Mighty Marvel Marathon: The Incredible Hulk Finale

by Jon Quixote
It's HULK WEEK here at the Bad Genious. We've got a new name, in honor of our new leader... The, uh, Leader! And we're starting things off with a conclusion, the final lap of my Incredible Hulk Marathon.

That's right. Over 535 Hulk comics are behind me as I type this. Clearly, I'm now the world's preeminent expert on the Jade Giant. What better way to serve our brilliant new overlord than to to study up on his greatest foe?


The Incredible Hulk 027
I’m kind of a sucker for fill-in issues, because they're the ones most likely to feel like a short story. I think Larry Hama is one of the best Daredevil writers and so far, my favorite Hulk scribe is probably Archie Goodwin. Sean McKeever gives Paul Jenkins a breather here.
This is a nice classic-Hulk issue, with good observational narrative. Questions are more interesting than answers, and a single line like “maybe Bruce Banner is in there, trying to run the show like an ant steering the Titanic” is worth more than a thousand issues of Bruce wagging his finger at Grey Hulks in his mindscape. I’ve shared a beer or two with McKeever before, but I kinda forgot that he had a Hulk credit. I hope he’s proud of this issue, though I think we’re going to have to have a talk about Hulk and killing.

The Incredible Hulk 029
Another fill-in issue. This one by Fabian Nicieza (and Hotz and Powell, who also did the last), and it deals with the Hate-Monger. I like it less than the last one, because it has lots of hallucinations and mind-fighting crap, but since Jenkins’ last two-parter was basically a Hulk version of the Alan Moore Superman story, “For The Man Who Has Anything,” with Bruce, once again grappling with his mind-Hulks, I drink Nicieza’s milkshake here. I drink it up.

The Incredible Hulk 032
The Banner has ALS storyline wraps up as a public-service announcement, and Banner gets cured using his evil father’s DNA or something. I’m mostly happy it’s over though, so I don’t care. I was hoping it would resolve the whole multiple-Hulks thing at the same time. I guess I can’t have anything.

The Incredible Hulk 033
The fill-in issues are saving this book. This one is a lightweight story about the Hulk in Wakanda by Christopher Priest. I say “lightweight” but I mean it as a compliment. This issue, it’s sensational.
I wonder if these fill-in writers look at their shot at the Hulk and think “okay, if I’m only ever going to write one issue of the Hulk, I want it to be…” and they don’t get caught up in whatever convoluted mumbo-jumbo is going on in the main storyline and instead they just write Hulk.

The Incredible Hulk 034
The first issue of the Bruce Jones run. One of the best Hulk issues of all-time.
Oh but it just doesn’t last, does it?
Still, even now I can feel the promise of the run still alive in the air. Maybe it turns out differently this time?
I like that they’ve just forgotten what was going on with Intelligent Hulks and Devil Hulks and Grey Hulks. Just back to Hulk, as though one day Banner woke up and thought “this is pretty stupid and I’m not doing it anymore.” Good for you, Banner.

The Incredible Hulk 035
The Nuff Said silent issue. We’ve come a long way from the days of “I’m using my heat-vision to melt the bullets!”

The Incredible Hulk 038
Ever see that SNL Digital Short “Dear Sister”? The one where the roommates keep shooting each other, coming back to life, shooting each other again, to the tune of “Hide and Seek” by Imogen Heap?

I heard they were making fun of the OC or something with it. But apparently, it’s a riff on this Hulk arc.

The Incredible Hulk 043
This is the issue where everybody won’t stop talking about “The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner.” It’s just like my house on Friday nights since I got Jan out of her useless Wordsworth phase. We’re all ever so smarth. Jones is pretty smarth too. He’d have to be, what to write a story where the characters all discuss and flawlessly quote Coleridge while engaged in a car chase. The best part is how seamlessly Romantic poetry dissertations are integrated into the storyline. Also great: my penchant for sarcasm.

The Incredible Hulk 044
In encrypted communication, Samson confirms his identity to Banner by describing Betty’s intimate birthmarks. This is awesome for two reasons:
Reason One: Clearly, the only thing he’s confirming is that he’s either met Betty Banner or been to a gas station bathroom in New Mexico.
Reason Two: “Bruce, you must meet with me. It’s important. Also, I totally banged your dead wife, dude.”

This is a good issue. Add Bruce Jones to the list of writers who show Doc Samson a lot of respect.

The Incredible Hulk 046
Cool cover alert. So cool.
(It’s way more positive than me saying “shitty issue alert.” At times like these, it pays to think positive.)

The Incredible Hulk 051
I still believe whole “withhold the Hulk, focus on Bruce Banner” approach is a really good idea.

However, integral to that idea is to have an idea of something to do with Banner. Something more than having him drugged (like an idiot) while generic black-ops agents engage in a carousal of shooting each other that’s so repetitive it’s hilarious.
Ah, the Jemas era.

