In the recently concluded Avengers: No Surrender, an alien being known as the Challenger returned the Marvel Universe's mightiest monster, the Hulk, to the world of the living to use as pawn against Earth's Mightiest Heroes . . . or so he thought. The truth of the matter is that Bruce Banner and his ghastly alter ego would have returned regardless because the Hulk is not just incredible... he's immortal.
This June, No Surrender co-writer Al Ewing joins with artist Joe Bennett to examine what the Hulk's inability to stay dead means for Banner, his gamma powered other half, and the world around them in the new horror themed series, Immortal Hulk.
Today, CBR presents an exclusive first look at Immortal Hulk #1 with pages that offer a shocking and violent glimpse at the title character's new status quo. As an added bonus, Ewing follows along and offers commentary on the sequence being presented, while adding further insight into his plans for the series.
CBR: Al, you kick off this sequence with a page that suggests we're sitting with somebody that is not necessarily a bad guy. It seems to me that this is a very scared and desperate person. Was that what your intention?
Al Ewing: Here's the thing - my particular idea for a long while now has been that anything an author says about their own work is essentially meaningless. If you're asking me to interpret the text for you - I'm not going to do it. That, as the reader, is your job. And while I'm generally happy to chat, when it comes to this character, you're all very much on your own with yourselves.
What I will say is entirely intentional is that mirror - the one we see his eyes staring back at us in. Mirrors and reflections play an important role in this series, as we'll see. And that header caption is probably the most important line in the issue.
Here we get our first glimpse of Banner and the world he inhabits. Him being in the gas station with his pulled down baseball hat suggests he's a person on the run and trying to stay hidden from the world around him. I'm reminded of classic television show with hunted and peripatetic heroes like The Fugitive or The Incredible Hulk series from the late '70s and early '80s.
When we begin, Banner is walking the world, on the run, not wanting to be found. That was a conscious choice - since this was a new #1, we wanted to start off in a familiar place, with that kind of classic Hulk TV show feel. Banner's entire thing in these first few pages is not being noticed, not wanting to be seen. But he's always watching - you see as soon as someone comes in, he's got his eyes on her. What's he running from? What's he looking for? Why is he living this way? These are all questions we'll be answering as the series goes on and we get deeper into Banner's psyche.
On this page, Banner appears to be keeping track of the activities of his alter ego via tabloid style publications. What can you tell us about that? Will this series occasionally be about the weird, underground news that may seem common place in Marvel Universe New York, but is a little creepier and mythic in other places?
That's going to be a thread in there - when we start, Banner's resurrection isn't publicly known, it's a secret the Avengers and the government are keeping. But there are sightings. Over the course of the first arc, we're going to see those sightings travel from trash tabloids like the Inquisitor - no relation to any real world publications, of course - to city papers, to national news. And as it gets more difficult for him to keep his head down, and more difficult for the authorities to ignore him... well, things ramp up.
I'd definitely agree that the Hulk carries a very different weight in places like Arizona, where we start off, compared to places like New York City, where super-people and their attendant weirdness are more of a daily occurrence. People remember the Hulk there. They remember the time he destroyed their town, the neighboring town, the time he fought the army ten miles away and they had to evacuate. We're going to see the kind of reaction people like that have - the kind of primal fear that comes over them - when they hear that the Hulk might be alive.