Issue(s): Hulk #374, Hulk #375
...and then bumping into the Thing.
But that's not really the Thing, and we can see what he really is by telltale ears of his silhouette as he transforms into a little girl.
Meanwhile, grey Hulk is protecting Betty from some muggers.
Betty has just bought Rick Jones' book, Sidekick (note the reference to the Hulk's parents).
Betty wants to go to Rick, thinking that with all of his contacts, he'll know what they should do next. And she knows that Rick is currently scheduled to be at a book signing in a town in Utah. The fact that a small town in Utah that Betty can barely find on a map insisted that his tour included a stop there is noted to be suspicious. I like Dale Kewon's almost anime style face for Betty here.
While Betty and Bruce are traveling, we see that Bruce isn't really sleeping, and also that he's jealous of Betty's time with the Hulk.
Meanwhile, the Skrulls are interrogating Rick, or really just trying to drive him crazy.
Cool to see ROM in a comic again. And one of the Skrulls showing Rick's past incarnations is the gamma-hero from ROM #72.
Of course, bringing up all of Rick's experience in the super-world reminds us that he's not just going to sit there and let Skrulls mess with his mind.
(I do wonder about Skrulls and clothes. Do their clothes transform with them? Unstable molecules, i guess?)
Rick discovers that he's on a Skrull spaceship.
I love the big headed Skrulls that Keown draws. It's like Kirby by way of John Byrne.
While Rick is escaping, Bruce and Betty investigate the town and find an Invasion of the Body Snatchers scenario, culminating in an encounter with the Super-Skrull.
Rick is with the Skrulls when they see that on their monitor, and Rick, still posing as a Skrull stuck as Bucky, convinces them to tell Super-Skrull to delay killing them, suggesting that it would help with the interrogation to kill them in front of Rick.
Rick also learns that the purpose of his kidnapping was to learn about the power that he used to stop the Kree-Skrull War (i guess they didn't read Avengers Spotlight #25).
The Super-Skrull, meanwhile, is amused by the fact that Betty is concerned for his safety. Because the Skrulls don't know that Bruce is the Hulk. But Bruce is actually having trouble turning into the Hulk right now. It's daytime, so the grey Hulk shouldn't be coming out, but grey Hulk is preventing green Hulk from emerging.
So Bruce relents and lets the grey Hulk out. It's very much worth emphasizing the way this is playing out, with the three personas in Bruce's head basically negotiating to determine who gets control. It suggests that if Bruce weren't suffering from multiple personality disorder, he'd be able to control his transformations (like She-Hulk, for example).
Anyway, grey Hulk is out.
Hulk starts to notice that Super-Skrull isn't using all his powers at once (note that's not the same thing as saying he's only using one power at a time). And this makes him realize that the Skrull has limits and has to conserve his energy. He uses that to his advantage.
While Hulk is fighting Super-Skrull, Rick Jones cheers and gives away the fact that he's really Rick, and then he has to fight his way out of the Skrull ship.
Note Rick's joke about keeping all the continuity straight and needing an Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe.
Hulk eventually smashes the Super-Skrull into the Skrull saucer just as Rick is sending it into space. The saucer explodes. Rick manages to parachute out, mocking the convenience of having a parachute in a fourth wall breaking sort of way (but if that's an accurate replica of Bucky's original costume, it wouldn't surprise me if it had a parachute in a pouch).
Rick offers to take Bruce and Betty back to his current apartment, which is in Reno, Nevada. He wants them to meet his new girlfriend. And we cut away to that girlfriend, and learn that it's Marlo Chandler (who used to be the grey Hulk's girlfriend).
This would be a great action adventure story with nice art and fun humor even without the psychological aspect. But that adds another layer to the story. The fact that it's not the focus of the story makes it even stronger. It's all the little moments, handling that aspect subtly but still clearly, that make it work so well. It does come to the forefront in the next arc.
Quality Rating: A
Chronological Placement Considerations: We saw Rick being chased last issue, but there's no telling how long he's been on the run so i'm not worrying about the amount of space between entries. It's not critical, but this probably takes place after Web of Spider-Man #69 (since Rick wasn't with Bruce and Betty in that issue) and before Namor #8 (since Super-Skrull begins posing as Danny Rand in that story, although there's nothing to say he couldn't have been going back and forth if need be).
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
"You don't need a Handbook; you've got me." LOL:) So true.