The Incredible Hulk 052
No, really. I love it when characters who just showed up carry out all of the action while the main character continues to sleep. I’m pretty sick of Bruce Banner by now anyway. Thank you, Bruce Jones, for introducing me to the adventures of, uh, that guy. Y’know, the one with the gun. He rocks.

The Incredible Hulk 053
It opens with some more of the mysterious agents explaining the events of the last few issues to The Abomination, and telling him what they want to do. Of course, they could have just opened with this issue, right, since a huge portion of the last three was pretty much devoted to exactly what they accomplish in the first two pages here.

Mike Deodato Jr. draws an awesome Abomination though.

The Incredible Hulk 055
Oh no! They killed that guy! How could they?

The Incredible Hulk 058
It’s the Absorbing Man arc. Y’know, the one where the Absorbing Man has new powers, a new personality, and even goes by a semi-new name.

At least he’s still bald.

The Incredible Hulk 062
The ‘Split Decisions’ arc. This is part 3 of 5. It’s a zillion times better than the last one though, even though it’s a little plodding.

One of the agents who has been trailing/helping Bruce now claims to be Betty Ross.
She gets naked. And I think she’s starting to lay the foundation for a three-way between her, the Abomination’s wife, and Bruce.

If she ain’t Betty, she’s done her homework.

The Incredible Hulk 064
“Split Decisions”. Part 5 of 6. Hey! Now, I’ll fully admit I’m no mathematician, but…

Anyway. To play MacGuyver, Doc Samson needs a shirt. He asks Nadia for hers. When she hesitates, Betty steps up.
Welcome back, Mrs. Banner.

It’s also important to note that Doc Samson is himself wearing a shirt at this point. And while he claims that it’s ill suited to the juryrigging he’s doing, he doesn’t offer a trade.

Doc Samson: History's Greatest Hero.

The Incredible Hulk 066
Betty tries to rape Samson. Centuries from now, advanced alien races will find this marathon, one of the last remaining artifacts of human culture, study it and come to the inevitable scientific conclusion that Jon Quixote was clearly full of shit. But I swear that I am not.

The Incredible Hulk 069
Evil Clone Spider-Banner Hulk, the product of an evil cabal of unlimited resources that has also invented immortal operatives (that continue to run around the countryside assassinating each other), as well as resurrected Betty aka Mr. Blue, albeit with a reconstructed face, super-strength and ovarian cancer, says to Regular Hulk, “The plot’s all so much more complicated than you can possibly know.”

I love it when there's a character who represents the audience.

The Incredible Hulk 076
That “plot so much more complicated than you can possibly know” thing?
Leader wanted the Hulk's body. So he (see above).

Thanks for the “ride,” Mr. Jones. It wasn’t all bad, but I think it would have been better if you had not confused “plot” and “mystery” with “dicking around.”

The Incredible Hulk 077
Welcome back, Peter David. But not really.

The Incredible Hulk 081
That was pretty… dumb. 5 issues of “maybe it was all just a dream?” I’m glad I didn’t pay for that. Well, I kinda did but you know what I mean.

The Incredible Hulk 082
A murdered sorceress seeks out the Hulk (who can see astral forms, remember!) to help her find her killer before she dissipates or whatever. Another short story issue, and a damned fine one at that, with moody art by Jae Lee.

The Incredible Hulk 088
After the “House of M” storyline (which was fine, if irrelevant), Daniel Way takes over the writing duties. But more importantly, Keu Cha and Jason Keith take over art and coloring duties. This book is gorgeous!

Hulk fights salmon and back-woods date rapists. *Spoilers* He wins.

The Incredible Hulk 092
“Planet Hulk!” It’s off to a jam-packed start. It reminds me of an amalgamation of the “Crossroads” storyline and the “Heart of the Atom” issues. I’m inclined to like it already. And like it so far I do.

The Incredible Hulk 093
There’s a cool moment/surprise in this issue that actually made me exclaim “Nice!”
I don’t really like the way the Hulk is being written – sort of like Grey Hulk in Savage Hulk’s body. This story would be much cooler with innocent, stupid Hulk rather than asshole Hulk.

But for the most part, it’s fun.

The Incredible Hulk 099
And the disc ends. But “Planet Hulk” continues. Dammit!
But “Planet Hulk” is awesome. So tomorrow, it’s off to the local to buy the trade. That's right: I can't stop reading Hulk comics.

Still, the marathon ends here. I’d like to thank my agent, my mother, and you, all of you. You’re the real heroes.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go play The Incredible Hulk video game that just came out.


Saddael said...

To those about to Smash, we salute you

The General said...

A wonderful start to Hulk week! Congrats, Mr. Quixote!

Matt said...

Wow! That was a fun ride. Good stuff, I look forward to you doing this again with another title.

Vocal Minority said...

I can't believe you made it. Congrats!

I'm in total agreement about the Bruce Jones approach - I think it's the best 'pitch' at the book I've heard and some of the individual issues were awesome. Shame it went wrong.

I'd love to read someone else doing that way well.

Matt said...

Some of the early Bruce Jones stuff was pretty good. I loved his first arc.