The Hulk is back; and this time, he's immortal.
The story of the Hulk's return begins in this week's Avengers #682, but will be explored in detail in a fortnight's time, in Avengers #684. That issue will feature a 10-page background story, one revealing the secret of the Hulk's immortality. Once the current "No Surrender" event is over, he'll be rampaging his way into a relaunched solo book, one unlike anything Marvel has published before.
The last few issues have teased the Hulk's return, and now the cosmic being known as the Challenger has revealed his ultimate agent. He's made a bargain with the Hulk, whose survival is explained with an intriguing monologue.
"Rage... Rage is silent. Rage is cold. Rage cannot be stopped. And it never. Ever. Dies."
It's a chilling line, immediately promising a dramatic change in the Hulk's status quo. The next few issues will see the Jade Giant rampage his way into the "No Surrender" plot, and he's sure to play a major role. But it seems that isn't where the Hulk's story will end; he's back for good.
In an interview with CBR, writer Al Ewing and artist Joe Bennett have revealed that the Hulk will return to a new solo book as part of Marvel's "Fresh Start." Ewing has taken inspiration from a classic Hulk line: "Is he man or monster or... is he both?" He's following the lead of classic Hulk writers like Peter David, seeing the Hulk as a Jungian expression of Bruce Banner's shadow side. But, while that idea will be very familiar to Hulk fans, the execution will be unique.
The plot will see Banner walking the Earth, a homage to the classic Incredible Hulk TV series. He doesn't want to be found, or frankly even noticed. But this iconic concept is upended by Ewing's approach, which will essentially be a dark horror plot. That's perfectly suited to Ewing's new portrayal of the Hulk, which relates to this surprising power of immortality. As Ewing explains it:
"Banner can die. The Hulk can’t. If you shoot Banner in the head – he’ll fall over dead. He’ll lie there all day, dead as dirt, growing cold, getting stiff… right up until the sun goes down. And then… well, night is the Hulk’s time.
And the Hulk remembers."
It's certainly appropriate for Marvel to bring Joe Bennett in on this book. He's recently proved just how good he is at channeling the chills with the art for Phoenix: Resurrection. There, he kicked things off with what seemed to be a spate of supernatural resurrections, before indulging in cosmic action that ultimately brought Jean Grey back from the dead.
It certainly seems Marvel's "Fresh Start" features a lot of resurrections. Jean Grey is back, Wolverine is wielding an Infinity Stone, and Thor Odinson is back as the star of his own book. Now the Hulk himself is added to the number of classic heroes who are returning.
Avengers #682 is available now from Marvel and comic book retailers.