Issue(s): Hulk #417, Hulk #418, Hulk #419
It isn't all jokes, though. We start with the Hulk going to Doc Samson, in person for once and really admitting that he needs help due to the events of Future Imperfect, including being raped.
Hulk compares the anger in Maestro's eyes to his father's, tying in to the fact that Bruce was abused as a kid.
As for Rick and Marlo, they were fighting the last time we saw them, but after Rick was visited by his granddaughter in Future Imperfect, he reevaluated and made up with Marlo (to the chagrin of Betty, who just finished cancelling all the plans for Marlo).
Meanwhile, Captain America makes it known that the superhero boycott on the wedding - which was partially done in a misguided attempt to support Cap - is not cool.
Later, we meet Marlo's mom.
Again, there aren't many supporting characters where it would be tolerable to have 3+ pages devoted to the meeting of one of their parents. It helps that both Peter David and Gary Frank are great with delivering the gags.
Another serious thread that is going on throughout these issues relates to Hector being gay. This is after Ulysses wonders why Hector would go along to the bachelor party.
(On a funnier in-joke, Hector says that Ulysses looks like George Perez in that shirt.)
I said that Marlo was fairly fleshed out, but the only people at her bachelorette party from her "side of the family" are her mom and her friend Mona. The group is filled out by Atalanta and the female side of the Avengers and the (extended) Fantastic Four.
Rick of course has lots of old friends. In addition to the superheroes, there's the teen brigade, Jim Wilson, and his old manager Mordecai Boggs.
I love Cap hamming it up when The Ecdysiast shows up.
Of course, he didn't know quite what he was setting up.
Speaking of set-ups, the Hulk's line about sex objects sets up this scene.
The Invisible Woman is similar to Cap in prudishness, partially because she's still dealing with the death of Mr. Fantastic and partially just because it's in character for her.
We get a small amount of gratuitous superheroics when armed robbers attempt to hold up the strip club, but when you've got Crystal, Scarlet Witch, She-Hulk, Invisible Woman, and Lyja the Lazerfist on the scene, it doesn't last long.
The cliffhanger for the bachelor party is when Boggs plays a film. He says that it's not a stag film. "Lotsa naked women, but artistic". But one of the women turns out to be Marlo.
Since Boggs makes a point of saying in advance that it's not the kind of film that one "normally" (the idea of playing "stag films" at bachelor parties sounds kind of quaint to me even for 1994) would play at a bachelor party, i wonder why he chose this film. Kind of suspect that Boggs knew exactly who was in the film, the jerk.
The other possibility is that it was planted by the Impossible Man.
Any appearance of the Impossible Man has me screaming, "Noo! NOOOOOOOO!", but luckily in this case he's not the focus of the actual wedding issue (he doesn't actually appear on panel beyond the above).
The real villain for the wedding issue is Mephisto (who will later become known for his penchant for disrupting marriages). The issue starts with the fallout from Rick shouting at Marlo about the film. Marlo is nursing a hangover but is admirably unapologetic about having been in the film, and Betty and Hulk don't take Rick's side either. But Marlo is approached by a barely disguised Mephisto in a dream, and she agrees to give him her soul to fix things.
Rick mysteriously comes in to apologize after that. (It's worth pointing out that this is Rick's second fight-and-make-up during the course of these issues, which may not be a good sign for their marriage.)
So the wedding goes on as planned. Following on the thread with Hector, he is seen having fun with Northstar.
Northstar is the only member of Alpha Flight at the wedding (at least on panel) and neither the Hulk nor Rick have any real association with him. Almost wonder if he was Hector's plus one, although Paris' snide "found a little friend" suggests otherwise.
Seeing Hector talking with Northstar provokes Ulysses, but Hulk stops him from doing anything.
Meanwhile, Rick has a nice conversation with Wolfsbane, and then we get a very nice surprise: an appearance by ROM and Starshine.
There's only so much space and also a limit on how obscure we can get, but i wouldn't have minded a thought bubble from Wolfsbane remembering ROM from ROM annual #3.
The actual wedding starts, with Peter David officiating. But then uninvited guests start showing up.
Kind of a jerk move for Drax to not be invited, since Adam Warlock is already in the audience.
But after Drax, some actual villains show up.
However, with some coaching from Doc Samson and a look from Wolfsbane, the Hulk and Rick manage to not start a fight.
A contingent of Kree and Skrulls show up next.
The Silver Surfer keeps them in line. Everyone is seated.
The final uninvited guest is Mephisto. The other surprise guests were invited by Impossible Man, but Mephisto has come for Marlo's soul.
