Hulk Smash Avengers #4
Issue(s): Hulk Smash Avengers #4
The story has the West Coast Avengers reacting to reports of a mob war in Las Vegas, with one of the mob leaders, Michael Berengetti, being rumored to have Maggia connections along with a mysterious enforcer.
They are greeted by Mr. Fixit's giant tommy guns.
The Avengers land their Quinjet and attack. Mr. Fixit denies that he's the Hulk throughout the fight.
The grey Hulk is supposed to be weaker than the green version, but the Hulk does just fine against these Avengers...
....swatting away Iron Man (calling him "Shellhead" probably isn't the best way to pretend you don't already know him)...
and dropping the Luxor on Wonder Man (in a scene i guess meant to reference the Hulk's mountain lift in Secret Wars #4).
Wonder Man recently defeated the Abomination, so you'd think his battle against the weaker Grey Hulk, while supported by his teammates, would at least be a real contest, but he's also rather quickly knocked away.
Iron Man eventually tries a different tactic and tries to take the Hulk away for a private conversation. But he's unable to lift him.
But the Hulk does jump them away, and Iron Man removes his mask to talk.
"Mr. Fixit" convinces Tony that both Banner and the Hulk are dead, and tells him that he's happy for once in his life. He promises that no one will get hurt unless they deserve it. And, in a bit of serendipity, he says "trust me", which is exactly what Iron Man has been saying to his allies regarding Armor Wars at this time (and that's definitely an accident, albeit a happy one; see Considerations).
Iron Man returns and tells the rest of the group that they're going home.
Jim McCann was originally a soap opera writer and after that he started at Marvel with special projects and one shots before writing a Hawkeye & Mockingbird storyline prior to this. His scripting here is decent, but occasionally misses the mark, like in this panel.
Just noting that a SHIELD alarm is going off is sexy spy talk?
He's also writing an oversexed Tigra...
...but that's possibly meant to be true to the awful way she was being characterized, based on when this was meant to take place. I do kind of like that this is resolved with a private conversation between Iron Man and Hulk, although it implies more familiarity between the characters than i think should have existed at this time (this series came out in the run-up to the first Avengers movie and the Hulk rejoining the Avengers in the comics in the aftermath of that, and i kind of get the feeling that the point of the series was to establish more connections between the characters than there actually were in the "real" comics). It actually works fairly well with where it winds up having to get placed, since you can write off Iron Man's decision as being related to his own issues.
The art on this series veers between decent at times to grotesquely awful, especially in some of the Hulk's facial expressions. You'll notice some cut off top and bottom panel borders in some of my scans and that's not just due to my usual sloppiness; Agustin Padilla seems to like to do oddly angled or overlapping panels for no good reason. But despite generally doing a lot of wide panels (i.e., one panel per row on a page), he does manage to fit a decent amount of content into the book, and this issue does deliver on the Hulk Smash promise. And it does sort of answer the question of why the Avengers never investigated reports of a grey monster working for the mob in Vegas (although this issue now raises the question of why they never investigated the town of 5,000 that was blown up by the Leader with a gamma bomb).
