Issue(s): Hulk #219, Hulk #220, Hulk #221
Bruce Banner gets a job cleaning decks on an ocean ship, but that ship is raided by Captain Barracuda and his pirates. It's amazing that by 1978 Captain Barracuda is still a viable villain. He's got no powers, is corny as you can get, and doesn't even know how to use a periscope.
Still, he manages to defeat the Hulk about three times in this story, and the Hulk never gets a clear victory over him. After the first defeat, the Hulk is left stranded on an island where he is discovered by Robinson Crusoe.
It's really just a scientist who's gone a bit nuts but we don't find that out until much later. Barracuda attacks the island, knocking out the Hulk again, and stealing the scientist and his mcguffin gadget. The Hulk eventually pursues him, but gets knocked out again. At this point the scientist has been turned into a monkey-man by the gadget.
The monkey-man puts Banner's body in an escape pod, along with his pet dog, just as Barracuda's base blows up.
Banner and the dog are found by skipper Walter Newell, better known as Stingray (he's named his ship Lady Diane, after his girlfriend). When Newell docks in New York, Banner slips away so he doesn't have to answer any questions from the harbormaster. Stingray then figures out that Banner is the Hulk and goes after him. Stingray shows up just as Banner starts to smooth things over with April Sommers, who found out that Banner was the Hulk after Jim Wilson told her (Jim assumed the Hulk died after falling off of the Helicarrier a few issues back).
Stingray is completely ineffective against the Hulk, but avoids being killed thanks to Jim's intervention. Hulk is as annoyed as the audience by the constant interventions of Hulk's friends always running up to him and pleading with him not to give a good smacking to someone who really deserves it, and he jumps off, angry with everyone.
Meanwhile, the mysterious stranger who showed up at Gamma Base many issues ago has disappeared. He's actually managed to work his way into the top secret lab, the one place the guards won't look since it's totally locked down, while under a trance.
There's a funny (not sure if it's intentional?) opening scene where the Hulk falls asleep while sitting up, and while still sleeping and sitting he slides down the mountain he's been punching as it collapses around him. He turns into Banner after he lands.
The Barracuda/Crusoe plot is very silly, but it's handled well. The Stingray portion is your typical "hero misjudges the Hulk" type of thing. Both have decent dialogue. This isn't Roger Stern's strongest writing but it's not bad, especially relative to what's come before it.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: The Hulk starts off this arc on the top of a mountain.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (3): showApril Sommers, Captain Barracuda, Clay Quartermain, David Purvis, Doc Samson, Gaffer (SHIELD Scientist), General 'Thunderbolt' Ross, Hulk, Jim Wilson, Leader, Nick Fury, Stingray
Around this time there was a Doc Samson backup announced with art by Frank Miller, but I guess it never happened.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | August 26, 2012 4:21 PM
I think it was eventually published in Hulk annual #11.
Posted by: fnord12 | August 26, 2012 5:05 PM
Classic no-prize moment: Captain Barracuda looks into the periscope while wearing the eyepatch.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | February 10, 2014 9:43 PM
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