Issue(s): Hulk #395, Hulk #396
The Hulk gets called back to Las Vegas because of the death of Michael Berengetti, the mobster that Mr. Fixit used to work for. He's accompanied by members of the Pantheon. All are hamming up the mobster angle, especially Ulysses, who apparently loves old gangster films.
The Hulk heard about the death of Michael from Marlo (although she doesn't attend the funeral). While he's there, he finds that Michael's wife, Susan, is having trouble with a rival mobster now that Michael is dead.
The rival mobster, Sam Striker, has some super-powered muscle of his own, a guy named Frost.
Striker is also responsible for Michael's death. This is confirmed by Paris, who reveals that he's an empath.
Punisher is also in town, targeting Striker and Frost. But he winds up in a confrontation with "Mr. Fixit".
When it's settled that they're on the same side, they start to work together. But there's an interruption at the start of issue #395 when Doctor Octopus makes a scene because he's asked to leave Berengetti's casino.
I think this is a fun scene, but it also seems to be Peter David's way of addressing the fact that Doctor Octopus was able to beat the Hulk in their last encounter. As we see by the Hulk knocking him out with one finger, the fact that Doc Ock had adamantium arms shouldn't have protected him from getting hit by the Hulk. Still, i don't think the scene reads as just a pissing match between creators. I think the Erik Larsen story made sure that the Hulk couldn't get close enough to Ock to hit him, whereas here he is able to get "up close and personal".
Also, when the Punisher moves to kill Doc Ock, the Hulk stops him, and the conversation ends with the Punisher suggesting that the Hulk is trying to save face. In other words, Peter David is leaving open the possibility that the Hulk really legitimately lost last time.
I personally never had a problem with Doc Ock beating the Hulk last time, but i also like the way things play out here. I think these kind of back and forths between creators, like the old Byrne/Claremont disputes, can result in some good moments.
With that over with, the Hulk and Punisher get back to working on Striker and Frost. Hulk's Pantheon friends help set up a sting operation in conjunction with the police. Striker and his non-powered men are arrested. The Hulk gets into a fight with Frost, who lives up to his name.
In addition to his frost powers, he seems to be bulletproof, taking several shots from the Punisher. In the end, the Hulk beheads him, and even that isn't quite the end of it.
Frost doesn't appear again but we will learn a little bit more about his origins in future issues.
The Punisher slips away just as the police realize who they've been working with.
Meanwhile, Rick meets Jacqueline Shorr, the woman claiming to be his mother.
Rick later comes around. Jacqueline biting her lip so hard that we see blood might have given him pause, though.
Quality Rating: B+
Chronological Placement Considerations: The Hulk and the Punisher are still in Vegas at the start of next issue. No reason they can't hang around and play the slots for a couple of days, but they shouldn't appear elsewhere between issues.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (3): showAchilles, Ajax, Atalanta, Betty Ross, Doctor Octopus, Hector, Hulk, Jacqueline Shorr, Marlo Chandler, Michael Berengetti, Paris, Punisher, Rick Jones, Suzie Berengetti, Ulysses
I feel like Ock comes off like a loser way too much in stories not in the Spider-Man comics. The dude may not be Doc Doom, but it's always jarring to see him as like the unflappable mastermind in Larsen's stuff and a raving chubby in stuff like Guardians of the Galaxy and this.
Posted by: MikeCheyne | April 22, 2016 5:44 PM
Actually, these issues are more of a pissing match than you'd think. The "petty larceny" line is a direct jab at Erik Larsen. The panel with the "holding back/looking for a better opportunity/save your Image" is a direct reference to statements by the Image founders that they weren't giving Marvel their best work. Peter David would get much worse with this in the future and use his titles to bitchslap anybody who made him angry(I strongly suspect he symbolically killed his first wife in an issue of Aquaman while their divorce was occurring), usually duplicating criticisms aired in his BID columns.
It should also be noted that at the same time he would gladly toss this stuff out in his books, his ability to handle similar jabs from other creators decreased by the same degree. After Erik Larsen took over Aquaman from Peter David, he delivered some jabs that Peter eventually responded to in his BID column with basically "AAAAHHH!! You INSULTED me!" Well, poor friggin' baby!
Posted by: Mark Drummond | April 22, 2016 8:54 PM
I really hate Peter David as both a writer and person.
By this point his Hulk book is just random team-ups with anyone and everyone (from a man who "hates crossovers"), diatribes about things he hates (crossovers and most other writers) and absolutely turgid sub-soap opera drama (Girlfriend in a Coma, I know I know).
And at the end of the day I even agree with him about Doc Ock beating Hulk being stupid. He's just a spoilt brat.
Posted by: AF | April 23, 2016 5:19 AM
Coincidentally, this exact storyline was featured in the weekly "Comic Book Legends Revealed" column today (the same day this review was published).
Posted by: Luis Dantas | April 23, 2016 5:24 AM
I think it's fine for characters to come out on top in the series they're associated with, i.e. I'd expect Black Panther to beat Captain America in a BP comic but lose in a Cap comic.
Posted by: Red Comet | April 23, 2016 8:09 AM
But you've picked two characters of fair comparison. What if Thor got spectacularly beat by Kingpin in Daredevil. Coz that's basically what happened with Hulk.
