Back in 1985, Bill Mantlo, Mike Mignola, Gerry Talaoc, Jim Novak and Bob Sharon told an Incredible Hulk story that would change everything, despite being a Secret Wars II crossover. Incredible Hulk #312 told a haunting story of Bruce Banner's birth and his life, including the influence of his father, Brian Banner.
A nuclear scientist who feared that his work meant any children of his would be genetic monsters,
Seen through Bruce's eyes as a destructive monster.
And one that beat his wife, and Bruce's mother, Rebecca Banner as well.
From this abuse, came the Hulk, in Bruce's mind long before the gamma bomb that would transform him. Brian would later kill Rebecca and be placed in an asylum for the insane. And years later would see a graveyard reunion for the pair that went as well as you may expect.
With Brian Banner still suffering the same delusion.
And eventually leaving a beaten down Bruce Banner in the graveyard.
A few years later, for the famous Incredible Hulk #377, Peter David and Dale Keown would pick this thread up again. With Bruce and the Hulks being psychoanalysed by Doc Samson. And revisiting a certain monster, reprising scenes from five years before.
And this tie showing us the murder of Rebecca.
And revisiting that graveyard as well.
Later in the run, with Pater David and Gary Frank, we learned more about those times – and threats.
That he would go to hell to burn in the tar pits unless he behaved himself. And indeed with Peter David and Andy Kubert, gave us an Incredible Hulk #-1 and what really happened in that day in the graveyard.
…revealing that Bruce Banner accidentally killed Brian Banner. Later in the series, with a little help from Mephisto, the two were reunited in hell.
…though the promised punishment was not eternal.
There have been a number of revisitations since. Flashbacks for the Hulk when fighting his own son at the conclusion of Planet Hulk.
Smashing the construction set…
…beating Bruce. And that was just the beginning.
During the Chaos War storyline, Brian Banner returned from the dead and faced the Hulk again alongside the Abomination, and Brian was transformed into a creature resembling a mix of the Guilt and Devil Hulks.
Recently in the Immortal Hulk, Brian Banner returned, possessing Sasquatch…
…and then becoming part of the Hulk himself.
And now the Hulk has indeed gone to Hell. Very literally. With no Mephisto trickery. At the conclusion of the previous issue, we saw Brian Banner there.
And in today's Immortal Hulk #12 we got a new history for Bruce Banner. A replacement of the construction set.
And some further motivation, however warped, for Brian Banner's actions on Earth.
And the idea that the Hulk was planned by something a long, long time ago – before his birth…
Al Ewing has, if nothing else, been doing his reading. With Joe Bennett, Ruy Jose and Paul Mounts, Immortal Hulk was Marvel's most critically acclaimed title last year and the new issue shows no stepping back in that regard.
IMMORTAL HULK #12
(W) Al Ewing (A) Joe Bennett (CA) Alex Ross
"HULK IN HELL" PART TWO!
• It whispers through many mouths. It destroys with many hands. Its only weapon is hate.
• It wears human souls like masks on a stage to work its will on the world – but in the lowest hell, underneath all others, all the masks come off…
• …and THE ONE BELOW ALL is revealed.
Rated T+In Shops: Jan 23, 2019