Issue(s): Hulk #357, Hulk #358, Hulk #359
If there was any doubt that Mr. Cloot was more than just an agent for the Maggia, it's ended at the beginning of issue #357, when he first refers to himself as "old scratch"...
...and then descends down a pentagram elevator to look for someone with enough muscle to face the Hulk as part of Glorian's program to "redeem" him.
Meanwhile, the Hulk is having one of his dream confrontations with Bruce Banner, and let me just say after criticizing the Purves/Sanders combination on issue #356, it think this splash is great.
Banner has decided to take a different approach to the dream meetings.
He pushes things a little too far when he tells Hulk to stay away from Marlo, but that problem is taken care of when Marlo shows up at Bruce/Joe Fixit's hotel room and says (through the door) that she doesn't want to see either of them again unless they'll both meet with her together. And in case there was any thought that Bruce might have a romantic interest in Marlo, we see him think that Marlo's decision is the best thing that could have happened.
Peter David also sets up a nice parallel showing Bruce catching himself rationalizing the stolen clothes that he's wearing while we also see Mr. Cloot literally descending into Hell.
While Cloot is scaring up some physical opposition for the Hulk, Glorian goes around and uses his illusions to make sure that the Hulk's two friends, Michael Berengetti and Marlo, are scared of him.
In Marlo's case, there's an abusive relationship theme which uses the Hulk's strength and anger to really make the point. We see more of that a little later when it's not an illusion, and it's a good depiction of a real life threatening situation even if Marlo does stand up to him and the Hulk walks away on his own..
As for Cloot, he locates the soul of a former hitman named Dennis "the Menace" Malloy, also known as the Ghoul. And he lets him run up the stairs from Hell to freedom, but along the way he's tormented by an illusion of the Hulk and turned into a literal Ghoul.
Oh, and Bruce Banner shops for some non-stolen pants. The store clerk pushes him towards a particular purple variety that Bruce isn't interested in.
Bruce does come out with some regular clothing, and then he goes and gets a job at the Yucca Flats radiation testing center.
With the Ghoul primed to attack the Hulk, it doesn't take long before a fight begins. We're back into the Marie Severin inks now, which i think look great.
Issue #358 is entirely a battle issue. The Ghoul is seemingly a much scrawnier character, but of course he is undead...
...and he also has poisoned claws.
In fact, the Hulk compares the slicing he's taking here to his last serious fight with Wolverine, but this is worse because at least Wolverine has a rep while this guy is a dweeb.
During the fight, though, the Hulk realizes that he's feeling "alive, for the first time in ages" and that he just loves breaking things.
Hulk eventually figures out that cold weakens the Ghoul, and so when the fight takes them to Michael Berengetti's casino, the Hulk jams the Ghoul into the meatlocker.
But the destruction in the casino is the last straw for Berengetti, so the Hulk gets fired.
Meanwhile, Glorian finally realizes that Cloot isn't his master, the Shaper of Worlds, in disguise.
Glorian has signed a contract saying that he'll have saved the Hulk's soul by midnight, and if he doesn't do so his own soul is forfeit. So, having failed and been misled by Cloot so far, he now rushes out to deal with the Hulk directly.
And when the Hulk refuses to help him, Glorian attacks him with illusions of the Hulk's super-foes, including multiple Wolverines.
But Cloot shows up to tell Glorian that it's all over, and the Hulk just laughs as he's walked away. However, for whatever reason, the Hulk changes his mind and decides to follow.
When the Hulk sees Glorian's fate, he's told it will soon be his own as well (although Cloot does say he'd have to overcome Banner first).
At that point Hulk decides to try to help Glorian. It's pretty clearly out of self-interest, and Cloot calls him on it. Actually, Cloot transforms himself, revealing that he's really, if not Satan, at least Satan-ish.
Cloot had been talking all along like he was the biblical Satan, and he doesn't look like the usual depiction of Satannish. But the fact that that's the name he uses first, and knowing that Marvel's devil characters are all related and are powerful enough to take any form, i'm following the MCP and listing this as a Satannish appearance.
Hulk is unable to fight Satannish physically. He says that even if he were in his green form he wouldn't be strong enough. But he convinces Satannish to engage in a game of craps.
The Hulk cheats on the roll, but it's said that Satannish's dice were loaded anyway. And then the Shaper of Worlds comes down to send Satannish away.
The Shaper then takes Glorian home to think about what lessons he should learn from this, and he warns the Hulk to give some thought to his actions as well.
As usual a great story with lots of wit and personality from Peter David, and i generally like the art here, especially when Marie Severin comes in on inks. These issues are important for confirming for us that the Grey Hulk is not a "good" guy, both in the allegorical sense with Satannish and just in how easy it is for Glorian to manipulate the Hulk's "friends". These issues also end the Las Vegas period for the Hulk, but it's not the last we'll see of either Berengetti or Marlo.
Statement of Ownership Total Paid Circulation: Average of Past 12 months = 163,850. Single issue closest to filing date = 173,300.
Quality Rating: B+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Marvel Comics Presents #26 has Mr. Fixit still working for Berengetti so that should take place before this, where Fixit is fired. Since i am treating the devil character appearing here as Satannish even though he's using a different look, this should appear before Doctor Strange #5-8, which ends with Satannish bonded with Topaz until 1991.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (6): showGlorian, Hulk, Marlo Chandler, Michael Berengetti, Mona (Marlo's friend), Satannish, Shaper of Worlds
I don't think that the Hulk's motives were purely self-serving, as he tries to keep Cloot away from Vegas. As we'll see in issue 362, Banner and the Hulk have more influence of each other than either of them wants to admit.
Posted by: Michael | September 30, 2014 8:00 PM
The Hulk notes that is a New Moon that night. Up until 368, he and Banner will continue to believe the Leader's explanation that phases of the moon as in reflected sunlight affect their dominance issues. The New Moon reduces Banner's influence as the Hulk alludes and a Full Moon gives Bruce's persona more of an upper hand over the Hulk. That means the Hulk's decision to save Glorian, selfish as pointed out, is as totally the Hulk's call as much as any of his decisions could be. That's not to say Banner had no influence, but that the Hulk was completely ignoring it until his peek of "hell." At which point the gears shift, not only in this story but for the Hulk, as he'll never quite descend to opening voicing his desire to kill those who betrayed him, as least as far as PAD's run goes.
Posted by: Brian C. Saunders | March 8, 2016 12:01 AM
It occurs to me that Banner's new undercover job at the nuclear plant is the same as the one Sam Sterns had when he became the Leader. And there's another connection to the Leader at the plant, as we'll see in a few issues.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | September 24, 2017 9:26 PM
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