Issue(s): Hulk #314
None of these characters will actually appear during Byrne's short run on the Hulk, which is disappointing but at least we get to see them here.
According to Doc Samson's speculation, the Hulk's hallucinations are caused by Bruce Banner, who is subconsciously helping Samson fight the Hulk. The Hulk assumes Samson is another illusion, which allows for the delivery of a knock-out sucker punch.
The battle occurs at Gamma Base. Samson says "I knew you'd come back here. There's something about this place. Some almost mystical link. The place where the Hulk was born. The only place you might even remotely consider home."
The issue ends with Samson saying that if he was correct about the source of the hallucinations, then it means that Banner can be "saved" and "removed from his living prison... forever!!". This plot twist seems to ignore the recent Mantlo (or Windsor-Smith) revelations that the Hulk's rage is actually psychological in nature. Banner existing as a separate entity in the Hulk, one that can be removed, is very different than the Hulk being a facet of Banner's mind, the reaction to Banner's traumatic childhood. Also the very idea of removing Banner from the Hulk was essentially explored over the past year by Mantlo. Not saying Byrne can't do it better. We'll look at this more in future issues.
Also in this issue, the Hulk murders a stag. Remind the Hulk of that the next time he complains about hunters killing Bambi's mother.
And Betty Talbot nee Ross, in a scene entitled "Life Among The Fallen", is shown having slept with a sleazy looking guy in a wife-beater. "Ramon" is a pretty offensive stereotype here.
The Hulk didn't suffer from lack of good artists during Mantlo's run, but it's nice to have Byrne on board (despite Ramon). If i have one complaint about the art it's Doc Samson's civilian clothes. The way that sleeve cuff is drawn as just a skintight line, it looks like a super-hero costume with a collar, not a polo shirt. I suppose Samson is so big that he needs to get his shirts custom made out of typical super-costume materials.
If i have two complaints, i didn't like Byrne's MODOK.
Quality Rating: B+
Chronological Placement Considerations: On page four of this story, we see the Hulk in Colorado leaping along and then the aircraft from Hulk annual #14 going in the same direction. The Hulk is next seen in this book about midway through. Samson has arrived at Gamma Base in New Mexico before the Hulk, even though it took him twelve hours to leap there from Chicago after hearing the report that the Hulk had been spotted (this would almost make a good question for a math test!). The conclusion to draw is that the Hulk was delayed by the events of the annual, and so it takes place during the Hulk issue. For reading order purposes, i've placed the annual first, after a little internal debate. On the one hand, this issue was Byrne's debut on the title, was published first, etc.. On the other hand, the majority of this issue takes place after the annual. You could almost pretend that the scene with the aircraft at the beginning of this issue takes place after the events of the annual, since the ship was still operational after St. Johns died. Maybe the Hulk stopped for a drink of water somewhere and that's why he's late.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
It's very possible that Byrne ignored Mantlo's revelations. When Byrne jumps ship for DC in the next year, he'll start a long history of throwing out everything he doesn't like on any title he takes over. Admittedly he was supposed to do just that on "Man of Steel", but, geez...
Posted by: Mark Drummond | July 14, 2012 9:30 PM
I don't necessarily think Doc Samson's comments means Byrne is ignoring Mantlo's work. How exactly would Doc Samson know the real origin of the Hulk's rage? Besides, it quickly becomes apparent that the separation of Hulk/Banner turns out to be an ill-conceived venture.
Since Byrne's run was cut short, we'll never know what Byrne really intended to do, but it seemed like a tremendous ride at the time, and I'm sorry Byrne couldn't complete it.
Posted by: Chris | July 17, 2012 12:34 PM
It was the maestro his ghost that send the Hulk to the gamma base.
Posted by: johan Mattheeuws | May 10, 2014 7:43 PM
Byrne would have turned Banner into the gray hulk persona minus the grey.
Posted by: doomsday | November 30, 2014 10:44 AM
"...has descended so low as to sleep with an Hispanic."
While I understand what you are saying, could you reword it a bit? The way it is now, it makes you sound unintentionally racist.
Posted by: EHH | March 26, 2015 11:50 PM
Thanks for calling it out, EHH. As i think you realized, i was actually trying to point out that the scene seems racist. But i've rephrased it to avoid any ambiguity.
Posted by: fnord12 | March 27, 2015 7:47 AM
As for the Hulk's origin, Byrne did change one thing. Samson described the bomb's blast as "it tore out of its test shaft like a thing alive." While the bomb *seems* to appear much as it always was depicted, Byrne has established that the bomb itself is underground. This was because of the Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty which hadn't been signed when Incredible Hulk #1 was published. Marvel sliding time put the US in violation when the bomb's explosion was depicted in flashbacks. Instead, with one sentence, Byrne effortlessly retcons the bomb without touching the visual story points or actual plot.
And then he went on to to write Hulk Chapter One, which does all those things and more.
Posted by: Brian C. Saunders | March 14, 2016 7:06 AM
Just finally read this whole issue in Hulk Visionaries. It's interesting that Samson has a date who is a dead ringer for the young Heather Hudson as she was drawn in the backup stories in Alpha Flight.
Posted by: Erik Beck | October 20, 2016 8:15 PM
Byrne had Ramon appear one page in his entire run. How is he an offensive stereotype?
Posted by: a.lloyd | February 27, 2017 11:03 AM
Comments have been disabled for the summer while i'm not around to moderate.
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