Friday, October 27, 2017

When Monsters Meet!

With Halloween just around the corner, it's the perfect time to bring forth the monsters! And for that, we need look no further than the incredible Hulk, who has often been called such--only this night, he battles one that may be more deserving of the name, even before the transformation that leaves him in the streets slithering for prey.

What leads us to this point is a contentious hearing on Capitol Hill, where we find Gen. "Thunderbolt" Ross justifying continued funding for the newly-completed but nearly-demolished Project Greenskin base. Seated at the General's table is Senator Morton Clegstead, whose political clout was instrumental in pushing through approval for the project--but as we'll discover, Sen. Clegstead has a vested interest in keeping Project Greenskin from being shuttered.

The vote goes in Ross's favor--but the relief that Clegstead feels is more obvious, since a crucial but radical treatment is about to be initiated that will decide both his political future and his very life, a treatment made possible by the Hulk's previous imprisonment at Hulkbuster Base.

Despite the seriousness of his illness, there is no sympathy forthcoming in writer Archie Goodwin's story for the character of Clegstead, who as a U.S. Senator now enjoys the status he fought to attain and means to keep it no matter the cost. But with the risk he's taking by gambling his life on Dr. Lathrop's treatment for his condition, the cost could likely be far more than he can hope to pay.

In the interim, Bruce Banner has arrived in Washington with the hope of consulting with Dr. Henry Pym (currently on the lecture circuit) in order to use his expertise in size control to return to the sub-atomic world where Banner, as the Hulk, met and fell in love with that world's ruler, Jarella. But when Banner encounters a surly janitor in an empty auditorium, the Hulk is again unleashed, putting Ross on alert and diverting him to the area. For Clegstead, however, whose condition has seemingly improved, the Hulk's rampage is the perfect chance for a timely photo op that will allow him to reassert his standing and perhaps even strengthen it.

Yet Clegstead's departure to the scene is observed by his opponent at the Hulkbuster hearing, Sen. Dutton, who has some pointed questions for Clegstead in regard to his association with Lathrop; but after being brutally struck to the ground by an unusually forceful blow by Clegstead, Dutton makes a shocking observation as Clegstead turns to leave.

Dutton's alarmed comment is followed by Lathrop's urgent warning to return to the house for further examination. But when his plea goes unheeded, we learn through Lathrop further details of the reaction his treatment has produced in Clegstead, with Lathrop not realizing that his words have come too late--for both his patient and himself.

Back at the Hulk's location, the brute has begun lashing out at the authorities assembled at the scene (and at Ross in particular). But with the arrival of an out-of-control limo speeding around the corner, Clegstead may well be rewarded with all the media exposure he craved--though the sight they record will be a horrifying one, rendering his political aspirations moot.

Goodwin's narrative is, pardon the expression, dead-on--as the oozing mass that was Clegstead moves toward the Hulk and attempts to consume him, a living swarm of vengeance that the Hulk appears powerless to stop. To make matters worse, coming into contact with the mass causes severe injury to the Hulk, slowing his movements and making him more vulnerable--as well as, unbelievably, panic-stricken.

At this point, only a stroke of luck could save the Hulk from this horror--luck, or a makeshift lightning rod.

With the thing-that-was-Clegstead incinerated, the Hulk staggers from the scene. But as you wander about this Halloween weekend, be wary of any strange, slime-like sensation you may feel around your ankles. Because it could well mean that... that...




Incredible Hulk #151

Script: Archie Goodwin
Pencils: Herb Trimpe
Inks: John Severin
Letterer: Artie Simek


Haydn said...

Archie Goodwin gave the Hulk a pretty extensive category in this story. I think I prefer the Green Goliath that way, as a reasoning being rather than a mindless brute.

Haydn said...

Extensive VOCABULARY. Sorry!

Comicsfan said...

I'm generally pleased with any script of Goodwin's, Haydn, and for any character--though I'm guessing that the Hulk had a lot to say here mostly because, unlike his other battles, his foe wasn't able to utter any words to carry things along.

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