Tuesday, February 3, 2015

When Wakes The Presence!

With the Hulk's wanderings in the Middle East coming to an end, after meeting Sabra in Israel and then the Arabian Knight in Egypt, writer Bill Mantlo has him winding up in Soviet-occupied Afghanistan, where the rebels of that country now find they have a reluctant, and formidable, ally:

But since Mantlo has had the Hulk meeting other super-beings while leaping across the region, it's unlikely the brute will spend the entirety of this issue fighting Russian soldiers. And since there is no indigenous super-hero yet spawned by Afghanistan, the Hulk will find himself removed from this war-torn land and sent elsewhere.

The "certain doom" our clever pilot is referring to will be found in a mysterious region of Khystym named "the Forbidden Zone," a radioactive wasteland first seen in The Defenders. Khystym had its own real-life nuclear disaster in 1957--but the Zone has been thus named for other reasons, which we saw in The Defenders and which will be followed up on here. But as for this story's guest-hero(es), who is it that the Hulk will be meeting this time?

But, first things first. Quite early in this story, we're introduced to the Soviet Super-Soldiers, members of which we've seen informally in The Champions and later in Invincible Iron Man (stories also scripted by Mantlo), who have been called together by their superior, Col. Yuri Brevlov, to investigate an unexplained power surge in the Zone. This is our first opportunity to see the Super-Soldiers as a bona fide group, and Mantlo gives them four generous pages of exposition:

Once the, eh, pleasantries have been exchanged, Brevlov explains their mission in detail, which would once again lead to an encounter with the being known as "the Presence":

The Hulk, as we've seen, has beaten the group to the Forbidden Zone. And since he was with the Defenders in their encounters with both the Presence and his paramour, Tania Belinsky (the former Red Guardian), he has a vague recollection of both the area and the beings he once again finds there:

Naturally, when the Super-Soldiers arrive, there are questions to be asked as to the Hulk's involvement in this place. But there is a figure in the shadows (whom we'll learn more of later) who has plans of his own--and so he fires on the Hulk to provoke a conflict. The tactic works, since the Hulk believes it is the Crimson Dynamo who has attacked him:

To put it mildly, the Hulk proceeds to decimate the so-called Super-Soldiers.

As Ursa Major continues to attack, the shadowy figure makes off with Darkstar and Vanguard. In the meantime, another figure has been stirred to action by the violent conflict--and Ursa Major finds that the window of opportunity the Super-Soldiers had to end his threat has now slammed shut.

With the shadowy figure's involvement, we can assume there's more to the threat of the Forbidden Zone than just the Presence's, er, presence (heh). When we pick up on Part Two of this story, we'll learn that figure's secret and why he's so interested in the Forbidden Zone, as well as the unknown connection between Darkstar and Sergei. And despite the ending to Part One, you'd better believe the Hulk won't be content sitting this one out on the sidelines!

Incredible Hulk #258

Script: Bill Mantlo
Pencils and Inks: Sal Buscema
Letterer: Jim Novak

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"Bow down! For you are in the presence of the...ah...Presence.."
("Geez, I've gotta come up with a better self-introduction...") mp

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