Issue(s): Hulk #393
The main story has the Hulk putting through what Rick Jones calls a "'Mission Impossible' head-trip payback" on Igor, the Russian spy that sabotaged the gamma bomb test that caused Bruce Banner to become the Hulk.
It's said that Igor never stood trial for his crimes, and was returned to the Soviet Union as part of a spy trade without ever being held accountable. The Hulk says that Rick Jones has always blamed himself for Banner becoming the Hulk, but Igor was really responsible.
The Hulk had this opportunity to get back at Igor because Igor returned to the US as part of a bodyguard contingent for a diplomatic mission. The People's Protectorate come to rescue Igor. The Pantheon run interference for the Hulk, trying to delay the Protectorate...
...but Fantasma's illusion powers make it possible for the Protectorate to circumvent the Pantheon and make it to the Hulk.
The Pantheon manage to catch up, and it's a good fight between the two teams.
During the fight, Atalanta is shocked by Fantasma's true appearance, but we don't get to see what it is. As AF noted in a comment on another entry, it will eventually be revealed that Fantasma is a Dire Wraith.
Eventually it comes out why the Hulk is tormenting Igor. But Igor makes the case that he's actually done the world a service, since the Hulk has saved the world so many times. He's clearly been driven over the edge, but i agree with him.
I've never seen an episode of the Mission Impossible TV show, but the ending does remind me of something from the Prisoner or the Twilight Zone. It's done well.
Regarding the second story, i want to note that Herb Trimpe had the second longest run as a Hulk artist (in the comments, Robert confirms that Sal Buscema's run was longer, but Trimpe was certainly the definitive Hulk artist for a long time). In the 90s, Trimpe will feel obligated to update his style to try (and fail) to match what the Image artists were doing. But it's clear from this story that he still was able to draw really well in a nice updated version of his classic style that, frankly, we could have used more of during this period.
The story follows a random criminal that keeps getting stopped by the Hulk twice, during different eras.
As vengeance, after getting out of jail the second time (in the present day), the criminal tries to kill Rick Jones. But it turns out that Hulk was house sitting for Rick. Trimpe's art in all the scenes above was looking really good, but Trimpe doesn't seem to be able to handle the merged Hulk.
Quality Rating: B+
Chronological Placement Considerations: We can assume the present day portion of the second story takes place soon after the main story in this issue.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (2): showAjax, Atalanta, Crimson Dynamo V, Fantasma, Hector, Hulk, Igor Drenkov, Perun, Red Guardian (Steel Guardian), Rick Jones, Ulysses, Vostok
Note that the "case file" makes it clear that the reason why Banner became the Hulk again in Samson's first appearance after Samson cured him was because the Hulk's personality was subconsciously influencing him.
Posted by: Michael | February 21, 2016 12:09 PM
Mission Impossible did this plot all the time, where the team would abduct someone and make him believe they had gone back in time or to the future or in some in between fantasy.
Posted by: MikeCheyne | February 21, 2016 1:43 PM
It's reprinted in Hulk: Winter Guard one-shot. (or rather the main story is - with a new framing sequence that ends up being a whole issue long story unto itself)
Posted by: AF | February 21, 2016 2:38 PM
Reason for it being reprinted was Drenkov figured in the new story. In it Presence transforms him into a giant gamma monster that the Winter Guard fight. Darkstar II defeats him by absorbing him into her Darkforce body which then causes her to experience Drenkov's memories (a.k.a. a full reprint of the story here).
But I'm most curious if the writer saw this reprint and picked on that Fantasma bit and saw that it never had been resolved so came up with the Dire Wraith idea or if it just happened to coincide with his already formed idea.
Posted by: AF | February 21, 2016 2:44 PM
Regarding the second story, i want to note that Herb Trimpe had what i think was the longest run as a Hulk artist (i haven't counted, and it's possible Sal Buscema's run was actually longer, but Trimpe was certainly the definitive Hulk artist for a long time).
Yeah Buscema's was longer. I don't have the actual numbers in front of me but Sal did over 110 issues while Trimpe did something like 88. Both very impressive.
Posted by: Robert | February 21, 2016 6:24 PM
Herb Trimpe may have done a lot of issues, but Sal Buscema, Dale Keown, and Gary Frank were all better Hulk artists. I consider their issues more classic than Trimpe's.
Posted by: Steven | February 21, 2016 7:26 PM
Yeah, that's not what the word "classic" means....
Posted by: Andrew | February 21, 2016 7:51 PM
The second story was drawn by Trimpe?? It looks good; real solid. This is the style he should have "updated" to, not the Liefeld knockoff dreck he tried his hand at.