Posted by: AF | April 23, 2016 8:50 AM
And it wasn't the case that Doc Ock out-smarted Hulk or had developed something to counter the Hulk. He just beat Hulk enormously in a fight. Pummeled him. And then also beat him with one shot 2 or 3 issues later.
It was really bad writing and for once (maybe the only once) I am on Peter David's side.
Posted by: AF | April 23, 2016 9:03 AM
But Larsen pointed out that the adamantium arms had previously defeated Iron Man in Marvel Fanfare. Ock defeating Hulk with those arms was like Kingpin defeating Thor with the norn stones.
Posted by: Michael | April 23, 2016 9:04 AM
So are you saying that Wolverine should be able to beat the Hulk to death?
The second time, Ock didn't even use the arms and immediately beat Hulk: http://36.media.tumblr.com/8c683690bd31033c2bf1e2cd32096b60/tumblr_o3k7xeG8XX1rvm5qqo1_1280.jpg
Posted by: AF | April 23, 2016 9:21 AM
But also Hulk's only contribution to the Larsen story was he was spectacularly beat up in like a minute. There was no story being told with him, he was literally just there to prop up Doctor Octopus and escalate the threat because Larsen couldn't actually write anything else to get that across. It was absolute hack work. While the Hulk is not Marvel's strongest character, he is the face of Marvel's strongest character. Marvel have genuinely done an ok job up to this point of not letting Hulk be abused that way too often, especially not by a character like Doctor Octopus. And that story was packed with guest stars and overwritten Doctor Octopus (in a Sinister Six story where the other members did so little I can't even remember the full line-up. Ock, Hobgoblin, Electro, Gog... Mysterio? I doubt anyone from Deadly Foes since they were probably considered off-limits. Vulture? I'm genuinely struggling and I only read it over a month ago).
Posted by: AF | April 23, 2016 9:55 AM
You don't have Doc Ock listed in the Characters Appearing section.
Posted by: D09 | July 31, 2016 8:49 PM
Added him. Thanks.
Posted by: fnord12 | August 1, 2016 9:02 AM
Dr Octopus would win that easily in a Dan Slott written isuue.
By the way, how does tne Punisher (or anybody, really) not recognize the Hulk on his "Joe Fixit" personal? "I'm sure that 8 foot tall green behemoth is a normal, non-superpowered person. He's wearing shades and a size 86 suit, you know just like a regular dude. Better get to shooting at him."
Quick question. In the last panel is the "mother's" lip suppose to be bleeding or is she wearing a a lip-ring all of a sudden?
Posted by: Jon Dubya | September 25, 2016 12:02 PM
Doc Ock is a major villain and a prime contender to be the archvillain for Spider-Man. That places him in the same league as Red Skull, Magneto, and Doom. However, he doesn't quite have the same gravitas or menace as those villains at their best, and he lacks the power of a Doom or Magneto.
However, he is very smart - he was one of America's greatest nuclear physicists and a great engineer. He is also a criminal mastermind, an effective leader of other villains, and his arms do make him a formidable foe (I believe he should be considered to be a bit more powerful than Spidey who should have to work hard to beat Ock). Ditko, of course, also presented him so much better than later writers.
At the very least, he should be a peer of the Wizard who is often let into the big boys club.
In the context of a well written story, Ock could be able to beat the Hulk somehow, but he should be very worry about whatever plan he has. Just facing Hulk mano a mano and beating him is not the way to do it. Now Ock plus Sandman plus Electro is a combo I can see beating the Hulk.
Ock should serve as a middle tier of menace that everyone takes seriously, even if his ambitions are never that of the top tier. If he has a role, it should be as someone who is respected enough among the "routine" super criminals that he could form a very good force of what would be considered lesser villains who are nevertheless still dangerous working together under Ock.
Posted by: Chris | September 25, 2016 2:57 PM
I agree that Octopus should be one of the big Marvel villains, the kind where just seeing him or knowing he's involved makes heroes go "oh, crap!"
There was one Spidey/FF team-up novel where Doom was working on a machine to tap the energies of the Negative Zone, but he couldn't get it to work, so he had to bring in Octopus to finish it; even DOOM was forced to acknowledge that in the realm of radiation and nuclear physics, Octavius is *the* number one world expert.
Posted by: Thanos6 | September 25, 2016 10:07 PM
I do think that part of the problem was that by the early 1990s Doctor Octopus was a very overused villain who had appeared in some very silly & mediocre stories. I think that in attempting to salvage Doc Ock and once again make him a credible adversary, first Michelinie and then Larsen went too far in the opposite direction. The character went from being a has-been to a mass-murderer in no time at all. As others have already commented, he really should be somewhere in-between those two extremes.
Having said that, I definitely agree that PAD didn't react in anything like a professional manner to Ock giving the Hulk a severe beat-down in Larsen's story. I wish PAD's editor had vetoed this scene, and then suggested to PAD that if he felt that fight was poorly done to write a serious re-match that addressed those issues, maybe having the Hulk learn from his past encounter, instead of writing a comedy scene like this that makes Ock look like an imbecile.
Posted by: Ben Herman | September 26, 2016 5:00 PM
Jon - it's bleeding. She's biting her lip. It's a foreshadowing that all is not as it seems with "mother."
Posted by: J | September 27, 2016 8:30 AM
Comments are now closed.
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