Issue(s): Hulk #328
Both the old man and Fragment are delusions created by the desert heat. And the name "Fragment" is deliberate. The character is really here to tell us about Bruce Banner and the Hulk's fragmented personality, i.e. that Hulk and Banner are fragments of the same personality. This is going to be the crux of David's Hulk run. And it's worth noting that this is only possible thanks to recent reversals. Going back to Roger Stern's run, the theory from Doc Samson was that the Hulk and Banner were literally separate people. But then the Bill Mantlo (from Barry Windsor-Smith) revelation was that Banner was abused as a child, with the Hulk representing the abused young boy's repressed anger. John Byrne seemingly ignored that when he took over, and had Doc Samson set about to physically separate the Hulk from Banner. But (in the transition from Byrne to Al Milgrom) Samson's theory turned out to be completely wrong, and we learned that the Hulk and Banner are indeed inseparable. And here, sides of the same person.
Banner's thoughts of suicide are put to the test and shown to be just idle self-pity. When it comes down to it, Banner begs to live, even suggesting that Fragment kill the old guy instead.
I'm usually not big on characters literally fighting metaphors (the D'Spayre syndrome), but as a fill-in slash intro to David's run, this is a good issue. And David also shows he writes a great brutish Grey Hulk. We've seen only a few glimpses of the Grey Hulk's personality so far, in the previous Zzzax arc and in the 1986 annual, but this is the first time i feel like i'm really hearing him in his own voice.
Here's the end scene discussed in the comments:
Quality Rating: B
Chronological Placement Considerations: Banner was in the desert at the end of last arc, and he's shown getting tested at Gamma base at the beginning of next issue. Bruce has sent Rick Jones away so that no one connects him with the new green Hulk that was seen taking Banner away.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (1): showHulk
In the end, Banner's car is damaged the way it was in the fight, and we see Fragment after Banner leaves- my interpretation was that Fragment WAS real.
Posted by: Michael | March 4, 2014 8:00 PM
PAD is of course leaving it open, but i figure the hand print could have been made while Banner was delusional in Hulk form, and that end scene is really just PAD joking with us or some remaining niggling doubts in Banner's head.
If Fragment was real, i wonder who sent him and such.
Posted by: fnord12 | March 4, 2014 10:42 PM
Those last few panels bring to mind Bugs Bunny, with the apparent rabbit hole, the "ears", and the "Doc".
Posted by: Mark Drummond | March 8, 2014 6:16 PM
Peter David confirmed in Amazing Heroes #101 that this was strictly a fill-in.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | April 26, 2014 8:26 PM
Ironic that in PAD's very first issue of his definitive run on the Hulk, Banner's last line is, "I'll never, never crave death again. For as long as there's life, there's hope."
Then ofc when we get to Hulk: The End the entire comic is dedicated to Banner attempting and ultimately succeeding in committing suicide.
Posted by: JC | October 13, 2015 3:27 AM
Actually, it'll be in PAD's issue 467 that Banner first decides he's wrong about killing himself, which he fails to succeed at. In the Hulk: The End, Banner does try but fails to commit suicide. By the end of the issue, his human body is dying of old age, but death is denied to him as the Hulk emerges for the last time. Banner's not exactly dead, but he's gone forever and the Hulk will live out the remainder(forever?) of his life alone, denying them them both final peace indefinitely.
So, no, Banner failed to commit suicide.
Posted by: Brian C. Saunders | March 15, 2016 4:51 AM
As it says in the captions, Banner is long gone and never cumming back. The Hulk makes it pretty clear he killed Banner's consciousness or soul, leaving him all alone. This is further emphasized in the visual pull out signifying his loneliness.
Meanwhile Banner's final thoughts are a constant zoom in as he approaches closer and closer to his loved ones and death until his last shot is death quite literally right at his face.
Oh and besides that I just tweeted PAD, ya know the guy who actually wrote the thing, and he confirmed Banner's death.
So, yes, Banner achieved his suicide. Thanks.
Posted by: JC | March 15, 2016 6:03 PM
Yes, Banner is dead at the end of the book. I'm not sure you understand what suicide is though. Perhaps tweeting PAD will inform you.
Posted by: Brian C. Saunders | March 15, 2016 7:01 PM
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