Here's my original Speed Review on this issue.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: The "True Believer Note" in the front of this issue says that this story takes place "immediately prior to West Coast Avengers #5 and Incredible Hulk #347". Those issue are over 2 years apart. WCA #5 has a Feb 86 cover date, and Hulk #347 is Sep 88, published the same month as WCA #36. But it's not a typo; the West Coast Avengers are definitely written and drawn as they were circa issue #5. You'll note that Moon Knight is not present and Tigra is hitting on Wonder Man. Hawkeye says to Iron Man, "Tony, I know you've been out of commission for a while, but I really need you to Iron Man up" (Stark had just returned to being Iron Man at the start of the West Coast book after his bout with alcoholism), and Hawkeye also talks about being a leader of the team as a being a relatively new thing. Also, Hawkeye and Mockingbird are wearing long sleeves and long pants, the versions of the costumes that they wore before switching with much fanfare to breezier versions in WCA #12. And Tigra doesn't seem to have a tail, which she got in WCA #15. So it was definitely meant to take place prior to WCA #5, but it would be impossible to hold back 2+ years of West Coast Avengers comics until after Hulk #347, for reasons too numerous (and hopefully too obvious) to mention. So instead we look for other markers. The good news is that Hawkeye and Mockingbird's costumes could easily be changed (maybe they were anticipating fighting inside the heavily air-conditioned Las Vegas casinos) and Wonder Man is back in his black costume by WCA #25. Moon Knight can just have the day off. Iron Man is still wearing his red and silver armor and obviously is a member of the team, placing this prior to WCA #31 and Iron Man #229. I'd like to at least honor the Hulk half of Brennan and Brevoort's intention and place this prior to Hulk #347, even though this therefore "spoils" the reveal of the Hulk being a Vegas enforcer in the Hulk's series. Tony Stark says that the explosion that was thought to kill the Hulk was "a few months back"; to accommodate that, i placed Hulk #341-345 as far back as i can (it can't go further than Fall of the Mutants, thanks to the tie in with Hulk #340) but we can of course disregard temporal references due to the sliding timescale anyway.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Another problem- the Hulk says "so pack that tin can of yours back in a briefcase". How does the Hulk know that Tony keeps his armor in a briefcase?
Posted by: Michael | May 24, 2014 5:05 PM
Tigra seems to have gained the power to inflate and deflate her breasts between panels.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | May 24, 2014 5:13 PM
While this point in time is the most relaxed Tony has been with his secret ID ever, it is still hard to believe that he would simply reveal himself to Hulk like that.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | May 24, 2014 5:29 PM
To clarify, he didn't- the WCA was dumb enough to call Iron Man "Tony" in front of Fixit.
Posted by: Michael | May 24, 2014 5:38 PM
For some reason I can't look at the 4th picture without thinking of this panel from the Ultimates:
Though I imagine there may be enough shots like this to be considered a coincidence
Posted by: Max_Spider | June 1, 2014 8:33 PM
I immediately noticed the continuity problems with this story just flipping through the Hulk Smash Avengers trade in the store. But trying to line up comics two years apart? Really? I'm glad you found a way to make it work for you.
Posted by: Erik Robbins | June 6, 2014 2:07 PM
Credit to the MCP, including Michael who posts here, for first proposing the solution.
Posted by: fnord12 | June 6, 2014 3:46 PM
Now I haven't read this Michael but I figure the suitcase thing was more of a joke or a nod to the days when Stark metal acted cloth-like and just fell in a suitcase. I figure Fixit was mocking Stark's armor.
But I might be putting my foot in my mouth here.
Posted by: david banes | June 6, 2014 4:30 PM
But my point, David, is how would Fixit know that it acted cloth-like? It goes back to what fnord said about Tony and Fixit being more familiar than they should be.
Posted by: Michael | June 6, 2014 7:17 PM
Fnord, about Tony and Fixit being too familiar- Original Sin: Iron Man vs. Hulk came out today, and it retcons that Tony and Bruce knew each other when Bruce was working on the gamma bomb.
Posted by: Michael | June 25, 2014 11:58 PM
One step away from having a Muppet Babies style comic with all the main Marvel characters in the same nursery school.
Posted by: fnord12 | June 26, 2014 7:39 AM
Actually the recent Indestructible Hulk Annual #1 showed Tony and Bruce having both attended a special seminar during college or grad school, so that would be even earlier.
Posted by: fnord12 | June 26, 2014 7:48 AM
Car-crash of an issue. This is Fixit, probably the weakest Hulk of them all, and he more than holds his own against a powerful team of Avengers, including a guy whose strength rivals that of Thor? Iron Man can't even budge Fixit? Really? Terrible, biased writing and meh art ... at least the previous issues in the mini-series made some effort to show the Avengers in a good light.
Posted by: Nick | March 31, 2015 6:12 PM
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