Immortal Hulk #11

Issue Date: 
March 2019
Story Title: 
This World Our Hell

Al Ewing (writer), Joe Bennett (penciler), Ruy Jose (inker), Paul Mounts (colorist), Virtual Calligraphy's Cory Petit (letterer), Alex Ross (cover artist), Phil Noto (variant cover artist), Sarah Brunstad (associate editor), Wil Moss (editor), Tom Brevoort (executive editor), CB Cebulski (editor-in-chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)
Hulk created by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby

Brief Description: 

In Hell, the Hulk reminds Jackie McGee of the one question he let her ask him - “How do I get to be what you are” which leads to a discussion about Jackie wanting to know what it's like to be allowed to feel rage. She reminds Hulk of all the things he has been forgiven for, and points out that white men are allowed to scream, rage and smash things, and the world bends over backwards to understand that and reeard it – but not for her. They make their way across a devestated landscape, where they are encounter an apparition of Rick Jones. They talk to this apparition for a time, before encountering one that represents Jackie's father. Jackie struggles with seeing her father, who reminds her that he told her not to look the Hulk in the eye. Jackie asks the Hulk who cared about him as much as her father cared about her, when an apparition of Thunderbolt Ross appears. The Hulk knows that Thunderbolt Ross cared for him – in a strange way. Thunderbolt Ross transforms into a hideous version of the Hulk, and fights with the Hulk, while Jackie tries tro get the Rick Jones apparition to turn into a Hulk to help, to no avail. The Hulk didn't need help though, and tears the apparition of Thunderbolt Ross's Hulk apart, while his father, Brian Banner, watches from the edge of the Green Door, where Bruce Banner appears in a stream of energy. Elsewhere in Hell, Puck finds Crusher Creel who is struggling with his recent actions. Puck tries to bring Creel around, and explains that it was Creel who opened this door to Hell. Puck gives a brief overview of his life to Creel, explaining how he vowed to live an interesting life, which he thinks he has done.

Full Summary: 

A devastating house fire rages. What is hell?

A woman sits alone on a park bench, several bids nearby. There are places in this universe made of red rock and flame. Peopled by horned goats and fanged serpents. Built for the torment of souls.

The skeletal remains of a bird bakes under a hot sun. But these places are not Hell. They are only places. Hell is not a place.

A cat walks out of a nursery. Hell is the absence of God. Not atheism. A thing cannot be absent if it was never there.

An car and truck have had a crash and wreckage lies strewn across the street. To be truly absent, God must have once been present. God must have a face, to turn it away from you.

An elderly woman in a wheelchair sits in front of a birthday cake with dozens of candles on it, while younger people stand around her and clap. Is there another face that looks upon you when God's has gone? Does God have a shadow?

Does God have a Hulk?

Below, in a ruined landscape scorched red, the emaciated Hulk lumbers towards the edge of a cliff, followed by Jackie McGee. They look out over the destroyed city around them and see a mountain, where green energy strikes down to it from a portal that has opened above. “How do I get to be what you are?” the Hulk quotes. 'What?' Jackie frowns. Hulk reminds her that he let her ask him one question – that was the question. “How do I get to be what you are?” the Hulk repeats again. 'Really? You want to talk about that now?' Jackie asks. 'I'd just seen a man die, I wasn't exactly thinking straight -' Jackie begins, to which the Hulk tells her that is when the truth comes out, and that she is not the first to get obsessed because he broke her house – it happens. Hulk tells Jackie that she is not the first to want to climb into some gamma machine, either. 'People see me, they imagine what it's like to be me -' he begins, 'Yeah?' Jackie interrupts. She closes her eyes and tells the Hulk that she can't imagine it at all – what it must be like to feel that rage – to be able to feel that rage – to be allowed to feel it.

They slide down the edge of the small cliff as Jackie reminds the Hulk that he smashes towns, that he ruins lives and has killed people – not many, but he has, and six months later, he is on the Avengers again and all is forgiven. 'You know I was shot into space, right?' the Hulk asks. 'Yeah. You were shot into space. Instead of just shot' Jackie replies, pointing upwards before declaring that when the Hulk wrecks a city, Doctor Strange looks for a retirement home for him, and Iron Man looks for a paradise planet to put him on. 'Your anger... it's indulged. Even respected. Mine is dismissed – if I'm lucky' Jackie remarks, before telling the Hulk that they live in a world of men – white, college-educated men – men like Bruce Banner, who just rant and scream and rage and smash things – and then the world bends over backward to understand that, to reward it.

'So... yeah. I guess I'm asking. How do I get a piece of that pie, Hulk. How do I get to be what you are?' Jackie asks. The Hulk pauses, before telling Jackie 'That's good. I like that'. He follows Jackie across the scorched terrain as she tells him of course he does, that he can have a laugh at the puny human. 'No. Not that' the Hulk tells Jackie. 'How you talk about anger... like it's something that needs letting out. Like it's useful. Like it can get things done' he explains, pointing out that Jackie doesn't lock it away, call it another name or pretend it isn't her. 'You're not ashamed of it' he states. 'That. I like that' he adds, before pausing and asking Jackie if she could step into a gamma machine – she would, right? 'Sure. Who wouldn't' Jackie smiles, when suddenly, a voice asks 'What's it like, Doc? Being the Hulk?' The Hulk and Jackie turn to see a figure standing before them, his skin shucked and wrinkled, black empty eye sockets staring at them. 'I'll be it was a gas' the figure utters, causing the Hulk to go wide-eyed as he exclaims 'Rick Jones?'