Posted by: clyde | June 30, 2015 1:07 PM
Rick's escape pulled me out of the story when I first read it when it was published. In both his "But I Digress..." column (http://www.peterdavid.net/archives/001168.html and his book Writing for Comics with Peter David http://tinyurl.com/ng7ubqg, David mentions how he forgot that Rick was on the Skrull saucer when it blew up, and that he came up with the parachute gag as a solution. In both the column and the book, David admits that it is poor writing, but he defends it by noting that it is acceptable if the characters comment on the situation in a way that makes fun of it, as it apparently shows that it respects the audience's intelligence.
In his book, David compares it to the scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark where Indy admits that he has no plan to reclaim the Ark of the Covenant from the Nazis and says that he is making it up as he goes along, only in the next scene to suddenly be riding a horse with no stated explanation of how he got the horse. I always thought that his explanation and comparison was disingenuous, as it is not inconceivable that a horse might be found in at an archeological dig, but that a parachute is not something Rick has ever been shown carrying around. The instance in Raiders is acceptable elliptical storytelling, whereas in Hulk #375, David is relying too much on a clever joke to distract from the storytelling problem instead of tightening up his plot.
Although I think Bucky didn't carry any equipment in his uniform, I like fnord's explanation of the parachute much more than what David offered, as it is less implausible in a comic book tradition of utility belts.
Posted by: Aaron Malchow | June 30, 2015 4:38 PM
It's an example of Peter David's tendency to prefer to metaphorically chew his own legs off rather than admit to just plain making a dumb decision. This will get much worse in his column later on.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | June 30, 2015 5:36 PM
In next year's Fantastic Four Annual, the Super-Skrull claims that he allowed Reptyl to defeat him and think him dead. It's not impossible to reconcile that with this story but it's difficult.
Posted by: Michael | June 30, 2015 9:45 PM
Betty kind of reminds me of Macross/Robotech's Misa Hayesa/Lisa Hayes in the art department.
Posted by: david banes | June 30, 2015 9:58 PM
Mark, I do agree that David tends to develop some bad writing habits over time, in as much as given how he sees this use of humor in this issue as a solution means that he has little incentive to want to develop other storytelling solutions, which makes his leaning on humor increasingly more problematic in the future.
What's frustrating to me as a reader is that I was so thoroughly enjoying this story up to the parachute bit. Over the course of his run, David has really been ratcheting up the psychological aspects of the Bruce Banner/hulk dynamic in a constructive manner, and I liked how he developed the Betty/Hulk relationship at this time. And the majority of Rick Jones's dialogue is in character, and I think of Rick as I difficult character for most writers to characterize well. David really develops Rick's voice pretty well. (And for some reason, when I read David's dialogue for Rick Jones, I always "hear" actor Billy Mumy's voice as Rick's. I'm not sure if I make that association because I know he and David are acquaintances, or for some other reason...)
Posted by: Aaron Malchow | July 1, 2015 4:56 AM
I dunno, I thought the parachute joke was funny. If there was a serious cliffhanger where everyone thought Rick was dead and the next month it turned out he had a parachute that hadn't been mentioned, that would be bad writing, because the cliffhanger made you expect more. But it's not set up like that, it's more like the Simpsons gag where Burns doesn't bother explaining how they caught the Loch Ness Monster. It's a joke, you know Rick survives somehow. Keown had time to draw a whole scene with Bruce thinking Rick is dead, then Rick floating down on a parachute, so it's not like there wasn't time for Peter David to come up with a more "convincing" way Rick survived, and tell Keown to draw that instead. Rick was randomly pressing all the buttons on the control panel. David could easily have said Rick pressed the "escape pod" button and got out that way. (That's how people always get out of exploding spaceships, the escape pod.) There's a few obvious ways David could have had Rick escape, and they're all cliches. He went with the parachute cos of the Rule Of Funny. I know sometimes Peter David's jokes are funny and sometimes they try to hard, but that's how it is with jokes, it's hard to get them right 100% of the time.
Posted by: Jonathan | July 1, 2015 1:45 PM
Am I the only one who wants to read Rick Jones' book?
Posted by: EHH | July 25, 2015 9:22 PM
I looked at the art on this and thought "Byrne is having an off-day." And I thought "Well, off-day Byrne art is still a lot better than most of the art from Marvel at this time." Then I realized it was Keown and I think every time I see his art I think it's not quite as good as Byrne, but very similar. Still, not quite as good as Byrne is very good.
Posted by: Erik Beck | November 15, 2015 8:46 AM
@Ehh Brian Bendis put “excerpts” from Jones’ Sidekick book in some early issues of his Alias series.
Posted by: Hugh Sheridan | April 14, 2018 9:55 PM
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