A gamma ray or gamma radiation is a penetrating electromagnetic radiation arising from the radioactive decay of atomic nuclei. It consists of the shortest wavelength electromagnetic waves and so imparts the highest photon energy.
Paul Villard, a French chemist and physicist, discovered gamma radiation in 1900 while studying radiation emitted by radium. In 1903, Ernest Rutherford named this radiation gamma rays based on their relatively strong penetration of matter; he had previously discovered two less penetrating types of decay radiation, which he named alpha rays and beta rays in ascending order of penetrating power. As a result, they can damage bone marrow and internal organs, and are hard to shield against.
Of course, in Marvel Comics, gamma radiation turns you into the Hulk. Or the She-Hulk. Or Doc Samson, the Leader, Sasquatch and more. Bleeding Cool’s Mark Seifert in his much-delayed Marvel Declassified series has uncovered suggestions that the use of radioactivity in Marvel Comics was a government-inspired attempt to make radioactivity something more normal, something everyday, even something superheroic. Something cool.
And instead, just as Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde did, using science as magic. Unleashing inhuman forces. And, to some degree, controlling them, like a magician and their spell. There’s the oft-used Arthur C Clarkism that any advanced scientific principle looks like magic. Well, Immortal Hulk by Al Ewing, Joe Bennett and Paul Mounts has been dialling that back again. Bringing back the idea of more literal demons, of Hell, and of magical forces unleashed by the presence of the Hulk, turning it into a full-blown horror title.
Today’s Immortal Hulk #11 underlines that more than ever. Gamma… is magic.
On a metatextual level, this is a way of seeing nuclear power as beyond normal human comprehension, can do things unexpected in the natural world, and while it’s something we as a species have come to live with, it’s destructive power is still appalling, civilisation-destroying as well as changing.
But it’s also, thanks to Marvel Comics, pretty cool too…
IMMORTAL HULK #13
(W) Al Ewing (A) Joe Bennett (CA) Alex Ross
• The One Below All is in control, and Bruce Banner belongs to him. Hell is ascendant.
• But there are two people Hell isn’t strong enough to hold. One is a man named Eugene Judd…
• …the other is the IMMORTAL HULK.
Rated T+ In Shops: Feb 06, 2019 SRP: $3.99