And what would that Hell look like?

A shipping trawler is tossed about on the ocean as a storm rages. What is the anger of God?

The house fire continues to rage. We are told it is in the flood, or the storm. Insurance men say that these are God's acts, against which we are unprotected.

A ship has crashed into an iceberg, leaking oil out onto the water. That is the irrational side speaking. The rational side – science – says it was our doing after all. We poisoned the air, we boiled the sea and filled it up with plastic.

Police officers beat someone in an alleyway. We decided hating each other was more vital than saving each other.

The skeletal remains of a bird continue to bake into the ground as the sun burns down from above. We were given a miracle world, and we broke it. Perhaps we thought God would give us another. It won't work that way.

A fire begins to spread in a forest. What is God's anger? God's face, turning away. Leaving us alone with what we've done.

'I'm sorry' Crusher Creel the Absorbing Man utters as he sits slumped over on a red, scorched terrain. He pulls his hands away from his face and declares that he did this, that he let this happen – his stupid pride. He let this in. 'Trust me. Evil has always been in' Euguene Milton Judd a.k.a. Puck remarks to Creel as he extends a hand. Wide-eyed, Creel looks at Puck, 'Who?' he asks. The diminuitive Alphan introduces himself and explains that his name is sometimes from Shakespeare, while sometimes it is a hockey joke. Judd tells Creel that he recognizes him as the Absorbing Man. 'You become whatever you touch – I'm sure that was useful to it' Judd remarks, adding 'Magic, too – a gift from a god. Doesn't follow scientific rules. I bet that's why it chose you. It's been pulling strings a while now, eh? Reaching in where it's strongest...stroking and cajoling the minds around it...' “It?” Creel asks, confused. 'Sure. It. The Devil' Puck smiles. 'Eh?' Puck jokes as Creel looks confused, while lightning crackles around them.

Puck reports that he has met a Devil, which was fun, but he thinks this is the definite article. 'The peak of my career...' Puck adds, before Creel asks him how he found him. Puck smiles as he explains that he followed certain indicators, fields of force. 'You're an important man in these parts, Mr Creel' Puck states. 'You're the key' he adds. 'You're the man who opened the door – and you're gonna help close it' Puck announces, beckoning for Creel to follow him. Creel runs after Puck, asking him to wait, to hold on for a second, before asking Puck how he knows all this – talking about the Devil, about keys and doors. 'How do you know about this? Who are you?' he demands, pointing a finger at Puck. Puck turns back to Creel and informs him that when he was eight, he hunted his first bear, a big grizzly – that was in 1922, in the Yukon – and that bear kept them through a cold winter. Puck reveals that in Spain, he fought bulls and fascists, and he let the bulls live, while in Nepal, he hunted the Tiger God and killed all fear in him. Puck boasts that he has fought the Queen of Dreams and the world's secret Master, that he has fought demons in Hell and stolen their thrones – and those thrones haven't bound him.

Puck continues, explaining that it all comes backt to one thing – that when he was eight, full of bear meat and adventure, he made a vow – he vowed he would live an interesting life. Creel looks around nervously, while Puck turns from him and remarks that he thinks he has done okay so far, as he leads Creel onwards.

Does that answer the question, though?

Somewhere, a volcano erupts, spitting lava out of its mouth which travels downwards towards a village. We speak of the anger of God. But does God have a Hulk?

At the crash scene, the truck and car still lie in wreckage. “Hulk” - means  something large, unwieldy. A word pulled from the vocabulary of a frightened soldier to name the indescribable.

Oil continues to seep from the tanker into the ocean. The primary definition is a rotted  ship. Vast and strong, but gutted. Empty of treasure.

On a wooden table somewhere, a strange object sits next to a book and a glass. A shell. There is a concept in the “Qabalah” called the Tree of Life. A map of ten spheres or emanations describing both creation and mankind's spiritual goals.

The fire in the forest continues to rage up a tree. But the tree has an opposite side. A  shadow side. This is known as the “Qlippoth”.

“Qlippoth”, meaning shells.

'Golly, Doc. You're in real bad shape' the hollow form of Rick Jones remarks. 'I thought Rick Jones was dead' Jackie comments. 'What happened?' Rick asks. 'He is' the Hulk tells Jackie, who looks at Rick in shock and asks 'His eyes... are... are they empty sockets, or...?' to which Hulk pokes a finger into the empty blackness where Rick's eyes are supposed to be and tells Jackie that they are empty. 'What are you gonna do, Doc?' Rick asks, as the Hulk states that Rick is hollow inside, just a skin, repeating old lines.

