Despite the long period of their relationship spent in limbo while the incredible Hulk roamed the Earth, Bruce Banner and Betty Ross did eventually succeed in making it to the altar and tying the knot:
Er, that is, once they dealt with Betty's father, "Thunderbolt" Ross, who showed up with a gun, halted the proceedings, put a bullet in Rick Jones, and then proceeded to get an earful from Betty who finally straightened him out. It wasn't the most idyllic wedding anyone has ever been to, but this couple's long-sought goal was finally met:
At the time, Banner was physically separated from the Hulk, which made a disruption of the ceremony unlikely (though apparently not impossible). Yet this wasn't the couple's first attempt to walk down the aisle--which was, by any definition, disastrous. At that time, they had two wedding crashers--and the happy couple were not only faced with the maddened vengeance of the Leader, but they also had to deal with:
As we saw in a prior issue, Banner had completed a procedure which allowed him to retain his mind when transformed to the Hulk. With himself effectively "cured" of the Hulk's savage rampages, he finally felt free to move on with his life--and as he adjusted to his new freedom, it didn't take him long to take the next step which was long in coming:
Unfortunately, the man who was the Hulk has always had the worst kinds of stalkers. One, in particular, who was still fuming from a recent defeat, and who was determined to make Banner's wedding a day he'd never forget.
But, as the Leader schemes behind the scenes, Bruce and Betty proceed with their wedding plans. And, to their delight, not only are they presented with an unexpected site for the ceremony, but also with a most unexpected blessing:
The Leader, of course, has plans of his own, and they certainly don't involve happiness. He's done his own mapping of the day of nuptials. First, at the proper moment, he'll revert Banner to the Hulk and reinstate the Hulk's (you'll excuse the word) mind; then, he'll cause the Hulk to become filled with rage and savagery, so that the brute will slaughter everyone around him. But as if that wouldn't be enough, he'll then have the Hulk executed. And to accomplish that, he's retrieved and revived an old foe who did pretty well against the Hulk in a prior encounter:
And so the ceremony commences:
(Good grief. Only "Thunderbolt" Ross would have a painting of an atom bomb explosion hanging over his mantel--and such good taste the man has, to have it as the centerpiece of a room where a wedding is taking place. Though my guess is that, given this particular groom, artist Herb Trimpe probably slipped it in deliberately with a wink. And taking into account what's about to happen, it's probably appropriate.)
Granted that, as well publicized as this event is, it's strange for Ross not to have any sort of security in place for this wedding. But I'm sure the Leader will be grateful, once he's done slaughtering everyone:
Despite Banner's confidence, Phase One of the Leader's plan takes place without a hitch:
It's all over for Banner and Betty at this point, of course. But just for good measure, let's have Ross's family home (and that horrid painting) reduced to rubble, as well:
But before the Leader can fire a second burst, the Rhino, impatient with sitting on the sidelines, decides to "jump the gun," so to speak, and tackle the Hulk before the plan called for it:
You'd think the Leader would be pleased about the parts of his plan which have worked out. He's deprived Banner of his "cure"; he's wrecked the man's future happiness; and it's still too early to predict which way the fight between the Hulk and the Rhino will go. But the Leader tries for another shot, regardless. Unfortunately, the target he inadvertently hits isn't all that thrilled with his treatment by the Leader to begin with:
I doubt that Banner would care much about the end that's met by both the Rhino and the Leader, in light of his life now left in ruins. As for the Hulk, it's back to status quo for him--and, it seems, for his relationship with the military:
On the bright side, at least Mr. Trimpe had a good time at this bash.