Monday, January 17, 2022

My Mind To Your Brawn...



The astonishing Ant-Man and the incredible Hulk have joined forces to battle a base full of Hydra agents (and no shortage of rats) who have developed a biological weapon they've named Virus Nine--and in their employ (Hydra's, not the rats'), the villain known as the Chameleon. The end of that melee sees the Hulk having changed to Bruce Banner--and with the Chameleon bearing down on them, the timing couldn't be worse.

Later, Ant-Man is interviewed on the news and conveys what he believes to be true, a report which stuns those who have been most involved with the Hulk--including Betty Ross, the woman who loved Bruce Banner, and who must now deal with his loss.

If you have the impression that Maj. Talbot has pounced like a panther to capitalize on the moment when Betty is most vulnerable, well, even a dedicated army officer like himself can apparently have tunnel vision where Betty is concerned.

With Banner presumed dead, Betty and Talbot grow much closer, and eventually become engaged. Meanwhile, following the ingestion of an experimental serum developed by Henry Pym, the shrinking that the Hulk had undergone proceeds even further out of control (and just in time where the Chameleon's heel was concerned), sending Banner to the sub-atomic level and on to a microscopic world he had visited once before--the world of Jarella, whom both the Hulk and Banner had loved. In time, the shrinking serum, unstable to begin with, wore off without warning, and the Hulk returned to his normal size; but elsewhere, one of his oldest foes was laying the foundation for a scheme of revenge against him, a plan that might put the Hulk's closest friend in harm's (and horn's) way.

The computer narrative we've been witness to omits the name of the mechanism's master, the architect of this scheme. Regardless, that man now uses his formidable power to ensnare a former ally who once did his bidding--and soon enough, the Leader, now rendered a quadriplegic from a failed objective to take control of the U.S. government, makes plans to use the villain appropriately named the Rhino in a much different way than he previously had.

We have to believe that the Leader has a higher opinion of the Rhino's might than we do, since the horned brute appeared outmatched by the Hulk in their last meeting. But opportunity awaits the Leader, as we'll see.

Meanwhile, in yet another example of how small a world this really is, Jim Wilson, one of the Hulk's few genuine friends, is on his way to Newark, NJ--and take a guess which man-monster, whose unwilling exit from Jarella's world has left him frustrated and angry, has ended up causing a traffic jam on the turnpike?

Convincing the Hulk to get out of sight and take refuge at a nearby refinery, the Hulk's rage subsides enough to trigger his change to Banner, who hears from Jim the regrettable news about Betty's imminent marriage to Talbot. But there is someone else present to whom this news is of greater import--specifically, as the means to gain his revenge against both Banner and the Hulk.

The Leader is making reference to the wedding plans of Betty and Banner at the point in time when Banner's mind had gained control of the Hulk's form, a ceremony which the Rhino brutally interrupted at the Leader's command (though not exactly turning out to be the finest hour of either villain). With the information he's gained here, the Leader has decided to change his tactics of brute force vs. brute force, in favor of repeating his earlier scheme and again force the Hulk's appearance at Betty's nuptials where her death might occur as a result.

Of course, first the Leader must retreat from what has turned into an all-out battle with the Hulk--something the Rhino might not have managed, but possible for someone who knows he must only delay his foe in order to put his new plan in motion.

But what plan is being executed here? Fortunately (if you happen to be Betty Ross), things don't go the way the Leader had boasted. With the Hulk now a "passenger" on the shuttle, the Leader withdraws his possession of the Rhino's body and mind, and the shuttle's course is adjusted to a trajectory which will have it assuming a permanent orbit around the sun--and the Leader's true plan is revealed, one which perhaps works out for the best where General Ross, his daughter, and his new son-in-law are concerned.

What Ross and his officers (as well as the Leader) have no way of knowing is that the Leader's damaged shuttle will have another destination--and Ross has good reason to question whether he and his family have truly seen the last of Bruce Banner.


Anonymous said...

I think it's a credit to the writers/editors of the Hulk that they didn't depict Glenn Talbot as simply some kinda mean, evil, s.o.b. (i.e., bad guy), but rather a complicated person who's as much a victim of fate as anybody in this drama-drenched comic. He loved his wife and tried to do what he thought was the right thing.
Granted, he became obsessed and acted like a maniac at the end, but there's only so much chaos and pressure a guy can take.

...I assume Marvel has brought him back by now.
Maybe in clone form.


Comicsfan said...

Well put, M.P. (Though if you substituted "daughter" for "wife," you could also be talking about "Thunderbolt" Ross!)