Immortal Hulk Flatline
Review by Paul Bowler
Expanding on the dark saga of The Immortal Hulk, Marvel’s one-shot Immortal Hulk Flatline, written and drawn by Declan Shalvey, delivers a tale that smashes into the heart of all things Gamma! At the dawn of ever day, Bruce Banner awakens in a new place. Perhaps the Hulk is trying to tell him something? Banner has grown tired of his green-skinned alter ego, but when a new gamma-powered villain suddenly arrives in a New Mexico town he has no choice but to confront his anger, and the terrifying results are far from anything Bruce Banner could ever have predicted…
Few comics have enjoyed or can compare to the success and critical acclaim that The Immortal Hulk has enjoyed in recent years. Al Ewing and Joe Bennet – along with a number of guest artists — have redefined the character and by taking him back to his horror roots. However, Marvel were somewhat caught off guard by the unprecedented success of The Immortal Hulk, so with the series’ end already set and established to happen with its fiftieth issue, their response was the commission of a series of one-shots by esteemed writers and artists to bring us further standalone stories from this hugely popular era of the Hulk.
One the most eagerly anticipated of these one-shots has been Immortal Hulk Flatline by the acclaimed Irish creator Declan Shalvey who is doing both the writing and the art for this one-shots intriguing storyline. Known for his pin-sharp, striking visual style, and fine writing skills, Shalvey brings all his skill to bare on crafting something uniquely special for the Immortal Hulk Flatline. While Ewing’s and Bennet’s main series rumbles towards its conclusion, Declan Shalvey steers the narrative back to reexamining the dark schism that fuels the conflict between Banner and Immortal Hulk, with the green behemoth deposing Banner at different locales around the country, seemingly intent on drawing his attention to something that Banner is still desperately struggling to define.
Of course that’s only part of the mystery at the heart of Immortal Hulk Flatline. The other is Banner’s chance meeting with his old friend and college lecturer on Gamma radiation, Professor Noonan. This haunting encounter leads into the discovery of a new gamma-powered adversary that Banner and the Immortal Hulk inadvertently come into conflict with. Shalvey brings some new and unexpected insights to the core themes of Al Ewing’s ground-breaking run on The Immortal Hulk, casting new light on the chilling dynamic of the series’ initial premise, and the existential common goal that ultimately drives Banner’s pantheon of alters.
Handling the role of writer, artist and colorist like this is quite a responsibility and Declan Shalvey does so with considerable style and verve. The artwork is indeed a veritable tour de force by Shalvey, his Immortal Hulk is a distilled version of Joe Bennet’s horror themed grotesque, and more of a chiselled, brutish thug, but his Immortal Hulk persona is still every bit a darkly menacing powerhouse to be reckoned with. The new Gamma irradiated villain that Hulk battles in this one-shot possesses telekinetic-like Gammer abilities, which are used to devastating effect as their savage no-holds-barred conflict crashes from page to page across a plethora of dynamic and stylish page layouts. Petit’s lettering is bang on point as well for what is actually quite a dialogue intense issue. Shalvey also employs a masterful use of color, using muted tones to highlight the drudgery of the dead-end jobs Banner takes on to blend into the background, while vibrant colors accentuate the explosive battles, and somber hues Convey the shared reckoning of the emotive climax.
Declan Shalvey has achieved an astonishing feat with this one-shot special. The fact Shalvey’s brought so many quintessential elements of the series together is remarkable in itself; that he’s also made them resonate so well in such a glorious fusion of story and art makes The Immortal Hulk Flatline one-shot one of the early high-points of 2021 and a fine addition to the enduring legacy of the Immortal Hulk.
Publisher Marvel Comics
Writer & Artist Declan Shalvey
Letterer VC’s Cory Petit
Cover Declan Shalvey
About The Author
Hi, I’m Paul Bowler, blogger and reviewer of films, TV shows, and comic books. I’m a Sci-Fi geek, a big fan of Doctor Who, Star Trek, movies, Sci-Fi, Horror, Comic Books, and all things PS4.You can follow me on Twitter @paul_bowler,or at my website, Sci-Fi Jubilee, and on YouTube and Facebook