Issue(s): Hulk #238, Hulk #239, Hulk #240, Hulk #241, Hulk #242, Hulk #243
This issue starts with Jimmy Carter and Jerry Brown investigating the wreckage of Central City in the wake of the Hulk's recent attack on the Corporation there. Meanwhile the Hulk is wandering the wheat fields of Saskatchewan, terrorizing the locals.
He eventually jumps off, landing on top of Mount Rushmore for a nap.
Meanwhile, Samson leaves Gamma Base with a catatonic Thunderbolt Ross in tow, intending to focus solely on helping Ross recover. Later, Glenn Talbot returns to Gamma Base and is put in charge, with a promotion to Colonel. He's got a renewed hatred of the Hulk, since he believes all of his problems, including his recent divorce from Betty, stem from him.
While the Hulk is still sleeping on Rushmore (and the military begins to pile up around the landmark), extremely obscure villain Goldbug shows up at the Tinkerer's place to retrieve his new hovercraft.
With the Tinkerer is his manservant, Toy, who always strikes me as being kinky, racist, or maybe both.
Goldbug is being manipulated by an organization called "They". This is a shadowy group of three that was featured in a never-resolved subplot in early issues of Marvel Team-Up and an arc in the Hulk. Goldbug rescues the Hulk from the military attack at Rushmore, only to trick him into a power-siphoning device to power his hovercraft.
His destination is El Dorado, the legendary city of gold. Hulk obviously breaks out of the device, and it crashes near the city. As Hulk is smashing Goldbug, a man named Tulak appears, saying that the Hulk's coming was predicted by the priests. He brings him into the city. The Hulk knows it's a trap but goes along anyway, figuring he can smash whatever he runs into.
After the Hulk is fed and entertained by dancing girls...
..."They" show up: Prince Rey, Keeper of the Flame Lann, and Old Des.
They and the Hulk immediately don't hit it off, but they show him a crystal ball image that shows Jarella's dead body being held in a government storage facility for research. This makes the Hulk so mad he turns back into Bruce Banner, at which point They take him prisoner and drain his lifeforce.
They go into a long rant about his backstory and the story of They. Basically the group has been manipulating super-heroes for a while...
...in order to restore the Eternal Flame (it seems they've been manipulating the Earth's crust) and get the Hulk to show up in El Dorado so they can drain his lifeforce. A little convoluted. Two continuity 'errors' are cleaned up during these retellings as well: 1) Hercules' didn't really tow the island of Manhattan around on a chain in Marvel Team-Up #28; he just absorbed an earthquake's shockwave into his body and 2) The Tyrannus that appeared in Nova #5 was not really Tyrannus, just a moloid shaped and controlled by him.
The Eternal Flame is revealed to be technology created by the Deviants in order to fight the Celestials.
Then another twist: the oldest of They, who's been going by the name of Old Des, turns out to be Tyrannus.
He betrays his partners and absorbs their lifeforce as well. He uses the combined energy plus the Eternal Flame to finalize an elixir that makes him young again.
Goldbug helps Hulk escape, and then the Hulk and Tyrannus fight it out for two issues, with Tyrannus utilizing all manner of Deviant technology, including brain mines.
The Hulk is once again terrifying during the fight, especially his brutish attitude when he finds out that smashing Tyrannus' machines hurts Tyrannus as well.
Not even converting himself into the Living Flame is enough for Tyrannus to stop the Hulk (Hulk: "Bah! Tyrannus has grown -- but Hulk has beaten big enemies before!"), and he is soon launched into space, briefly attracting the attention of the Celestial Gammenon in the Andes.
Hulk immediately returns to smashing Goldbug for tricking him earlier. However, the Deviant technology teleports them into the sewers of NYC. Goldbug is able to escape the Hulk, but he runs right into Power Man and Iron Fist, who take him into custody.
The Hulk climbs out of the sewer and jumps into a montage scene showing where this arc fits in with his appearances in the Defenders and Daredevil.
A lot going on here. The Tinkerer, They, Deviants, and years of backwater continuity for me to sink my teeth into. This was a fun and well written story, but it doesn't really read like a Roger Stern story to me. I wonder if it was on Len Wein's list to wrap up the unresolved They story and Roger Stern picked up that task when he took over the book. This is Stern's last arc on Hulk (he isn't even able to script the last issue) due to his increasing editorial duties.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: This starts after Hulk annual #8. This takes place during or after the time when the Celestials resurface in Thor. And i can't be more appreciative of the fact that at the end of this story they show the Hulk moving on to his appearances in Defenders #65-74 and Daredevil #163. No guesswork required!
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (10): show
I actually read these some of these issues in real time. It was fun fitting the pieces of the puzzles together after all these years!
Posted by: Chaim Shraga | June 10, 2012 2:42 PM
Toy was later revealed to be a robot, which mitigates the overtones of his name somewhat. I have nothing to base this on, but I have to believe that this was the intent even his first appearance. He is associated with the Tinkerer, after all.
Posted by: Jay Patrick | April 11, 2013 3:02 AM
The Tinkerer even keeps him in a box like a giant action figure.
Posted by: Jay Patrick | April 11, 2013 3:03 AM
I'd side with Toy being kinky but then again he is being shown working with the Tinkerer from the start.
Anyway I do agree that this doesn't really feel like a Roger Stern story. None the less I think the awesome final battle makes up for the rest. I love that giant arm and Tyranus throwing every weapon he has before finally taking the form of fire. It feels very 'final boss' to me. Kind of like Shadow of the Colossus.
Posted by: David Banes | April 10, 2014 5:23 PM
Oh man, I want me a little Stegron chess piece!
Posted by: Oliver_C | April 3, 2016 3:35 AM
I always thought it was a nice touch that upon meeting "Aged Des" in #240, Greenskin--who has fought Tyrannus before--says in puzzlement, "Hulk knows you."
Posted by: Matthew Bradley | January 8, 2017 8:25 AM
I'm curious if the Orb's chess piece has him on or off his motorcycle?
Posted by: Brian Coffey | January 7, 2018 10:37 PM
Well, Ghost Rider's not on his motorcycle, so it would be odd to put the Orb on his.
Posted by: Andrew | January 8, 2018 12:52 PM
@Brian - the image cuts off there - it's not a crop on my part - and there aren't any other images of the chessboard. It looks to me like he's leaning forward like he's holding handlebars, but Andrew makes a good point too.
Posted by: fnord12 | January 8, 2018 2:38 PM
Hard to believe we're having this conversation about imaginary chess-people, but... Sal definitely isn't drawing those characters from memory. For example, the Earth-Shaker is in almost exactly the same pose as its first appearance in Nova #5, and Moses Magnum is standing with his left hand raised in a fist, as he was in his appearance at the end of X-Men #118. So Sal was probably copying the Orb's pose from some other appearance, in which he might well have been on a motorcycle. However, I also feel confident that if he had drawn the entire chess-piece, Sal would have him on foot. Why draw a tiny motorcycle if you don't have to?
Posted by: Andrew | January 8, 2018 3:15 PM
@Fnord and @Andrew- I forgot my smiley face at the end of the comment. I didn't expect a serious answer, I was just brainstorming. I'll be more attentive to that, but thanks anyway:-)
Posted by: Brian Coffey | January 8, 2018 9:36 PM
Comments are now closed.
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