Church of the Geek

Off The Shelf -- The Immortal Hulk: Time of Monsters

May 25, 2021 Church of the Geek
Church of the Geek
Off The Shelf -- The Immortal Hulk: Time of Monsters
Show Notes Transcript

Welcome to “Off The Shelf”, our comic book reviews of recent titles. These are designed to be brief reviews of current books and series that we think you should check out.

Today, Brian reviews  The Immortal Hulk: Time of Monsters #1--  Written by Al Ewing and art by Juan Ferreyra.

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Theme song by @RickRackYouTube

Greetings Geek Friends! Welcome to another episode of Church of the Geek’s Off the Shelf, the weekly comic review. I am Brian Bennett, regular co-host of Church of the Geek. 

In our most recently published regular episode of Church of the Geek, titled “Interlude” when Sam asked me what i was geeking out about, I mentioned that I have been reading through the series The Immortal Hulk written by Al Ewing with various artists. The Immortal Hulk creates a mythological framework for a whole host of Hulks out there: Devil Hulk, Savage Hulk, Gray Hulk… All of these Hulks exist in the fractured identity of Dr. Bruce Banner, brought about by gamma radiation, which contains elements of magic in it. This magic creates a separate dimension, that reveals itself to Banner (and others as the story unfolds) as the Green Door. This green door is the portal through which Banner exists in when the Hulk takes over. 

This region is also where the One Below All exists and reigns as a deity of sorts. The One Below All is the force of hate and rage that impels the Hulk onward to deal chaos on the regular world, sometimes heroic, sometimes villainous, and much like the quantum realm, depends mostly on who observes. 

Throughout the series however, the question of how this realm all started and how the Hulk really began is never really answered. But in The Immortal Hulk: Time of Monsters, written still by Al Ewing, and art in this stand alone issue by Juan Ferreyra, we get a good look at the how the Hulk scenario came to be. 

Taking place over 10,000 years ago in modern day Jordan, We are introduced to a tribal leader, Adad, looking over the impact crater from a large crystalline green stone. The good green eye from the Mother Goddess, Adad tells us… or tells Tammuz, a young man whose wrists are bound and sits at the edge of the crater, listening while Adad rants on about their tribe being under the punishment of the Mother Goddess: dwindling herds roaming through their valley, sour water, drought. All of those earmarks of divine disfavor… 

And there is only one way Adad knows how to put things right. Tammuz, the orphan who was raised by Adad and best friends with Adad’s son Shalim, endures the fate that befalls many of the powerless. He is kicked into the crater to be dealt with as the Mother Goddess’ good green eye sees fit. 

At this point, let me comment about Ferreyra’s art. While the main series has art that appears very much like what folks would recognize as comic book art, this issue has an older vintage feel, like fantasy art from the 70s or 80s, or even old comic bibles. The art sets a tone of antiquity. There is almost a painted feel to it. The color palette that Ferreyra works with also sets the tone for the stressed tribe barely ekeing out existence. All browns and tans, without much contrast. The only other color that we see in that opening section is the green at the heart of the crater. 

And Ferreyra also does the body horror elements excellently as well. The tearing and rending of skin, flesh and bone is graphically presented and highly effective in the story. The gore giving us insight into the effect of hate and violence in our bodies. What is strength? What is weakness? What is human?

The subtitle of this one shot… I am assuming one shot.. Time of Monsters makes me wonder where the monsters really are. Yes we have Tammuz, the Ur Hulk… he might qualify as a monster. But the subtitle most definitely mentions Monsters… plural. 

And Adad might be the biggest monster of all. As leader of a tribe in antiquity, he is all too ready to commend the body of his adopted son to the will and whim of the Good Green Eye. His sacrifice of Tammuz is the easy, expedient move of one who holds power over one who is powerless. To highlight Tammuz’ good nature, it is clear that even when he is sacrificed and becomes the original Hulk, he recognizes that the power given to him can be understood as a gift. This transformation could be used as a blessing for his people. It depends upon his people recognizing him in that form as something other than a monster. Yet can a monstrous people ever recognize the strange and bestial as anything other than another monster? 

Tammuz’s hate and rage is not then something that was inevitable. But the One Below All lifts up the power in hate. Having suffered betrayal, Tammuz is all too ready to pick up that power. And so we must wrestle with the reality shown. Monsters reacting to threats, all too often create new monsters. 

The warning I think stands for us. Hate and rage are more likely to create monsters rather than help us to identify them. When we can only see threat from the other, and not a possibility of blessing, we show that the time of monsters has not yet ended. 

The Immortal Hulk: Time of Monsters is an excellent mythological riff on the creation of the Hulk… not just the Bruce Banner incarnation, but the whole ecology of Hulks. Ewing and Ferreyra have created an excellent work. 

Geek be with you.