Immortal Hulk #4

Issue Date: 
October 2018
Story Title: 
Time of Death

Al Ewing (writer), Joe Bennett (penciler), Ruy Jose (inker), Paul Mounts (colorist), Virtual Calligraphy's Cory Petit (letterer), Alex Ross (cover artist), Arthur Adams & Frank Martin (variant cover artists), Alanna Smith & Sarah Brunstad (associate editors), Tom Brevoort & Wil Moss (editors), 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: 

Jackie McGee meets Dr Walter Langkowski at an airport in South Dakota. As they drive to a new Hulk sighting, Walter recounts his shared history with Bruce Banner – that they were roommates in college, and how inspired by Banner's exposure to gamma radiation he experimented on himself, bombarding himself with gamma rays, which in turn opened a portal beyond this realm and enabled the Great Beast Tanaraq to possess him, but Tanaraq is gone now. Jackie remembers her own history with the Hulk – when she was a child, the Hulk rampaged through her neighborhood. Her father told her not to look him in the eye – but she did it anyway. They arrive at the reported Hulk sighting and go to a bar to question anyone who might have seen Banner. A waitress remembers seeing him, and as they talk to her, two patrons in the bar become agitated and argue with each other. One of them pulls a knife, so Walter intervenes – only to get stabbed in the back. He is rushed to a local hospital and Jackie is told that he might not survive. After she is questioned by a detective, Banner finds her and asks her some questions about Walter. Jackie won't look at him, while in the operating room, the surgeons are unable to save Walter and he dies on the operating table, only to be reborn as Sasquatch he confronts the team that tried to save his life.

Full Summary: 

South Dakota, at an airport, investigative journalist Jackie McGee is on the phone to her editor, Murray. She tells him that she is at the airport and the person she is waiting for has just arrived, so it is a little late to haggle her expenses. 'Come on, Murray. I told you why we broke the story' Jackie exclaims, adding that if they want to keep it, they have to break it again. 'Uh-huh, look, I know there were Hulk sightings before we made them the front page. But we gave them legitimacy' Jackie remarks, adding that the government can deny and obfuscate all they want – but people know Bruce Banner is alive and they are starting to believe it, so now the press believes it, too, and they are it. Jackie tells Murray that the Times, the Press and the Bugle, everyone is sniffing green blood in the water. Jackie continues, explaining to Murray that if the Arizona Herald wants to stay in the ace, it is not going to be enough to just chase Banner – they need to find him. 'Okay, fine. I need to find him. Happy? Look, this is my story, Murray -' Jackie exclaims.

'Ugh – yes, I'm keeping my objectivity. This is not about what happened when I was – Murray -' Jackie begins, telling Murray to listen, that they just need to go on the record, and the guy she is meeting can help with that. 'And look at it this way – even if we can't find Banner...' Jackie begins, before a voice calls out 'Jacqueline McGee?' as Jackie tells Murray that Banner's college roommate is the next best thing. 'Gotta go' she remarks, as she looks up from the seat where she is sitting, to find a tall blond man standing over her, holding a suitcase behind him.

He introduces himself as Walter Langkowski, or Sasquatch, if she would rather. 'Canada's own hairy half-a-Hulk-turned-space-diplomat – and Bruce Banner's college roommate'. They shake hands and Walter tells Jackie that it is a pleasure to meet her. 'Same, sorry, that was my editor' Jackie remarks, informing Walter that apparently there has been a fresh Hulk sighting across the state line. Walt smiles at her again and supposes that they are doing this on the move, before asking Jackie what she wants to know first.

'How we met? Well, this was at Penn State University – he transferred there for a semester' Walter reveals as he sits in the passenger seat of Jackie's car. They drive across the state line into Minnesota and Walt explains that Penn had lab facilities the desert state didn't. 'Gamma facilities?' Jackie asks. Walt tells her that even back then, all Bruce thought about was gamma, before explaining that Bruce needed a research assistant. 'And there I was... with a football scholarship... a head for physics and a passion for knowledge. Walt recalls that they got along like a house on fire – mostly.

