Issue(s): Hulk #295, Hulk #296
But, whatever. The Hulk returns from Secret Wars bearing his giant crutch.
He's clearly losing control at this point, snarling, knocking down old people, and only dimly remembering things. But first thing out of the Secret Wars portal, he starts trying to figure out how to find Max Hammer's apartment, and then he shows up and smashes Boomerang.
Then he returns to his lab with Kate, and they find that the criminal Max Hammer has "reformed" since his treatment and is now providing Banner's miracle gamma cure to the general public for free.
We knew how this was going to end right when it was introduced. First the dog owners from issue #294 show up with a story about how their dog went crazy and they had to put it down. Then Hammer turns into a monster.
And of course all the other recipients of the cure start to worry.
The only twist is that ROM shows up!
He uses his neutralizer to reverse the treatment (which means those poor people are back to having cancer, being crippled, etc). But at this point Bruce has lost control of the Hulk and is brutally beating a now un-Hulkified Max Hammer. ROM tries to stop him, and his Neutralizer actually seems to restore some control...
...but Bruce only gains control after he accidentally hits Kate.
Secret Wars related issues aside, this decent into savagery extended plotline is probably the best thing Mantlo has written. There's still problems with it, of course. Over dramatic dialogue. The generic 'miracle cure turns out to have a downside' plot. But it's not bad. And Sal Buscema's art is always nice.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: We have to find a place for Bruce Banner to show up in Fantastic Four #266. The MCP places it in between pages 11 & 12 of Hulk #295. I don't like that for two reasons. First: the narrative captions suggest an immediate continuity between those pages (Kate ask Bruce, "Where's the gentle genius that I love?" and the narration on page 11 says "As if from a great distance, Bruce Banner struggles to answer... to return to dominance." At the beginning of page 12, it continues, "It is an effort that lasts all the long taxi drive upstate to his private research facility, Northwind Observatory."). Second: the crutch. Hulk has it until halfway through Hulk #296, but he doesn't in FF #266. So i prefer to place the FF appearance after Hulk #296. I understand the problem with this: at the beginning of Hulk #297, Banner has completely lost control of the Hulk. But his control is fairly tenuous throughout #295 as well, so regardless of where we put the FF appearance we're introducing a slight relapse from Mantlo's decent into savagery. And issue #296 does end with Banner at least tentatively in control. Maybe he even went to Reed Richards for help and found that Reed actually needed his help instead. I'm dropping the Hulk's appearance in Marvel 1985 in that little gap as well. ROM's appearance is context free; the MCP places it between ROM #52-53, but ideally ROM #53 occurs during Secret Wars due to a reference to all the missing heroes, so i'm placing this between ROM #53-54.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (1): showBoomerang, Hulk, Kate Waynesboro, Max Hammer, ROM
reading this as a kid, i remember being afraid that the hulk really killed boomerang. i mean look at the artwork there.
Posted by: kveto from prague | November 6, 2011 7:49 AM
I've said this elsewhere, but the way Sal Buscema draws the Hulk during this period just blows am away. Sal's style typically works for me but rarely knocks my socks off. This period of HULK, however, is winning me over quickly. He owns that character.
Posted by: Jay Patrick | July 12, 2013 5:52 AM
Notice that Hulk's leg heals in #296.
Posted by: Vin the Comics Guy | July 18, 2015 4:09 PM
With Secret wars lasting a week or so, it seems it took quite some time for the gamma cure to turn bad.
Posted by: kveto from prague | June 27, 2016 4:57 AM
It occurs to me that it's interesting to see what Marvel might do with issue 296 if they ever reprint this period of Hulk stories. The appearance of Rom might seem to preclude any reprint, but his appearance is important in the ongoing plotline of Bruce's loss of control and resolves the gamma-cure plotline, so it's not like it can just be skipped over and still make sense (unlike his appearances in Power Man/Iron Fist and Marvel Two-In-One, which their respective Essentials seem to have skipped). Since Rom apparently appeared in Contest of Champions, was his appearance stripped out of the 1999 trade?
Posted by: Morgan Wick | January 29, 2017 2:26 AM
The precedent in the Essentials trades has been to replace the issue with a text summary explaining the plot and the licensing issues preventing the reprinting.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | January 29, 2017 9:19 AM
IDW did the same thing when reprinting the Marvel Transformers comics; if an issue had a character that Marvel owned, that issue was removed from the TPB and replaced with a summary.
The only characters this applied to were Spider-Man and Circuit Breaker, a villain created for Transformers but who had an early cameo in SECRET WARS II #3, specifically so Marvel could own her.
Unfortunately for IDW, Circuit Breaker showed up in the last few issues of the climactic Unicron storyarc. If they didn't reprint those, the readers would have missed the ending of a year-and-a-half long plot. So IDW had to bite the bullet and pay Marvel their requested fee.
Posted by: Thanos6 | January 29, 2017 11:10 PM
This block of Hulk stories was reprinted in the color TPB Incredible Hulk: Regression, released in 2012. It covered Hulk 286-300 and annual 12.
I remember seeing it in a bookstore and flipped through it. There was a partial reprint of #296, omitting the ROM pages and there was a text page or two explaining what happened in the missing pages. If I remember right, ROM was never called by name in the text, he was referred to as a cyborg warrior or something like that.
Posted by: Rick | January 30, 2017 9:56 AM
I generally tend to use the Mike's Amazing World site for these sorts of things, which tends to be inconsistently updated, especially for non-DC stuff, for recent years (I should probably just use the GCD, especially with Mike retiring from active updating, but MAW is easier to understand and search, especially with the Newsstand feature, and requires less loading and scrolling).
Posted by: Morgan Wick | January 30, 2017 2:21 PM
You'd think Disney would have scooped up the rights for ROM. It's not like the toy was flying off the shelves all these years,
Posted by: Bob | February 27, 2017 9:33 AM
I almost wonder if the revival of Rom and Micronauts at IDW is an attempt to spite Marvel or something, or something similar to the X-Men and Fantastic Four movie situations, an attempt to get some value out of the IP rather than just let Marvel have them. With Marvel getting the rights to Fu Manchu back, I have to imagine Marvel was pushing to get Rom and Micronauts back as well.
Posted by: Morgan Wick | February 27, 2017 2:30 PM
@Morgan Wick: I would not be terribly surprised if Marvel / Disney did try to buy the rights to Rom from Hasbro but gave them some lowball offer. I've heard that was what held up the Master of Kung Fu reprints for so long, Marvel was being stingy about loosening the purse strings.
Posted by: Ben Herman | February 27, 2017 3:06 PM
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