Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Beauty vs. the Beast

After all the heartache and pain that has come to embody the relationship of Bruce Banner and Betty Ross--and how the incredible Hulk has been at the center of it all, in one way or another--it was only a matter of time before....

...before it drove both of them ABSOLUTELY BONKERS.

Or at least let them find a little long-overdue humor in their situation.

Their meeting comes when Joe Fixit, the surly crime enforcer of Las Vegas mobster Mike Berengetti, is revealed to be the Hulk, and he becomes more trouble to Berengetti than he's worth. And so he abandons Vegas, and Bruce Banner makes it a point to reconnect with Betty, who has spent her time in a convent after having a miscarriage. Banner locates her just as she's departing the convent and heading to New York; and when a manhunt ensues for Banner, the two return to the convent for sanctuary just before the military surrounds the building and demands that Banner surrender.

Of course, the military never counted on engaging Mother Superior.

Unfortunately, the Hulk gets involved--and everything, you'll pardon the expression, goes to hell. The Hulk manages to grab Betty and leap away from his pursuers, though not before the Reverend Mother gets a first-hand look at the aftermath of a Hulk dust-up.

So now it's Betty and the Hulk reconnecting, and from that cover image it would seem that they'll be all smiles. But their tone was far more serious in an earlier meeting (before "Joe Fixit" made the scene), when, again, Betty was reunited with Banner (after a lab accident saw the return of the gray Hulk) and she essentially insisted on a turning point--with both of the men in her life.

Betty is obviously not making much headway here, though that might have been a different story had this brute been in the form of the jade-hued, less intelligent Hulk, who was known to let down his guard when he was with Betty and had a number of gentle moments with her in times past. It would have been interesting to see if her attempts to reach Banner through that version of the Hulk would meet with success, had she made them to the extent she does now. Both Hulks, of course, have one thing in common--each knows (on some level) that Banner is a part of him, though each refuses to accept it. So Betty has her work cut out for her. As it is, she is only able to reach the Hulk here when she lets slip the fact that she's pregnant; and when the Hulk indeed gives her "just a glimpse of the man hidden inside" in the form of a tender embrace, Betty decides to stay with Banner, admitting that she and the Hulk "...came to an agreement of sorts. It was a start."

Which brings us full-circle to this latest encounter. For each of them, there isn't nearly as much tension, since they've already covered the ground they needed to in their prior meeting--"breaking the ice," so to speak. Here, however, it's important to note that it's the Hulk who's making the effort to reconnect. He could have simply leaped off after facing off with Samson--yet when he finally did so, he took Betty with him. Why?

As in most confrontations where a person pauses, Betty appears to recognize that she's found her way in. She wisely knows not to press the point; she simply takes the opportunity to establish more of a foundation regarding her relationship with the Hulk. As we'll see, both of them will be surprised at the turn their discussion takes.

I know, I'm thinking the same thing: Mother Superior needs to reestablish order here.


Dale Bagwell said...

Wow. Pretty cool issue, even cooler review. truly. Makes you really appreciate Peter David's run and what he did with the Hulk doesn't it? The way he really fleshed out the psychological side of the Hulk and why he was the way he was besides the whole being bombarded by gamma rays thing.

Very interesting and cool to see Betty and the Grey Hulk persona make peace though. Definitely something that wouldn't have happened had Betty and the Grey Hulk not gone through the things they did to get them there.
Damn, I'd even forgotten about the whole miscarriage thing.
How often has that being mentioned since this? Not much that I remember.

Comicsfan said...

Dale, while David's contribution to Incredible Hulk was considerable, and he did indeed probe beneath the surface to a degree (as did John Byrne with the world of the Hulk in general), I'd have to tip my hat more to Bill Mantlo for his own efforts in this regard, and one issue in particular. Mantlo's writing of the book tended to lean toward the sensational at times, particularly whenever he factored in the Avengers--but he dug a little more deeply into the Hulk's persona than most others, and produced very interesting stories as a result.

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