Bruce Banner and Walter Langkowski sit around in their dorm room with two others as Bruce exclaims: 'For pity's sake, Langkowski – you can't just “pick up” advanced gamma theory! This isn't learning the Ocarina in five easy steps -' to which Walt interrupts him, reminding Bruce that they are all here to learn. 'Didn't Thoreau say -' Walt begins, to which Bruce shouts 'You're not Thoreau, Walter!' Appearing quite angry, Bruce points at Walter and shouts 'You're a jock! A half-smart jock, a jock with ambitions, but a jock is what you are!' Bruce remarks that everyone already fawns over Walt for carrying a ball around, and he wants them to love him for his mind, too? 'Well tough! You get the football! This is mine! Mine!'

Wide-eyed, Jackie asks Walt if Bruce went off like that a lot. 'Once or twice. A few times' Walt replies, explaining that his mother was dead and his dad in an institution, so he was holding a lot in, but he was usually pretty fun to be around.

'You gave all your clothes to the goodwill?' Walt asks as he approaches Bruce who is standing next to his closet, a towel wrapped around his hips. 'And I bought ten identical suits. Like Einstein – I'll never worry about what to wear again' Bruce explains. 'Well, Thoreau did talk about simplifying life... but...' Walt replies, looking at the stack of trousers in Bruce's closet. '... purple?' he asks, rubbing the back of his head. 'It's called style, Walter. I've studied current trends. If anything, this will only become more fashionable' Bruce explains.

'Sounds a little manic' Jackie remarks. Walt tells her that Bruce had his ups and downs, but he did get him seeing gamma radiation in a whole new way. Walt explains that he was merely a dabbler – obviously football was his career, so science was just a hobby that made him seem interesting – until something happened.

Sitting in his apartment with a pizza and some beer one night, Walter looks shocked at the news report that appears on the television. 'Oh my God' Walt gasps, as an announcer reports that General Thaddeus Ross spoke on the record, confirming that the monster known as the Hulk is none other than the atomic scientist Robert Bruce Banner. 'Viewers may find the following images disturbing' the announcer warns, as a horrifying image of the Hulk appears on the television. 'Bruce. What have you done?' Walt gasps.

Walt informs Jackie that he then got serious, and to cut a long story short, he quit football and made it his mission to duplicate what had happened to Bruce – and at the cost of his fortune, and with the funding and encouragement from Department H, the Canadian super hero monitoring agency, he went ahead and did it. 'Ever been hit by a gamma bomb, Jackie? It's a trip' Walter remarks.

In his lab, Walter bombarded himself with gamma radiation – and was transformed into the mighty beast known as Sasquatch!

Jackie looks at Walt with wide-eyes – 'A trip, huh?' Jackie asks, as her own mind wanders back.

'Don't look!' Mr McGee tells his wide-eyed daughter as they huddle behind a car. 'But – Daddy, he's -' Jackie utters. Mr McGee tells his daughter to remember what the TV said, the emergency broadcast – if he is near, you keep quiet and keep still, don't draw attention. 'Don't look him in the eye' Mr McGee utters as the young Jackie stares, fixated on the Hulk, who lumbers through a neighborhood, a house lies in ruin, a nearby car ablaze, as suddenly, the Hulk turns to look at Jackie.

'... yeah, that look in your eye. I get it. That's why I did it' Walter tells Jackie, reminding her that he was a jock, he worked out, he was twice as strong as Bruce, easily – so his thinking went, his Hulk could counter Bruce's – create a deterrent for Canada, forb the world, and his personality would remain in control. 'I don't know if you've noticed, but I'm a pretty laid-back guy' Walt remarks, adding that he isn't so prone to anger.

Upon his transformation into Sasquatch, Walter burst out of his lab in the Arctic Circle and out intro the snow-covered terrain under the cover of night, a maddened look across his face.

