Monday, October 28, 2013

In The Hands of Hydra!


At the end of the issue of Incredible Hulk which introduced the character of Jim Wilson, poor Jim had to be feeling pretty low. After establishing mutual trust and friendship between himself and the green goliath, Jim made the decision to assist Iron Man and the army in capturing the Hulk, in the honest belief that it would end up helping both the Hulk and Bruce Banner. Yet, Banner's predicament seems to be worse than before: not only has he been physically rejoined with the Hulk, but there's a good chance that he's trapped within the brute for good this time. As for the Hulk, he remains in military custody, chained and drugged.

And so Jim departs the base with a guilty conscience:



Jim, of course, has the edge on Talbot--knowing the neighborhood as he does, as well as having plenty of experience slipping out of tight spots. So slipping away from a tail is *ahem* child's play:



Others have said that artist Herb Trimpe proved to be the definitive artist on Incredible Hulk, but I'll go them one further by adding that John Severin's inks finishing his work made the art on this book truly stand out. There's a sense of realism to Severin's finishes that brings sharp focus to Trimpe's scenes, which applied not only to gritty neighborhoods and the monstrous appearance of the Hulk but also to the high-tech hardware at which Trimpe excelled. And speaking of which, let's have a look at what's got Jim so startled after he scaled that fence:



Thanks to Jim's resourceful benefactor, he's able to leave Talbot scratching his head at his sudden disappearance. But talk about going out of the frying pan and into the incinerator, as Jim arrives at his destination:


I don't know about you, but I can't wait to see how Jim slips out of this tight spot.



Now, you and I know that Hydra isn't in the habit of helping kids get out of sticky situations. So what could they be after, and why do they need Jim Wilson? Would you believe: so they can help the Hulk!? Jim is ushered into a small screening room, where the Supreme Hydra shows him filmed proof of just what kind of people he's helped deliver the Hulk to:



Needless to say, after the brutal treatment of the Hulk he's been shown, Jim is ready to sign on to any plan that will free the Hulk from Ross's base. He has no way of knowing what kind of organization Hydra is (well, he might have listened more closely to that "...as the world shall soon serve us" part of their oath), nor does he know that the footage he's seen featured only a robot Hulk being tested by the army. But however misguided, as friends go he proves his worth to the Hulk by getting back into Ross's good graces and scoring a visit to where the Hulk is being held, paving the way for the brute's retrieval by Hydra:



As we've seen, only after Jim succeeds does he learn the truth behind Hydra, and that their plans for the Hulk--and the world--lack any compassion or mercy whatsoever. And he acts to save his friend:



Once the Hulk is free, Hydra proves no match for him, despite the armament they bring to bear. Unfortunately, there's one person sticking by his side who proves vulnerable to weapons fire:



(I couldn't look a gift horse like this in the mouth, so I took the opportunity to make another "Caption This!" contest out of that last panel--though really, I'm betting a loud snarl would do, at this point.  Take a crack at providing your own cringe-worthy caption!)

Suffice to say that the Hulk goes on to decimate the Hydra ship, forcing their retreat before the imminent arrival of an approaching military task force. And with the fight over, the Hulk does what he can for Jim:



In the next issue, Ross manages to secure at least enough of the Hulk's cooperation to retrieve Jim and see to his recovery.

Over the years, Jim Wilson appears several more times to reconnect with the Hulk; though, tragically, he was fated to meet his death from AIDS, in a moving issue published in 1994 and written by long-time Hulk scripter Peter David. For those of us who followed the character from his inception, it provided a final bit of dignity to Roy Thomas's already dignified and remarkable character.

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