Note that Mephisto refers to the Hulk's previous encounter with a Hell demon as "Cloot", not Satannish.
Mephisto mentions a "coming storm"
That fits with X-Factor annual #8, where Peter David wrote "Cloot" as saying that there was "a war shaping up between different aspects of the Nether Realms". It's again surprising how long Peter David was planning a storyline that didn't see print until 2013 (but, as i note in the annual's entry, the amount of time that passes doesn't mean much to Hell Lords). Also interesting to see it peppered across more than one series.
Hulk tells the other heroes (mainly the Silver Surfer) to back off so that he can fight Mephisto on his own. He believes that God is on his side.
But it turns out that this is all a plan by Mephisto to build up the Hulk's ego in order to set him up for a fall.
After the ceremony is over, Marlo has a brush with death.
A lot of people understandably didn't get that joke (keep your puns under control, PAD!) and it had to be explained in a later lettercol.
Marvel's "new Continuity Editor, Peter Sanderson" is thanked in the lettercol for issue #418 for finding references for the creative team while planning this issue. The appearance of the Living Laser caused a complaint in a later lettercol, but that person probably didn't realize that the character had already inexplicably reappeared in Alpha Flight #121, so you can't blame anyone responsible for these issues.
Issue #419 is mostly not about Rick and Marlo, but it begins at the end of the wedding reception. Gary Frank drank too much at the wedding, so this issue is guest penciled by Roger Cruz.
Betty says that she's ready to move in with the Hulk at the Pantheon Mount.
Note the line about the odd sensation of the Hulk keeping control of his emotions while he's thinking that Betty is about to break up with him.
One of the Skrulls that came to the wedding is called Talos the Tamed. It turns out that he's a "mutant" Skrull, "a throwback to a branch of Skrull development... where Skrulls did not survive through shapeshifting trickery... but instead through the unstoppable power of their sinews". Sounds a little bit like the Shi'ar and Deathbird. When i first read this story, i assumed that Talos came from recent Fantastic Four comics (where we did meet the likes of Paibok the Power Skrull), but it turns out that this is his first appearance (and it was his only appearance until the Annihilation crossover)(for a while i also had him mixed up with Raze, a Skrull who was made into an action figure for the Silver Surfer's 1997 toy line).
Talos is trying to kill himself because he's brought dishonor upon himself after he was captured by the Kree during the Kree/Skrull War (or maybe prior to the War; it's not said exactly when he was captured but he was released at the end of the War). He picks a fight with the Hulk so he can die in battle (he heard about the Hulk killing Trauma last arc), but the Hulk, spiritually bolstered after Betty has agreed to move back in with him, instead lets Talos win.
Meanwhile, Rick clears the air about the time he kissed Betty.
Very nice stuff. Really fun, and funny, bachelor party and wedding issues. Peter David writes a wide variety of characters really well; his depictions feel more "real" than a lot of what was going on in the characters' own books. He also finds great connections between characters; i really love the way Wolfsbane is used with Rick, for example. The story in issue #419 is a bit more cliche, and it's missing Gary Frank's art, but it's still a good issue.
It's generally thought that the quality of Peter David's Hulk run starts to decline around this time (relatively speaking; it remains one of the few things that were worth following in the mid 90s). I attribute that in part due to the artists that replace Gary Frank about a half a year from now, but i also wonder if taking Rick and Marlo out of the book (they are gone until the #440s) was a factor. But regardless of whether or not these issues represent a turning point/high water mark, they're an enjoyable and memorable set of issues.
Quality Rating: A-
Chronological Placement Considerations: Assuming other dependencies allow it, this should probably take place before the Invisible Woman's costume change in Fantastic Four #387 (the Thing mostly wasn't wearing his helmet at this point, but i guess he still hides his still-healing scars for company). The MCP list Llyra (the Lemurian) as appearing in issue #417; i've followed, assuming that it relates to behind-the-scenes machinations from Namor's series. Nick Fury sent the Ecdysiast so i am listing him as a behind-the-scenes Character Appearing. A small jokey feature in Hulk annual #20 shows some additional scenes from the wedding, and also confirmed that some characters went to the wedding that were not shown in issue #419. That includes some characters that only appeared in #418 (like Lyja and Impossible Man) and some that didn't otherwise appear at all: Ant-Man (who also appears on the cover of #417 & the expanded gatefold of #418), Black Knight, Thunderstrike, & Thor. I've listed them all. But i'm ignoring what looks like it was supposed to be Ghost Rider; we can maybe pretend it's just a distance shot of the Human Torch with his flame causing a lens flare.