Suddenly, another voice calls out, 'Baby girl...don't look' and Jackie turns, wide-eyed, 'Oh God' she utters, as the hollow apparition of her father appears. 'Don't look him in the eye' Mr McGee remarks, warning Jackie about the Hulk. 'Oh, God, no -' Jackie begins, while the Hulk turns from Rick to Jackie and asks if this is her late father. 'Dad – dad, please – we...we have to get you out of here...' Jackie exclaims, while her father tells her that he knows it is not as nice as the old neighborhood, but it is al lthey can afford since what happened. 'Dad – please, just -' Jackie begins, trying to get her “father's” attention. 'Leave him' the Hulk tells Jackie, grabbing her by her arm. Jackie looks at the Hulk and asks him to get off her, that this is her dad, she can't just leave him. 'It isn't. Not the bit that counts. We need to -' the Hulk begins, but Jackie waves her hands in the air and asks the Hulk how he knows. 'What do you know about – about this? He died from the stress, you know that? Trying to put our lives back together! He worked himself to death! What do you know about that?' Jackie screamsas tears stream down her face. 'Who cares about you that much?' Jackie asks.

'Well... there's that guy' the Hulk replies, pointing over to the hollowed form of General Thunderbolt Ross. 'Milksop. Got no guts' Thunderbolt Ross's hollowed form remarks. The Hulk tells Jackie that this is Thunderbolt Ross – Banner's father-in-law, and that he cared. 'Maybe not how you meant it, but...but...but that can't be right. He's not dead. Is he?' the Hulk wonders, confused. “Powerful forces” General Ross quotes. 'A a bomb!' he exclaims as he suddenly transforms into a deformed red-skinned Hulk. Jackie looks on in shock, 'God -' she gasps, while the Hulk tells her that is how much Thunderbolt Ross cared – enoughto make sure he could kill him. Hulk suggests to Jackie that she take a step back. 'There he is! The Demonical Hulk!' Thunderbot Ross shouts as he punches the Hulk, knocking him backwards. The Hulk regains his grounding and calls out 'Nice punch...from a hollow man...but then, you always were, weren't you?' as he grabs Thunderbolt Ross's hand, blocking his next attack. 'You won't escape me again' Thunderbolt Ross snarls, as he goes in for another punch, striking the Hulk's face.

Jackie turns to the hollow Rick Jones and reminds him that he was a Hulk once, before asking if he can change into one and stop  this before it gets any worse. 'Hulk needs your help -' she begins but Rick tells her that he doesn't – he just needs a little piece and quiet, that's all. The Hulk blocks Thunderbolt Ross's next attack, and asks him what happened to him. 'You died and it stuck this time? Think that lets you off? You could've been a father to Banner – but you wouldn't let him be Couldn't lreave us alone!' the Hulk shouts, raising his voice as he smacks Thunderbolt Ross to  the ground, and punches him, 'You're dead now? Good! I'll kill you twice! Kill you!' the Hulk exclaims as he pokes his fingers into Thunderbolt Ross's hollow eye sockets. 'Milk. Sop' Thunderbolt Ross utters – before the Hulk tears Thunderbolt's head apart in spectacular display.

Jackie rushes over and tells the Hulk to stop, that he has finished. 'Hulk – Hulk?' she calls, watching as the Hulk continues to tear apart Thunderbolt Ross's form. 'He sounds fiercer. Crueler' Rick Jones comments. 'Dangerous' he addds, before the Hulk comes to a stop, his mouth open wide, 'Hulk...kill...Hulk kill! HULK KILL EVERYTHING!' the Hulk roars, reaching his body upwards, while the green energy that flows down from the portal in the sky to the top of the mountain nearby glows nearby.

In “Qabalah”, the highest point on the tree of life is called “Keter”, the crown, set above all things. It is compassion. The unity of the divine. But on the opposite side is “Thaumiel”. Where that great unity is split into contending forces, each existing at the expense of the other. Refusing to be as one. If the “Qlippoth” is a reflection, then perhaps this shadow-sphere is the lowest point. Below all. A Hell beneath all others. Some would say such a realm has a single demonic representation. A single ruler. Satan, the Adversary – he whose spiritual pride led to the fall. But this is a place without unity.

From the green glowing energy, a suited figure appears. It is Bruce Banner's father, Brian. 'There. You see? Just like I've always said. He's a monster. Believe me,'re better off without him' Brian remarks, looking over to what appears to be Bruce Banner, caught in the stream of green energy.

Characters Involved: 

Bruce Banner / Hulk

Jackie McGee


Absorbing Man

Brian Banner / One Below All

(as apparations in Hell)
Rick Jones
Thunderbolt Ross
Mr. McGee

in cutaway narrations:
Various civilians

Story Notes: 

This issue has the Legacy numbering of Hulk #728.

The Hotel Hell  has a sign on it that reads Hellstrom, most likely a reference to Daimon Hellstrom the Son of Satan.

Puck spent some time in Hell as seen in Wolverine (4th series) #2-5.

Puck's brief recount of his history fits with his established life. He refers to the Queen of Dreams and the world's secret Master – better known as the Dreamqueen and Master of the World, respectively. Two of Alpha Flight's deadlies foes whom Puck has had several dealings with over the years.

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