Writer Al Ewing and artist Jon Davis-Hunt take Jennifer Walters on an introspective tour of past trauma in Immortal She-Hulk #1, an emotionally weighty one-shot spinning out of the events of Empyre and through the green door into the current events of the Immortal Hulk ongoing.
Written by Al Ewing
Art by Jon Davis-Hunt and Marcio Menyz
Lettering by Cory Petit
Published by Marvel Comics
'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10
Ewing plunges deep into the pool of continuity to explore Jennifer Walter's fragile psyche, revisiting the events of Civil War II, Empyre, and She-Hulk's origin. Reeling from repressed memories of her times spent dead and still suffering from a rebirth after her struggle with the Cotati, she has a series of heart-to-hearts with Wolverine and Thor. Thematically, this works. Both characters have deep ties to the concepts of rebirth and immortality but with distinct outlooks that each offer an important piece of the puzzle that She-Hulk struggles with.
"Be careful what you wish for" is a phrase often used concerning immortality, usually in reference to being alive long after the rest of us have departed, but Ewing instead focuses on what it's like to know that you're going to eternally prevail – the weight of being at the beginning of an insurmountable journey. In classic Ewing style, he takes a well-worn concept and tilts it just enough that it seems fresh.
This fresh perspective approach to immortality extends to the framework of the issue itself. Make no mistake, the bulk of the issue is spent recapping past events and bringing Jennifer up to date with current Hulk lore, but there is fresh spin here. We see the specifics of She-Hulk's fall in Empyre – something that Slott and Ewing had kept off-panel to service a surprise reveal, and a climactic Leader appearance reveals one choice revelation regarding the green door.
Ewing draws heavily from his prior Hulk work here – mining that same vein of dread and the horror in lacking bodily autonomy that has made Immortal Hulk such an important book. Your mileage may vary. More Ewing Hulk is welcome, but somehow this still feels like a Marvel-mandated tie-in rather than a tale that had to be told.
Davis-Hunt renders Walters' vivid flashbacks in horrifying detail – in many cases one-upping the art in the books they're referencing. His pencils reflect his clear enthusiasm at illustrating mustache-twirling evil. The villains' faces are pocked with deep and craggy furrows that swirl inwards into wide and maniacal eyes. His Leader is a thing of grotesque beauty, a madcap crossbreed between Jim Carrey and a swollen raisin. He maintains a tight focus on expression, often zooming in uncomfortably close as Ewing's words reveal innermost thoughts. Davis-Hunt inks his own work in a studied fashion, careful to maintain the intricacies of his characters' expressions. He isn't afraid to ratchet up the intensity either. She-Hulk's fists and Wolvie's claws are instruments of brutality in Davis-Hunt's hands, the nastiness magnified by colorist Marcio Menyz's crimson splatters.
Naturally, for a Hulk title, Menyz busts out his best neon green, while atmospheric backdrops of oranges, blues, and pinks complement those lime hues. Menyz's approach to color enhances the dreamlike setting of Ewing's script, bathing the world in unnatural light and heightening Jennifer's unease.
Immortal She-Hulk #1 is a tie-in trapped between two worlds. Directly picking up in the fallout of Empyre but with roots much deeper than that summer event, Ewing and Davis-Hunt offer up an accomplished one-shot that is one third a retrospective, one third a philosophical piece on the nature of immortality, and one third a short but potent chapter in Ewing's Immortal Hulk saga.