A Dose of Gamma a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

An In-Depth Look at Immortal Hulk Issue #2

Today we're going to be jumping into The Immortal Hulk Issue #2 because the Batman Issue #50 Wedding Special was a pretty big let-down if I'm being honest. I'll still cover it, but I don't care about that comic as much as I do about this one. Al Ewing has done a great job with Bruce Banner and the Hulk in this run. He's made the dynamic between the Hulk and Bruce Banner a little bit different than we are used to. So I plan on discussing the dynamic change between Bruce Banner and Hulk, a brief discussion of the plot, and what this issue reveals to us, the readers, when it comes to other character changes made by Al Ewing to either the Hulk or Bruce Banner.

The second issue continues with Bruce Banner traveling the United States because he and the Hulk are wanted across the country, and theoretically he is supposed to be dead so he needs to keep a low profile and cannot situate himself in one place. Especially when the Hulk comes out, Banner has no control over what situations could happen if he stayed in one location. During his travels, Banner talks about how he is a simple man. He’ll beg, or do an odd job, make some money, and buy whatever food or clothes he can with that money, and leaves to go somewhere else. He only has the clothes on his back and the money in his pocket, and those two things don’t usually last long. Banner usually loses his clothes when he turns into the Hulk, and the money that Banner had in those clothes is left behind as well. 

Banners travels take us to a bar in a small town somewhere in the United States where the bartender and another customer are discussing the recent deaths of the town. The bartender claims that she has no idea what caused these deaths, but the customer says that everything started when some kid in the town died mysteriously. Banner, now interested in the conversation, asks how the boy died, and the bartender says he just did. The boy just died one day, and soon after others started dying as well. Banner decides to investigate, and notices that he has this gut feeling pointing him in a certain direction. He follows this “feeling” to a graveyard, more specifically, a grave. The grave of Delbert John Frye, the popular high school football quarterback that mysteriously died one day. Well, the boy's death was a mystery up until Bruce Banner places his hand on the grave and it makes him realize that he could make his way to this spot because the boy died of Gamma Radiation. In fact, the radiation is so strong that when people go to visit his grave they have been exposed to enough gamma radiation to kill them. 

Banner realizes how huge of a deal this is because everybody in the town is going to die, so he calls the authorities and tells them about the gamma irradiated body in the grave. The funny thing is that they do not believe Banner. So Banner essentially shouts "Well I'm Robert Bruce Banner, and I say people will die." Then he hangs up and runs away to a cave on a mountain so that the authorities that deal with situations like this will not see him. You need to remember that everybody knows who Bruce Banner is, and people are suspicious that he is alive. So Banner calling authorities that are looking for him and says his name would instigate a situation where Banner needs to hide. Once Banner makes his way into the cave he is attacked by a man that literally looks like a green ghost. It turns out that this man was Del's father who was a doctor that used Banner's gamma research to improve the human body.

Here's why this is little section about the doctor is important. In the Issue, the doctor looks like literally a green glowing ghost, similar to the ghosts in Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. When someone is exposed to radiation they experience this phase of radiation poisoning called "Walking Ghost Effect." On the surface, the person looks and acts fine, as though everything is normal. But on the inside your body is devastated by the effects of the radiation, cells in your digestive system start to die off, and you won't even notice until you see the blood in your feces. That, and other things. Pretty soon after though, you start getting pretty sick, or rather, start feeling pretty sick. How this relates to the comic is that, the doctor says that he felt really good when he was experimenting on himself with gamma radiation when he should have been feeling the walking ghost effect. Its ironic actually, that this doctor didn't experience the walking ghost effect, but ended up becoming what is essentially a gamma irradiated ghost.

The Doctor chokes out Bruce Banner, but before Banner can die, The Hulk emerges. And Bruce in this scene says something very important. He says that he, Bruce Banner, can die, but the Hulk, he can't. We don't really know why the Hulk cannot die though. Yes, the Hulk does have a healing factor, but back in Civil War II Hawkeye show Banner in the head with an arrow that killed him. The arrow was designed to kill Banner before the Hulk could come out and prevent Bruce Banner from dying. This concept, the Hulk being able to prevent someone from dying, is not old. In fact, if you've watched the Marvel Avengers movie, Bruce Banner says that he's tried to kill himself but "the other guy" doesn't let him. This concept appears in Marvel comics as well. If you've read Hulk: The End, then you would know this is true. The story follows Bruce Banner as the last man on Earth after a nuclear fallout and tries to kill himself, but the Hulk comes out every time he tries to die. If I'm being honest I don't know how the Hulk is able to come alive again if Banner dies, and I really hope to see what Al Ewing does with this concept, and how he explains it. I do, however, have a theory that I'll get to towards the end. So let's keep moving on with this story.

After the Hulk emerges, leaving Banner in the recesses of his mind, he has a conversation with the doctor, and the doctor tells us how Delford, his son died. It turns out that when the doctor noticed positive results from his self-experimentation with gamma radiation he decided to give a dose of his gamma serum to his son. The doctor's rationale behind giving his son a dose of gamma serum was because Delford was a football player, a quarterback. And by giving his son this serum, his son would be a super-star. The doctor takes his eyes off his son for one second, and his son says "I can see." And what the writer and artist show us is kind of horrifying.

The Dangers of Gamma Radiation Experimentation...

After talking with the doctor and helping him realize that he's basically destroying the entire town, Hulk attacks the character and we are shown what happens after. The doctor, in a daze, wakes up and we are shown that Hulk has ripped all of his limbs off, and blocked the entrance to the cave. I don't know the extent of the doctor's powers, but it is very possible that he won't die. There is a possibility that he is left trapped alone, unable to move, forever. Which is worse than death, which is also what the doctor screams when he realizes that he's toast. The issue ends with the police and the government in hazmat suits to avoid radiation and excavate the Delford's grave, and we are shown that Del is alive and shows the same effects of gamma radiation as his father. It's likely that Del will return, but whether he decides to choose the path of good or evil is unknown at this point.

Overall the second issue raises a lot of questions as to what roles Hulk and Bruce Banner play in the Marvel Universe. We won't really know anymore until the next issue, or maybe even next few issues come out so we will have to wait for that.

I am going to be posting a little bit less frequently because instead of doing individual issues, I am going to be focusing more on character profiles and biographies. I will also be summarizing and analyzing individual story arcs. Essentially I will be posting less frequently and putting out longer and better content that relates to comic books.

Note: I do not own the art, characters, and panels shown in this post. All characters, art, and panels belong to respective owners.

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A Dose of Gamma a Day Keeps the Doctor Away
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