Review by Frank Plowright
One of many things Al Ewing is good at when it comes to the Hulk is dredging up villains from the past and reconstituting them as something viable. Despite his longevity, the Hulk doesn’t have a long list of memorable foes, so this is a greater achievement than it may seem, and tying it in with the ongoing continuity is even smarter. It’s exemplified by the return of alien monster Xemnu. As seen in We Believe in Bruce Banner the Roxxon Corporation have determined they’re not going to defeat the Hulk physically, so the answer is to discredit him, and what better way than by using an alien capable of hypnotising remotely and on a massive scale. That’s impressive enough, but the way Ewing and artist Joe Bennett contrast the reality with the belief is horrific, and the way they use the implanted memories to unsettle supporting character Dr McGowan tops that.
As good as that is, it’s just the window dressing prior to the main event. A series feature has been pages by a guest artist whose unique style would usually keep them well away from a mainstream superhero title, good as they may be. This time round it’s Nick Pitarra illustrating a wacky tour through the Hulk’s head and the assorted personalities within (sample art). The one that best suits Roxxon’s purpose is the mindless Hulk as he’ll alienate people, but perhaps that isn’t the wisest choice after all, as they won’t like him when he’s angry.
There’s one character bindingly associated with the Hulk that Ewing hasn’t so far used in Immortal Hulk. Readers who have history with the Hulk will have been wondering when they’d turn up. Well, in Hulk is Hulk they arrive, even having a whole chapter illustrated by Butch Guice supplying their background, indicating they’ll be around for a bit.
Javíer Rodriguez contributes a few pages, and Mike Hawthorne an entire chapter, meaning Bennett draws fewer pages of this collection than of any other in the series, but what pages they are. He takes on the stunning attack sequence featuring all the gamma-afflicted people on the Hulk’s team definitively dealing with a problem, and the power and the detail should be enough to satisfy anyone’s yearning for a Bennett fix.
Ewing again considerably shifts the ground here and certainly sets the table nicely for what’s due in The Keeper of the Door. If you’d like this material in hardcover, there’s the choice of Immortal Hulk Vol. 4, or Immortal Hulk Omnibus Vol. 3.