Posted by: Bill | February 21, 2016 8:52 PM
Durrr. Everyone knows it means old and busted.
Posted by: JC | February 21, 2016 8:55 PM
Strange that the People's Protectorate didn't know the Pantheon members. Although we, the readers, met them less than two years prior, they are supposed to be a faction known to SHIELD and Nick Fury. If so, Moscow would have known of them, and it doesn't make sense that Russia's own government super team would not have been debriefed. These aren't private sector heroes. They are government goons. Moscow would make sure they were informed about whom they might need to fight. The Titanium Man had access to a Handbook style encyclopedia in Thor #356.
In 1993 Russia was in chaos. If the Pantheon was a brand spanking new team that just appeared, I could buy the PP not knowing who they were. But David made sure to tell us readers that the Pantheon had been around a while and that Fury knew about them. You can't have it both ways.
Posted by: Chris | February 21, 2016 10:05 PM
Well I guess the Russians must have been waiting for Gruenwald to do another Marvel Handbook update. :)
Posted by: Jonathan | February 22, 2016 2:16 AM
Actually, a recent issue of Alter Ego mentioned that editor Mike Rockwitz bragged about forcing Trimpe to Image-ize his art style or risk getting fired. Didn't stop Marvel from dumping him anyway...
Posted by: Mark Drummond | February 22, 2016 9:40 PM
That's interesting, since Trimpe claimed in 2009 that Image-izing his style was his own idea:
Posted by: Michael | February 22, 2016 9:46 PM
This really was a great issue. All these years later it still holds up very well. It's definitely one of the high points in Peter David's looooong run on Incredible Hulk. Nice back-up by Herb Trimpe, as well, demonstrating why he remains one of the definitive Hulk artists.
I would have to check with David Gallaher, the writer of the Winter Guard miniseries. But I believe that he did indeed have this issue in mind, with Fantasma's unseen "true appearance" that shocks the hell out of Atalanta, when he devised the reveal of Fantasma as a Dire Wraith. I don't know if PAD has ever revealed what he originally intended with this.
Seven years later, in the Hulk '99 Annual, John Byrne did a "Chapter One" story where he rather pointlessly "updated" the origin of the Hulk, much as he did with Spider-Man: Chapter One. Among the retcons and changes to the Hulk's origin was revealing that Igor was, in fact, a Skrull.
PAD was obviously less than thrilled with this, since not only was it a pointless and stupid change, but it also totally invalidated the events in Incredible Hulk #293. So a year later, in an issue of Captain Marvel, PAD wrote an amusing scene with Rick Jones at a comic book store reading a copy of the Hulk '99 Annual and reacting with hysterical disbelief...
"Bwaaahahaha! Man, where do they GET this stuff anyway? Skrulls? Yeeesh!"
You can see it over at Comic Book Resources...
Posted by: Ben Herman | February 23, 2016 1:03 PM
I read an interview with Trimpe in a human interest story in a non-comics magazine at the time (I think it was the Parade magazine that comes with so many newspapers) and it was pretty clear that he had realized he had to adapt or die, like an analog man learning to use computers. He may have internalized the idea, but he wasn't really given any choice. I respect the guy for trying, even if he couldn't really make it work.
Posted by: Andrew | February 23, 2016 7:38 PM
David Gallaher (thanks, couldn't for the life of me remember his first name, I was thinking Michael) will also ignore that Skrull reveal completely when he uses Igor Drenkov in that Winter Guard one-shot that reprints this issue.
It's all come full circle.
Posted by: AF | February 23, 2016 8:42 PM
When you consider Byrne's Chapter One Annual contradicts his own origin retcons in Incredible Hulk #314, there's something to be said that he seemed to be even-handed in trashing stories. Of course, Byrne only wrote 7 issues and 2 Annuals whereas PAD wrote (at least)135 issues, 5 annuals, assorted appearances in other books and 2 one-shots. So, perhaps he was less even-handed as slightly sacrificing his incomplete storyline from 14 years prior. But that's something. Kind of. little bit maybe....
Posted by: Brian C. Saunders | March 14, 2016 12:15 AM
I noticed that in this issue he's Igor Drenkov, but back in issue 312 he was Igor Sklar. Maybe Sklar was an alias, but then why keep the same first name?
Posted by: Gary Himes | October 27, 2017 11:58 PM
Gary it's not uncommon for people using aliases to keep their real first name.
Posted by: Michael | October 28, 2017 11:43 AM
Comments are now closed.
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