In Silver Surfer #93, he'll still be on Earth and he says that he came to Earth for Rick & Marlo's wedding. So he shouldn't have any appearances in space between these issues and that one. It doesn't mean he has to appear in SS #93 directly, though; he can spend as much time as needed brooding on a mountaintop in between.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (3): showAbsorbing Man, Adam Warlock, Ant-Man (Scott Lang), Atalanta, Betty Ross, Bill Bishop, Black Knight (Dane Whitman), Captain America, Chuck Chandler, Crystal, Death, Derek Bishop, Doc Samson, Drax the Destroyer, Hector, Hercules, Hulk, Human Torch, Impossible Man, Invisible Woman, Iron Man, Jim Wilson, Keith Chandler, Living Laser, Llyra, Lyja the Lazerfist, Marlo Chandler, Mephisto, Mike 'Mousy' Armstrong, Mona (Marlo's friend), Mordecai P. Boggs, Mr. Hyde, Mrs. Chandler, Nick Fury, Northstar, Paris, Quicksilver, Rick Jones, ROM, Scarlet Witch, She-Hulk, Silver Surfer, Spider-Woman (Julia Carpenter), Starshine II, Strong Guy, Sub-Mariner, Suzie Berengetti, Swordsman (Gatherers), Talos the Untamed, Thing, Thor, Thunderstrike, Ulysses, Vision, War Machine, Wizard, Wolfsbane
Loved this issue when it came out, and it still holds after all these years.
Roger Cruz. Urrgghh. I hated his art and I hated even more after he went from Jim Lee-wannabe to Madureira-wannabe.
Posted by: Lecen | October 31, 2017 4:50 PM
Hilarious bachelor party issue and I agree that this book started to fall off because Rick and Marlo left. They were GREAT supporting characters.
Posted by: Mizark | October 31, 2017 6:59 PM
I remember the bachelor party issue, but nothing of the wedding issue except that ROM showed up which was unexpected. I don't even remember Mephisto appearing. Zero recollection of the reception issue even after seeing it here. The bachelor party issue was a lot of fun. But obviously the other two issues must have lacked something since they barely register. Overall I still liked the title, but for whatever reason is leaving little impression on me.
Posted by: Chris | October 31, 2017 7:39 PM
One of my favorite marvel comics of all time. The gap in quality between PAD’s Hulk and the rest of marvel’s mid 90s line is astonishing.
Like jeeeeeez... spidey sucked, DD was blah, fucking defalco’s FF, Gru still on Captain America....
Posted by: G something | October 31, 2017 7:58 PM
The male stripper is dressed like the Rawhide Kid.
Never mind the oddness of the stag film itself; the fact that it was shown on an old-style home movie projector IN 1994 is even more bizarre.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | October 31, 2017 8:28 PM
"Assuming other dependencies allow it, this should probably take place before the Invisible Woman's costume change in Fantastic Four #387"- but you have this placed after Quasar 60 and Namor 50, and Sue is already wearing her more modest costume in those issues.
Posted by: Michael | October 31, 2017 8:33 PM
That brush scene still bugs me. It really makes no sense outside of the pun, and distracts from the actual story. I read somewhere that PAD specifically got permission from Neil Gaiman to use Death, but editorial still made them erase the ankh she normally wears to avoid copyright infringement.
Posted by: Andrew | October 31, 2017 8:40 PM
Marlo is tricked into making a deal with a demon in a dream just like Maddie was. (The idea probably stems from the fact that some Orthodox Jews believe promises made in dreams must either be kept or annulled by a rabbi. However, they only keep their dream promises if it doesn't involve anything UNETHICAL. If they dream that they promised to burn down their neighbor's house and can't find a rabbi, they don't burn down their neighbor's house.) But while Marlo is treated like an innocent victim that was taken advantage, Maddie's treated like someone who deliberately chose to be evil.
Posted by: Michael | October 31, 2017 8:59 PM
... I didn't get the pun back when I read that issue. I recognized Gaiman's Death, but didn't get the joke.
BTW. It's an interesting thing to get Death's spoken opinion on Thanos :)
Posted by: Piotr W | October 31, 2017 9:15 PM
Oh, and two questions:
1. Who the heck is the guy surfing the Surfer's board?
2. What was the "Netherworld war" storyline mentioned?
Posted by: Piotr W | October 31, 2017 9:17 PM
I wish this run lasted forever. David knew how to balance humor and Frank was perfect for the material. I've given these issues to people who don't read comics and they've enjoyed them immensely.
