Many of the Hulk's old foes have returned to haunt him in the pages of Immortal Hulk. Now another may have risen from the grave. Unlike the others, this return may be more tied to the events of the upcoming Absolute Carnage event. SPOILERS for Immortal Hulk #20 follow.
Months ago, Cletus Kasady died in the climax of the Venomized event. An apocalypse cult led by the symbiote Scorn stole Kasady's corpse after Knull, the god of the symbiotes, corrupted Scorn. Scorn's cult also stole a sample of the Grendel symbiote, the symbiote dragon that Knull controlled on Earth. Scorn tried to use the Grendel symbiote to turn Kasady into a new host for Knull. Kasady fought against it and killed Scorn. Kasady then took the symbiote's leftover "codex" — a kind of genetic memory —- and combined it with the Grendel symbiote to create a new Carnage symbiote.
Carnage has decided to help free Knull from his prison within the symbiote homeworld. Carnage began by taking over the community underneath San Francisco that Venom once protected. Carnage infected its denizens with symbiotic brain slugs, putting them in his thrall. Now they plan to hunt all of the previous symbiote hosts so that Carnage can claim the codexes within them.
So what does Carnage's hunt for former symbiote hosts have to do with the Hulk? The post-credits scene in Immortal Hulk #20 may give fans a clue. The issue has General Fortean and Shadow Base watching as Hulk and Betty Ross, now the Harpy again, battles Fortean's new Abomination. After this takes place, Fortean receives a report on the theft of a former Hulk's corpse from its grave. The target is Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross, the former Red Hulk.
As the Red Hulk, Ross once bonded with the Venom symbiote while possessed by the Ghost Rider's Spirit of Vengeance (check out Venom: Circle of Four). It seems that's enough to make him one of Carnage's targets.
We know from the ongoing story of Immortal Hulk that gamma-irradiated individuals become immune to death. Could Carnage's attempts ot retrieve Ross's codex awaken the Red Hulk once more? Fans will have to wait until Absolute Carnage launches in August to find out.
What do you think of this connection between Immortal Hulk and Absolute Carnage? Do you what to see Thunderbolt Ross back as the Red Hulk? Let us know what you think in the comments. Immortal Hulk #20 is on sale now.