Hulk Smash Avengers #1
Issue(s): Hulk Smash Avengers #1
This is the first issue in a five part series that was partially an acknowledgement of the Hulk's 50 year anniversary, partially an attempt at having something accessible on the stands in time for the Avengers movie, and partially just part of the insane flood of random comics that Marvel puts out in modern times.
Each issue had a different creative team, and as far as i can tell there wasn't any underlying story premise to the books beyond "the Hulk often fought the Avengers". The final book didn't even feature the real Hulk.
Since this was published after i started doing Speed Reviews on my main blog, i can also link to my initial realtime reaction.
I tend to mellow on stuff after a few reads so i'm willing to back away from that initial review to a degree, but it's definitely true that as a continuity insert this issue doesn't really offer anything constructive. It's basically a random Hulk/Avengers fight.
Baron Zemo and his Asgardian allies form an alliance with the Hulk.
The Hulk was primed for such an alliance due to the fact that the Avengers had previously accosted the Hulk to "talk" to him using their "fists".
With the Hulk on their side plus a remote controlled robot...
...the Masters of Evil are a significant threat...
...but the Avengers start to get the upper hand and then Zemo screws up by taking Rick Jones hostage, angering the Hulk.
I'm not a huge Tom DeFalco fan but he (with Frenz) is probably the right person to go to for a book written (and drawn) in the Silver Age style. If anything, the characters are even more expository than they should be (when Cap faces off against Zemo, Rick Jones just randomly shouts to everyone in earshot that the two have some bad blood over the death of Bucky).
"First, do no harm" should be the rule of thumb for continuity inserts like this, and this one mostly passes that test with some minor nitpicks that i'll note in a second. But the issue doesn't really move beyond that initial cautious hurdle, either. So the original Avengers fought the Hulk one additional time? Ok, and?
Still this was a fine and fun little story. The Frenz/Buscema style is a nice treat, anyway.
On to the nitpicks!
The first is the over-reliance on the "Madder the Hulk gets, the stronger he gets!" axiom. Now, as Michael schooled me in my initial review, the Hulk had used that phrase, once, so far. His next usage will be in Tales To Astonish #70, August 65, and even after that it's a rare occurrence for a while into the Hulk's solo book (per CBR). And at this point the Hulk's nature had been in a state of flux; it wouldn't really have been such a common thing for him or Rick Jones to be shouting about regularly at this point.
It's not an error - even if this story were to take place before Tales To Astonish #59 it would be ok - but it reads like someone was writing a generic Hulk instead of one specifically designed for this time period (although, granted, his speaking style is basically right).
Second is about this first meeting of the Hulk and the Executioner. As i wrote in my Speed Review:
Then there's the Hulk's first published encounter with the Executioner (in TTA #77), of which the Executioner says in their second encounter "with whom I did do battle once before". We can read that very literally and say that since Hulk and Executioner never actually battled in this issue, we're in the clear (or chalk it up to the hazy memories of an immortal Asgardian and the many monsters he's bumped into over the ages).
Third is the Wasp's stings, which look like her bioelectric energy stings and not the compressed air blasts she had circa Tales To Astonish #57.
Chalk that up to artistic choice.
Finally, there's the fact that in Avengers #16, Iron Man will tell the Avengers to seek out the Hulk and recruit him back to the team. And in #17 they take him up on that advice. Now, the Hulk and the Avengers had fought several times already since he quit the team in Avengers #2, but they really screw the pooch on that front in this issue. So it would be odd for them trying to go recruit the Hulk again (if indeed that was their goal here) so soon. But in DeFalco's favor again, the Avengers very clearly have a strange idea about what's ok behavior when approaching the Hulk. They seem to think that they can show up, attack him, and then say "But we just want to talk!" when he fights back.
So i guess it's not too irresponsible for Iron Man to send the weak Kooky Quartet team after the Hulk not too long after riling him up here. I mean, it is irresponsible. But not out of character.
As i said, nitpicks that shouldn't ruin this simple story. I do think DeFalco may have had a different interpretation of events in mind, since the title is "By Banner Betrayed", which isn't how i see things at all.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: A "True Believer Note" on the opening page says that this story occurs between Avengers [vol. 1] #7-14. We can narrow it down a little further than that. Zemo and the Asgardians were stuck in an alternate dimension at the end of #7 and didn't return until #9. The Wasp is wearing a helmet that she didn't design until Tales To Astonish #62, which takes place between Avengers #9-#10. Beginning with TTA #63, the Hulk is in an extended story that has him imprisoned and then behind the Iron Curtain that doesn't end until after Avengers #17 (you could potentially separate out the Giant-Man/Hulk portions of Tales To Astonish if you needed to; i'm hoping that won't be necessary). So i'm dropping this after TTA #62 but before TTA #63, and after the Master of Evil's failed alliance with Immortus in Avengers #10 (but before Tales of Suspense #60, which has Zemo seemingly narrowing his goals to just having Captain America killed via assassination). The Avengers and Tales of Suspense order are arbitrary, but i like this particular chain of events.
Continuity Insert? Y
My Reprint: Essential Ant-Man vol. 1
Inbound References (1): showBaron Zemo (Heinrich), Captain America, Enchantress, Executioner, Henry Pym, Hulk, Iron Man, Rick Jones, Thor, Wasp
I enjoyed this mini-series because it featured different Avengers line ups from various points in the team's history.
Posted by: Bobby Sisemore | October 30, 2016 7:51 PM
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