Issue(s): Hulk #390, Hulk #391
This is a good storyline, one that justifies the mission statement of the Pantheon organization and anticipates the kind of political revenge fantasy genre seen in Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch's Authority.
It's a story that's been teased since the Hulk was first recruited into the Pantheon. The government of Trans-Sabal, run by a Farnoq Dahn, is repressing its people and it's turned into a bloody civil war. What gets the Pantheon (or at least the Hulk) involved, though, is the fact that the US government is supporting Dahn. We see evidence of that right away when we see the government forces using Mandroids.
David introduces the Hulk in a nice way, showing off Banner's science-y smarts before the big reveal (not that we don't know it's him, but still).
I also like that the Hulk recognizes that the people he's fighting are "just grunts" that he doesn't really want to hurt.
And then the reveal:
See? You knew it was the Hulk, but you weren't expecting those bunny slippers.
Rick Jones has accompanied the Hulk.
And of course the rest of the Pantheon are around as well, and they're less reserved when it comes to lethal force.
Here's a panel replicated (more or less) on the cover of issue #390.
Trans-Sabal's government contact is a Mr. Galvin from the CIA (it's confirmed that he's CIA in a later scene).
When Galvin hears about the Hulk, he calls in X-Factor.
Funny scene when they're introduced to Dahn.
I wouldn't have minded if Dale Keown could have somehow drawn the X-Factor comic in addition to the Hulk.
Meanwhile, Rick brings evidence to the Hulk that SHIELD may be working for Trans-Sabal, and it causes him to doubt their cause.
We already knew that the US government was involved, but i take it that Rick's point is that SHIELD is usually on the up-and-up, even if the US government might not be. It's also true that SHIELD is not supposed to be a US-specific organization, but that's not brought up here. It will turn out that SHIELD is not really involved, and we're left with little doubt that Farnoq Dahn is a bad guy, but for now it raises the question of whether or not what the Hulk is doing here with Pantheon is morally right. Here's the Hulk's reaction to Rick's evidence.
This is good. Dale Keown plays it for comedy with Rick's expression, but it still illustrates how tenuous Bruce Banner's grasp on the Hulk's rage is.
Hulk follows it up with this, which is kind of like The Authority's mission statement.
While Hulk plans with the Pantheon, Rick bonds with one of the rebels that they are fighting with.
That conversation seems to put his mind at ease on the question of whether or not they're fighting on the wrong side.
When the fighting resumes, Hulk continues to plow through the government troops while trying to convince them not to fight. But he has a less easy time against X-Factor.
Notice Wolfsbane getting tossed away; that will get picked up on in the X-Factor tie-in issue.
Havok turns out to be the Hulk's biggest challenge. Havok is able to absorb the Hulk's gamma rays to power his plasma blast. But Hulk doesn't give up, and issue #391 ends with an explosion encompassing both Hulk and Havok.
When we check in with Betty, she gets a call from the woman that left her a message in an earlier issue, claiming to be Rick's mother. Her name is Jacqueline Shorr. Betty and Marlo later meet with her.
The main story is set up very well. As always with good humor, but also while delivering on the pro-active promises of the Pantheon (extremely rare!) and raising some interesting moral dilemmas. All that and a fun super-fight.
Statement of Ownership Total Paid Circulation: Average of Past 12 months = 207,692. Single issue closest to filing date = 286,700.
Quality Rating: A
Chronological Placement Considerations: The next issue blurb says that "X-Factor #76 is not required reading... but it couldn't hurt". See the Considerations for X-Factor #75 regarding X-Factor's placement, and more next issue. I'm assuming this takes place during Operation: Galactic Storm based a comment made in Hulk #392, and that has implications for Quicksilver's appearance in Avengers West Coast #83. See the Considerations on those issues for more.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (5): showAjax, Atalanta, Betty Ross, Farnoq Dahn, Havok, Hector, Hulk, Jacqueline Shorr, Madrox the Multiple Man, Marlo Chandler, Polaris, Prometheus (Pantheon), Quicksilver, Rick Jones, Strong Guy, Ulysses, Valerie Cooper, Wolfsbane
So...do Bruce and Guido shop at the same place for the bunny slippers or what?
Posted by: Ataru320 | February 3, 2016 9:24 AM
I personally love the art here and wonder what Mark Farmer has been up to!! this is clean and organic, muscular art... also I think the Hulk with a big gun is F'N ROCKIN'. I got sick of the "misunderstood with good intentions" Hulk playing with deer when I was like 12, lol. I personally think the Hulk would have been a top book if they had kept the guns on him and the leather vest... just my two cents.....
