Incredible Hulk (Vol. 1) #209

Background

The Hulk recently (as of issue #202) was reduced to sub-atomic size and returned to K'ai, home of Jarella, queen of K'ai and love interest for Hulk/Banner. (She knows Hulk and Banner are one in the same). When he was retrieved by Leonard Samson, Jarella was caught in the beam as well, restoring both of them to normal size, but leaving Jarella stranded on Earth (#203). Once the Hulk calmed down and reverted to Banner, he began to acclimate Jarella to her new home.

Unfortunately their happiness would be short lived. During the Hulk's fight with the Crypto-Man (#205), Jarella was severely injured from the debris when she saved a child from a collapsing building (similar to George Stacy). Hulk brought her back to Gamma Base but Samson was unable to stop her from hemorrhaging to death. The Hulk went to New York to find Dr. Strange in the hope that he could save her, but it was too late.

The Hulk was inadvertently attacked by the US Army in New York. The resulting battle freed the Absorbing Man from his specialized cell. After the battle concluded, the Hulk wandered into an alley where he reverted to Banner. Using some emergency money he had pinned in his pants pocket, he buys new clothes (Hulk tends to shred his wardrobe) and rents a room from April Sommers, the flirtatious de facto landlord of a low-rent apartment complex, intent on starting a Hulk-free existence.

The Absorbing Man was teleported to the secret lair of the group known as "They". He is asked to kill the Hulk.

Story 'The Absorbing Man Is Out For Blood'

  Incredible Hulk (Vol. 1) #209
Summary: Spider-Man Cameo Flashback
Editor: Len Wein
Writer: Len Wein
Pencils: Sal Buscema
Inker: Joe Staton

The splash page depicts Absorbing Man watching the Hulk's image projected from a disco ball and is "out for [Hulk's] blood". This is good because given the fact that Creel is wearing a yellow jumpsuit, I thought he was out to do the hustle.

He agrees to kill the Hulk for his new bosses, the clandestine group known as "They". "They" remain concealed in the shadows while they converse with Creel. They explain that he is but the latest of encounters with the superhuman set. They armed the Orb in his fight with Ghost Rider and Spider-Man. They provided the flying arc used by Stegron to fight the Black Panther and Spider-Man. Finally their most recent campaign in which they began the Lava Man revolt which was stopped by Thor and the Human Torch. Creel remains unimpressed with their resume, but intends to honor his part of their agreement.

On Manhattan's lower east side, Bruce Banner begins to look for a job, but finds nobody will hire him. April contacts a friend of hers that gives Bruce a job at a construction site. Hours into his first day, the Absorbing Man attacks the site, demanding that Banner change into the Hulk.

While trying to dodge Creel, Banner slips off the skyscraper and begins to fall toward certain death. The obvious panic causes Banner to once again transform into the Hulk, who easily survives the fall. Hulk leaps back up to Creel and attacks him, learning that he is quite formidable.

Creel gains the upper hand and absorbs the Hulk's powers. He begins to choke the Hulk with his wrecking ball. The Hulk pounds on the floor, causing the entire skyscraper to collapse. With his contact broken Creel returns to normal.

He arrogantly tells the Hulk that all he has to do is absorb the properties of whatever is falling in order to survive. Unfortunately he reaches up and touches a large shard of glass. Shocked at this development, Creel doesn't look for any stronger materials and shatters on impact. He is quickly followed by the Hulk and the remainder of the collapsing skyscraper. Several minutes later the Hulk digs himself out from under the rubble.

In their remote lair, "They" watch the finale of the Hulk/Absorbing Man battle on specialized monitors. "They" are not surprised that Creel lost. "They" turn their attention to other matters, ignoring the Hulk who has retreated to an abandoned alleyway.

As the Hulk lays down, fatigued from the battle, he eventually reverts to Banner. As he sleeps soundly in the alley, he remains unaware that someone is watching him from the shadows.

General Comments

This story is a standard "Hulk on the run" type story in which Banner wants to try to live a normal life sans Hulk. Ok, that direction works every so often and this is one of those times. It makes sense as he just lost Jarella; attempting to start a new direction makes sense.

It should be noted that in this issue he takes on a very familiar Peter Parker attitude with job worries and a potential love interest. Bruce and April have quickly taken to their Peter/MJ roles without any trouble. This is more of a comment than a criticism. While it is not original it really doesn't bother me too much.

Overall Rating

3 webs. Nothing to complain about other than some exaggerated dialog and an abridged rematch with the Absorbing Man. All in all it was enjoyable.

Footnote

  • Jarella was introduced in Incredible Hulk (Vol. 1) #140
  • The Orb vs. Ghost Rider/Spider-Man battle occurred in Marvel Team-Up #15
  • The Stegron vs. Black Panther/Spider-Man battle occurred in Marvel Team-Up #20
  • The Lava Men vs Thor/Human Torch battle occurred in Marvel Team-Up #26