Issue(s): Hulk #167, Hulk #168, Hulk #169, Hulk #170
Of course, her father's on shaky mental ground as well, unsure if he's really seeing the Hulk or delusional.
Meanwhile, Jim Wilson finds the Hulk (who really was out in the swamps near where Ross's plane was landing), and talks him down and back into Banner so he can go see Betty, who, um, still isn't doing well.
Also meanwhile, MODOK is awesome.
On first glance you may think MODOK is just surrounded by AIM goons, but looking closer, and wondering why an AIM goon may be wearing a chef's hat, you'll grok what's really going on. MODOK has agents embedded in all walks of life, and they all walk to the AIM headquarters and report - in person - on anything they've seen in their daily lives that may be of interest to MODOK, who stores the information in his vast computer-like brain and lets all the data percolate. A nurse from Betty's hospital reports in to tell him that Herb Trimpe has been drawing Betty like a cartoonish parody of a crazy person, and MODOK decides it's time to act.
He's been working on a new device - a giant body for his giant head to fit inside. Trimpe never gives us a good perspective shot of MODOK in the armored body, but here's the suit from behind as he floats out of it into Betty's hotel room to whisper sweet hatred of the Hulk into her ear.
Far be it for me to question the superior intellect of MODOK, but his plan seems like utter nonsense to me: He says that as Master of AIM, he is likely to cross the monster's path some time in the future, so he needs to destroy him first. It seems to me that actively seeking out a nearly indestructible mindless monster that can kick your ass isn't a very wise course of action. Even accepting the proactive sort of logic MODOK is using, why not try and destroy Iron Man, Captain America, Nick Fury, etc., etc., etc., first. They are more likely, based on motivation and past history, to cross your path than the Hulk. But again, MODOK's smarter than me so i'll go with it.
I prefer MODOK floating around in his chair. I'm not a big fan of the suit. So it works out for me that the Hulk shows up and smashes it. MODOK has the last laugh, however, cause he turns Betty into the Harpy.
Surprisingly, the Harpy never teamed up with the Shrew and the She-Bitch to form Marvel's Team of Villainesses Based on Female Stereotypes.
She hunts down the Hulk and, in part based on brute strength, and in part based on feminine guile, she defeats him.
You'd think after introducing the over-the-top crazy concept of the Harpy, you'd settle down and, you know... explore that a bit...
But no. We keep moving full speed, re-introducing the Red Raven's bird-people (the Red Raven continues his plot-derailing streak even after death) and introducing their android protector, the unfortunately named Bi-Beast.
One skull has all of the bird-people's knowledge of warfare, and the other all their cultural knowledge. And since they have two brains, they have separate opinions and sometimes argue with each other.
That is high concept!
Of course we still have MODOK to contend with, as well.
So the result is madness...
...and eventually the bird-people's floating city is destroyed.
Prior to that, however, Bruce Banner managed to cure Betty of her harpy-ness right under the Bi-Beast's nose(s).
In issue #170, Bruce and Betty fall from the sky after the destruction of the floating city. Banner transforms into the Hulk before they land, saving them, but they land on an island of monsters.
The Hulk does everything possible to help Betty, including finding her food and shelter and protecting her from the monsters, but she treats him like a kidnapper.
It's really a terrible issue, with Betty acting completely irrationally. The scripting is pretty poor. We can chalk it up to Betty still mentally retaining a bit of the Harpy's personality, but that's just making excuses. This is bad.
The art is generally ok, but there's a page with a bad layout, forcing readers basically to read right to left.
Also there's a coloring problem that leads to some confusion. Betty apparently lands on the back of a monster, but it's not clear at all because in the close-up before she realizes it, the ground is colored green and in the next panel she's suddenly falling off the giant's back.
The art/color issues are minor. The story is the problem. But there is a nice scene where the Hulk is gathering food for Betty, but can't bring himself to kill a "Bambi" (as he will later call deer in the Defenders), so he gathers a lot of fruit instead. I'm pretty sure Hulk is a vegetarian.
As an overall arc, it's a lot of fun and i generally enjoy Trimpe's art. But the characterization of Betty is really poor.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: Hulk #172 has to take place before the Secret Empire arc in Captain America. At the end of this arc Betty is back with the army and the Hulk is alone.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (16): show
Aside from the "let's just joke on Betty's gamma form" thing, this is Betty's first gamma form and probably the first real female gamma being, years before Jennifer Walters stepped into our lives. Plus there is the whole Red She-Hulk aspect...so then it probably was MODOK who modified that and instead made Betty into a bird woman instead, that's all I've got.
Posted by: Ataru320 | September 9, 2012 10:06 PM
Foom #2 announced Hulk #169 as the Hulk battling the last surviving birdman.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | February 3, 2013 7:19 PM
Ralph Macchio has a letter in #170.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | June 29, 2013 3:45 PM
After the World War Hulk storyline bruce's cell is guarded by harpy bots with faces of betty
Posted by: doomsday | July 8, 2013 3:02 PM
Anybody else notice the strong similarity between the aliens' "dialogue" in #170 and that of the ill-fated Gog from AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #103-4?
Posted by: Matthew Bradley | December 26, 2013 1:55 PM
Giant aliens that speak in weird symbols without word balloons. Someone needs to submit something to Nathan Adler.
Posted by: fnord12 | December 26, 2013 3:17 PM
Claremont later stated that he put that rag on Betty inbetween 169 and 170, saying that Banner grabbed it from the falling wreckage and put it on her.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | February 10, 2014 9:38 PM
I had these Hulk issues in my collection several years back. I just could not come to terms with a female villain knocking out the Hulk. It just didn't sit well with me. He looked so peaceful, and yet so vulnerable, as she carried him off in her talons. The Hulk! It was just weird. And to see Betty going psycho like that in the top panel, just strange. Seeing this brought back a flood of memories from intermediate school.
Posted by: Mike | June 15, 2014 6:31 PM
The Harpy/Shrew/She-Bitch Legion of Female Stereotypes team is led by Aunt May's little-known cousin, Auntie Flo.
(Sorry about that one, I couldn't resist. See you next Tuesday.)
Posted by: Dan Spector | February 18, 2017 5:22 AM
I see this issue gives a classic Herb Trimpe "Hulk need Rogaine" panel!
Posted by: Brian Coffey | June 29, 2017 9:00 PM
Interesting issues. You get a bit sick of hulk fighting giants after awhile. After Aquon, we get Robot Modok then the Bi-beast and of course a random island of alien monsters. (Issue 170 starts to feel like a parody. the Hulk randomly lands on an alien-filled island)
Interestingly, the bi-beast was clearly intended as a one and done character like Zzzax a few issues ago. I guess he's too good to be kept down. And by BI-beast does that mean he swings both ways?
Posted by: kveto | October 12, 2017 10:38 AM
For those who say the Hulk isn't a killer, at the end of #170 we see him smash the ground under the six aliens and send them to die horrible deaths in a volcano.
Posted by: The Small Lebowski | December 10, 2017 7:23 PM
Hey fnord, I'm curious: in #167, is it actually stated in the story that all those people who report to MODOK are brainwashed? It's the first time I've heard that take on this scene...
Posted by: Piotr W | February 16, 2018 7:01 PM
You're right Piotr. Looking at it now, i don't know where i got the idea that they were brainwashed.
Posted by: fnord12 | February 18, 2018 5:04 PM
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