BY MATT TUCK
Time of Monsters is a fitting title as we get the debut of an all-new prehistoric Hulk whose origin could rewrite Hulk history. And, yes, he is impressive.
THE IMMORTAL HULK: TIME OF MONSTERS #1
“TIME OF MONSTERS”
STORY BY ALEX PAKNADEL & AL EWING
SCRIPT BY ALEX PAKNADEL
ART BY JUAN FERREYRA
“A LITTLE FIRE”
WRITTEN BY DAVID VAUGHT
ART BY KEVIN NOWLAN
“TIME OF MONSTERS”
Simply put, Time of Monsters is a cool, Old Testament monster story.
It introduces what is likely to be a new villain for Immortal Hulk just in time for the series finale with issue #50. The one-shot comic features the main “Time of Monsters” story followed by the backup tale, “A Little Fire,” written by David Vaughan and drawn by Kevin Nowlan.
After months of mystery, who - or better yet, what - is this new Hulk? He’s not friendly, that’s for sure.
SPOILER ALERT. YOU’VE BEEN WARNED
The main story takes place more than 11,000 years ago in Jordan, where we find the crater left by a green, gamma-oozing meteorite named “Good Green Eye.” Village chief Adad describes his people’s barren land, and he offers a sacrifice in the form of his captive, Tammuz. There is an undertone of a romantic relationship between Tammuz and Adad’s son, Shalim. The two had planned to elope for more fruitful lands before the chief learned of their plot. So Adad uses the opportunity to kill Tammuz by sacrificing him to the Green Eye, which Adad believed would appease the Eye, and, in stereotypical fashion, bless his people.
Reenacting Bruce Banner’s own evisceration by that fateful gamma bomb, Tammuz is consumed by the Green Eye and transformed into a prehistoric Devil Hulk of his own, complete with ram’s horns. He looks like a combination of Hulk and Doomsday with his bone-armor plating.
Tammuz emerges from the crater in his new body, but he is still the same innocent boy in mind and spirit. As Tammuz is going back to the village, Adad and a hunting party descend, capturing him in a net and attacking with spears. It is Shalim who delivers the deathblow with an arrow to the eye. This is clearly meant to be an allusion to Civil War II #3 when Hawkeye shot Bruce in the head with an arrow, an act that would ultimately give birth to the Immortal Hulk. As it would turn out, Shalim’s arrow would incite the hatred that fuels Tammuz’s rebirth as the ancient world’s Hulk.
In a move straight from a horror story, the village praises the Green Eye for delivering to them a hearty bounty. They eat Tammuz’s green corpse in a feast, leaving his head on a pike. Meanwhile, Tammuz has passed through the mythical Green Door, where he meets the One Below All. He sends the boy back to the world of the living, harnessing his anger into a personified arrow. The new Hulk is then resurrected and his body reforms. All those who ate his flesh basically melt away, except for Shalim, who meets his fate offscreen. We are left with the action-movie shot of the horned, prehistoric Hulk walking away as the village burns behind him. Good stuff.
“A LITTLE FIRE”
There isn’t much to say about the backup piece. “A Little Fire” embellished the classic horror roots of the Hulk, namely Boris Karloff’s Frankenstein, complete with a black-and-white movie screen that featured the fears of all its viewers. The villain behind it all is Marvel’s Scarecrow, who feeds on the fright induced by his film reels.
As the story goes, Scarecrow pulls Bruce Banner into the theater, and he is literally scared to death. Then the Hulk emerges in classic Jack Kirby art style, which was a nice touch for nostalgia, and the tables are turned on Scarecrow. Hulk even chases Scarecrow with a pitchfork and the theater burns down with him inside. This could be a setup for a Scarecrow revamp, but on its own, this was just an average tale with average art.
What was a very nice change of pace for an Immortal Hulk title was the art style. Ferreyra’s take has a realistic feel to it with subdued hues of color that give this an historical and Old Testament Biblical energy. As much as I enjoyed the Paknadel/Ewing story, the artwork truly stole the show with echoes of Bill Sienkiewicz watercolors. It was a brilliant way to help tell the origin story of this new Hulk that I am certain will make an appearance in the modern world to challenge Bruce Banner. There is no doubt that Ewing has much more in mind for Tammuz.
In today’s world of collecting, most new characters’ potential hinges on their live-action appeal. This is doubly true for the MCU. What I like about this ancient Hulk is that he is not tailormade for the MCU. Like Immortal Hulk, he stands on his own merit and is more horror than action-comedy. It’s refreshing.
The bigger picture here is that Paknadel and Ewing effectively just rewrote the Hulk’s history. Of course, Ewing has been doing this all along in his Immortal Hulk run, introducing the Green Door and the One Below All. Good Green Eye, however, changes the game. Even though it was not specified, Tammuz is by far not the first person transformed by the Green Eye, which means there could have been Hulks well before him. Whether or not any of those others survived remains to be seen, but it does seem clear that Tammuz was the first Hulk to return from the grave.
What this does is give Ewing and future Hulk writers a new sandbox to play in. Personally, I would be interested in an entire prehistoric world of gamma-powered monsters.
From a collecting standpoint, this will be a future key issue. What Ewing has in store for Tammuz is anyone’s guess. Since you can get these at your local comic shops or online for less than $20 for the standard cover, it is a small price to pay for something that could prove to be a big deal.
Matt Tuck is the author of the novel, Lost Bones of the Dead. He is also a teacher, freelance writer, comic collector, and an international man of mystery. You can follow him on his Facebook page, The Comic Blog.