Hulk annual #19
Issue(s): Hulk annual #19
Despite Peter David being (in my opinion) the best writer involved in the effort to create new characters for the 1993 annuals, neither of his submissions got any traction. For his X-Factor entry, the character served mainly to provide a little more background on Strong Guy. And although it seemed unlikely that the character could ever appear again, Peter David was off the book before that could be proven (a point of the 1993 annuals was that the characters would be created by the regular series' writer, who could then integrate the characters into the ongoing plot, helping to ensure that the characters wouldn't die in obscurity). David definitely had the opportunity to bring the character in this annual back, but despite his name being Lazarus, he will never return.
The story is that one of the Pantheon's suppliers, Hunter Technologies, has been experiencing some super-powered sabotage (the Pantheon deal with their suppliers under the cover of dummy corporations, so it's not like anyone at Hunter knows that they're working with the Pantheon). Hector was supervising, and got beat up by some animated machinery. The machinery told Hector not to use Hunter anymore.
Hector then gets the Hulk involved, and the Hulk contacts Jack Cameron, head of Hunter, and sets up a decoy delivery to lure out the "Lazarus" that has been attacking them. Ulysses is playing the role of a truck driver for the Pantheon's side. And he's attacked by Lazarus.
Lazarus has the ability to animate objects, including Ulysses' weapons.
The Hulk joins in the fight.
Lazarus demonstrates a snarky personality during the fight (careful about the misattributed word balloon in the first panel).
I'm actually not sure about Hunter Technologies' location, but Lazarus calls the Hulk a "git". I don't think we're in Britain, though.
After an extended fight, Lazarus manages to stab the Hulk with Ulysses's sword and get away. Later that night, Lazarus goes after Cameron. A Rosalind Hunter shows up in his office, and it becomes pretty clear that Rosalind is/was Lazarus' wife.
Then the Hulk returns.
I guess i need to jump back a bit. In the beginning of this issue, while Hector was briefing the Hulk on the Hunter Technologies situation, the Hulk was playing darts and getting hit on the head by a child of a Pantheon employee (who is doing a bit from the Dinosaurs TV show).
Hulk eventually took the spoon away from the kid and put it in his back pocket. So that established that the Hulk is a) good at darts and b) has a spoon. And that turns out to be the way that the Hulk defeats Lazarus.
I guess the Tick would be proud.
Then Jack and Rosalind come out, and neither of them are very nice.
Lazarus pulls the building down around them. The Hulk jumps to rescue Rosalind, allowing Lazarus to take control of Jack's gun and shoot him dead.
Hulk had placed a tracker on Lazarus, but Lazarus found it and placed it on his gravestone, leaving the Hulk with no immediate way to follow him. And that's how the main story ends. The first back-up continues from Lazarus' point of view. He's at the wreckage of what used to be his home, secretly observing his son Hank, who is surveying the damage. Lazarus thinks to himself that his son only cared about getting money from him. It turns out that Hank needed that money because he's in debt to criminals.
Lazarus tries to follow, but the Hulk catches up to him at this point.
But Lazarus manages to catch up with his son. He brutally "pulps" the criminals. The son then tries to borrow money from Lazarus!
And that's how it ends. So Lazarus is still presumably out there somewhere, but we'll never see him again.
The second back-up involves a town in Arizona that has decided to rename itself "Hulk" (it was formerly "Dustpit"), in a bid for tourist revenue.
But the tourists that get attracted turn out to be former Hulk enemies. Sort of. It's the Abomination, Titania, and Gargantua, in a giant spaceship.
This is just all wrong. First of all, the Abomination is talking like the dumb Hulk of yesteryear, which he never did, and certainly that hasn't been his status quo recently. Titania might have fought Hulk during Secret Wars, but not enough that she established a grudge the way she did with She-Hulk and Spider-Man. And the Absorbing Man decided to not even come along for an attack on the Hulk? He's the one guy that i might buy engaging in a mindless grudge against the Hulk. Gargantua has never met the Hulk, but i guess he's just here as a recruited goon. The one thing this story does get right (by accident?) is that Titania and Gargantua (and Absorbing Man) were all part of the Masters of Evil that appeared in Guardians of the Galaxy #28-29, so i guess they retained their association.
The villains trash the entire town looking for the Hulk...
...and then leave.
The real Hulk shows up at the very end, wearing his Pantheon jumpsuit to eliminate the possibility that this story could fit into some earlier period better suited for the Abomination.
I'm assuming that all the villains got hit by a Dumb Ray which affected the Abomination extra hard. But there's no way this script should have seen print. I'm really surprised that editor Bobbie Chase allowed it. Pelletier's art shows promise. The premise of the plot is too silly and absurd for me, but i would have understood it getting published (i.e. as a lighthearted story in an annual that allows Pelletier to show off drawing some villains) if the script wasn't way off. This isn't a nitpicky continuity problem; Abomination and even Titania are just way off in basic characterization.
As for the main story, it's fine as a random one shot (although the plot is pretty stock). I don't think much of Lazarus. But the idea behind these annuals was that the characters would get developed further in the main series. So while he didn't instantly hook me, i could potentially imagine that more could be done with him in the future. What's noteworthy is how rare it was that this aspect of the annual event actually happened. Did all of the new characters get panned as instant duds and writers were afraid to use them again? Or does forcing a writer to create a new character for an annual not instantly guarantee that they'll want to use them again?
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: The MCP has a number of Hulk appearances, including this, taking place during Hulk #407.
Crossover: 1993 Annuals
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (1): showAbomination, Hector, Hulk, Leviathan (Gargantua), Titania, Ulysses
"Or does forcing a writer to create a new character for an annual not instantly guarantee that they'll want to use them again?"
I would think that the very fact that they were forced to create a new character for an annual made them not want to use that character again as a way to spite the higher-ups. Plus, most of these new characters were really bad. IMO, the only reason Genis-vell made it was because he was a "Legacy" character.
Posted by: clyde | January 24, 2017 1:34 PM
I was a big fan (still am, actually) of Paul Pelletiers art since I had followed him on the Ex-Mutants title back in the day. Somehow I missed his first Marvel work in this annual.
Posted by: Bill | January 24, 2017 4:19 PM
It's worth noting that even the freaking Editor-in-Chief didn't put much effort into his Annual character.
Posted by: Morgan Wick | January 24, 2017 5:43 PM
True, which suggests to me DeFalco wasn't behind the gimmick, the marketing department was. They'd probably seen Valiant generate huge numbers by creating a hit back-issue market for the first appearances of characters who later got their own series. Marvel, and Valiant, don't make money off back-issue sales, but the buzz around Valiant seemed to boost the whole company: people bought comics upfront because they thought the new characters would make them valuable someday. so it might have seemed obvious to Marvel marketing that a new character in every annual—plus a trading card!—would be a goldmine. Of course, good new characters are usually the products of good storylines, so forcing writers to introduce new characters on the spot was almost sure to fail. Especially since few of Marvel's writers at this time were producing good storylines to begin with. PAD's an exception, but he's never been a "hot new character" generator, he's too idiosyncratic.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | January 24, 2017 7:34 PM
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