Characters Appearing: Beast, Captain America, Hawkeye, Henry Peter Gyrich, Hulk, Iron Man, Jarvis, Scarlet Witch, Senator Andrew Hawk, Vision, Wasp
Hulk Smash Avengers #2
Issue(s): Hulk Smash Avengers #2
Henry Gyrich is chewing out the Avengers due to the fact that the Scarlet Witch is taking a leave of absence. Ms. Marvel is identified as her replacement.
Additionally, the Falcon is missing and Captain America takes a leave of absence to go look for him.
A little later, Gyrich is contacted by Senator Andrew Hawk and told that the Hulk is on a rampage.
Note the "this modern world" phrase and the use of cellphones; this is signaling the fact that thanks to the sliding timescale, this story now takes place later in "real time" than the surrounding stories did at the time they were originally published.
Since Gyrich is having discipline problems with the Avengers, he is happy to take advantage of the fact that the Avengers are at reduced capacity, and sends them up against the Hulk. Iron Man says there is no time to call in reserve members. Senator Hawk is aware that Gyrich is doing this, and while we don't get his reaction, it's a bit surprising. His main previous appearance showed him to be a tough but straight guy, and he has legitimate security concerns that you'd think he wouldn't want to put at risk to let Gyrich use this as a disciplinary exercise.
The Avengers show up and, aside from the over-eager Beast...
...the Avengers attempt to take a non-offensive based approach to dealing with the Hulk. Kind of like issue #1, it reads a bit like "We don't want to fight you, Hulk!" [Punches Hulk] "We're you're friends, Hulk!" [Laser blasts Hulk]...
...but you can see that the Avengers are trying to remain on the defensive and not escalate.
It's the Wasp who really manages to de-escalate things.
She emphasizes the fact that the Hulk was once an Avenger and that they will never forget that, which sounds nice, and works here. But the problem with inserting something like this into the Avengers' continuity is that in reality they never really do anything to follow up on the Wasp's breakthrough. They actually let the Hulk walk away and then they'll never reach out to him again.
While that was going on, Gyrich continued to gloat and chortle about his little scheme, until Hawkeye (who had just been removed from the team per Avengers #181) used an EMP arrowhead to knock out all the equipment in the Avengers Mansion so that he could have an intimidating chat with him.
When Iron Man gets back, he claims that they let the Hulk go because "He's not a criminal, Gyrich. It's not our place to pass judgment, either." I find it hard to believe that the Hulk isn't officially wanted by the law at this point. Iron Man also says that security satellites are tracking the Hulk, but we know nothing will come of that.
Max Fiumara has a very elfin, stylized look.
The creative team for issue #1 (Tom DeFalco & Ron Frenz) seemed deliberately chosen to match the style of the time period. That's much less the case for this issue. Fiumara has a nice style; the open question for me is whether or not it's appropriate for a mainstream story where there's no reason for ordinary people to look like elves.
Plotwise, i get where Casey is going. The tie-in with the Avengers, retroactively establishing that the Avengers have had stronger ties with the Hulk all along, is really laying groundwork for returning the Hulk to the team in the aftermath of the Avengers movie. But as i said above, we're a long way from that and it doesn't really work in the context of the period this takes place in. But that's the editorial mandate for the issue. Knowing Joe Casey, the idea that government agent Gyrich is extra-underhanded most likely comes from him. Gyrich in the original issues around this time was a hard ass and a challenge for the team, but you could understand his legitimate concerns. This issue goes further than that, making Gyrich a bit of a zealot who is happy to let the Avengers get injured or killed, and even put civilians' lives at stake to let the Hulk cause more destruction, just to prove a point. But considering the way Gyrich has been depicted in other later stories (e.g. Bill Mantlo's ROM), this is ultimately not a stretch for the character.
The Hulk's dialogue reads wrong occasionally. This bit here just sounds out of character for this version of the Hulk.
It sounds more like the early version, as seen here in flashback.
Overall this could have been a lot worse. Continuity-wise, it broke with a previously established sequence of events, per the Official Marvel Index, and it caused a lot of shuffling for me, but it seems workable (more on that below). Quality-wise, if you're ok with the heavy stylization, the art is nice, and i like that the Avengers do eventually find a way to get through to the Hulk, even if it was really impossible for them to follow up on the logical conclusions of that breakthrough.
My original Speed Review was here, although i didn't say too much.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: A note in the beginning of this issue says that this story takes place "immediately prior to" Avengers #181 but that was likely a typo. This issue begins with the Avengers already having accepted the reduction of their team in exchange for the restoration of their security clearance (which takes place in #181) and the Scarlet Witch is unavailable because she "has a family matter she's dealing with", putting this after the epilogue in Avengers #182. (She hasn't actually left yet; we see her saying goodbye to the Vision here.) Ms. Marvel is identified as a replacement for the Scarlet Witch in this story; we'll see her getting her security clearance at the beginning of Avengers #183. So it seems this is meant to take place between Avengers #182-183 (not necessarily "immediately before"; Hawkeye is officially off the team "tomorrow" but otherwise i don't see a need for this to take place directly before #183).
For the Hulk, this issue begins with his escape from the alien's space ship from Hulk #230.
