Amazing Spider-Man #381-382
Issue(s): Amazing Spider-Man #382, Amazing Spider-Man #383
Hulk, watch where you point that thing. Could put someone's eye out.
Randy Emberlin & Al Milgrom and credited with "finishes" on issue #381, although Bagley is credited as penciler (i.e. not just breakdowns). I don't know if that explain's Hulk's giant pointy chin. Bagley and Emberlin get regular penicler/inker credits on issue #382 (no Milgrom) and Hulk does look closer to what he looks like in his regular title there.
But the art isn't the real problem here. It's just that it's a generic story that doesn't do the Hulk any justice and feels like a pair of fill-ins for Spider-Man. And it's a really cheesy plot, using the sort of bad science you'd see in the Silver Age.
The Hulk arrives in New York (see the Considerations) and finds Doc Samson waiting for him. There has been a recent breakthrough in medical psychiatry, using a gamma radiated "virus" to release repressed emotions. Doc Samson wants the Hulk to go to a demonstration of it because he thinks it might help with "the mood swings I've been treating you for". The Hulk angrily declines, quite rightly citing the fact that anything gamma related has proven to be dangerous. Never mind the fact that using gamma radiation to release repressed emotions exactly describes the current theory for Banner's transformation into the Hulk in the first place. The Hulk angrily jumps away.
Meanwhile, Spider-Man returns to his apartment. Here's what i mean about this book feeling fill-in-ish. It's a very generic interaction between Peter and MJ, more like the sort of introductory establishment scene you'd put in a book where Spider-Man was guest appearing.
But of course this is this book's regular creative team. As i've said before, i'm not sympathetic to the idea that a married Spider-Man was inherently limiting, but it's pretty clear that the writers of the Spidey books didn't know what to do with the marriage. Peter and MJ's interactions are basically pure honeymoon bliss unless there's a specific drama going on, in which case it becomes overly melodramatic.
Against the idea that this was a fill-in (maybe written for some charity book and then repurposed?) is the fact that it continues the "plot" of the mystery of Peter's parents.
The end blurb of issue #381 actually promises "big things" to come regarding that storyline. It directs us to a blurb about it that will appear on the cover of issue #382. That blurb doesn't actually appear, and there's an apology about that in the back of #382 (it's said they didn't want to obscure Bagley's artwork).
But now back to our psycho-quakery.
The virus inevitably escapes and affects Doc Samson, who Spidey has to fight.
The Hulk shows up to help.
Note the idea, which seems foreign to me, that Samson is harboring frustration over his "inability to cure the Hulk". I know that Samson doesn't think it's been going perfectly, but my understanding has been that he's been generally pleased with his ability to merge the Hulk's split personalities into a reasonably stable form.
Anyway, the virus of course transfers to the Hulk.
I don't know how Spider-Man can tell that the Hulk's unlimited strength is even stronger now, but this whole story is so full of derp it really doesn't matter.
To get the Hulk out of the way of civilians, Spider-Man decides to lure him to the spot on the Empire State University campus that the Human Torch burnt down. Meanwhile, Doc Samson goes to the scientists that created the virus, hoping for a cure, but there is none.
Then maybe you shouldn't have been doing public demonstrations on live human subjects?
So Samson goes back to Spider-Man and lets him ramble imprecisely about the Hulk's condition without correction.
I mean, the dumb Hulk isn't the dark half. His "dark" "third" would be the grey side. That's probably all too nitpicky for he heat of battle, but the point is that the solution to the Hulk's current condition doesn't seem too related to anything that's been going on in his own book. Anyway, the solution is to lower their defenses, hoping the Hulk's good side will shine through. And it does. Generic. Luckily Mark Bagley drawing a Spider-Man vs. Hulk fight is fun to look at, even if the story is nonsense.
The "big thing" in the plot about Peter's parents is that Aunt May doesn't think that they're legit (which i suspect is what every reader has already assumed as well). She hires private investigator Bernard Scudder to look into it.
