Welcome to another edition of the Marvel Rundown! This week, we’re looking at yet another Al Ewing comic following the debut of his and Valerio Schiti’s excellent S.W.O.R.D. #1 last week, which folded Ewing’s cosmic sensibilities into the fantastic line of X-books. We’ve got a review of his Immortal Hulk tie-in to the King in Black event that’s currently going on, as well as a quick rundown of other books from the week, all ahead on this week’s Marvel Rundown!

Immortal Hulk: King in Black #1

King in Black: Immortal Hulk #1

Written by Al Ewing
Art by Aaron Kuder
Colouring by Frank Martin and Erick Arciniega 
Lettering by Cory Petit
Cover by Aaron Kuder and Frank Martin

The King in Black event is a whole thing that’ll take over a lot of the Marvel Universe for the next couple of months, but don’t let that stop you from reading this comic. I believe Ewing himself said that these crossover tie-ins mostly act as annuals to his Immortal Hulk series, since he didn’t want that series to have a traditional scheduling structure. So, in other words, if you’re reading Immortal Hulk, then definitely check this out. If you’re not, this issue acts as a primer of sorts. Really, it tells you everything you need to know about the tone of the book.

Immortal Hulk
King in Black: Immortal Hulk #1

This issue, which is entirely silent, follows Hulk as he’s chased by a rampaging symbiote through the empty, snow-caked streets of a defeated New York. Obviously, the real stars of the show are Kuder and the colourist team of Martin and Arciniega, who do some career-best work here. Kuder’s work here is clear and concise, with clarity being the key factor here. I’ve read a lot of silent issues and there’s always one moment which isn’t executed as well as it should be by the artist, but there isn’t a single misstep here. Some stark flashback sequences remind the reader of the mental state and trauma that this version of the Hulk is carrying, and serves to enrich the simple and personal ending of the issue.

The range of emotion that Kuder paints the Hulk with is honestly a big selling point. Come for the Hulk, stay for Kuder’s incredible Hulk acting and watch him make all kinds of faces you’ve never seen before. From confusingly terrified to jaw-breakingly happy, Kuder adds a lot of depth to the character in a story where getting these kinds of moments across is a little bit more challenging than a traditionally-told story. Overall, this has been a pretty good year for Kuder with his great two-issue Thor story with Donny Cates, and this great Christmas-set issue of Immortal Hulk. I’ve always liked him as an artist but recently he’s stepped up quite a bit in my estimation.

Aside from Kuder’s brilliance, I think this acts as a nice thematic pairing with today’s release of Immortal Hulk #41, especially with regards to Joe Fixit scolding the Thing for hitting the Hulk because he was “beatin’ up on a kid!” While what the Hulk goes through in that particular issue is traumatising and frankly quite a saddening sequence to get through, this tie-in issue has a fundamental cheeriness, despite the murder and symbiote-ness of it all, since Ewing and Kuder specifically frame this as a Christmas issue, and the reason why is evident by issue’s end. In other words, it’ll make you smile unlike the ending of any issue of the main Immortal Hulk series.

Final Verdict: This is a BUY. This is one of the best issue of the Hulk in recent years despite how simple it is, but the strength of the sequential storytelling by Kuder and his art team is truly stunning.

Immortal Hulk
King in Black: Immortal Hulk #1

Rapid Rundown! 

  • Black Cat #1 
    • Black Cat is back this week after a few months off, with a new #1 and a King in Black tie-in. I didn’t stay up on the preceding 12 issues but saw a lot of positive buzz for it on social media, so I came into this book with relatively high expectations, and they were met easily. Jed MacKay incorporates the crossover elements flawlessly, as the events of KiB come literally crashing down onto Felicia and her gang. C.F. Villa and Brian Reber do a great job throughout, whether it’s the action of the opening tunnel sequence or the battle against the symbiotes, or the dialogue-heavy scenes that set up the premise for this first arc of the series. Most of all this is just a fun comic, with some gags that land really well and a delightfully light tone. I’ll definitely be back for more.—JG
  • Iron Man #4
    • Korvac’s plan is revealed in this issue, and it’s as grandiose as you’d expect from an Iron Man villain. Four issues into this new series by Christopher Cantwell and Cafu, I’ve found it to be enjoyable and a nice examination of the character but a little too decompressed for my taste, with final pages that read like simply the last page before the next chapter in a trade. A lot goes on here and a lot of it calls back to earlier issues in the series, so I think I’d actually recommend this as a collected edition when it hits shelves in a few months. But, as an issue, it’s a fun read with a moment between Tony and Patsy that I think readers have been waiting for since the first issue. HW 
  • New Mutants #14
    • Finally, after over a year, New Mutants feels like a book with a clear direction. Vita Ayala‘s arrival as writer, joining occasional series artist Rod Reis, course-corrects the most middling book in the X-Line, rebuilding it as a community building and fostering the next generation of Krakoan mutants. Reis’ art is stunning, as always, but truly gets to shine here with fun, inventive layouts, and downright Sienkiewicz-ian flair. Ayala’s new roster, made up of New Mutants standbys and a few new arrivals like Proudstar and Scout, has immediate appeal and sets an extremely promising stage for the series coming out of X of Swords. —ZT

Next week, the search for Captain Britain begins in the pages of ExcaliburKing in Black continues, and Doctor Doom concludes!