Characters Appearing: Achilles, Agamemnon, Ajax, Atalanta, Betty Ross, Delphi, Hector, Hotshot, Hulk, Ironclad, Jailbait, Marlo Chandler, Ogress, Omnibus, Paris, Rick Jones, Rock, Ulysses, Vapor, Vector, X-Ray
Issue(s): Hulk #401
Omnibus teleports the U-Foes out of Freehold, depositing them right where the Hulk happens to be sitting. Iron Clad rushes to attack. Which turns out to not be so smart.
Vector tells Hulk if he'll let Iron Clad go, they'll just leave.
Not that it's ever a smart idea to attack the Hulk (at least without a plan), but the Hulk is in a particularly bad mood due to the fact that he's blaming himself over misreading the situation regarding Marlo (and his general loss of control) from the last story. After the U-Foes leave, Rick approaches with reprimands, and the Hulk takes him and Marlo home.
Their conversation continues at home, and what i like is how they resolve it like rational adults, without all the screaming that would have happened in, say, the Mantlo/Buscema era. This is the sort of thing that's hard to pinpoint when talking about why i like certain comics. It's independent of whether or not the Pantheon sucks or whether smart Hulk is a good idea or anything like that. It's just good, realistic writing.
Hulk says he'll do what he can to help Rick.
After the Hulk departs the Freehold area, Omnibus sets himself up as the new leader of Freehold. But he's clearly got something sinister planned.
Speaking of the Hulk's loss of control, we see Delphi looking at an image of the Maestro in her well.
Future Imperfect was being published at this time, although it doesn't take place yet.
Agamemnon later summons the Hulk to the Pantheon. The Hulk was quitting the Pantheon, but Agamemnon instead convinces the Hulk to become the leader. Agamemnon himself is taking a sabbatical, as he does periodically. And when he does so, he apparently looks like... a young Rick Jones?
No, he says that he last took a break while in that form during World War II, and that he faked his death when it was time to return to the Pantheon. So the implication is that he's meant to be Bucky.
A semi-random aside: In the Vegas issues (Hulk #395-396), Ulysses quoted a semi-famous line from a movie, the "You know how to whistle don't you? ...just put your lips together and blow" line. He said it was from The Petrified Forest. I've been semi-interested in tracking down the movie with that line ever since it was used in the silly parody movie, Murder By Death. So after reading those issues, i went and tracked down Petrified Forest. I should have just googled the quote, because as a letter writer points out in this issue, the quote is really from To Have and Have Not. A joke is made about that in this issue.
Jan Duursema is doing a decent job holding things down between the Keown and Frank art runs. Things sometimes look a little wonky, but it could be a lot worse.
Quality Rating: B
Chronological Placement Considerations: I'm assuming this takes place relatively soon after the end of issue #400. Betty talks about everything that's happened in "the past few days", which isn't definitive. But i don't think the Hulk and Rick would hang around Freehold for too long. So i've pushed this back in publication time a bit (and the Hulk and Rick definitely shouldn't appear elsewhere in between). Ajax doesn't appear in this issue, but he's said to be in the Panthen infirmary dealing with severe burns (giving Atalanta and Achilles an opportunity to have a romantic moment, which Paris sees).
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
There will be a Steve Rogers cameo very soon in this book. He sees Agamemnon and reacts in an inconclusive way.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | August 29, 2016 6:33 PM
I can understand why so many people love David's Hulk run, but it's always felt a little flat to me, largely because of the Pantheon in general and Agamemnon in particular. They were never fully rounded characters, despite their complicated backstories. And what, exactly, was Agamemnon's master plan? A character can be mysterious, but the writer has to know the real motivations and emotional imperatives of his characters, and it's clear that David didn't in this case. This nonsense with Bucky is a good example of how David would just throw something out there without thinking through the implications. An Asgardian immortal has no reason to pretend to be a normal kid and be some superhero's sidekick for 5 years, and it's a bit of an insult to Steve Rogers to say that he wouldn't notice something like that was going on.
Posted by: Andrew | August 30, 2016 9:01 AM
With so many false starts regarding Bucky's fate and the many, maaaany times he was attempted to be revived by writers, it's actually surprising that they kept with the "dead means dead" with him for so long...well until the Winter Soldier.
Posted by: Ataru320 | August 30, 2016 10:25 AM
About a year ago I was at Jim Hanley's Universe in Manhattan for a signing by Peter David. When I was getting some comics signed by him I grinned and told him that I hoped one of these days he'd have the opportunity to write a team-up of Agamemnon and the Winter Soldier. He immediately started laughing :)
Posted by: Ben Herman | August 30, 2016 12:24 PM
@Andrew - To be fair, I never saw the "Agamemnon is Bucky" thing to be anything more than an in-joke. At the time it was thought Bucky would never come back, so Peter David decided to give a winking "maybe he's Bucky" joke (which I think only gets brought up again twice more, both times as an in-joke, including the Cap cameo Luis mentions), but it's just an implication, there's nothing in-story to say he really is Bucky and the reader is free to treat it a joke or believe it if they prefer to. Obviously some people don't like this sort of in-joke, but I never mind them myself.
As for not liking the Pantheon, I've heard that from other people, but for me there's a lot of great issues in David's run before the Pantheon turn up, where David comes up with various new ways of looking at the relationship/war between Bruce and the Hulk. From the 330s-370s there are plenty of highlights before the Pantheon get involved, so I would recommend those if you aren't familiar with them.
For me the absolute best issues of David's run has just come to an end at issue 400, we're now starting a sort of plateau from 401-425 where it's all good and occasionally great, but not as many great moments as there used to be pre-400, and after 425 there are still good moments but the quality dips again (same as you'd expect from anyone doing a 100+ issue run). Still a great run overall, just the later issues aren't as good as the earlier ones.
Posted by: Jonathan, son of Kevin | August 30, 2016 1:47 PM
@JSOK - To quote Gerald Ford by way of Steve Gerber: "If it's a joke, I don't get it. Is it dirty, or what?"
Posted by: Andrew | August 31, 2016 9:34 PM
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