Friday, July 26, 2019

Mission: Draft The Hulk!

Before the end of 1965, the incredible Hulk would battle a nameless enemy for possession of an astonishing machine which was in the custody of the Watcher--an ultimate machine, in fact, so named because it contained all the knowledge of the universe. The existence of such a device would have been like catnip to a man like the Leader, whose gamma-ray-spawned mind had been enhanced to be far superior to those of most humans; and so, in exchange for his removing a bullet that had been lodged in the Hulk's brain, the Hulk agreed to retrieve the "ultimate machine" for him from the Watcher's homeworld.

Yet unknown to the Hulk, another world had sent its own champion to claim the device--and the newcomer wasn't exactly interested in drawing straws for it.

In this instance, the Watcher's credo has worked against him, with word apparently having gotten out that his homeworld is a virtual flea market containing a treasure trove of advanced scientific wonders collected from across the universe--the difference being that nothing is tagged for sale, and all of the devices are ripe for the picking since the Watcher is prohibited from interfering with those who arrive to help themselves to them. (Seems quite an oversight on the Watcher's part. I don't see anything stopping him from shielding the storage chamber from unauthorized access, but what do I know about his thinking on this.)

Yet our amphibious friend's vaunted reputation hasn't taken into account any foe like the Hulk. Currently, Bruce Banner's mind has risen to a conscious level and controls the Hulk to some degree; but unlike other times where that's been the case, there still remains a great deal of the Hulk's raging persona, enough for Banner to almost relish the power he now commands.

The Watcher's words are rather curious, aren't they? We've observed the power of the Watcher through the years, which he describes as "the power to shatter planets--to make galaxies tremble" (rather standard fare as descriptions go, for such characters as scripted by Stan Lee); but as we've seen evidence of in his race's origin tale, it turns out that the Watcher's power is far more dependent on technology than revealed:

Returning to the matter at hand, the brute the Hulk battles gains something of an advantage when their fight is taken to a nearby lake; even so, the amphibious champion is eventually dealt another setback, enough for the fight's "referee" to call the match.

But over sixteen years later, our amphibian would return--along with a little backup.

Which is our cue to return with another

Marvel Trivia Question

What was the name of this "team" that came for our green goliath?

As we move on to 1982, it's still the rampaging Hulk who is the bane of Banner's life, though having returned to suppressing the scientist's mind when he is dominant--yet it's the man who has retreated to his desert lab along with Betty Ross and Rick Jones to work on a way to rid himself of the man-monster forever, something that Rick is not all in favor of. But all of their concerns take a back seat when three alien vessels suddenly appear and deposit beings who, at one time or another, have all had dealings with the Hulk, and whose mission now appears to be more ominous.

Yes, to Earth have come the Hulk-Hunters--whose name isn't as formal as we might assume at first glance, though Banner and his friends can't help but be apprehensive at its implication. We've already met Amphibion, who now has a name courtesy of writer Bill Mantlo; and you may remember Dark-Crawler, formerly the Night-Crawler, whose moniker has been adjusted here presumably to avoid confusion with the X-Man who has adopted that name, and Torgo, who engaged in battle with the Thing while both were captives of Skrull slave-traders.

As for whether these three will be rewarded for their "hunt" by having tracked down their quarry, Banner's reaction to their presence practically guarantees it.

Dark-Crawler unfortunately gets nowhere in trying to convince the Hulk that the meaning of his group's name only translates to having searched for him (as well as, it goes without saying, supplying eye-catching cover copy); but for the Hulk, things have progressed past the point of reason, particularly when his "seekers" pile on in an attempt to explain their mission. Regrettably, in their haste, they misjudge their choice of words, which only escalates the situation.

Finally, the arrival of the woman who has set the Hulk-Hunters on their task prompts a cessation of hostilities, as she brings warning of the return of the Galaxy Master--and a plea for help to the one who is needed to hopefully end his threat once more.

But aboard Daydra's ship and en route to their destination, we see that Amphibion, who still harbors a grudge for his defeat at the Hulk's hands as well as his humiliating encounter with the brute on Earth, isn't willing to let the matter drop, even in light of the greater danger which all of them must join forces to fight.

As for the so-called Ravager of Worlds whose role is to quash resistance on those worlds targeted by the Galaxy Master for energy consumption, the Hulk recognizes him on sight, if having some difficulty with his cumbersome name.

Clearly this crew has their work cut out for them. The fact that we've seen the Hulk since, but not hide nor hair of the Hulk-Hunters (with the exception of Dark-Crawler), shouldn't necessarily be taken to mean that they were fatally dealt with by either the Abomination or the Galaxy Master--though Amphibion isn't likely to have fond memories of how his boasting of a rematch with the Abomination worked out for him.


Big Murr said...

I dunno if the first vintage tale touches on the inconsistency of the Watcher's passive behaviour or not. The treatment the Red Ghost received for trying to burgle the Watcher's moon base was anything but passive. He was sent on a whirlwind tour of space-time to see an assortment of exile destinations before being tossed out. Wolverine experienced the same treatment.

But, perhaps it was only a bluff on the Watcher's part, to deter simple-minded primitives.

lordjim6 said...

I agree. Also, the Amphibion did appear again (Hulk 472-474).

Comicsfan said...

Thanks, lordjim! (You'd think I would have remembered that story, wouldn't you?)

Anonymous said...

Cool review. Amphibion! Formerly known as The Red Guy.
I first encountered this cat with the Hulk Hunters. He apparently got more talkative and belligerent, and of no use whatsoever except talking $#!t and getting hit.
I wondered what his deal was.