Immortal Hulk #34 out this week from Marvel Comics features the return of classic Hulk villain, The Leader. But who is he when he’s not clashing with Hulk through his intellect? Now readers have a chance to find out before another inevitable battle.
Immortal Hulk #34 Story
Taking a break from Hulk’s rampages against the world, Al Ewing introduces Sam Sterns. At first, he seems to be a two-dimensional foil to Marvel’s Green Goliath, the classic Brain vs. Brawn. However, by showing the Leader’s beginnings and what he goes through behind the scenes of his appearances, the reader finds a lifetime of character development and growth. All accented with journal entries that have labels mirroring comic issues e.g., “Journal Entry 2/107”. The phrase “Your Hero is Only as Good as Your Villain” takes a more significant meaning here. Immortal Hulk #34 even has the title of “The Apotheosis of Sam Sterns” as a way of advertising The Leader as a genuine threat towards the Hulk.
To keep The Leader’s story separate from Hulk, guest artists Butch Guice and Tom Palmer serve as penciler and inker of Immortal Hulk #34. Unlike the smoother artwork by Joe Bennett and Ruy José, this is practically a demonstration of Sam Sterns in his growing stages. While powerful with detail, this sets up the grand entrance of The Leader for the coming issues.
Paul Mounts coloring meanwhile has Immortal Hulk #34 retain the horrific feelings the rest of the series evokes. The green light of Gamma energy keeps the feeling of pure terror, yet the Leader uses it nonchalantly. Not just for his nefarious plans but how Sam shapes his identity around Gamma energy. Sometimes it’s quite literally as per taking over a gamma-irradiated scorpion.
As for identity, Cory Petit shows how Sam Sterns and the Leader differentiate themselves. Sterns’ captions match how he writes his journal through a typewriter. All because his ego as the Leader refuses to make his advancement accessible to the average person. But throughout Immortal Hulk #34, Sam notes that he grows a little smarter. One where Sam Sterns and the Leader essentially become one.
Immortal Hulk #34: The Immortal Leader
The Immortal Hulk #34 solidifies itself by developing even what might be the most insignificant pieces of Marvel’s Hulk lore. The Leader was originally little more than a threatening annoyance at best. But now, through a rough but informative flashback, readers see a villain ready to shake the world. The coming clash between the Hulk and Leader will undoubtedly be an epic one.
What do you all think? Was the Leader always a threat, or is this just his time to shine?