Posted by: Bigvis497 | October 31, 2017 9:48 PM
"What was the "Netherworld war" storyline mentioned?"
See X-Factor (2005 3rd Series) #250 -
"The various Hell lords battle for domination in a war that was triggered by the seven billionth soul born on Earth, and only X-Factor can avoid the entire world going up in flames!"
Posted by: clyde | October 31, 2017 10:17 PM
These are great issues! The bachelor party issue in particular is so much fun.
I can't believe that after all this time the Barehide Kid has not made a return appearance--he should be a running gag character any time male strippers appear in the Marvel Universe!
As for Northstar being Hector's "plus one"...that still makes sense even with Paris' "Hector found a little friend" line. He could just mean that Hector found a friend to invite to the wedding, as opposed to finding a friend AT the wedding.
Kudos to PAD for managing to give Northstar more of a love life in a single panel cameo appearance than the ALPHA FLIGHT book did in all the years of its original run! This Northstar/Hector relationship actually extended beyond this issue as well--the two of them were shown together in one of the Marvel Swimsuit Specials as well.
Posted by: Dermie | October 31, 2017 11:55 PM
There's a cute little Deep Space Nine reference there, with Mephisto talking about "the Rules of Acquisition". (Though I doubt the actual Ferengi Rules would consider transactions that took place in dreams to be binding.) David has, of course, written a lot of Star Trek novels, and his first DS9 novel came out the year before this story.
Like Piotr, I loved having Death call Thanos a "creep". That's exactly how the Gaiman Death would describe an obsessive stalker like Thanos, even if the Starlin Death is a bit more ambivalent about him.
Posted by: Tuomas | November 1, 2017 3:40 AM
I hate that they changed Betty back to have blonde hair.
Posted by: Kit Teller | November 1, 2017 7:28 AM
It worked as long as Keown was doing the book. But, the hair color will changed in a few issues....
Posted by: Brian C. Saunders | November 1, 2017 8:47 AM
@Michael, i've moved this to before Namor #49-50 but Quasar #60 is a more difficult situation. I have to assume that Sue was trying out her new costume there. Luckily it's only Namor that comments on her new costume in FF #387 so that should work. I do think Four Freedom Plaza's roof can be assumed to be under repair in this issue. I want to honor the annual story, so i think it's fine that Quicksilver is here with an injury and is too proud to use his cane in public. He doesn't use his powers in these issues so it shouldn't be a problem.
@Piotr, the guy on the surfboard could be a member of the Teen Brigade or just an unnnamed friend of Rick's.
Posted by: fnord12 | November 1, 2017 9:57 AM
More "mutant" Skrulls will appear in Alan Davis' duel run on Uncanny X-Men and X-Men but these ones will be even more persecuted than Talos. Xavier mentors them for a time.
Posted by: Jeff | November 1, 2017 11:54 AM
I love that in heels, Marlo is so much taller than Rick. And the backwards leg kick from him in the final silhouette of #418 is just priceless.
What a wonderful book this was!
Posted by: Matt | November 1, 2017 1:51 PM
Those issues were very enjoyable.
Posted by: JSfan | November 1, 2017 2:14 PM
I know I'm going against the grain here, but the wedding issue illustrates one of PAD's biggest flaws, writing for the bit, characterization and common sense be damned. Why would Northstar be attending Rick Jones' wedding? He was never an Avenger - hell, he's never even met him before this. His only reason for being there was for the joke of Hector chatting it up with another gay guy. Most of the characters wouldn't realistically be there - Adam Warlock, really? But he had to play up the importance of his pet character Marlo, no matter what.
It was an entertaining issue, but the characters are expendable to fulfill PAD's agenda.
Posted by: Vincent Valenti | November 1, 2017 11:03 PM
Vinny, I do think you have a point. PAD does have a tendency to ignore continuity in order to create whatever scene he wants for the moment. "Writing for the bit," is definitely a hallmark of his. But considering the overall quality, especially at this time compared to other Marvel titles, I overlook it.
Rick does have a very extended background with Captain America, the Avengers, Captain Marvel's associates, and ROM. But he doesn't know every superhero. Even the FF is straining it. At the same though - and I can't remember the entire issue at hand - there was obviously a lot of fake invitations sent out, although why Northstar and some of the others would still attend doesn't really make sense.
Posted by: Chris | November 1, 2017 11:38 PM
This may not be the proper place to ask this question but something I've wondered about for a while now is why so many people spell the Silver Spaceknight's name as ROM? I mean, "Rom" is just the character's name, it's not a codename or anything like that, so why is it ALL CAPS?
