Supposedly spinning out of the sixteen-issue long “Avengers: No Surrender” story-line, at least according to its author Al Ewing, this first instalment of a “new ongoing series… which launches this June as part of Marvel Comics Fresh Start initiative” certainly seems to have lived up to its pre-publication promise that none of the title’s 84,153-strong audience needed “to have read No Surrender – or any other comic ever published by Marvel or anyone else – to enjoy Immortal Hulk.” For whilst an understanding of the lengthy association between Bruce Banner and the World’s Mightiest Mortal makes it easier to understand just how come Thomas Edward Hill’s attacker “was big… built like an engine of Hell… and… was green”, “every Hulk fan, old and new”, will still make sense of the British comic book writer’s script for “Or Is He Both”. In fact, in many ways an ignorance of the Green Goliath’s previous adventures probably helped better sell this oversized thirty-page periodical as a “new, horror-themed comic”, rather than just another straightforward chapter in the titular character’s ever ongoing ‘super-heroic’ chronology.
Interestingly however, this magazine’s readers still had to wait quite a considerable time before Joe Bennett’s fantastically pencilled Hulk actually made an appearance, due to the creator of “the comedic blog The Diary of Ralph Dibney” initially just focusing upon “the psyche and fragile form” of Banner as he witnesses the cold-blooded murder of an innocent young girl in a bungled petrol station robbery and is ruthlessly shot through the forehead before he can ‘transform’; “You… You just… You –” BDAM. This truly horrific crime, made all the worse by Hill’s callous ability to simply shoot the hapless cashier as the crying man pleads for his life, is wonderfully penned by Ewing and proves such an emotional journey that the vast majority of bibliophiles were probably cheering when “the Strongest One There Is” later bursts in upon the Dogs Of Hell’s dilapidated headquarters so as to wreck his revenge upon the weak-willed man who killed him.
Somewhat bizarrely though, Bruce’s “savage, nocturnal alter-ego” undoubtedly appears to have undergone something of a personality change for this book, with his renovation into “an instrument of justice and vengeance” appearing more in keeping with that of Gary Friedrich’s Ghost Rider than the human mutate’s usual “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” shenanigans. Indeed, Tommy’s slaying of three innocent people and the loathsome man’s irritating claim that he didn’t want to do it, would surely have tried many a crime-fighter’s patience beyond its moral limits, and yet the green-skinned, oft-times murderous “monster who can’t die” surprisingly still leaves the blonde-haired robber “clinging to life”, apparently unwilling to completely snuff out his existence.