This begins to get a little bit complicated with Captain America. He says that the Falcon "was just coming off a SHIELD training stint and he hasn't been heard from since" and he intends to head west to talk to "a few special agents". Captain America learned in Captain America #222 that Falcon quit SHIELD but wasn't able to act on it until Captain America #228. But in that issue he just goes to SHIELD's old New York headquarters, where he gets attacked by the Constrictor and buried in rubble. At the beginning of #229, he escapes from the rubble, interrogates the Constrictor, and decides he needs to go out to SHIELD's western facilities where the Super-Agents are located. A key point in issue #229 is that Cap needs transportation out west; he isn't able to use a Quinjet because of "bureaucracy" (at the time meant to be because the Avengers didn't yet have their security clearance), so he tries to borrow money from the other Avengers and eventually Jarvis buys him a bus ticket. That's more or less directly after the attack with the Constrictor - Cap briefly returns to his apartment, which he then remembers is in ruins (thanks to the Killer Volkswagen Beetle back in Captain America #222), realizes he has no money, and then rushes to Avengers Mansion, throwing open the door and shouting "Avengers, I need your help." To make that fit with this issue, we have to assume that Cap comes back from his apartment, finds that Gyrich has called a meeting, calmly sits through it, and then announces that he's leaving to find the Falcon, and then off-panel Gyrich refuses to allow him to take a Quinjet. So that's when you see him bursting in asking the Beast to open his piggy bank. Since the Avengers in Cap #229 include Hercules and Thor, we have to assume they were hanging around the Mansion after Avengers #181 when they were kicked off the team, but they suddenly left before Gyrich announced that the Avengers have to go after the Hulk. You also have to assume that Iron Man and the Wasp disappeared after the meeting with Gyrich (they're in this issue but they're not in Cap #229) without learning about Cap's transportation needs, since either one could have provided Cap with alternative transportation and/or money to do better than a cross-country bus ride.
The 1995 Official Marvel Handbook to the Avengers #3 had Cap appearing in Avengers #181-182 between Captain America #239 to #240 and i'd like to think Brennan & Brevoort consulted that and made a deliberate choice to break with it. I suspect the goal in pushing back Avengers #181-182 so that it coincidences with Cap's trip out west was to find a time when the Avengers could be at reduced capacity for Gyrich's purposes here. It's not exactly seamless but it can almost work. If Joe Casey had read the Cap issues in preparation for this story he might have done better with the incongruities around the Avengers appearance in Cap #229-230. Explicitly confirming the Quinjet issue or having the Beast mention his hangover (the Beast was heading out for a date in Cap #228 and is complaining of a hangover at the beginning of #229) would have helped nail this down. A mention of Hercules and Thor's ongoing arm-wrestling match (which is shown in both of those Beast scenes, the idea being that it was going on all night) would have been cool. But it definitely seems like some level of research was done here (again, i'm assuming that's the "special thanks" for Brennan & Brevoort). The appearance of Senator Hawk confirms someone looked at the surrounding Hulk issues, and including the scene from Hulk #230 implies that someone knew that Cap's trip out west led to the Cap/Hulk crossover circa Cap #229-230 and Hulk #231-232.
The exact sequence for the Hulk specifically is a little difficult to work out, though. The beginning of this issue is lined up with the end of Hulk #230. I assume that the idea was that the Hulk appears here between Hulk #230-231. But since this has to take place during Cap #229, it has to be later than that in the Hulk's chronology. Hulk #231 takes place after Captain America #228, since Kligger moves from Washington to Gamma Base, and arrives with Senator Hawk, between those issues. By Hulk #231, the Hulk has hooked up with Fred Sloan, which seems to remain the case until Bruce Banner is captured by Corporation agents in Captain America #230. Hawk calls Gyrich from Washington, which would have to be after his visit to Gamma Base. My guess for placement is that in Hulk #231 we see Fred Sloan's girlfriend calling the police after finding the Hulk eating breakfast. They get caught in a roadblock, the Hulk gets out of Fred's van, and smashes up some police cars. It's possible that situation escalated worse than was shown, and the Hulk went on his rampage shown in this issue, the Avengers got called in, and eventually after the Hulk is allowed to walk away he returns to Fred.
So, something like this:
Hulk #230 / Hulk Smash #2 - Hulk escapes bug alien
A final note: the Wasp's costume in this issue is different than what she was wearing circa Avengers #181-183. It's understandable that they'd want to change it, though; that costume was atrocious.
Continuity Insert? Y
My Reprint: N/A
Placing this after Avengers 182 but before Captain America 231 requires ignoring a footnote in Avengers 179 that says that Cap is absent because of the events of Captain America 229.
Posted by: Michael | June 23, 2013 4:37 PM
Actually owning "Nights of Wundagore", it is nice that they did have something to address the sudden addition of Ms. Marvel to the team after all the heck Wanda was going through at the time...even with the messiness regarding how the Hulk (and Cap) got to this point.
Posted by: Ataru320 | June 24, 2013 7:22 PM
Ok, i think placement for this is settled. I don't see a way around ignoring that footnote unless Cap went out west to talk to "special agents" twice about the Falcon's disappearance. The FF dependency required shuffling a lot of Marvel Two-In-Ones but luckily a lot of Two-In-Ones from this period feature characters that weren't starring in other books - all the Project Pegasus people, Yancy Street Gang, Jack of Hearts, the Thing's past self, the Inhumans. I am missing MTIO #44 and #49 so there could be a monkey-wrench i'm not aware of.
Posted by: fnord12 | June 24, 2013 9:11 PM
MTIO#44 is the Thing telling a story about a past Hercules/Thing teamup, and #49 costars Dr. Strange but pretty much has no effect on Strange's book.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | June 25, 2013 1:32 PM
Thanks Mark. You never know what little side comment or footnote might throw things off, but it sounds safe.
Posted by: fnord12 | June 25, 2013 3:30 PM
Continuity implants suuuuuck.
Posted by: kveto | March 18, 2015 2:27 PM
I'm glad I never tried to sort all my books like you. To go from Byrne's art in Avengers to this would have just made me smash my head on a table. I think I'll go back to Byrne's art now.
Posted by: Erik Beck | April 13, 2015 12:07 PM
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