Mild Spoilers Ahead
Dr. McGowan reflects on her previous job as a Mutant Growth Hormone manufacturer working under the Kingpin. Her career was interrupted by the Daredevil. She now works for the Hulk and she has just watched him bust out of a giant monster, unleashing a swarm of parasite-like creatures. These creatures were stopped by Xemnu, the original Hulk. Xemnu looks into the camera and promises happiness and peace. Hulk doesn’t believe this and attacks the heroic Xemnu on camera, further turning the public against him and pleasing the Minotaur, watching from his office at the Roxxon headquarters.
Immortal Hulk #31 is confronted by the original Hulk, Xemnu. Xemnu is a telepathic creature that can move objects and manipulate thought with just a look. However, he does not touch the Hulk’s mind, leaving Xemnu open to be attacked by the Green Goliath.
Immortal Hulk #31 is a comic all about perception. Xemnu plays on the fears and desires of the public to further turn them against the Hulk. It’s not hard; he just saved people from monsters. Hulk is attacking him and the news has already inferred that the giant monsters that attacked Phoenix were in league with the Hulk.
Moreso, Xemnu ties himself to what comforts people: Saturday-morning cartoons, young love, a new toy, the way soda used to taste. Xemnu is comforting nostalgia. Nostalgia is happiness. Change is scary and painful.
There is some irony in a Marvel comic starring a near 60-year-old espousing the dangers of comforting nostalgia, but damn does it have a chillingly effective way of doing so.
Javier Rodríguez joins Joe Bennett on this issue. Bennett once again nails it in the main sequence of the comic. Javier Rodríguez pencils the McGowan flashbacks and there is a genius in that choice. He is a brilliant artist, but his style also harkens back to a more classic aesthetic of comics gone by. He also had an excellent stint on Daredevil in the past, so it’s fitting to see him once again render the Man Without Fear. Álvaro López, Ruy José, Belardino Brabo, and Cam Smith tag team the inking portion of the book and make it look damn good. Rodríguez and Paul Mounts ensure that the color work is vibrant and impactful.
Immortal Hulk #31 shocks the reader with the return of an old villain who weaponizes nostalgia itself. Xemnu was the first Hulk and he is keen on reclaiming the throne by any means. The comic twists what you think you know and finds the true Hulk on the backfoot for the first time in a long time. This one gets a recommendation for sure. Give it a read.
Immortal Hulk #31 comes to us from writer Al Ewing, artists Joe Bennett and Javier Rodríguez, inkers Álvaro López, Ruy José, Belardino Brabo, and Cam Smith, color artists Javier Rodríguez and Paul Mounts, letterer VC’s Cory Petit, cover artist Alex Ross, and variant cover artists Geoff Shaw with Dean White; and David Nakayama.
Final Score: 9/10