Monday, March 8, 2021

This Just Isn't Hulk's Day


Three scientists who had attempted in the past to create a powerful, perfect new breed of human which would facilitate their conquest of our world have reappeared to try again--only this time, to make sure their creation doesn't turn against them as before, they weave a tale of deception in order to gain the assistance of Stephen Strange, who is asked to coordinate a neuro-surgical procedure which would ensure that the brain of their prototype does not develop any inclinations which would prove to be a danger to themselves and their research facility they've named "the Beehive." His curiosity piqued, Strange agrees to hear out the group, over the objections of one who has been called the mightiest mortal on the face of the Earth.

As we've previously seen, the Hulk's instincts prove to be correct--and once the new being, Paragon, emerges from his cocoon, our mystic master is endangered when Morlak, the leader of the group, tests Paragon's brain alterations by ordering him to slay Strange. Yet Strange has had the forethought to send a mental summons to the Hulk in order to have the behemoth at his side if it should prove to be necessary; but while Strange's journey to the Beehive was near-instantaneous, the Hulk is forced to use his own might to travel from New York to the Beehive's location on an island near China, guided only by Strange's spell.

Even for the Hulk, such a journey will take time; if he relies solely on the power of his leaps, he'll take much longer on his own than the travel time of a transatlantic flight, which would be just over 14 hours. Unfortunately, as we're about to see, the Hulk will also encounter perilous encounters along the way--delays which may doom the one he races to save!

Since the Hulk is starting out from New York, and since Strange doesn't have the luxury of taking the time to mystically discern which flights out of NYC are headed for China for the Hulk to hitch a ride on (assuming Strange has even been made aware of where the Beehive is located), the Hulk has no choice but to swim the entire width of the Atlantic Ocean. But if he can survive the fire-first-and-ask-questions-later attack of a U.S. Navy sub, he could surprise us by improvising a more expedient way to cross the distance.

"How can the Hulk be swimming at such depths when he's known to be vulnerable to the effects of pressure?" you ask? "And how can even he hold his breath hanging onto that torpedo all the way across the Atlantic?" I'm afraid I can't help you--I'm still trying to figure out how a torpedo from a sub in U.S. waters has a range of over 3,700 miles.

And speaking of government operations, the Hulk has no better luck when he beaches his "metal fish" (which explodes in his face as a parting gift) only to find himself in the middle of a N.A.T.O. operation.

Curious choice of words on the Hulk's part. Being left alone was exactly the sentiment expressed by the N.A.T.O. commander before the Hulk began threatening them--how could the Hulk not have caught that?? Maybe it should have gone down this way:

"Take it easy, Hulk. We only want to be left alone!"
"Puny humans only want to be left alone? That's what Hulk wants, too!"
"Great! Then... uh, goodbye!" (waves)
"Huh?? ... You're trying to trick Hulk! Hulk will SMASH!"

(All right, so maybe diplomacy isn't my forte.)

At this point, though he doesn't trust Morlak and the others and feels that they're withholding information from him, Strange has agreed to assist them with their project, feeling that it's the only way he can learn what the experiment's true purpose is. As for the Hulk, he's reached what was still at this time the Soviet Union, about fourteen years prior to its dissolution. Alas, the Hulk's approach has coincided with a cosmonaut launch; but when we consider how focused the Hulk is at present on following Strange's mental summons, there's every chance that the man-brute will pay little mind to the rocket's blast-off and continue on. After all, it's not like the course of the rocket's ascent is going to carry it into the path of the Hulk while he's in mid-leap. That would be an absurd coincidence!  Then again, we did mention that the Hulk is having a day. (Something that our cosmonaut will shortly be able to relate to.)

Cut to: the Beehive, where Morlak has just ordered the newly-emerged Paragon to kill Dr. Strange, even as the Hulk's leaps take him over a Chinese nuclear testing station--a deadly site perhaps even for him (at least in 1977), should a test be scheduled for this day, on this hour, during the same minute that the Hulk is hurtling over ground zero. Or, put another way: Considering that this is a comic book, where a man of flame can fly to Jupiter and back for necessity's sake, a nuclear detonation happening on cue is pretty much at a writer's beck and call.

At the Beehive, with the duplicity of Morlak and his associates now revealed, Strange reveals himself as the Master of the Mystic Arts and attempts to deal with Paragon. Concurrently, the Hulk regains consciousness (!) on the island the blast hurled him toward--and while the natives there prove to be friendly, their good intentions are unfortunately lost in translation.

Heaven only knows how our poor natives are going to interpret what to them must appear to be the attack of their god in living form. If they're wise, they'll count their blessings that the Hulk is too preoccupied with Strange's urgency that he departs rather than stay to cause more widespread destructive damage and injury.

And on the subject of injury, Strange's efforts against Paragon have proven to be ineffectual--but just as defeat seems imminent, the Beehive is rocked by the Hulk's arrival, and his forceful entrance is (you'll pardon the expression) just what the Doctor ordered.

Paragon, as it turned out, refrained from any further battle once he underwent a metamorphosis that enabled him to see his creators for the evil men they were and then dealt with them accordingly. Yet it says something about the Hulk that he was still spoiling for a fight after making a grueling journey of over 7,000 miles and persevering through such a punishing set of "pit stops" before reaching the Beehive. Nothing can stop the Hulk, indeed--but hopefully his doctor had the presence of mind to prescribe a warm soak and some epsom salts for those stressed feet, nonetheless.



Big Murr said...

There were times when a reader could wince in sympathy for the Hulk. If only the military and heroes could know what we know by figuratively riding Hulk's shoulder thru his adventures. Maybe peaceful existence could happen.

THEN, there is an issue like this. Greenskin really is an unpredictable force of destruction. Some omniscient accountant needs to tally up the Hulk's victories over monsters/villains against the sheer property damage he creates...

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Murray, I also don't believe a laissez-faire approach to dealing with the Hulk would work.
Sure, the government could give him all the beans he could eat (remember how fond he was of beans?) and an occasional fresh pair of purple pants, but being so dang moody sooner or later he just would hop off like a big green grasshopper.
To God knows where, leaving massive property damage in his wake. Ever been around an ornery five-year-old kid?
Then again, siccing the army or the Avengers on him doesn't seem to work so good either.
I guess at the end of the day you just gotta regard him as any other natural catastrophe. Your neighbor's house might get flattened, but maybe yours won't! Luck of the draw!


Comicsfan said...

The issue of accountability where the Hulk is concerned is definitely one that can and should be addressed head-on, regardless of how much it puts Marvel in the hot seat as far as its efforts to paint the character as persecuted and even redeemable. Even Banner has recognized the danger the Hulk presents to others, giving him motivation to focus his efforts on ridding the world (and himself) of the brute--while the PPC has offered an opinion on the subject in a prior post as well as another. (And his trial was certainly a novel approach.) I thought World War Hulk might have settled the issue once and for all in people's minds (the Hulk blaming others for all the collateral damage--ye gods), but what do I know. :)