Monday, August 28, 2017

The Art Of The Deal

There seems to be no dearth of those in Marvel's criminal underground who are willing and able to provide materials and equipment for clients willing to meet their price, whether through money or an exchange of favors. In the case of Bruce Banner, it was simple information he needed--and Devlin DeAngelo, a new player in Marvel's stable of well-connected purveyors of items and services in demand, made him an offer that came at the right time and was too good to pass up.

As we can see, DeAngelo enjoys his position and influence, and certainly the process of deal-making--tempting those in need with exactly what they need, while crafting an agreement that assures he'll come out ahead in the bargain. Unlike the Tinkerer, Jonas Harrow, or others who prefer to keep their activities with a minimum of exposure, the outgoing DeAngelo conducts his affairs as a businessman, albeit a ruthless one (and a careful one, given his clientele); and unlike his more discrete competition, he obviously has extensive resources ranging from his scientists and engineers to his security forces, which puts him one or two notches below A.I.M.

We've already learned what DeAngelo has offered to do for Banner--but what does DeAngelo need Banner for, enough to risk the appearance of the Hulk? The answer proves that you just never know where the Super-Adaptoid is going to show up next.

We don't really need to see a panel that gives us Banner's answer. As intent as he is on finding his wife's murderer, Banner is in no position to turn down DeAngelo's offer--a state of vulnerability that has often plagued him while trying to keep a low profile. Yet here he also seems a bit gullible. So far, DeAngelo has only offered Banner assurances and guarantees, things that you can only accept on good faith. Banner could at least insist on something more substantive from DeAngelo that demonstrates the man has a line on the murderer's identity--a reasonable enough request to make of DeAngelo, given his resources.

As for the Super-Adaptoid (though in this state, it more resembles the Adaptoid that A.I.M. originally created), its abilities over time have apparently evolved to such an extent that it can now shift its form to whatever specs are retained in its files. If this construct now truly possesses "the combined might of 100 heroes," as the issue's cover claims, it's curious that it always pops up in the amalgamation of the same four Avengers it imprinted early in its history, with Iron Man now added to the mix. For instance, in this particular confrontation, how odd that it doesn't take the opportunity to add the Hulk to its repertoire.

At any rate, while Banner doesn't seem to be the right man for the right job here (since when was he a specialist in androids?), he nevertheless gives DeAngelo results, all the while justifying his arrangement with DeAngelo as a necessary evil that would in return allow him to find his wife's murderer. But DeAngelo, never one to resist indulging in the thrill of his position, overplays his hand--and stupidly, at that, considering that Banner hasn't yet finished his work.

It's simply incredible that a man who has achieved what DeAngelo has would make such a colossal error in judgment, all for the sake of the high he gets by playing Banner as he has. He's just effectively told Banner that he has no interest at all in helping him, yet he's still confident that Banner is in his pocket and will stay that way--never once asking himself what's stopping Banner at this point from becoming the Hulk and trashing DeAngelo's entire operation (and likely DeAngelo himself).

Indeed, what is stopping Banner? Well, possibly he wants to make sure that DeAngelo gets what's coming to him, since the Hulk's first thought might be to simply escape this unknown place with a leap. Fortunately, DeAngelo's arrogance has left Banner with all the tools he needs to make that happen.

Afterward, Banner manages to escape his captivity and break out of the facility, likely convinced that the surprise he's left behind will more than keep DeAngelo and his men occupied, if not worse. But the surprise is on Banner, instead.

The two powerhouses mix it up brutally, with scenes nicely laid out by artist Javier Pulido, but, curiously, with only tepid narrative supplied by writer Joe Casey, even though we know these two combatants are capable of dialog that would enhance these scenes far more than the scant offerings that Casey provides. We don't even know, for instance, why the Super-Adaptoid has come after Banner--DeAngelo hasn't sent him (and likely wouldn't be able to, thanks to Banner's tinkering), so why the urge to pursue and attack this escaped guy in a cargo truck?

Finally, though, Banner's instructions kick in--and the Super-Adaptoid now knows where it needs to head, and who it needs to hold to account.

Incredibly, we'd discover later that DeAngelo survived the Super-Adaptoid's attack, taking his gift for deal-making next to "Thunderbolt" Ross, who's attempting to locate the Hulk. And since Ross has often accepted the Leader's help, it's obvious that his better judgment isn't going to serve him any better with a man like DeAngelo.

Kudos to Banner for keeping his cool next to this kid.

Incredible Hulk #469

Script: Joe Casey
Pencils: Javier Pulido
Inks: Larry Mahlstedt
Letterer: John Workman


George Chambers said...

Well, I seem to remember Banner building a robot tough enough to hold its own against the Hulk way back in his original title, and he is rated as one of the most intelligent men in the MU, so I guess he's a polymath. But wow, Devin D'Angelo... threatening a guy who not only can tear your arms and legs off, but who is smart enough to sabotage your Adaptoid? That's Doctor Doom-level arrogance with nothing to back it up.

Jared said...

I have generally stayed away from this short run because I do not like how Peter David was removed from the title. I think the lack of dialogue in the fight scene was part of Marvel's back to basics push for the title that would be realized a short time later when John Byrne relaunched the title.

Comicsfan said...

George, DeAngelo is definitely one to push his boundaries, assuming he thinks he even has any. Up to this point, he appears to have been proficient at covering all the bases, while it doesn't seem he's ever been held accountable by either his enemies or his clients--so with his profits burning holes in his pickets, his arrogance is understandable. But he certainly took a fall for it this time.

Anonymous said...

The Super-Adaptoid is one of my favorite bad guys of all time, but I can't help but wonder, who came first, the Adaptoid or D.C. Comic's Amazo? I suppose it's one of those chicken-and-eggs arguments, like who came first, the Man-Thing or Swamp Thing? X-men or the Doom Patrol?
Anybody know? Anyway, I think the Super Adaptoid is a heckuva lot cooler.

M.P. :)

George Chambers said...

M.P, Amazo was definitely first, having debuted in Brave and the Bold #30 in 1960, a full year before the Marvel Universe was born.

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