Issue(s): Hulk #286, Hulk #287, Hulk #288, Hulk #289, Hulk #290
But while I was EIC, [Bill Mantlo] ripped off a Harlan Ellison story for an issue of the Hulk. That issue I signed out -- but I had never seen the episode of Outer Limits (I think) that Bill had ripped it from, so I didn't know. I remember thinking what a good story it was, and that Bill must be improving. The day the book hit the stands, Roger Stern called me and said, "Are you nuts?! This is a Harlan Ellison story!" I said, "It is?" Then my secretary told me Harlan Ellison was on the other line.
The story has a Strange Tales (or I guess Outer Limits) sort of feel to it:
We're introduced to a soldier from a war torn future world.
He winds up getting thrown into the past, where he meets Bruce Banner, who tries to reason with him.
Then he and the Hulk get sent back to the future world, where we learn that a giant status of Kang instigates constant war among the uneducated warlike soldiers.
Banner manages to get through to the soldier he encounters, but the soldier is subsequently killed.
Not inherently bad, but between this and the annual it's starting to feel like Mantlo didn't know what to do with the Hulk once he gave him Banner's intelligence.
Banner's also got a super-intelligent robotic sphere that he just sort of whipped up in his spare time. I know all Marvel scientists are super-scientists that are equally expert in all fields, but i don't think we've ever seen Banner as a robotics expert before. Well, maybe i take that back.
When Banner returns from burying the dead future-soldier, he finds a research assistant from SHIELD, Dr. Katherine Waynesboro, has arrived at his new lab.
Bruce's robot sphere is jealous of her.
She's quickly (and disappointingly) moved into love interest status.
Meanwhile, Bereet's film about the Hulk is selling very well, but she's not happy because she's being regarded as a "panderer to public taste", not a serious artist.
Also meanwhile, MODOK single-handedly invades the military compound where the Abomination is being held captive.
It's pretty awesome to see him casually hover through the base, blasting his way through soldiers and artillery.
General Ross is the last soldier in his way...
...but it turns out that Ross has been contemplating letting the Abomination out to fight the Hulk. MODOK surmises this and forges an alliance with Ross.
Issue #287, which doesn't really have a main plot but just focuses on the Hulk and Kate Waynesboro getting to know each other (and of course, features MODOK being awesome) is a better issue than #286.
MODOK frees the Abomination but it turns out that he was beaten so badly by the Hulk the last time they fought that he's unwilling to do so again.
It's a sad day for the Abomination. MODOK tortures him to the point where he's more afraid of MODOK than the Hulk...
...which gets him reluctantly ready to fight again.
Also, Hulk goes to the dentist.
Unfortunately, MODOK is also dealing with an insurrection in AIM.
A group of blue suited rebels attack his compound, forcing him to retreat. (Ridiculous! MODOK can't fight off a group of dopes in beekeeper outfits!?! )
I should note that the previous times (beginning in Ms. Marvel #7, and also in Marvel Two-In-One #81-82) we saw the rival blue and yellow AIM teams, the blue-suited guys were working with MODOK and the yellow were rebelling against him. This time it's the opposite. In any event, this seems to be the end of the AIM rebellion, with MODOK kicked out and the yellow and blue agents seemingly settling their differences and working together for the rest of this arc.
Meanwhile, Abomination heads to Bruce Banner's lab and attacks the Hulk. In the course of the battle, the silly robot sphere is destroyed...
...and it's also revealed that Dr. Waynesboro is more than just a research assistant; she's a full-blown SHIELD agent.
Bruce isn't thrilled that SHIELD has assigned him a watchdog, but he kind of accepts it since he gets a little out of control while fighting the Abomination.
The Abomination isn't able to defeat the Hulk but he kidnaps Waynesboro.
General Ross shows up with Betty, presumably to show Betty that the Hulk is dead, but obviously things didn't work out that way. And Ross tips his hand (way too obviously, in typical Mantlo fashion) that he was involved in the attack.
But Hulk doesn't have time to deal with that; he heads out after Kate.
And that's where things get really good. Because the Abomination doesn't know that MODOK's been kicked out of AIM, so that's where he takes Kate.
And AIM decides to turn Kate into another MODOK.
MODOK and the Hulk team-up to invade the base and rescue Kate...
...but it's too late and she becomes "Ms. MODOK" - no kidding, that's actually what the AIM agents call her.
And then... MODOK falls in looooove with Ms. MODOK.
She's initially good with that...
...and helps him defeat the remaining AIM agents...
...but when MODOK disintegrates the Abomination...
...Ms. MODOK is displeased.
MODOK is defeated and Ms. MODOK is reverted to Agent Waynesboro.
Whoo boy. Crazy stuff this arc!
Every issue in this arc has a different inker, but Sal Buscema's pencils keep the art consistent (although it's a little more... abstract? cartoony? in Carlos Garzon's final issue).
Quality Rating: B-
Chronological Placement Considerations: Issue #287 begins with Hulk still holding the body of the future-soldier from issue #286 so they should be placed together despite the stories being otherwise unrelated. The scene with MODOK, Thunderbolt Ross, and the Abomination continues directly from issue #287 to #288.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (3): showAbomination, Bereet, Betty Ross, General 'Thunderbolt' Ross, Hulk, Kate Waynesboro, MODOK
Hulk #286 was titled "Soldier" in announcements, which was the title of the Ellison story. After Ellison got paid off, Shooter did issue a "zero tolerance for plagiarism" memo. When this story broke in the fanzines, Marvel apparently attempted some damage control by claiming that Ellison was supposed to be credited all along--and that #286 was supposed to be an outright adaptation--but a changeover in editors caused the credit to be unattached. The fanzines immediately noted that #286 was not Milgrom's last issue, so the plagiarism charge stuck.
