Thursday, May 7, 2015

Where Walk The Immortals!


It was probably the shortest invasion of Asgard on record, but the incredible Hulk did indeed pay the "Realm Eternal" a visit, as the mag that reintroduced him to readers, Tales To Astonish, drew to a close:



It appears from the cover that all of Asgard is up in arms over the Hulk's presence, but appearances here are a little deceiving. The story in this issue is a mere eleven pages, and the Hulk ends up only engaging with a few of Asgard's secondary players here before becoming more mired in Asgard's internal problems with troll armies when his new solo title is launched the next month. You'll see a good deal of the Warriors Three, nothing of Thor, and very little of Odin by the time it's all over--and even Loki, whom you'd expect to be in the thick of things, is mostly a behind-the-scenes character who doesn't take on the Hulk as he once did the Silver Surfer but is responsible for setting the Hulk loose in the realm:




It's something of a stitched-together plot on Loki's part; basically, he hopes that the Hulk will raise so much of a ruckus in Asgard that it will distract Odin's attention away from aiding his son, Thor, in a recent conflict. (We never learn here why Thor is in such peril--you'd think that an editor's note would make mention of the specifics and thus give the Thor story a plug. According to the date of the story, Thor was in dire straits at this point in time--as well as practically in the arms of Hela, the Goddess of Death--after losing a battle with the Wrecker which he was forced to fight while stripped of his power, thanks to the spitefulness of his father.  So Odin should be feeling a little preoccupied, the old coot.)

Granted, the Hulk vs. the Warriors Three doesn't seem like much of a story. However, we do get some exquisite scenes by artist Marie Severin, who is at the top of her game on the heels of her action-packed rendition of the Hulk/Sub-Mariner battle which took place in the prior issue:





After grappling with the Hulk, Fandral and his comrades come to the conclusion that the brute is in Asgard by mistake and isn't seeking battle with the Asgardians--and since the ceasing of hostilities throws a wrench into Loki's plan (such as it is), he finally appears in the flesh to stoke the tempers of those warriors on the scene. Unfortunately for him, Hogun isn't having it.




And so the Warriors plan to conduct the Hulk to an oracle for guidance in his disposition--but Loki makes good his unspoken threat to strike out of spite (a chip off the old block, this one), and, in symmetry with the story's beginning, changes the Hulk back to Banner just as he's leaping across a chasm, and Banner plummets. Apparently Loki isn't a big believer in the concept of momentum:




In Incredible Hulk #102 (the first issue of his new series, despite the numbering), Banner is saved by the Enchantress and the Executioner, who regret their actions when they find Banner void of useful information--but in threatening to slay him, they cause him to lose control and revert to the Hulk, who goes on to become embroiled in the troll/Asgardian conflict but mostly fights on Asgard's behalf. The brute only encounters Odin when the battle is over and Odin steps in to save the Hulk's life after a lethal strike by the Enchantress, though the meeting is abrupt and not without its rocky moments:




And so back to Earth the Hulk goes, where he runs into a nasty character called the Space Parasite--another haughty foe who, like Odin, could benefit from some people skills.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I have a whole bunch of the reprints, from MARVEL SUPERHEROES, including the first issue reviewed here, but not the issue of M.S. that comes after this one.
Maybe there isn't one, if the regular HULK title kicked in after that. It's good to finally find out that the Hulk made it out okay. It was a real cliffhanger, in that the Hulk actually fell off a cliff at the end.
That momentum thing made me scratch my head too. I guess once you stop being green the laws of physics change.
Marie Severin's art has really grown on me. I didn't care for it much when I was younger, but after seeing her amazing work DOCTOR STRANGE I have a real appreciation for the wild weirdness of it.
I have spoken!
M.P.

Comicsfan said...

Careful, M.P. Word has it that Odin doesn't like to be made a mockery of--and any guy who can dismiss the Hulk isn't to be taken lightly! ;)

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