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REVIEW: The Incredible Hulk (2023) #11 - Phillip Kennedy Johnson, Danny Earls (Marvel)

Incredible Hulk 2023 #11 Feature Art

Previously on The Incredible Hulk:

Led by a primordial being called Eldest, monsters all over the world are hunting the Hulk to use him to awaken an entity known as the Mother of Horrors -- but the Hulk isn't the only one with monsters after him. Charlie, a teenage runaway who escape her abusive home and began traveling with Bruce, sought refuge from the police in an old woman's shop, just to fall into Eldest's trap. A detective from the past revealed to Hulk that the old woman is actually a monstrous serial killer who turns her victims into dolls. Now, Hulk must rescue Charlie from Frozen Charlotte's clutches before she joins them!

The Incredible Hulk (2023) #11 - Page 3
The Incredible Hulk (2023) #11 - Page 3

The Incredible Hulk (2023) #11 Recap and Review

The Incredible Hulk #11 continues the supernatural horror meets super hero schtick when monsters all over the world are zeroing in on The Hulk, led by the Eldest (or just Eldest), who intends to use the Hulk as a means to summon the entity know as the 'Mother of Horrors.' While this is going on we've got this young woman by the name of Charlie who, after befriending the Hulk, has somehow got herself entangled in this fight with this old woman who is really a serial killer with some supernatural abilities of her own called 'Frozen Charlotte.' And that's it - you're all caught up to date.

Issue 11 kicks off with Charlie screaming at the top of her lungs for the Incredible Hulk to come save her, from the bowels of this ancient castle-looking monstrosity which is somewhere within North America (probably underground as most spooky North American places tend to be underground). While this is going on, Hulk and Frozen Charlotte (who looks like something out of an M. Night Shyamalan movie) are going toe-to-toe, as they unleash their own unique abilities at one another. There's a violent mix of shudderingly cold pale blues that clash against the Hulk's own deep green skin, thanks to Matthew Wilson's intense and scrutinous choice of a palette which shouldn't work and yet somehow does, in this horror-ladened superhero context.

The Incredible Hulk (2023) #11 - Page 4
The Incredible Hulk (2023) #11 - Page 4

Following the Marvel way of providing unyielding commentary during epically charged feats of carnage, we learn from Frozen Charlotte, by way of writer Phillip Kennedy Johnson, that Charlie has led an intensely abusive life whilst trying to be protective of her brother. As the melee comes to a brief standstill, Frozen Charlotte tells her story, of how she was amongst Lucifer's kin when they were cast down from heaven and she has been hunted for thousands of years by Angels and Demons alike. Here Frozen Charlotte talks more about how Lucifer (or, Lightbringer) had promised her she would be the Queen of Angels and so she began crafting these little angels to be vessels of the souls of those who - are innocent - but who the world had forgotten. Insinuating that Charlie would be the next amongst her prized collection. This infuriates Hulk as he lets loose and goes berzerk, landing several blows on Frozen Charlotte, before she collapses in a heap, in a small crater of her own design.

It's here that Hulk hears the cries of Charlie and realises at the same time as the reader that we're within the same castle-like construct that we saw at the beginning of this issue. A cathedral or old church, with this certain morbidly ethereal. As Hulk takes several steps closer to Charlie's location in an adjacent room, Phillip Kennedy Johnson uses a series of panels which scream tension and horror in their pacing. Panels that follow an almost resurrection of Frozen Charlotte, now using her Fallen Angel name Nephele, awakens and summons her remaining strength as she stretches out her immense, demonic and and ages bat-like wings. Leaving us the most memorable one page spread that artist Danny Earls will leave in this issue.

The Incredible Hulk (2023) #11 - Page 5
The Incredible Hulk (2023) #11 - Page 5

Blocking his way, Nephele stands between Hulk and her collection of little angels (or, seraphim) which house souls of countless human beings over the past millennia. Enraged, she fires a stream of cold arcane supernatural energy, erupting from her mouth and forcing Hulk back. In true Hulk form, however, Hulk bears the full brunt of Nephele's power before beating what's left of her gaunt demonic form into a pulp. It's here we realise that during their final fight, Hulk had knocked over Nephele's collection of seraphim - breaking most of them. Bringing forth this apparition of Lightbringer, in an bright neon orange which somehow works, to tell Hulk he has come to take Nephele home.

As Nephele and Lightbringer return to their room, Hulk continues to follow Charlie's cries in the dark cathedral. As he gets closer he comes to a shock realisation those cries have come from Charlie's soul encased in one of Nephele's miniature angel statues. It seems that Frozen Charlotte's Seraphim process had already been unleashed upon Charlie and it's up to Hulk to figure out how he can help his friend and her soul in Issue #12.

The Incredible Hulk (2023) #11 - Page 6
The Incredible Hulk (2023) #11 - Page 6

The Incredible Hulk #11 was a nice dynamic as Hulk's ferocity was matched up against supernatural evil similar in vein and haunting that we've seen in cinematic releases like The Nun and Darkness Falls but I found myself almost feeling sorry for Frozen Charlotte and her backstory. The unfortunate thing is the element of creepiness that Johnson was able to find in her Charlotte's character is something I want longer term but I feel this might be the last time for her. Save for some random appearance when a budding young Marvel writer resurrects her from the bowels of this major publisher's creative pool.

I can only hope.

Hulk was Hulk. Incredible and still relentless in his pursuit of what he feels is good despite the wanton destruction that follows his path. Destruction which felt dulled down a little thanks to Earls' art style. Almost as if Manny Galan or Patrick Spaziante (Spaz) had taken a swing at Incredible Hulk interiors. Thankfully, it was an interesting dichotomy of Hulk, Frozen Charlotte and even Charlie's backstories which, in a way, gave a light narrative on abuse and the darkness that follows. Thankfully we have a would-be saviour in the form of The Incredible Hulk to save us, right? RIGHT?

Gotta love Marvel.

Read The Incredible Hulk #11 by Phillip Kennedy Johnson and Danny Earls


Written by Phillip Kennedy Johnson

Art by Danny Earls

Coloring by Matthew Wilson

Lettering by VC's Cory Petit

Rating: 7/10

Genre: Horror/Superhero

Published by Marvel


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