Saturday, April 5, 2014

When A City Dies!


I remember last month when our comrade in comics, Slay, Monstrobot of the Deep!, ripped Amadeus Cho a new one for claiming that the incredible Hulk was never directly the cause of loss of life in his rampages--something of a dubious distinction, given the destruction in his wake. Of course, where the Hulk's concerned, there's often the excuse of self-defense--I mean, if someone is coming at you with an arsenal of bullets and explosive shells intending to wipe you off the map, you can't exactly be faulted for being driven to respond with deadly force.

When Roy Thomas was writing the book, there were several times when the Hulk threatened to kill his opponent, and meant it. Banner had also wondered when the Hulk would cross the line and become a murderer. Well, for the Hulk, it was eventually no great leap from the threat to the deed:



But, let's give a little more depth to the discussion.  Let's say the Hulk is rampaging through your town, intent on pounding the tar out of a foe. Is the Hulk responsible for the "collateral damage," the deaths that occur as a result? And for argument's sake, what if we take the foe out of the equation--what if he's just in a rage?



Oh, an isolated incident, you say? Au contraire, particularly when the Hulk has a target. Seeking to bring down a world of payback on Curtiss Jackson, the evil head of the west coast branch of the Corporation, the Hulk invaded Central City, CA, the so-called birthplace of the Fantastic Four, and levelled much of it in the process. Picture that episode of "Malcolm In The Middle," where Hal is willing to cause whatever amount of damage it takes in order to deal with a pesky fly that evades his every attempt to kill it, and you'll have a good idea of the single-mindedness that takes over the Hulk as he pursues his revenge against Jackson. And, just to drive the point home, why don't we jump to the battle's aftermath, as the scene is toured by the Governor, the President, and SHIELD's Clay Quartermain:



And this is just all of the Hulk's path of destruction that would fit in the frame.

Let's see what led to the death of Central City.



After a power struggle between Jackson and his east coast counterpart in the Corporation, Senator Eugene Stivak, Jackson couldn't leave well enough alone with the Hulk after a narrow escape from the brute's wrath for involving Jim Wilson in the fight as a hostage. And so Jackson set up a battle between the Hulk and Machine Man, another obstacle to his plans he wanted to eliminate.



And so, Central City's nightmare begins in one of its suburbs, as the fight reaches an explosive conclusion:




The saga continues and concludes in Incredible Hulk #237, appropriately titled:



Machine Man's resourcefulness enables him to save both himself and the Hulk from the brunt of the explosion, and he takes the opportunity to mind-probe the Hulk in order to find out why the brute came after him. It's then he learns of Jackson's involvement; and more, he learns of Jackson's location at an 80-story tower in the heart of Central City, with yet another hostage:



But the Hulk finally awakens--and, still connected to Machine Man via the mind-probe, learns what Machine Man has learned. Let's just say that Jackson's moments on Earth have now become numbered:



Refusing Machine Man's offer of assistance, the Hulk makes a beeline for the tower, nor does he care a whit about whatever he has to crush on the way. That unfortunately includes shopping malls, and, by extension, shoppers:



Mall security is generally an overlooked branch of law enforcement, with the low profile that comes with the job. But we have to give props to this lone guard, who takes his responsibilities seriously. Though the Hulk gives him quite the reality check:



Before the terrified guard has a chance to mentally make out his will, the Hulk is on his way again. We should note, in all fairness, that the Hulk has maintained the presence of mind to avoid harming those who aren't involved in his conflict, if only on a face-to-face basis. It seems quite another matter if the damage he's responsible for brings about injury or death. Speaking of which, those are probably two words foremost in Jackson's thoughts right about now:




With his only avenue of escape cut off, Jackson must finally face the music. But Machine Man has arrived, in the hope of putting an end to hostilities; after all, with Jackson now effectively in custody, there's no need for any more pursuit by the Hulk, much less violence. Yet the Hulk makes it absolutely clear that he's not interested in seeing this man survive--and when his quarry escapes, he gives no thought at all to the loss of life that might result in the massive destruction he launches into:





For what it's worth, at least the Hulk is still left breathing:



But as for anyone else--well, let's take another look at Central City, shall we? Before:



And after.



"...no one was killed." That may not let the Hulk off the hook, but Amadeus will be happy.

Incredible Hulk #237

Script: Roger Stern
Pencils: Sal Buscema
Inks: Jack Abel
Letterer: Rick Parker

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