I checked some letters pages from early ROM issues and found that editorial replies and some of the letters spelt the character's name as "Rom" but the name of the series as "ROM" (just as the character Nova appeared in the NOVA series). However, some letter writers used "ROM" for both the character and his series, and the editorial replies eventually changed to follow their lead. On the other hand, the Official Handbooks of the Marvel Universe and various Marvel wikis use "Rom" for both the character and his series.
Posted by: Don Campbell | November 2, 2017 1:11 AM
Fnord has already acknowledged his use of all-caps is questionably correct, but it probably makes him feel better about not "fixing" it that he's not alone.
Posted by: Morgan Wick | November 2, 2017 1:35 AM
Northstar being at the wedding explainations:
1) Sasquatch is an associate of the crew. Maybe he passed along his invite to Northstar.
2) As a high-profile, National team (like the Avengers and X-Factor), Alpha Flight may have gotten "blanket" invitations. It's not like Rick had any personal connection with Julia Carpenter, in particular.
3) He possibly crashed it out of spite. He can fly, and it's probably hard tell who's legit and who isn't.
4) That's not actually Northstar. Paris was making a joke.
BTW it seems Sue was sitting on Impossible Man's face.
Posted by: rabartlett | November 2, 2017 1:47 AM
Northstar was at the wedding because the Impossible Man sent him an invitation. The real question is why did Northstar attend....? The answer is because PAD wanted him to. Why shouldn't Northstar accept since he was supposed to be mellowing out in Alpha Flight before it was cancelled?
Posted by: Brian C. Saunders | November 2, 2017 2:29 AM
Yeah, I agree with Dermie. I think the "little friend" joke could very well be interpreted that Northstar went as Hector's date
Posted by: George Lochinski | November 2, 2017 6:47 AM
The first two parts of the entry we're two of the last Hulks I read for several years (even though I enjoyed them), until Planet Hulk/World War Hulk. I know what happens to Betty down the line, but I have no idea at all what happens to Marlo. I'm curious to see how this plays out.
I half-expect her to be possessed by something, turn into a supervillain, and die on the moon.
Posted by: Shaun Regan | November 2, 2017 8:01 AM
Something like that, but on a smaller scale. Early in Pak's run, she gets turned into a Harpy, and later, during the Chaos War when all the dead were coming back to life, she's able to turn the tide because she's now an avatar of death, or something. Then she just fades into obscurity again.
Posted by: Andrew | November 2, 2017 12:43 PM
To be fair, a lot is done with Marlo before that.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | November 2, 2017 12:56 PM
Peter David comes back to her and uses her heavily in Captain Marvel and and with Starlin turns her into an avatar of Death (which is what Pak was referring to in Chaos War). The Harpy thing was a one-off for a single issue (and mainly a bait and switch, we were meant to think it was Betty but the twist is it was Marlo).
Posted by: AF | November 2, 2017 9:00 PM
Could somebody please the brush joke? I seem to remember that I got it at the time but not now...
Posted by: Jay Gallardo | November 3, 2017 6:57 AM
The brush joke is explained by the following: "Marlo had a brush with death."
Posted by: Brian C. Saunders | November 3, 2017 7:13 AM
I think it would've been punnier if "Marlo had a brunch with Death".
Here she didn't have a brush with death, she got a brush from Death, so it's too dissimilar to be punny?
Posted by: Peter A | November 4, 2017 4:54 AM
Now i got it!! I has the Spanish edition so the pun was lost in translation!! Thanks!!
Posted by: Jay Gallardo | November 4, 2017 8:22 AM
Northstar technically owed Hulk a favor from that issue of Secret Defenders with the Starblast crossover, so maybe he felt kind of obligated to go.
Posted by: OverMaster | November 11, 2017 8:28 PM
I'm not a native speaker but couldn't the present be a double-pun and meant "to brush off" upcoming problems in their marriage since she already had a "brush" with death and anything else will be easier to cope with in marriage... not sure if that makes sense.
Posted by: Multiple Manu | January 1, 2018 10:09 AM
Was #417 the first time Hector said he was gay, or was it clarified in a prior issue? Looking back, he didn’t display any attraction to the same or opposite sex.
Posted by: Matt | February 3, 2018 12:05 PM
Goodness gracious, Roger Cruz draws such a freakishly muscular Rick Jones, you'd think it was Rick-Hulk "color-corrected".
Posted by: The Transparent Fox | April 26, 2018 12:23 AM
Ah yes, the classic yellow Black Flag shirt with a singular horizontal bar
Posted by: cullen | April 26, 2018 10:40 AM
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