The financial VP was Milton Griepp, I think.
I wonder if Harlan is still getting those subscriptions. The fanzines didn't list them among his compensation.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | July 13, 2013 3:56 PM
If so, he's probably complaining about each comic as he finds them in the mailbox. he he
Posted by: ChrisKafka | July 13, 2013 7:35 PM
Sad use of the Abomination. From the terror of his original appearance to this! The Abomination is one of the few villains who could give the Hulk a run for his money. I don't why he turned into this.
Possible theory with the color switcheroo. MODOK might have somehow mind controlled whatever people he came into contact as he goes from AIM facility to AIM facility. Eventually, the other factions break free and then go after him. The AIM Civil War might have started with real followers of MODOK following him willingly, but it makes more sense that more of them were forced into servitude.
Posted by: Chris | October 12, 2013 1:36 AM
Wait, Abomination dies here? I have a Hulk issue from the late '80s where Abomination dissolves from falling in a bunch of radioactive waste.
Posted by: reppy | January 10, 2014 11:51 AM
The Abomination appears a few times while he's "dead" and then is restored (merged with Tyrannus) in Hulk annual #15, which is before your Hulk issue.
Posted by: fnord12 | January 10, 2014 3:04 PM
Poor Hulk, having your girlfriend leave you for MODOK of all people...
Posted by: Berend | February 24, 2014 1:03 PM
1) Does anyone know Bill Mantlo's side of the "Hero"/"Soldier" controversy? I don't have that story in any of my Harlan Ellison collections, and I know Ellison has a pretty broad definition of plagiarism. (I lost a lot of respect for him when he sued over the Terminator movie [over the same damn short story!])
Posted by: Andrew | March 2, 2015 8:19 AM
I've just watched the Outer Limits episode for the first time (right now it's available here), and Hulk #286 definitely lifted the entire premise from that episode. There's war torn future with soldiers that do nothing but fight. They wear helmets that tell them to kill the enemy. And one of them winds up getting sent back to the past where a scientist tries to teach him to give up his war, as the Hulk does in the first half here. And the future soldier speaks in the same truncated English that they do here. The only thing that doesn't happen is the Hulk going back into the future with the soldier to topple a Kang statue. You can get the gist of the premise by watching the first few minutes. I can't speak to the claim that Mantlo intended to credit Ellison all along, but it's definitely not a tenuous charge on Ellison's part in this case (the similarity to Terminator, on the other hand, is non-existent).
Regarding the Historical Rating, i think that will just be an Inbound Reference unless it was the case that MODOK and Ross had been colluding ever since this meeting? I don't think that was the case.
Posted by: fnord12 | March 2, 2015 9:05 PM
What I don't like about the Hulk / Abomination / MODOK story is the casual way Kate's transformation is reversed. Making someone into a MODOK-like creature should be a big endevour! It should be permanent! Meanwhile, in this story Kate changes into a MODOK and back speedily and without consequences...
Posted by: Piotr W | June 27, 2016 5:18 PM
No consequences? She has to live that down every day for the rest of her life. "I was Ms. MODEK." That's a heavy burden of shame right there. Really, it's much better there be no consequences or need to refer to details of this story ever again, aside from Ross freed Abomination.
Posted by: Brian C. Saunders | June 27, 2016 5:38 PM
You had me until, Ms. Modok shows up.
Posted by: a.lloyd | June 28, 2016 4:49 AM
Bereet disappears after these issues, and as far as I know is never seen again. I wonder if there was any reason for her quick exit from the storyline (besides the fact that she was a silly character)?
Posted by: Gary Himes | April 27, 2017 10:48 PM
Regarding the panels of the Modok-Ms. Modok "encounter": Was that a mindfuck I just witnessed? If so, Ewww!
Posted by: Brian Coffey | September 5, 2017 11:46 AM
So strange to see an emotionally broken Abomination. Speaking of strange sights, Ms. Modok most resembles a malformed Betty Rubble.
Posted by: Brian Coffey | September 5, 2017 12:12 PM
I'm also curious about whatever happened to Bereet. Also, am I the only one who ever was curious about why a Russian Agent talks like a Brooklyn cab driver during this period? I would think the Abomination's dialect would be a little less... "gonna", etc.
Posted by: Wis | October 17, 2017 5:03 AM
Wis, i think maybe you commented on this previously under a different handle? See the comments on Hulk #194. (Also some follow-up on Hulk #171-172.)
Posted by: fnord12 | October 17, 2017 7:42 AM
holy crap! you're right fnord, and I wasn't even trying to re-stir a previous discussion, i literally forgot that once bothered me before- for the record, i originally was using 'LordByron' before going to 'GeorgeGordon', before finally settling on the much easier to type 'Wis'- just so no one thinks I'd ever use multiple guises for any reason (and fnord would know, anyway)- but I completely forgot that I once brought that up. That would have been the last time that I was reading the years from the beginning in order, I should have read all the comments, too! Thanks fnord
Posted by: Wis | October 17, 2017 2:17 PM
Comments are now closed.
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