Characters Appearing: Agamemnon, Atalanta, Betty Ross, Doc Samson, Hulk, Marlo Chandler, Paris, Prometheus (Pantheon), Rick Jones
Issue(s): Hulk #376
Bruce is able to keep his weird physical transformation a secret when Rick wakes up, but when they arrive at Rick's place, it's still clear that Bruce isn't well.
And the stress gets worse when Rick's new girlfriend turns out to be Marlo.
In his "Joe Fixit" persona, Bruce/Hulk was dating Marlo. He passed up on an opportunity to tell Betty about that recently, and told her that he didn't remember much since coming back to life. So even if she were to accept the fact that his alternate persona was dating another woman, he still lied to her. And the stress of all this pushes Bruce over the edge.
Bruce/Hulk goes on a rampage. His current weird transformation recalls a number of odd transformations in the past, like when all of Bruce except his head turned into the Hulk in Hulk #6, and when Bruce's face was sticking out of the Hulk's chest in Hulk #324.
But at the same time we don't want Dale Keown's strength in drawing big powerful figures to go to waste, so inside Bruce's head there's a battle going on between the green and grey Hulks.
But both of those scenes are why this run is so great. Peter David has a reading of the Hulk that goes back to the beginning, looking at all the various aspects of the character, and coming up with a unified theory for what he's about. And internally we're dealing with the psychological aspect of that. That becomes clear with this scene below, where the madder (grey) Hulk gets, the stronger (green) Hulk gets, because they aren't just two characters. They're both the same.
In fact, Bruce, also inside his head, makes that point explicitly.
And to break Bruce out of this immediate crisis, Betty reaches out to him and tells him to be strong.
And that gives the core Bruce personality the strength to assert himself.
Bruce passes out, acknowledging Betty's role.
Also in this issue, we see the guy in the red car who attacked the Hulk a few issues back getting grilled by other members of his organization. The introduction to the Pantheon is a slow, intriguing build.
And in a deliberate feint, we see a guy in a red car trying to locate Rick Jones, but it turns out to be Doc Samson, who shows up at the end.
The psychological aspects of Peter David's run are coming to a head, and we'll reach it next issue. The pacing of the build up for this has been perfect. David started dropping hints since his run started, and it's been coming more and more to the forefront. Very naturally done. David has a strong grip on the character and has found a way to break out of the Hulk Smash formula without sacrificing the character.
Quality Rating: A
Chronological Placement Considerations: Rick is still wearing his Bucky outfit at the beginning of this story. This probably doesn't take place too long after the end of last issue, although i suppose the Hulk could jump away for a solo adventure if absolutely necessary. Next issue the Hulk is passed out and under the care of Doc Samson, so he shouldn't appear elsewhere between this issue and next.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Good issue, but i wouldn't have minded another few months of the two-hulks-at-once status quo in the least.
Posted by: Bob | July 21, 2015 8:47 PM
The introduction of the Pantheon was an intriguing build up.
And then an incredible disappointment for the rest of Peter David's run. It was just not that interesting.
Posted by: Chris | July 21, 2015 9:39 PM
One major problem was that Agamemnon was too obviously evil a name. Agamemnon in myth sacrificed his child. But it takes a ridiculous number of issues for the supposedly intelligent Hulk to realize Agamemnon is evil.
Posted by: Michael | July 21, 2015 11:33 PM
Agamemnon in myth was also, perhaps more famously, the leader of the armies at the Trojan War. Sacrificing a child makes him only slightly more evil than most Greek "heroes".
Posted by: Morgan Wick | July 22, 2015 12:04 AM
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