Issue(s): Hulk #330
This could show what a difference the art makes. This is the first issue by Todd McFarlane, pretty much his first work at Marvel (same month as Daredevil #241, and he'd earlier done a few things for Epic and New Universe). And i admit that McFarlane's style here is something i associate with Peter David, so that's where this could be coming from. But let me go through out and point out some stuff.
Betty Banner heroically (we'll call it that) stowed away on the back of a SHIELD transport last issue, but her presence during SHIELD's battle against the Rick-Hulk and the Outcasts was not felt, and it turns out at the beginning of this issue that she was nearly killed in the battle, having been caught underneath a vehicle that the Hulk overturned.
Banner convinces Hulk to flip the vehicle and transport them back to Gamma base.
Clay Quartermain is suspicious of Bruce and Rick but doesn't do anything about it.
After Betty returns, General Ross wakes up. And it turns out he's got a portion of Zzzax's electrical powers, making him truly "Thunderbolt" Ross.
Also at Gamma base, a weird scene that seems to repeat the Hulkbusters' decision from last issue to stay with SHIELD. This is the first piece of evidence i submit; a lack of coordination between writers would explain how we'd see the Hulkbusters deciding twice in a row to join SHIELD.
Second, Peter David himself is written into the story.
This gets to the main plot of the issue. The man next to him with the hood is the butler, Bateman, that works for the boy in the darkened room from the past two issues. The "boy", we learn, is underneath that hood, and he soon transfers himself to Peter David.
Peter then heads to Gamma base and the creature transfers itself to a military policeman's head.
The creature is looking for a host body. It's a parasite that attaches itself to a human's head and starts drawing energy and nutrients from it. As we see here, it uses up bodies pretty quickly, so it wants to find a stronger body to use. Its goal is the Hulk, but it first finds Doc Samson. Samson is in a session with Betty. The poor woman has been at least on the verge of a nervous breakdown for a while now, but thanks to this creature, she's not going to get any help from the base's psychologist.
Here's a David-esque "lost his mind" joke. And the first full glimpse of the creature.
The creature also calls Samson cliched and "de classe" to demand that the villain recite his origin story. Seems like David-type satire to me.
I grant you this panel of exposition isn't very Peter David-ish.
But what about the Hulk calling the creature "Little Hat-Man"...
...or the creature itself deciding to name itself Nevermind?
As you can see, Nevermind jumps around a bit during the fight. When the Hulk starts pounding on Samson, Nevermind realizes that it might already be using up Samson's strength.
And it can't find a way to attach itself to the Hulk directly. So it tries to capture Betty to use her as bait. But Bruce Banner jumps in the way.
This impresses General Ross, who realizes that his son-in-law is actually pretty heroic and not a milksop after all. So when the creature leaps again, Ross sacrifices himself, and then uses his Zzzax powers to fry Nevermind.
Unfortunately, the experience also (seemingly, of course) kills Ross. But the nice thing is that he dies recognizing that he's been wrong, and that his actions have only distanced himself from his daughter.
Now that's just nice writing. And if this really is Al Milgrom writing (and i have to admit it almost certainly is; i can't imagine this would have gone uncorrected for so long), it really goes to show what difference the artist makes on a book. It is a weird Strange Tales type of a plot, which may also help Milgrom find a different tone here. But the pacing, the perspectives, and the grotesque images combined with winking grins all help give this issue a different feel than the much more earnest stories that were accompanied by the stiff cardboard cut-out art of, say, Milgrom's Avengers battle issues.
As that CBR article i linked to notes, Todd McFarlane was required to be a little more restrained than he had been during his work at DC (with Roy Thomas!) and than he will be later on. Similar to Erik Larsen's fill-in on Amazing Spider-Man #287, i like the more subdued versions of these future Image artists. Jim Shooter's demands for clear storytelling may have felt restrictive to these guys, but the result forces a nice balance.
Prior to the big fight with Nevermind, Rick mentions the idea of heading east to hook up with the Avengers. Is it just me or does Banner sound a little jealous?
The MCP doesn't list him and he isn't named, but it seems that SHIELD's Gaffer appears in this issue.
Quality Rating: B+
Chronological Placement Considerations: This begins soon after the end of last issue, on the same night while Rick is still the Hulk, and with Betty having been trapped under a transport.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (4): showArmand Martel, Bateman, Betty Ross, Clay Quartermain, Doc Samson, Gaffer (SHIELD Scientist), General 'Thunderbolt' Ross, Hideko Takata, Hulk, Nevermind, Redeemer, Rick Jones, Rock
I don't think Peter David was that bald back then. Are you sure that's him, and not Al Milgrom?
Posted by: Mark Drummond | March 22, 2014 3:04 PM
Definitely not sure, but that guy sure doesn't look like Editori-Al!
Posted by: fnord12 | March 22, 2014 11:43 PM
Oh geez I can see Todd McFarlane's future art in the face of the creature. Okay okay not his fault his art style caught on and everyone tried copying it but I always figured Rob Liefield was one trying to cash in on it.
Just a reminder of Marvel in the 90s.
Posted by: David Banes | March 23, 2014 12:22 AM
Milgrom stated that he wanted to use the Ringmaster here, much in the same way that Byrne said. I don't think Peter David had any intention of using him, though...
Posted by: Mark Drummond | April 5, 2014 1:38 PM
At a guess, Milgrom wrote the issue, but under directives from Harras based on PAD's pitch to take over the series. Whether David punched up the script here and there as part of the transition is a good question, though.
It's wort noting that David's fill-in on issue #328 and this story both make sense as part of the much later reveal that the Grey Hulk doesn't emerge at night for physical reasons, as the Leader will soon claim, but rather for psychological reasons. #328 has him emerge in daylight, and this story doesn't have him emerge at all.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | September 27, 2017 6:45 AM
Totally agree with the case Fnord sets out that this feels at points like PAD is scripting (though perhaps not plotting), but yes I think it is just Milgrom responding to McFarlane's art, and it might have been dealt with slightly differently if Milgrom did the art himself. I do associate McFarlane with a dark cartoonish glee whenever a monster is involved (see also Venom) or finding humour in grotesque things happening to people, and I think Milgrom is just bouncing off that.
PAD has said he "looked at McFarlane’s art pages for the last Al Milgrom-written issue" (http://www.peterdavid.net/2012/11/02/hulked-out/#more-8349) when Harras offered him the job. However, PAD also states he had no interest in writing the Hulk & doesn't mention that he had already written a fill-in issue, so perhaps this is a false memory. Milgrom doesn't seem the type to have left without giving Harras time to find a replacement and surely PAD's fill-in was his audition. If McFarlane had already completed the art for #330 by the time PAD was hired, that wouldn't have left PAD much time to come up with #331 on schedule.
As much as Thunderbolt had only recently been brought back into the comic, I did always feel glad of his apparent death here, making it easier for PAD to set up a new era in the comic without the one-note character holding him back. PAD does of course bring him back eventually, but not as the J Jonah Jameson of the military that he had been.
Posted by: Jonathan, son of Kevin | September 27, 2017 8:26 AM
I don't know why but I find the bus passenger's dialogue of "what are you talking about? why are you taking off your hood??" utterly hilarious. I know that was written in to get across that nevermind is revealing himself but i'm fairly sure the audience would have gotten it!
Posted by: Wis | October 27, 2017 7:33 PM
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