WARNING: This article contains spoilers for Immortal Hulk #7, by Al Ewing, Joe Bennett, Ruy Jose, Paul Mounts and VC’s Cory Petit, out now.
When the Avengers showed up at the end of Immortal Hulk #6, we knew that there would be a fight. Now, in issue #7, that’s exactly what we get, as the Immortal Hulk swiftly and systematically brings down each and every member of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. Tony Stark, however, has one final ace up his sleeve, but it’s so powerful that none of his teammates want him to use it.
Following the events of Civil War II, in which Hulk was seemingly killed by Hawkeye to prevent a possible future in which Hulk killed everyone, Bruce Banner has returned to life a different man. His relationship with his Incredible alter ego has certainly changed over the years, but never has it been so deadly. Now, whenever Hulk appears, it comes at the expense of Bruce Banner’s life. In a fittingly horrific concept, writer Al Ewing has established that while Bruce Banner can (and frequently does) die, as soon as night falls, the Hulk is resurrected -- and he’s stronger and meaner than ever before.
As Immortal Hulk #7 begins, the Avengers are already locked in combat with their former friend. We see Ghost Rider fall first, Robbie Reyes and his demonic car flung through the air, crashing into the car of a local family fleeing their house in Georgeville, Iowa. We hear on the news about a level-3 Superhuman conflict in progress, Hulk turns his attention to Thor. Still unworthy, Odinson is nevertheless an Asgardian god, so it comes as a surprise to both him and us that Hulk is able to punch him so hard, he fractures Thor’s skull and knocks out one of his teeth.
As Cap rushes to Thor’s aid, the Odinson reveals that Hulk is vastly stronger than he was before, going so far as calling his former ally a “Devil Hulk.” Black Panther and Iron Man join the fray, the former having the Vibranium in his suit overload (something T’Challa thought was impossible), and the latter having his powerful Hulkbuster armor torn to shreds by the one being it was designed to fight against. This Hulk is also smart, however, fighting against both Cap and his cousin Jen (also a powerful Hulk) by not only using his fists but his words.
It's obvious something more is necessary to take this Hulk out -- and Tony Stark has exactly that.