For most of his adult life, Bruce Banner has just wanted to be left alone. Now back from the dead, Banner will get his wish as writer Al Ewing teams with artist Joe Bennett for The Immortal Hulk this June.
Ewing, who has been working on the recent Avengers: No Surrender arc says this new ongoing Hulk series will feature Banner (not Amadeus Cho) and will spin out of Avengers #684, which will see the Hulk resurrected…for good:
Okay – to begin with, the title character is Bruce Banner, and Bruce Banner is the Immortal Hulk, the World’s Mightiest Mortal, the Green Goliath, the Strongest One There Is, et cetera, et cetera. A lot of people have been a little wary that we’re actually bringing him back for keeps this time, so I figure this is as good a place as any to confirm that yes, this is Banner, he’s back, he’s got an ongoing solo series and he’s not going to die again any time soon. In fact, that’s kind of the point.
Joining Ewing is artist Joe Bennett, who has done extensive work for Marvel in the past, including a couple of turns drawing the Hulk.
Tom Brevoort asked me if I’d be interested in a new Hulk series featuring unique visuals and atmosphere. Al’s scripts really evoke those elements, too, so I decided I should approach the book with a style reminiscent of Bernie Wrightson. The Green Goliath will have a darker and more nocturnal look in this book. I’m trying to evoke the feel of all those great Warren magazines like Eerie, and Creepy
And according to Ewing, this Hulk book will indeed be unique and will explore themes one would usually associate with a horror story:
Because this is going to be a very good comic, and hopefully unlike any Hulk comic you’ve read before. It’s a comic about a monster who can’t die. It’s about a man who believes he can use the darkest elements of his personality to do good in the world, and where that belief leads him. It’s about mortality, atonement and denial. It’s about all the parts of ourselves we don’t like to look at. It’s a horror comic. And if we’ve done even half the job I think we have, it’ll be one of the most talked-about comics of 2018.
Of course a good Hulk story is also a good Bruce Banner story and the best stories have always been, at their core, a story about the relationship between the monster and the man. Ewing assures fans that this story isn’t only about the Jade Giant:
There’s one line that resonates strongly with me when it comes to Banner and Hulk. It’s the line from the cover of the very first issue – “Is he man or monster or… is he both?” And that’s the line we explore with Bruce Banner. When we join him, he’s walking the Earth, his return from the dead whispered about but not yet public knowledge. He’s attempting to use the power inside him – the rage inside him – to atone for his sins, to right wrongs, to bring a measure of justice – or vengeance – to the situations he finds himself in. He’s allowing the Hulk to guide him a little. And if that idea sends a little chill down your spine… you’re not alone.
In terms of the Banner/Hulk dynamic – I’ve been getting a little Jungian. I’ve been thinking of the Hulk as Banner’s shadow, the personification of all the things he doesn’t like to see in himself. That leads to some interesting interplay between them – the Hulk side lives in mirrors, and during the day he brings hunches, sudden intuitions, magical thinking – but there’s one difference between them I think people will want to know about right away.
Banner can die. The Hulk can’t. If you shoot Banner in the head – he’ll fall over dead. He’ll lie there all day, dead as dirt, growing cold, getting stiff… right up until the sun goes down. And then… well, night is the Hulk’s time.
And the Hulk remembers.
Ewing insists the book will also see Banner, along, working his way through the world much as he was in the early comics and in the 1970’s TV series.
The status quo of the book, to begin with, is fairly classic – Banner walking the Earth, using the power of the Hulk to address situations he comes across – but it’s all in the tonal shift. Tone is very important for this – it was the first thing I talked about in the pitch – and in terms of the general feel of the book, it’s probably closest to some of the horror work I did when I was working solely in the UK comics field, where I got my start in the writing game. That said, I don’t think I could have written this in my twenties – I’m got a command of my craft now that I didn’t have then, and the confidence to take the work in a more interesting direction. What I’m hoping here is that this will be another of the periodic big shifts in what can be done with the character – in the same way that the Peter David era opened up the psychology of Banner and the Hulk a lot more, and that led to an explosion of story possibilities, I’d like to take the Hulk down a new path of my own and see where that leads. I think the readers are going to enjoy joining us on that journey.
Finally, Ewing, who has done some brilliant work for Marvel over the past several years, assures readers that while they may be apprehensive about the new title, he’s committed to making this book stand out:
One thing I will say, for anyone reading that and feeling nervous – I’ve been a fan of the Hulk since I was a little kid. He was my first ever “favorite superhero” – I had a Hulk cake for my birthday, I had a Hulk cardboard decal hanging on my wall, Hulk stickers on my door, a tape of Hulk cartoons on VHS that almost wore out with the number of times I watched them. I have nothing but love for the Hulk, and I’m showing that love by doing my absolute very best work on the character – and, with any luck, by making his solo book the most read, most talked-about, most exciting cape comic of the year. I famously don’t even believe in “A-list” heroes, but if they exist, the Hulk is definitely one of them. And I’m bringing my A-game.
The Immortal Hulk will be on shelves in June!