Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Double Trouble


A year may not seem like a long time to some of us, but apparently it's just enough time to provide a sense of déjà vu to these two covers of Incredible Hulk, just twelve issues apart:



You'll probably have to shake your heads a little more vigorously to return your focus, since it's understandable these covers may have you seeing double. Yes, that is the Abomination attacking the Hulk on both covers--and yes, it appears both issues have the Hulk "At Bay!", as unlikely as that sounds. Beyond that, we'll have to peek into each of these issues to find out the circumstances of these encounters with the Abomination.

As it happens, the first story has the Abomination feeling the need to clear his head, as well, once an explosion in the desert revives him after nearly two years of being rendered unconscious, following a plummet to Earth after a battle with the Hulk. Yet he doesn't immediately learn of the gap in years, since he spots the Hulk doing a little plummeting of his own and assumes that it's the result of the same battle that brought him crashing to Earth:




Yet, when the Abomination finally catches up to the Hulk, it doesn't appear as if the fierce trading of blows between the two is having the effect of holding the Hulk at bay. If anything, the Hulk is very much in this fight, and he's in it to win.






What the Abomination doesn't bother mentioning to the Hulk is that General Ross has made a bargain with him to capture the brute, in exchange for the Abomination's cure and release--as the General wants to make sure that his daughter, Betty, doesn't discover that the Hulk (missing and presumed dead until now) is alive, and thus have that knowledge compromise her new marriage to Glenn Talbot. But the Abomination knows that he can play the daughter card and use it against the Hulk--and when he finally does so, his earlier fears are confirmed:




So as the Hulk leaps off to Niagara Falls, it becomes clear that it will be Ross holding the Hulk at bay, as he scrambles to keep the Hulk from reaching his daughter, as well as making sure she doesn't discover that the Hulk is alive and well.

As for the second issue, the Abomination re-enters the picture when he locates and forms an alliance with the Rhino, and the two decide to capture Hulkbuster Base and take their revenge on the Hulk. By now, Betty is well aware that the Hulk (and thus Bruce Banner) is alive--and, after a lovely stint as the murderous Harpy, she rejoins her father at the base only for both to find themselves at the mercy of the brutes' overwhelming onslaught.





Yet Banner has hitched a ride on Betty's transport plane and has kept a low profile on the base, unaware of the attacks launched by the Abomination and the Rhino. In time, he discovers the captives--and the Abomination discovers him. You can take a reasonable guess at what happens next:






With the Rhino and the Abomination having driven the Hulk off, at least for the time being, we seem to have arrived at the point where the Hulk is being kept at bay in this story. And I'm 99.9% sure I know what you're thinking here: "How is it the Hulk can stand against an Army attack in force, wading through tank and bazooka artillery, guns, rockets, and plane strikes, and basically not being held at bay by all of that firepower in the slightest--and yet a single shot from the Abomination's gun intimidates him and sends him running??" I wish I had an answer for you. The only straw I can grasp here is that it's done to put the Hulk in position to later come across Jim Wilson and his girlfriend, who have also infiltrated the base and who can now plan a rescue of the hostages while the Hulk distracts his two brutish foes:



It's not a bad moment for Jim, since he has a nice scene where he's talked through disarming the base's self-destruct mechanism--a gamma bomb--which the Abomination activated so that the blast would catch the Hulk wherever he was on the base. (Perhaps we shouldn't scrutinize too closely the wisdom of a base which specializes in gamma research having a gamma bomb as its self-destruct device. Good lord.) And while the Hulk's dance card is definitely full with both the Rhino and the Abomination gunning for him, you have to wonder how a creature driven by rage can decide to abandon a fight to the death because he's basically bored with it.





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