As they drive off the freeway and towards a city, Jackie asks Walter what the catch was. 'There is always a catch, isn't there?' Walter replies, explaining that they did the test in the Arctic Circle on the off-chance he did start smashing, nobody was around to get hurt. But, the walls of reality are thin up there, and the controlled gamma bombardment did something they didn't quite expect – something outside conventional science – it opened something – a kind of door – between this world and a darker one – a world of beasts and demons.

As Sasquatch lumbered across the snow, he looked up to the sky, where among the brilliant lights, a green door glowed.

Walter explains to Jackie that one of the beasts got into him – Tanaraq, one of the old Beasts of the North. 'You were possessed? How long ago was this?' Jackie asks. 'A long time' Walt smiles, assuring Jackie that Tanaraq is dead and he is in control of Sasquatch now – really. 'Glad to hear it' Jackie replies. '... because one monster's enough' Jackie remarks as they pull up to a crash site, where several cars have been piled up on top of each other, a chopper moves overhead, while police officers direct traffic around the crash site.

'Ah, the Hulk School of Vehicle Maintenance' Walter jokes as he and Jackie get out of the car and walk over to the site which has been cordoned off. Jackie takes out her camera and films the event, suggesting that they should look for a bar after this. 'Little early, isn't it?' Walter remarks. Jackie tells him that they won't be drinking, they are looking for information – like Banner does. Jackie explains that Banner did it in Colorado and again in South Dakota – it's how he finds out about things – things he can smash.

Shortly, in a bar: 'Oh, yay. I remember that guy. He asked for pop' a female bartender remarks as Jackie shows her a photo of Banner. The bartender adds that he was asking all kinda questions about Noah Swanson. 'Yeah, the police told me. Big meth dealer, wasn't he?' Jackie replies, before asking if it is his van with the cars mashed into it on Garland Street. 'Oh yah, you betcha' the bartender replies, adding 'I said to him, oh geez, I said, you don't wanna go asking too many questions there, fella -' when suddenly, someone shouts 'Screw you!' which causes the bartender to shout 'Oh, hey! Hey now! You two keep it down, okay? Don't make me come over  there!' she exclaims. 'Sorry, Pam' a man replies. The man turns to the other man he is arguing with, 'You heard her – keep it down, jerk' the man mutters. 'Screw you -' the other man replies as he brings a burger towards his mouth. Jackie asks Pam if they are regulars, to which Pam tells her that they are, but usually quiet. 'Don't know what's got into them' she adds.

Jackie turns back to her phone and asks Pam, getting back to Banner, what she ended up telling him. 'If he went somewhere else, I'd like to know -' Jackie begins, when suddenly, one of the men shouts 'You son of a -' as he grabs the other by his collar and drags him up. 'You're dead! You hear me? Dead!' he shouts. 'Oh geez -' Pam mutters, to which Walter tells her to relax, and that he has got this. 'Space, diplomat, remember?' he smiles at Jackie as he walks over to the arguing men and steps between them, suggesting that they tell him what has got them so riled up on such a nice day. 'Ask him – he knows all about it -' the man with the burger remarks. 'All about what? Come on, tell me' Walt declares, turning to the other man, asking him what they are fighting over, and where all their anger is coming from. The man with the burger suddenly pulls out a large knife – and shoves it into Walter's back!

'Oh, God – I didn't mean to -' the man gasps, while Walter collapses to the ground. 'You killed him – we gotta go, man -' the other man exclaims, while Jackie rushes over to Walter, and the woman behind the bar panics, 'Oh geez' she calls out as the two men escape out the door. Jackie announces that there is a pulse, that he is still alive. 'Call an ambulance' she shouts to Pam.

Soon, Jackie leans against a hospital admissions desk as paramedics rush past her, with Walter. 'We're gonna lose him – they need him on the table – now!' one of the paramedics exclaims. 'Clear the way! Patient coming through!' the other shouts, while Jackie looks on, horrified. 'Hello? Miss?' the receptionist calls out, informing Jackie that cops are sending someone to take her statement if she can wait here. 'Walter Langkowski... that's real familiar...' the receptionist remarks. 'Yeah. He's a super hero. Sasquatch. From Alpha Flight' Jackie explains. 'Oh, yah, I know him. Big orange fella usually' the receptionist remarks. Jackie pauses, 'Yeah, big and orange pretty much all the time. But not then. He gets cut open and he doesn't change. Why wouldn't he? Why wouldn't he want to...?' Jackie wonders.

