Issue(s): Hulk #295, Hulk #296
But, whatever. The Hulk returns from Secret Wars bearing his giant crutch.
He's clearly losing control at this point, snarling, knocking down old people, and only dimly remembering things. But first thing out of the Secret Wars portal, he starts trying to figure out how to find Max Hammer's apartment, and then he shows up and smashes Boomerang.
Then he returns to his lab with Kate, and they find that the criminal Max Hammer has "reformed" since his treatment and is now providing Banner's miracle gamma cure to the general public for free.
We knew how this was going to end right when it was introduced. First the dog owners from issue #294 show up with a story about how their dog went crazy and they had to put it down. Then Hammer turns into a monster.
And of course all the other recipients of the cure start to worry.
The only twist is that ROM shows up!
He uses his neutralizer to reverse the treatment (which means those poor people are back to having cancer, being crippled, etc). But at this point Bruce has lost control of the Hulk and is brutally beating a now un-Hulkified Max Hammer. ROM tries to stop him, and his Neutralizer actually seems to restore some control...
...but Bruce only gains control after he accidentally hits Kate.
Secret Wars related issues aside, this decent into savagery extended plotline is probably the best thing Mantlo has written. There's still problems with it, of course. Over dramatic dialogue. The generic 'miracle cure turns out to have a downside' plot. But it's not bad. And Sal Buscema's art is always nice.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: We have to find a place for Bruce Banner to show up in Fantastic Four #266. The MCP places it in between pages 11 & 12 of Hulk #295. I don't like that for two reasons. First: the narrative captions suggest an immediate continuity between those pages (Kate ask Bruce, "Where's the gentle genius that I love?" and the narration on page 11 says "As if from a great distance, Bruce Banner struggles to answer... to return to dominance." At the beginning of page 12, it continues, "It is an effort that lasts all the long taxi drive upstate to his private research facility, Northwind Observatory."). Second: the crutch. Hulk has it until halfway through Hulk #296, but he doesn't in FF #266. So i prefer to place the FF appearance after Hulk #296. I understand the problem with this: at the beginning of Hulk #297, Banner has completely lost control of the Hulk. But his control is fairly tenuous throughout #295 as well, so regardless of where we put the FF appearance we're introducing a slight relapse from Mantlo's decent into savagery. And issue #296 does end with Banner at least tentatively in control. Maybe he even went to Reed Richards for help and found that Reed actually needed his help instead. I'm dropping the Hulk's appearance in Marvel 1985 in that little gap as well. ROM's appearance is context free; the MCP places it between ROM #52-53, but ideally ROM #53 occurs during Secret Wars due to a reference to all the missing heroes, so i'm placing this between ROM #53-54.
Continuity Implant? N
Reprinted In: N/A
reading this as a kid, i remember being afraid that the hulk really killed boomerang. i mean look at the artwork there.
I've said this elsewhere, but the way Sal Buscema draws the Hulk during this period just blows am away. Sal's style typically works for me but rarely knocks my socks off. This period of HULK, however, is winning me over quickly. He owns that character.
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