Posted by: Brimstone: Wrestler, Celebrity, Actor, Celeb Spokesman, Author, Food Critic, Comics CEO | February 3, 2016 5:38 PM
Posted by: Mark Black | February 3, 2016 5:48 PM
I remember enjoying these at the time. PAD's Hulk was about the only Marvel comic I was buying at this point and for the next several years. But I remember almost nothing of the actual stories which was not the case of the comics I bought earlier, and not when I began buying other Marvel comics against after Heroes Return. So I don't think it was me, but despite PAD's craft maybe something about this Pantheon-run was just not memorable.
Posted by: Chris | February 3, 2016 10:17 PM
I also lost a lot of interest in the book after it became the Pantheon show.
Not latter Gruenwald on Cap level slippage, but a notable decline in quality.
I think 50-60 issue is about the max before any writer starts to run the well dry.
Posted by: Bob | February 4, 2016 12:21 PM
I agree that the Panthenon takes over the book which shows P.David's declining interest maybe, I remember the Hulk books goes completely downhill after the Onslaught thing which is probably a combination of PD running out of ideas BUT also having his own ideas compromised by editorial interference with all the crossovers. I remember being stunned at how bad The Incredible Hulk got, it was one of the go to books along with X-Force and Punisher but after Gary Frank left it just got worse and worse. These issues are still inspired though
Posted by: Brimstone: Wrestler, Celebrity, Actor, Celeb Spokesman, Author, Food Critic, Comics CEO | February 4, 2016 7:53 PM
As much as I enjoyed PAD's run I didn't care for some of his new characters like the Pantheon and Janis Jones. But it is still good at this point. Like Brimstone says, it only really starts dropping off in quality after Gary Frank's run with PAD.
Posted by: Robert: I just saved a bunch of money on my car insurace by switching to Geico | February 4, 2016 8:12 PM
yeah and I don't want to knock Liam Sharpe but his run just co-aligned with an era where P.David didn't seem to know where he was going... shrapnel wounding Bruce Banner, making him an olive-skinned, confused Hulk... the Kubert run, where Hulk becomes War... it was like, a few good ideas but yeah, it was never ever the same and I now wonder how much of that was Marvel coming down on P.David. I remember specifically reading that Marvel was pressuring P.David to create big epic storylines and THAT was why he left... then, I kinda found it suspicious that immediately after PD left, they had Byrne writing these "quiet, low-key" stories like the Hulk in a small town, etc. Just a very wonky time at Marvel!
Posted by: Brimstone: Wrestler, Celebrity | February 4, 2016 9:40 PM
Interesting to hear other people weren't as interested in the Pantheon era either. I thought I would be in the minority, but perhaps others will make their tastes known.
There are still good stories and the craft is there, but as I said - very few memorable moments in retrospect. Just no magic. It doesn't help that the Pantheon characters themselves are just generic and uninteresting.
Posted by: Chris | February 5, 2016 11:46 PM
I don't think it is the Pantheon per se that are the problem, but rather the book's complete change in direction. The Gray Hulk was such a strong, memorable character that losing him was always going to leave a big hole in series.
I appreciate what David is trying to achieve with Big, Smart, Green Hulk, but he is not a very likeable character and because he is so accomplished, the stories lack any tension. Too often it reads as a series of endless fights, in which the Hulk beats down smaller and weaker adversaries.
Posted by: Bernard the Poet | November 28, 2017 2:39 AM
That's very true that PAD stacks the deck so the Hulk looks even more impressive. Granted the Hulk is already one of the more powerful Marvel characters and most villains would not be in his class, it is nevertheless the responsibility of the writer to find villains who can and present a good challenge.
PAD has great strengths. Characterization is strong, his stories have humor (although sometimes this is forced), and he understands the importance of a supporting cast. He also some good insights, and can write good short, medium, and long term storylines. But his depiction of villains has always been a weak spot. Many fights lack dramatic tension as you say. Few of his new villains are memorable. And he fails to utilize existing Hulk villains well (the Leader being an exception). His depiction of the Abomination and U-Foes are very underwhelming - these are enemies who should challenge the Hulk greatly. There's also existing characters who could be brought in as a threat like the Radioactive Man. As a Thor villain, he's at the right power level. He's a genius and his control over radiations would make him dangerous to the Hulk.
Posted by: Chris | November 28, 2017 2:36 PM
With the Abomination, at least, I think PAD had a clear long game, and develops him as a villainous foil tot he Hulk. But many other villains seem to be used or created as single-arc threats. When he does bring them back, they tend to lose dimensions of and threat level
The Hulk has always had a relatively unimpressive rogues gallery, of course, because he's as much an anti-hero who fights the other Marvel protagonists. PAD's long-range plan to play up the Hulk's inner demons and the danger that he would become the Maestro might also be part of why external threats like villains are underdeveloped.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | November 28, 2017 3:45 PM
Comments are now closed.
|SuperMegaMonkey home | Comics Chronology home|