WARNING: The following contains spoilers for The Immortal Hulk #22 by Al Ewing, Joe Bennett, Ruy Jose, Belardino Brabo, Paul Mounts and VC's Cory Petit, in stores now.
The Immortal Hulk has taken quite the emotional toll on Bruce Banner. He's being hunted by the Shadow Base and along the way, he was gutted and eaten alive by Betty Ross' monstrous form, the Harpy. While Bruce, and by extension, the Hulk have found an ally in reporter Jacqueline McGee, they don't have too many friends as they continue to run around the Marvel Universe.
Shadow Base, which is patterned after the vision of the deceased Thaddeus Ross, is simply 10 steps ahead of them all the time and it's feeling like the odds are constantly stacked. However, Immortal Hulk #22 flips the current "Who's There" storyline on its head by bringing back one of the Jade Giant's most important allies, Rick Jones. However, his resurrection is not quite everything it seems.
When Harpy devoured Hulk's insides a few issues ago, she was helped by Rick, who's been mutated into a creature that's best described as warped beyond imagination. Rick's corpse was dug up by Shadow Base's leader, General Fortean, and they turned him into Subject B aka the new Abomination. Of course, Rick was killed in Secret Empire, executed by HydraCap's firing squad but as Fortean noted, his body always had unique potential.
This trails back to when Rick was killed and turned into A-Bomb, as well as his previous years bonded with the alien Mar-Vell, all of which saw Rick become something much more than human. His physique's always been highly different and that's why Fortean decided Subject B would be a mix of A-Bomb and the Abomination, especially since Rick would be a mindless monster under his control. Rick even spewed vomit that dissolved the Hulk's body in battle, but ultimately, the Green Goliath prevailed. He eventually broke Rick out of B's husk and fled to California to hide out with a mostly restorred Betty. It's then and there Rick slowly begins to return to his old self, waking up from the gruesome resurrection Fortean put him through.
While Bruce, or his Joe Fixit persona, strengthens his bond with Jacqueline over her social justice stories such as her trans right piece, Betty calls out to him as Rick's frail, thin and gaunt body begins to activate in the inn's bathtub. When Bruce approaches, he's glowing green as if he has gamma inside him and now that he's free mentally, he pinpoints Shadow Base's hideout in Area 51. They head there where ironically, Fortean has become the new Abomination by bonding with B's husk himself, and the villain's also holding Gamma Flight prisoner after his merciless killing of Sasquatch to send Banner a message.
It comes to a head here with Hulk, Harpy and this re-powered Rick break through the roof of the facility, which sets the stage for an epic showdown. With Puck, Absorbing Man, Titania and Doc Samson also present, Shadow Base is about to find out just what happens when Hulk's legion unites for the greater good.
The full extent of Rick's new powers isn't clear, but with his memory back and an apparent connection to gamma energy, he could still prove to be dangerous to both friend and foe alike. We don't know what Fortean did to alter his molecular structure in the first place and resuscitate him, and how his revived form will cope without B's Husk. But either way, Rick is poised to be the key against the entity Fortean has become, and he could be on his way to working with Banner and his allies full-time once his humanity returns permanently.
The Immortal Hulk #23 goes on sale Sep. 4