Hulk annual #17
Issue(s): Hulk annual #17
But the Mole Man does seemingly manipulate Tyrannus into getting the Hulk involved.
To parallel Tyrannus' concerns about aging, Peter David has Marlo and Betty talking about it too.
The Hulk, meanwhile, is playing with Rick Jones' toys, upset that his figure only gets a rock.
Those are real toys that were released by Toy Biz around this time. There were a wave of X-Men specific toys and a wave of regular Marvel Universe toys. They were the first Marvel action figures to come out since the Secret Wars line. The first wave of Marvel universe toys in particular were not very good, but i bought them all and continued to buy them obsessively for several years, even when they started out putting obscure 90s X-Men figures while neglecting so many classic Marvel figures. I eventually gave up when a different company got the rights to the toys and started putting them out in a different scale, but i still have a ton of them. And yea, the Hulk came with a rock. But also a bar for him to bend and a tab on his back that you could use to move his arms around!
Later, Rick is attacked by the Mole Men...
...and he and Betty are kidnapped. The Mole Man recognizes Betty , and distinguishes her from Marlo for his Moeloids as "the plain looking one". The truth is that the art has not been making any effort to depict Betty as looking plain. But that's how the story is scripted.
Marlo locates the Hulk. He's in mid-jump when she calls him, so she thinks that he doesn't hear her, but as he says when he returns, "I don't exactly come equipped with airbrakes". After hearing what happened, he heads into the Earth after the Mole Man, who makes sure that the Hulk can follow the trail.
The Mole Man approaches the Hulk and explains the situation, noting that if Hulk attacks, he'll probably cause cave-ins that will hurt Rick and Betty, and anyway he'd be saving a man's life by getting water from the Fountain of Youth, even if that man is Tyrannus.
Brutus, the current Deviant leader that the Mole Man and Tyrannus are at war with, hears that that the Hulk has been recruited, and he takes a contingent to guard the Fountain of Youth. So Hulk has to fight a creature called Gort.
Hulk defeats Gort with a combination of strength and bad puns...
...and honestly could have ended the whole Subterranean War right here if he wasn't focused on just getting some water from the Fountain. That's Brutus, leader of the Deviants, that he's knocking out.
Meanwhile, the big joke is that, yes, Tyrannus is aging, but he's aging at a normal human rate. So he doesn't really look any older.
Betty helps Tyrannus out with some beauty tips.
It may be sexist, but i think the line about Tyrannus having a motivation that women can relate to more so than most super-villains is both funny and a nice way to distinguish him.
The Hulk returns and demands that Rick and Betty be released. In exchange for the water, Tyrannus agrees. But the Hulk first pours the water on the floor, making Tyrannus lick it up.
Whether he does this because he's jealous of the kiss that Tyrannus gives Betty, as the art implies, or just because the grey Hulk persona is coming out, Betty certainly doesn't like it, so the schism between them remains.
It also turns out that Brutus pre-emptively poisoned the Fountain of Youth, so that basically takes Tyrannus out of the equation for the rest of this event.
Lots of humor in this story, but still dealing with serious subjects and giving probably the best focus on the characterization of the Mole Man and Tyrannus during this event.
The first back-up in this annual is a cute parody of the Hey Kid, Catch commercial with the Hulk replacing Mean Joe Greene. The second features Rick Jones dealing with an over-obsessive fanboy that wants to be his sidekick. And the third shows the Pantheon helping a kid that agreed to become a new Thunderbolt for Justin Hammer in return for financial help.
The original Thunderbolt was black, so i was a little annoyed seeing that this new one is another white kid, but this turns out to be his only appearance, so it doesn't really matter. It's also the only appearance of the villain in the blue and purple, named Barrier.
Here is the scene with the "intergalactic bounty hunter" mentioned in the credits.
Quality Rating: B+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Betty is waiting to collect her first paycheck. She got a job at a crisis center in Hulk #384, which was an Infinity Gauntlet tie-in. So this places the whole Subterranean Wars event after Infinity Gauntlet. This is part two of the Subterranean Wars; part three takes place in Namor annual #1. The back-up story for Rick can take place after the main story, and the Pantheon story can take place at this time as well.
Crossover: Subterranean Wars
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (1): showAchilles, Agamemnon, Betty Ross, Brutus, Hulk, Justin Hammer, Marlo Chandler, Mole Man, Rick Jones, Ringer II, Tyrannus, Ulysses, Whiplash (Blacklash)
i still have that hulk action figure who came with a rock. I lost the rock, tho.
Posted by: kveto | October 16, 2015 4:23 PM
I had that figure too, and a few others, including a Punisher with lots of easily-lost guns. I liked my Secret Wars toys a lot better, even though they were arguably simpler.
Posted by: Andrew F | October 16, 2015 4:42 PM
Decent art for a change on an annual. Wagner was always underrated.
Posted by: Bob | October 16, 2015 5:47 PM
There was a weird scene with a guy claiming to be some sort of extradimensional bounty hunter that I wasn't sure was supposed to be an existing Marvel character or a reference to something outside comics.
Posted by: Michael | October 16, 2015 7:30 PM
Peter David repeated the "I got a rock" joke in a "But I Digress" column in CBG, but didn't acknowledge its use here. Unfortunately, he would start repeating jokes twice(and even three times) much more often.
I can't help but think that Gort is only called that just to set up the "Klaatu" joke.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | October 16, 2015 8:10 PM
@Michael, yeah, i almost put in a scan of that scene but i left it out for brevity. It did feel more like an in-joke to me, and therefore self-indulgent. But maybe it's a cultural reference that i just don't know. I've added the scan now, at the bottom of the entry.
Posted by: fnord12 | October 17, 2015 10:51 AM
The scan doesn't seem to be appearing.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | October 17, 2015 11:53 AM
Should be there now. Thanks.
Posted by: fnord12 | October 17, 2015 12:05 PM
OK, I found it on the web- there was a bounty hunter called Sweeney in PAD's Star Trek series for DC. So yeah, PAD was being VERY self-indulgent.
Posted by: Michael | October 17, 2015 12:21 PM
The Hulk's "I got a rock" comment is probably a reference to the Peanuts animated special "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown."
Posted by: Ben Herman | March 3, 2016 10:17 PM
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