, then he turned into a monster. Betty had to turn away from her own father in order to be with him. She was experimented on and became the original Harpy because of her proximity to him. Bruce and Betty found a bit of happiness for a short while after they got married, but then the Abomination killed her in order to get to Bruce.

She has every right to be angry, and Ewing shows this with her inner monologue. Betty justifies her abject rage by saying that “this is me.” Her life has been a horror for years, so she decides to become a horrific monster to fit into this cruel, unforgiving world. Ewing writes a beautiful issue partly because of the inner monologue. It’s so heartbreaking to read Betty’s almost desperate justification for becoming a violent, angry monster. Betty finally gives into her anger after her ex-husband did the same with the Devil Hulk persona. Ewing really does understand Betty Ross. She’s not the weak, timid person from the early issues of THE INCREDIBLE HULK. She’s even more empowered than her ex-husband, in some ways. I can’t wait to see what Ewing does with her character next.

Tragic Artwork

Joe Bennett finally gives us a very clear look at the Red Harpy in THE IMMORTAL HULK #19. After the mercenary kills the innocent bystander, Betty asks him softly why he killed her. When she does, she looks genuinely hurt and saddened. You can tell just from the art that she took this stranger’s death personally. One more casualty of Bruce’s life, dead just because she witnessed him and his enemy. On the next page, Betty’s pain turns to unchecked rage. The full-page spread of Betty descending upon her prey is a sight to behold. This muscular half-woman, half-bird creature rushes down, talons extended and ready to kill. Her face is especially haunting. It looks distended and stretched out, her jaw wide open in a purely primal, animalistic, rage-filled scream. Her eyes look like pure-red orbs of hatred. It’s a horrific sight.

THE IMMORTAL HULK #19 page 11. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Final Thoughts: THE IMMORTAL HULK #19

THE IMMORTAL HULK #19 is another superb issue by Ewing, Bennett and the gang. It’s even more tragic than any of the prior issues, and most of those were no walks in the park.

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