Monday, September 29, 2014

This Time, It's Personal!

In examining the character of Maj. Glenn Talbot, who served under the command of General "Thunderbolt" Ross and who diligently carried out Ross's orders in his efforts to capture or otherwise contain the incredible Hulk, it seemed the Major had reached a turning point in his life when we last left him--both as an officer and as the husband of Betty Ross, the General's daughter. Talbot--thanks to the efforts of both Bruce Banner and the Hulk, of all people--had just had his mind restored from damage he had suffered while a captive of the Gremlin. But returning from the dead is no small matter; and, still suffering post-traumatic stress from his ordeal, Talbot must pick up the pieces of his life.

In the days that follow, those pieces fail to coalesce. Talbot finds himself being abrupt with Ross when the General attempts to talk to him about his recovery, and he grows increasingly distant from Betty. Eventually, he feels he has only one recourse:

As for Betty, she pivots rather sharply, and decides to take off and "find" herself, as well:

Yes, it's crystal clear what you're thinking: Unless Betty borrowed some growth solution from Hank Pym, that just has to be a wig she's primping.

The Hulk, of course, isn't waiting around for these two to wind up in Hollywood pitching a reality show about themselves. ("Taking A Break With The Talbots!") Life must move forward for them--but for Major Talbot, the path forward will prove to be a bitter one, as he faces up to the fact that he may be beginning his own vendetta toward Banner and the Hulk.

Let's move forward a bit, to a point in time which will be a key factor in determining Glenn Talbot's next step in his military career. General Ross has been undergoing stress of his own, becoming increasingly short-tempered (even for him) as well as borderline unstable. Also, a new colleague of Leonard Samson's, Dr. Karla Sofen, has infiltrated Gamma Base and, as the second Moonstone, has found herself in battle against the Hulk. And when Ross learns her identity, it proves to be the tipping point for him, as Sofen uses her skills as a psychiatrist to incapacitate him in an effort to preserve her cover:

Behind the scenes, however, Talbot and his wife, Betty, have decided to meet in Mexico and move forward to a mutually agreed upon solution to their marital problems.

Betty becomes sidelined a bit in San Francisco with Fred Sloane and Rick Jones; but it's Talbot who concerns us now, since the divorce has caused him to reach a tipping point of his own:

Not the kind of man you really want in a position of responsibility. But, fortunately for Talbot, Ross's debilitation has left a vacancy in the command of Gamma Base--and, in its wisdom, the military has filled that post with an officer who has a few ideas on just how to proceed in a position that exists to deal with the Hulk. An officer that will likely slip into Ross's shoes a bit too comfortably:

Now-Colonel Talbot won't have to wait long to get a crack at the Hulk, since the behemoth is leaping his way to Gamma Base in order to retrieve the dead body of his former love, Jarella, and return it to her sub-microscopic world--a tall order for one of the Hulk's limited mental capacity, but it's highly probable that you and I can look forward to just such a trip happening. Though not if Talbot can help it, if the Hulk's reception committee has any say in the matter.

What follows is, simply put, a swath of destruction the likes of which this base has seldom seen--as soldiers, equipment, and ordnance all fall before the Hulk's raging attack. And this is a military base on the alert, mind you--a base stocked with men and equipment specially trained and designed to deal with this one brute. Talbot is throwing everything he has at the Hulk--a show of force to which the Hulk basically responds with "Bah!", an exclamation which isn't likely to thrill the Senate Appropriations Committee. For what it's worth, the Hulk doesn't leave a renovation half-finished--in this case, destroying every single piece of armament used against him:

Which leaves Colonel Talbot the last man standing among the ruins of his own base. Or should we say, Mandroid:

It's fair to say that Talbot has formally made this fight a personal one--though this standoff is perhaps ill-considered, given his crazed state of mind. No rational man would expect to succeed in even Mandroid armor when all the high-tech weaponry of the base has failed miserably against the Hulk. Indeed, the opening exchange between the two is a disturbing sign of what's to come:

Yet, as these posts on Major Talbot have hopefully demonstrated, there's more to the man than just his status as a soldier. Throughout his career as an officer under Ross's command, he's been through situations and personal crises that few others could weather, and seen them through. Of course, in his anguish, Talbot recounts those experiences with a tone that can't help but point the blame for the circumstances of his life at the Hulk:

And so Colonel Talbot fights the Hulk in earnest--which must be quite the sight to those of his men who might be watching, as their commanding officer takes on alone a monster which has just destroyed this base and soundly beaten back their resistance. If only that was all there was to it. For Talbot's drive and determination is fueled not by duty, but by vengeance. He fights not out of his pride as a soldier, but out of sheer bitterness toward his monstrous foe. Whether or not that will give him the edge he needs to prevail remains to be seen--but frankly, my money's on the Hulk, whose track record against army and SHIELD tech speaks for itself.

The battle (if you can call it that anymore, at this point) is halted by the arrival of Captain Marvel, who has obviously helped Talbot but who now wishes to do the same for the Hulk:

Mar-vell manages to reactivate the shrinking mechanism (which reduced the Hulk once before), and send him on his way with the body of Jarella. But Talbot is waiting in the wings to deal a fatal blow to the Hulk--and Betty, newly arrived with Fred and Rick, receives the news of the aftermath.

Betty then joins Samson and her recuperating father in the Rocky Mountains, without a word to her ex-husband. But she briefly returns when, eventually, Talbot must face the music about the operations at Gamma Base, as he's called before a Congressional committee to answer some hard questions:

Talbot obviously has an agenda regarding the Hulk that he can't go on the record with in the company of lawmakers who are unsympathetic toward him. And so, a few days later, the expected outcome of these hearings is divulged to the nation--including a man who now makes the decision to move his life as a soldier from duty to treason.

Glenn Talbot has just declared a one-man war.

(This post covers events from Incredible Hulk #s 210-256.)

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