Also, Mary Jane's smoking habit is ruining her life!
Also, Orwell Taylor of the Jury arrives in New York, hoping to succeed against Spider-Man where they failed against Venom.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: The MCP have this taking place along with a number of other Hulk guest appearances, during the early part of Hulk #407 (before Hulk goes to Scotland). But i don't think that's right. The Hulk is said to be returning from Scotland after Hulk #407.
The Hulk is in Scotland from Hulk #407-408 and then jumps over to England for #409. So it might be that this takes place after Hulk #409 (maybe Hulk had to jump back to Scotland to catch the return flight).
Infinity Crusade is (broadly) referenced, so this takes place after that.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (2): showAunt May, Bernard Scudder, Doc Samson, Hulk, Mary Jane Watson, Mary Parker Duplicate, Orwell Taylor, Richard Parker Duplicate, Spider-Man
You could argue that this deserves a bump in historical significance for hinting at the later revelation that the Merged Hulk is just another split personality, if you reeeeeeeally wanted to stretch it.
Posted by: Morgan Wick | January 26, 2017 4:35 PM
I think Peter David later attempted to argue that this story never happened and it was just a bad dream, or something like that. Anyone else hear about that?
Posted by: Ben Herman | January 26, 2017 5:00 PM
@Ben Herman -- I was at a panel during which Peter David complained about the Hulk being on a plane in this story, as he was supposedly wanted by SHIELD at this time, so I wouldn't be surprised if that's true.
Posted by: TCP | January 26, 2017 5:31 PM
Is Mary Jane holding a lit cigarette in her pocket? Where is the smoke even coming from?
Posted by: Mortificator | January 26, 2017 8:00 PM
PAD had Doc Samson write off this story as a dream in a Hulk story. He discusses it here:
Posted by: Michael | January 26, 2017 8:20 PM
I don't think the guy whose biggest crime was having the Hulk fly on a commercial airliner was the "jerk" in that story.
I always liked this story a lot when I was a kid. Fun fights.
Posted by: Red Comet | January 26, 2017 8:41 PM
@Michael: Thanks for the info. Considering that both the Hulk and Doc Samson were written rather somewhat out-of-character, and the plot of these two issues was rather underwhelming, it's odd that PAD was seemingly most bothered by the fact that the Hulk was on a commercial airline flight.
Then again, maybe PAD actually didn't like the story as a whole, and he only focused on the airplane detail because it provided him with a rationale for being able to explain the entire thing away as a dream.
Posted by: Ben Herman | January 26, 2017 10:21 PM
So we ARE supposed to notice that the investigator's name is a portmanteau of X-Files characters, yes?
Also, the on who should actually be "cut" is the crap soap opera director. I mean shouldn't this brain trust have told MJ to put out her magically levitating cigerette BEFORE the cameras started rolling?
Posted by: Jon Dubya | January 27, 2017 12:26 AM
@Jon Dubya -
The issue is cover-dated Sep-Oct and The X-Files only started airing in the second week of September that year. Seems like this would have been to press well before the show actually began.
Posted by: Erik Beck | January 27, 2017 4:58 AM
Did Michelinie ever give a response to Peter David's retcon?
Posted by: Mark Drummond | January 27, 2017 4:12 PM
He didn't really have much time- he left Amazing with issue 388.
Posted by: Michael | January 27, 2017 8:44 PM
wouldn't be the last time Peter David wrote off someone else's work as a dream, although i think we can all agree Hulk is better off with Bruce Jones' run out of canon
Posted by: Gonzalo | February 8, 2017 12:34 AM
It looks like PAD retconned the Hulk and Doc Samson appearances, not those of Mary Jane or Aunt May. As long as the Hulk and Doc didn't appear in those panels and had no interaction with those characters, those segments can still be in "real" time while only those with the Hulk and the good doctor would be the dream sequence.
Posted by: GreggM | February 8, 2017 12:14 PM
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