Hulk annual #14
Issue(s): Hulk annual #14
St. Johns has brought in two scientists to help him, Doctor Nancy Kelloway and Professor Dan Kortz. They've both got some psychological issues. Kelloway is Kortz' former teacher and she's got a major crush on her former student. She was even fired for covering up for Kortz at school. Kortz is just an asshole.
They're a very dysfunctional trio, none of them likeable. A little hay is made of the fact that Kelloway spent time as an illegal abortion doctor (and seemingly not a very good one).
I don't know if anything in that exchange exposes John Byrne's opinions on abortion but it's interesting that a controversial topic was allowed to be brought up at all in a mainstream comic book in 1985.
Anyway, Kelloway is the most sympathetic of the characters, and she eventually frees the Hulk, both because she doesn't like to see him suffer and because she doesn't approve of the way the experiments are going. The Hulk first encounters all of the scientist's previous test cases...
...who crumble and disintegrate as the Hulk fights them. Then he runs into post-treatment St. Johns.
You don't understand, do you? You won't understand. The gamma rays cause accelerated replication of cell tissue. But they can only work with what they find at hand! Bruce Banner... all the others who have been exposed to the gamma rays -- they've all been of normal build or less. So the gamma rays replicated their muscle and bone tissue, and made the Hulk, the Abomination. All you gave them to work with was fat! Fat! Fat! Fat! So that's what they replicated! Tons and tons of fat!
St. Johns responds by collapsing on her and the already-dead Kortz.
None of them will be missed.
I'm not so sure about Kelloway's theory. The Hulk has a much higher relative muscle mass than Banner. Clearly the gamma radiation causes his muscles to grow at a higher rate than his fat and bones. But it's hard to argue with her hypothesis in the face of the evidence.
I also assume St. Johns had a medical issue that went beyond "he ate too much", so Kelloway's accusations seem unfair. But she was a bit hysterical at the time (and indeed, for most of the issue).
A fun bizarre tale. Not necessarily the greatest characters, which was, i think the point, but combine their histrionics with the fact that Sal Buscema's on (perfectly fine) art, and i was having Mantlo flashbacks.
Quality Rating: B-
Chronological Placement Considerations: Takes place during Hulk #314 (see the Considerations section of that issue for more).
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Sal's work looks a little rough to my eye when he inks himself. This issue looks a lot like his late eighties SPIDER-MAN run. Part of it is a stylistic choice, but it doesn't work as well for me.
Posted by: Jay Patrick | July 18, 2013 3:15 AM
I never realized this story was written by John Byrne. I think it goes to show how much less sophisticated his scripts seem when not accompanied by his art. Kelloway's theory is interesting, but fails to take into account the Harpy and the Leader. Considering he later went on to create Pink Pearl and Big Bertha, I think all this demonstrates is that John Byrne has a "thing" about fat people.
Posted by: Andrew | March 4, 2015 10:23 AM
Hmm, I'd remembered the fat-shaming of St. Johns, but hadn't put it together with the later creations to realize this is yet another possible "Byrne the Bully" issue. I was far more disgusted by the "die, you pathetic abortionist bitch!" treatment of Kelloway. But I guess I'm up to what, six separate beefs with him at this point? Yeesh.
And that's not even counting the general comics complaints…
Posted by: Dan Spector | August 21, 2016 6:57 PM
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