Issue(s): Hulk #372, Hulk #373
In this issue he confronts the Hulk, but we still don't actually learn anything about him or the organization he's working for.
But we've got a few other things going on as well. Bruce found out last issue that his wife Betty has joined a convent. And he's also got a scar on his back that continues to grow.
He winds up sneaking into the convent and hiding in a confessional booth (the priest was conveniently knocked out in a car accident caused by the red car). And while he's in there he hears Betty say that she's happier without him.
But she's interrupted before she can finish.
It turns out that Betty was really having doubts about being a nun, though, and she's been seeing evidence that Bruce might still be alive. So she winds up leaving the convent. Bruce tries to catch up with her, but that's when the red car attacks.
And like we've been seeing a lot of lately, Bruce demonstrates unusual strength while in human form.
But then the big surprise (teased last issue). He turns into the green Hulk. It's a pretty gross transformation, literally bursting out of Bruce's skin.
The car still surprisingly manages to give him a little trouble.
But then he starts to get a little meaner (Time to bleed! Time to die!).
And then the guy in the car, Prometheus, says he's in "full retreat" and that he's going to need the whole Pantheon to get the Hulk.
The fight with Prometheus causes Bruce to miss catching Betty before her train departs, but it turns out that she's not on it.
The return of the green Hulk?!? But the grey Hulk is still in his head? Things are getting interesting!
Next issue begins with Bruce and Betty still on the railroad track, but before that, we see what's going on inside Bruce's head.
The grey Hulk realizes that only getting into trouble while trying to reach Betty would have caused Bruce to let the green Hulk out.
"It takes someone you love to get you really hacked off." But he also says that having let the green Hulk out once, it's going to be harder to keep him under control.
Back in the physical realm, Bruce and Betty are being chased by the authorities. At first it's just people that want to question Betty for jumping off a train, but then the police, the FBI, and then the army get involved. Bruce continues to demonstrate a more aggressive side as they flee.
They wind up requesting sanctuary in the convent where Betty had been staying. The army colonel was raised Catholic, and he is therefore susceptible to the head nun's Guilt Ray, but Doc Samson, being Jewish, is immune.
The nun is still able to delay things enough that it is soon nighttime. That initially alarms Doc Samson, but the FBI reports that Bruce is now back to rage-induced green transformations instead of time-induced grey ones, and they have a tranq gun to deal with that. But Samson realizes that "Banner's a multiple personality", and that the Hulks can therefore co-exist. This is a pretty big deal. It's a subject that Peter David has been touching on a lot, but i think this is the first time it's been stated directly.
I also like Samson's straightforward response to the steroids question, compared to Captain America in the concurrently published Streets of Poison arc. I know this is just a joke, but it's still a refreshingly honest distinction from all of Cap's hemming and hawing.
Anyway, Samson is right about the Hulks co-existing:
During the fight, the Hulk gets a grenade stuck in his mouth...
...and it explodes in his face.
He starts acting like his eyes have been hurt, and Doc, showing real concern, goes to him. But the Hulk was really faking.
The Hulk calls him a "jerk" and compares him to the green "moron" for that, but Samson says that he fell for the trick because he really cares and wants to help the Hulk. It's something that the Hulk can't understand or believe. And so he eventually jumps off with Betty. Once they are clear, they have a good conversation about their relationship (distinct from Bruce).
This is great. There is a lot of humor in this series, and a lot of action, and a lot of anti-hero kewlness from the grey Hulk. But at its core, this Peter David's run has been very character driven, and this scene with the Hulk and Betty (a follow-up to the one in Hulk #344) is a good demonstration of that. And this is all made possible thanks to the interpretation of the Banner/Hulk relationship that is given in this issue, that he's got multiple personality disorder. It's worth remembering that while this seems obvious, we've had other writers - Roger Stern in Hulk #227 and John Byrne circa Hulk #315 - raising the possibility that the Hulk is an entirely separate entity from Banner (Byrne may have been raising the idea just to discredit it; his run ended too soon to tell). But Peter David is building off of the idea that Bill Mantlo (and/or Barry Windor-Smith) raised in Hulk #312. And this interpretation provides more opportunity to explore the psychology of Bruce Banner, which is exactly what it happening here and which we'll be seeing a lot more of soon.
Also in #373, we see Rick Jones on the run.
Quality Rating: A
Chronological Placement Considerations: This presumably takes place soon after the end of last issue, although Bruce may have walked away, shocked, from the convent and then waited through the night so that he wouldn't turn into the Hulk during his meeting with Betty. I've nonetheless placed this close to the previous issue.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Did Dale Keown come to work on the Hulk in time, or what?
The return of ol' Jade Jaws couldn't have been any better.
Posted by: Vin the Comics Guy | June 16, 2015 11:22 PM
That was an awesome issue. I love Green Hulk.
Posted by: Steven | June 17, 2015 1:03 AM
The art is very good alright here. I wonder (without giving away spoilers for issues to come) if the return of the Green Hulk was a bit of a feint on Peter David's part, a misdirection given what we all know happened later...?
Posted by: Harry | June 17, 2015 6:22 AM
Keown was certainly a treat for the eyes after Purves. I don't know why Marvel didn't drive a truckload of money up to his house and/or send a couple of guys over to nail him in place.
And fnord --- I do enjoy open opportunities to torment you pointing these things out; do you realize who the green Hulk is making like with the heads of other personas floating around him discussing during fights like in this issue and the upcoming Absorbing Man fight?
He's Firestorm... :lol:
Posted by: BU | June 18, 2015 3:10 PM
Loved these issues. I had fallen out of love with the book during the Fixit era but this period and Keown's artwork brought me back and made it a favorite of mine again. I caught every issue from this point on up until the Adam Kubert period.
Posted by: Robert | June 22, 2015 5:37 PM
That scan of the page where the grey Hulk and Betty have their chat and wind up laughing together is very nice character work, especially given the impending developments with regard to the Hulk/Banner's status quo. If anything, a period of having the green and grey Hulks and Banner all around as 'seperate' beings would have been a nice status quo to explore, also, but it doesn't last very long more.
Posted by: Harry | June 22, 2015 6:20 PM
Hulk rarely gets pencilers comparable to Dale Keown. :)
Posted by: Luis Dantas | June 22, 2015 8:37 PM
Agent Cooper might be a reference to Twin Peaks.
Posted by: Michael | June 22, 2015 11:07 PM
Totally agree with BU. Marvel discovers a guy who can draw just like Byrne but without the headache that inevitably comes to anyone trying to work with Byrne? How did he not become a star?
Posted by: Erik Beck | October 22, 2015 11:47 AM
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