In the operating room, 'Blood's in place -' one of the medical personnel operating announces. 'Boy, he's been opened right up here' another comments. 'Oh yah. Hope nobody has plans...' a third remarks, informing the others that they are going to be a long time.

'... and that's everything, Ms McGee?' a detective asks. Jackie tells him that it was all out of nowhere, and that she doesn't think they even knew why they did it. The detective tells Jackie to call him if she remembers anymore, but that will do for now. 'Though, ah... if you do find Bruce Banner, Ms McGee...we'd sure like to talk to him, you know?' the detective adds as he walks past a man in a brown jacket and red cap, who looks away from him. 'Yeah, me too' Jackie remarks as she leans her head back and the mysterious man sits down next to her.

'Good timing, then' the man remarks, and Jackie goes wide-eyed as the man peers out from under his cap – 'Here I am' Bruce Banner tells her, before asking what happened to Langkowski. Without looking at Bruce, Jackie informs him that Walter is in surgery, that he was stabbed while they were looking for him. '... I'm sorry, what... what are you doing here...?' Jackie asks. Bruce tells her that he is following a hunch, and remarks that all humans emit radiation – simple biophotons mostly, barely measurable. Bruce informs Jackie that the gamma-affected have very unique signatures. 'And Walter's is just like mine' Bruce adds. 'You can sense that...?' Jackie enquires. 'Not me. He can' Bruce replies, and Jackie goes wide-eyed again.

Back in the operating room, one of the doctors announces that they have a flatline and need vasopressin. 'Damn it – crack his chest -' another exclaims, while a third reports that Langkowski is not responding. 'Don't you do this – not now. Don't you die – don't you die -' one of the doctors shouts.

Bruce asks Jackie what Walter's prognosis was when he was brought in. 'I don't know. Not good. The paramedic said they could lose him...' Jackie adds. 'Potentially more than him' Bruce remarks, adding that Walter wanted to turn himself into a second Hulk – his gamma signature is just the same. 'Exactly like mine' Bruce tells Jackie, adding that now the sun has gone down.

'Damn it all. Well – we tried. All we can do' one of the doctors tells the other medical personnel as they start to walk away from Walter's motionless body on the operating table. Suddenly, there are life signs – and Walter begins to transform into Sasquatch. 'Call time of -' one of the medical personnel begins, before they turn back to see Sasquatch rising up off the table.

'It's night. And the night is his time' Bruce remarks cryptically, telling Jackie that they need to evacuate the hospital – now.

Sasquatch steps off the table and looms over the terrified hospital staff. 'My God. God above...' one of them gasps as they stare up in horror. 'God above?' Sasquatch replies, claws ready, sharp teeth bared, drooling, he snarls 'Quite the reverse'....

Characters Involved: 

Bruce Banner
Jackie McGee

Police officers
Pam the bartender
Medical personnel

in flashbacks:
Bruce Banner
Walter Langkowski

Mr. McGee
Jackie McGee

Story Notes: 

This issue has the Legacy numbering of Hulk #721.

Walter Langkowski and Bruce Banner's shared college history was first established in the backstory of Alpha Flight (1st series) #11, which explored Sasquatch's origin.

It wasn't until Alpha Flight (1st series) #23 that the revelation about Sasquatch being possessed by Tanaraq after breaching the border between Earth and the realm of the Great Beasts was made known.

In Alpha Flight (4th series) #3, Sasquatch was warned that the more time he spent in his Sasquatch form the less human he would become. During his time with the Alpha Flight Space Program, he only ever appeared in his Sasquatch form. This marks his first appearance in his human form in some time.

Written By: