Investigating the Death of Doctor Strange In The Best Defense: Immortal Hulk #1

by Josh Davison

[*Mild Spoilers Ahead!]

A gut feeling leads Bruce Banner to an abandoned cabin near a small town in the middle of nowhere. Inside, Bruce finds what he believes to be the charred skeleton of Doctor Stephen Strange. The Eye of Agamotto is conspicuously missing, so Bruce hunts for it in the town. The town is empty, with its few inhabitants hiding inside from an unknown threat. Bruce didn’t want to get involved, but he rarely gets what he wants.

The Best Defense: Immortal Hulk #1 cover by Ron Garney and Richard Isanove
The Best Defense: Immortal Hulk #1 cover by Ron Garney and Richard Isanove

The Best Defense: Immortal Hulk #1 tells a classic Hulk tale: there is a small town, a mystery, and a malevolent force that only Bruce Banner is in the position to answer.

Given that Al Ewing is the writer, it could have easily been an issue of the mainline Immortal Hulk title right now. The quality of storytelling is no lower.

The most conspicuous part of the book is the inclusion of dispersed panels of a classic Hulk comic with parallels to the story currently being told. I’m unsure if it’s an homage or implying that Bruce has been to this town before, but I won’t complain about getting some classic Hulk mixed in with the new story.

I intended to mention this in my review of Namor, but there is also a non sequitur that clearly is some part of the main The Best Defense story. It includes a knife-wielding figure with a sheet over his body like a trick-or-treating ghost murdering aliens. It has no connection to this story or the Namor tale, so it doesn’t really do anything for either comic.

Regardless, this is a good story, and Al Ewing continues to show that, in addition to Mighty Avengers and Ultimates, he was born to write the Hulk.

The Best Defense: Immortal Hulk #1 art by Simone di Meo, Dono Sanchez-Almara, and letterer VC's Cory Petit
The Best Defense: Immortal Hulk #1 art by Simone di Meo, Dono Sanchez-Almara, and letterer VC’s Cory Petit

Simone di Meo brings a style more sleek and caricature-like than Joe Bennett in the main Immortal Hulk comic. It’s not a bad change of pace, and it works well to highlight the bleakness of the town. The action scenes are brutal under di Meo too, and that suits this book well. Dono Sanchez-Almara is the color artist, and his palette is especially gorgeous here. The town is dirty and dominantly grey and brown. The color work is blended well and really drives home the desolate feeling of this setting.

The Best Defense: Immortal Hulk #1 is another stellar Hulk story from Ewing, and, regardless of any connection to this Defenders story being told, is easily worth checking out for anyone who just enjoys a damn good comic. This one comes recommended. Give it a read.

The Best Defense: Immortal Hulk #1 comes to us from writer Al Ewing, artist Simone di Meo, color artist Dono Sanchez-Almara, letterer VC’s Cory Petit, cover artist Ron Garney with Richard Isanove, and variant cover artists Joe Bennett with Belardino Brabo and Paul Mounts, Adi Granov, Jack Kirby with Paul Mounts, and Skottie Young.

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