Issue(s): Hulk #346
We are Hulk-less at the moment, so this issue focuses on our supporting cast in the aftermath of the gamma explosion at Middletown, which is now known as the "Gammagate" affair (after Rick Jones jokingly predicted that would be the case). That mainly means a Senate hearing where Clay Quartermain (mainly) and Rick and Betty are called to give testimony on what happened, starting with the destruction of Gamma Base in Hulk #337.
One thing that comes out during Clay Quartermain's testimony is that Nick Fury wasn't personally aware of the decision to kill the Hulk. Instead, that order is said to have come directly from the SHIELD Council that, we'll learn in the Nick Fury vs. SHIELD mini-series, has been subverted.
Quartermain proudly takes credit for the decision to free the Hulk, destroy Gamma Base, and expose the information about the government's stockpiling of Gamma bombs. By framing it (correctly) as him trying to protect the public, he gets the charges against him dropped, and there's even talk of him getting drafted to run for president.
This has a real-world parallel with Oliver North...
...but any political ambitions that Quartermain may have had will be cut short by the events of the Nick Fury vs. SHIELD mini.
The biggest development of the testimony is that the current president disavows any knowledge of the Gamma bomb stockpiles and orders that the bombs all be dismantled.
Quartermain attributes his morality to Bruce Banner. Without him, he thinks he might have become a desk jockey, like Dum Dum Dugan.
That old man has a heart condition! Leave him alone!
Outside of the testimony, Betty Banner considers having an abortion but ultimately decides to keep the baby because "I've seen so much death in my life... How can I kill now, the one remaining bit of the last loved one I've ever had". And Rick Jones decides to write a book about his experiences.
And outside of all of that, we learn that there are a few survivors of the gamma bomb explosion...
...and in the end they're all rounded up by the Leader.
This is a non-action issue with mostly trial scenes, so it's understandable that the book is full of full page splash talking heads (with inlay panels). But thanks to the art and the fact that there is a lot of recapping, it's not the most compelling issue. It is sort of necessary, though, since it wraps up this phase of the Hulk series and extends the suspense regarding the Hulk's seeming death.
Quality Rating: B-
Chronological Placement Considerations: A note on the opening page says this story takes place before the events in Nick Fury vs. SHIELD #1. SHIELD is definitely still in existence and Fury in charge at the point of this issue. The Spider-Man cast appearance is context free.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (3): showAlan Quartermain, Betty Ross, Clay Quartermain, General Hamilton, Hotshot, J. Jonah Jameson, Jailbait, Kate Cushing, Leader, Mary Jane Watson, Nick Fury, Ogress, Omnibus, Rick Jones, Soul Man, Spider-Man
One of the great things about the Ground Zero arc, through this very issue, is that the villain really does have a plan, and it works: the Leader has wanted to create or control other gamma people before, so this is in keeping with his motives, and his plan makes sense, with the simple twist that he cheats and triggers the bomb while the counter is still ticking. PAD's subsequent use of the Leader, alas, doesn't go very far, but up to now he's made the guy a real A-lister, Marvel's most competent villain.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | July 6, 2014 10:34 PM
The Oliver North parallel is incredibly superficial, though - he was the *opposite* of a whistleblower. He actively participated in harmful and illicit activity, then withheld information from the public in the name of personal loyalty and framed it as patriotism.
It's like saying Robert E. Lee was "John Brown all over again" because they were both rebels.
Posted by: cullen | July 6, 2014 11:33 PM
Fair point, Cullen.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | July 6, 2014 11:46 PM
Clay wasn't just a whistleblower, though. He blew up a military base and freed and harbored a dangerous criminal. I think what JJ/PAD is commenting on is the danger of trial by public opinion (Clay also frames his actions as patriotism) even when we know Clay was right while we (or at least most of us, self included) think North was wrong.
Posted by: fnord12 | July 7, 2014 8:41 AM
In Amazing Heroes #131(a rather praiseful article compared to what was later coming to MacFarlane), Todd stated that he left Hulk because he couldn't do both it and full art on Spider-Man. No friction with Peter David was mentioned.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | August 5, 2014 5:37 PM
Todd can be an asshole, but (from memory) he's said it was always clear that he was the artist and PAD and Michelinie (sp?) were the writers, and he respected those boundaries.
Long ago, PAD confirmed this on a messageboard when I asked if there were any problems with Todd on "Hulk." Again, from memory, he said something to the effect of 'you wouldn't know it to look at him now, but Todd was one of the classiest and most professional people it has ever been my privilege to work with' and went on to add that Todd gave him the cover art for #340 (the one with Wolverine) which still maintains a position of pride in his home.
Posted by: ChrisW | August 5, 2014 7:05 PM
"Rick retells his involvement in the creation of the Hulk from Hulk #1 during his testimony."
Rick was responsible for the creation of the Hulk? I had no idea. If only he could remind us once in a while I might know that.;)
Posted by: clyde | June 17, 2015 4:01 PM
McFarlane has said that he left HULK because yes, he couldn't keep up with both it and SPIDER-MAN. There wasn't any necessarily any friction with David at that point, but David called him up after hearing he was quitting and (according to McFarlane) laid a guilt trip on him about how losing a hot artist meant that David's own royalties would take a hit. McFarlane's attitude toward David was decidedly negative from that point forward and resulted in them jousting at conventions for years (I was present for one of these "debates").
Posted by: JP | June 17, 2015 5:34 PM
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