Issue(s): Hulk #350
Artwise, i liked the Keith Pollard/Joe Sinnott version in the FF half, and i also liked the Jeff Purves/Terry Austin combination last issue, but the art here kinda sucks. I think the weird complexity of the Thing's new design is part of the issue, but not all of it.
While the Thing is fighting the green Hulk, the grey Hulk staggers off and reconnects with Dr. Doom.
Doom tells him that the Hulk that the Thing is fighting is actually a robot, specifically the robot that once appeared in the Eternals series.
It's interesting to see Doom say that the robot is a combination of crudity and genius. The origin of the robot is a bit weird. Well first, its meta origin is that Jack Kirby was being forced to integrate his Eternals series with the Marvel universe, and half-heartedly did so by having the Eternals fight a Hulk robot. In-story, some Hulk fans built a robot to be a mascot for their college sports games and it somehow got infused with cosmic energy, making it a formidable opponent for the Eternals. Years later, it will be revealed that the cosmic energy came from Galactus; it was something he used prior to his use of heralds. And the robot was actually built by the Mad Thinker and then abandoned, where it was later found and revived by the college kids. The "crudity and genius" line therefore fits pretty well with the future retcon.
Doom also has an analysis of why the Hulk lost his fight with the Thing. He says it's because, while the Hulk still gets stronger the angrier he gets, he starts from a much lower baseline than he used to. So he didn't get strong enough quickly enough to defeat the Thing.
The Hulk realizes therefore he can't just rely on brute strength, and resolves to return to the fight.
Meanwhile, the Thing realizes that the current Hulk he's fighting is not getting stronger as the fight goes on...
...making him realize that it's really a robot.
The fact that it's a robot makes him guess, correctly, that Dr. Doom is involved, but he therefore assumes that the grey Hulk is also a robot.
So he's certainly not prepared for an opponent that fights dirty.
The Hulk leads the Thing back and forth across Central Park, tiring him out.
Note the reference to Nightcrawler above. Not sure if the Thing is under the impression that Nightcrawler died with the X-Men during Fall of the Mutants.
When the Thing is completely tired out, the Hulk baits him...
..and knocks him into the water. The Thing takes a breath, but the Hulk jumps in and gives him the Heimlich maneuver, forcing the air out.
He does let him crawl back to shore after that, and then finally talks, and obviously his voice is recognizable.
The Hulk knocks the Thing out after letting him know who beat him.
Doom then shows up to give his compliments. He also doesn't seem interested in capturing or killing the Thing. But they don't immediately team up to go take back Latveria, either.
The Hulk/Doom alliance is setting something up for Englehart's Fantastic Four run that will only be realized in a weird set of dream issues. But we'll get to that soon enough.
Doom leaves without giving the Hulk a ride back to Las Vegas, so the Hulk has to leap home. But before he gets too far, he notices the former location of Avengers Mansion and stops there for some reflection. And that's when he encounters the Beast, who is looking for Avengers and bullies the Hulk into joining him.
This is a great illustration of the current version of the Hulk. He's weaker, but he's crafty and fights dirty.
Quality Rating: B+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Continues directly from Fantastic Four #320. The Beast appears here during X-Factor #34. The Hulk and the Beast next appear in Avengers annual #17; in fact, this scene most likely occurs during the beginning of that annual, with Jocasta's alert having already gone out and the Beast having received it. The Beast had been out of commission for a while so he may not have realized that the Avengers moved, which is why he shows up at the old site.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
The dialogue at the end of this issue is tough to square with Hulk Smash Avengers 4- if the Avengers already know Hulk is alive and haven't gone after him, then why does the Hulk care?
Posted by: Michael | August 2, 2014 11:01 PM
Michael, "stick[ing] it in their craw" and turning a profit seem to be his motivation, although i've suspected since #335 that deep down this Hulk still looks for excuses to be a hero.
Posted by: fnord12 | August 2, 2014 11:51 PM
Beast appears here after X-terminators #1. Woo! Inferno begins! :D
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | August 3, 2014 4:30 AM
One thing that going through this site with its scans lets me notice, that I hadn't noticed reading the comics originally, is that the Hulk's suit has a lot more remaining at the beginning of this issue than it did at the end of the FF issue - most of the shirt, the tie, and also gloves that he wasn't shown wearing previously.
Posted by: Erik Robbins | August 3, 2014 1:04 PM
That's what happens when you're not nice to the Thing. If he had asked politely, maybe Ben could have had Mr. Fantastic give him a suit made out of unstable molecules.
Posted by: clyde | August 3, 2014 3:04 PM
On my bucket list -- to read at least one story where the Thing decisively defeats the Hulk (part one of this doesn't count 'cause Fixit isn't quite down and out). Ben's taken some real beatings from the Hulk over the years, and I reckon he's earned at least one outright victory.
Posted by: Gary Himes | August 8, 2014 9:59 PM
I'd love to see these two issues redone by one artist.
Posted by: Vin the Comic Guy | January 27, 2015 5:19 PM
I love how Doom serves as Burgess Meredith to Hulk's Stallone in those panels.
Posted by: Bob | August 8, 2015 3:12 AM
Of course, this means that somewhere in between the end of this and when Hank and Hulk show up in the Annual, Hank stops to put on his hideous X-Factor uniform.
Posted by: Erik Beck | August 13, 2015 7:11 AM
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