The Immortal Hulk Takes a Swipe At Death in Superhero Comics

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 certainly used death as a key driver in its narrative, with writer Al Ewing exploring the undying behemoth Bruce Banner and his alter ego have become. From the Devil Hulk to the upgraded version of Joe Fixit, Bruce's new form as a Hulk that emerges as an immortal monster at night has been thought-provoking, especially with Ewing killing off and resurrecting various characters -- Banner included -- along the way to mentally torture the Jade Giant.

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We've seen Betty Ross murdered and reborn as the Harpy, while Rick Jones has also been revived in a twisted human form after being brought back by Shadow Base as the Abomination. But with the most recent spate of losses, one of Banner's allies, Puck, takes a swipe at the use of death at a plot device, making it known it never sticks in superhero comics.

It's ironic this comes up in a book which has the title character as an immortal being. But clearly, Puck has had enough when it comes to death, so much so he's desensitized and doesn't seem to care when one of his closest friends bites the dust. It's not that he's a terrible friend, he's simply unperturbed because he knows they'll come back to life at some point.

That's made evident when Titania and Absorbing Man recuperate following the latest attack by the new Abomination (General Fortean). He incapacitated the entire gang, including Doc Samson, with non-lethal methods, but Walter Langowski, aka Sasquatch, was killed by gunfire. As the team performs the autopsy, Samson is concerned by how easily Walter was killed, but Puck is distracted by the politics involved, and what will be the repercussions for the United States for an attack that took place in Gamma Flight's space-base.

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Samson admonishes him for not being more compassionate and instead only focusing on the business end of the things. However, Puck makes it clear Alpha Flight members don't mourn for each other, unless they have to, and basically tells the doctor that Walter will be back at some point. It's disturbing to see him behaving like that, especially as we recently witnessed Puck caring for Dead Man Logan when he was diagnosed with a terminal illness. But for whatever reason, Puck says that, as a "gamma guy," he fully expects Walter to return someday. He even jokes that death even befell Samson, who was also killed in this title early on, only to be resurrected.

Betty got shot in the head and seemingly died, and another piece of evidence Puck presents is that earlier Walter was also killed. However, his Sasquatch persona saved him and he came back to life, which leads Puck to believe his buddy simply needs to be put on ice, and no funeral is required. Puck assumes leadership of the team and wants Walter placed in suspended animation in the morgue because they don't have time to waste. It doesn't matter if the body is cold or not, Puck wants revenge. Right now, Walter's corpse is just paperwork in his way.

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Puck's meta perspective may be harsh, but it rings true for so many comics. Marvel brought back Bucky Barnes, as an example, with other versions of Gwen Stacy revived too. Apart from Ben Parker, it seems anyone can come back, and Ewing knows this too well after chopping his Hulk into pieces and resurrecting him, and also having his close friends devour him. Puck's swipe also applies to other publishers, like DC, which recently gave Jor-El and Thomas Wayne new leases on life, so whether you like it or not, Puck is right: There's no such thing as death so don't waste time grieving.

The Immortal Hulk #23 goes on sale Sep. 4

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