Graytness 2: Leading towards Darkness

Marvel Visionaries: Peter David, The Incredible Hulk, Vol. 2
Writer: Peter David
Artist: Todd McFarlane

December 24, 2006

By Avi Green

When last we saw our giant anti-hero, then turned gray, he and his pals were starting off on the road in search of the gamma radiation experiments being conducted by corrupt S.H.I.E.L.D officials, which are being coveted by the newly repowered Leader for his own sinister purposes. This collection of the following issues offers more of a look at what happens when Bruce Banner/the Hulk, Rick Jones and Clay Quartermain head across the country to search for the shady dealings being done.

Among the points of interest here, we get a rematch between the Hulk and Wolverine, who first debuted in a two-part story in late 1974 as Canada’s first official superhero of the times. We also get to see the Hulk face off against Half-Life, a living-dead English teacher revived by the Leader as a means of trying to defeat the Hulk. And, we also get to see the Leader himself hatching his latest evil plot, which involves capturing two former S.H.I.E.L.D agents and members of the Hulkbusters, Samuel LaRoquette and Craig Saunders, and turning them into Rock and Redeemer, two very deadly henchmen of his. The former, at least at first, piloted a special suit made of a form of rock that could change shape at his mindly command, and the latter wore a suit of armor and toted a plasma rifle. And, the Leader also made sure that his minions captured Betty Banner, who’d run away from the erstwhile boyfriend she’d taken off with, and was residing in a hotel in another part of the country instead, contemplating her feelings for Bruce.

The Leader took to using Rock and Redeemer as a means for breaking into the southwester gamma base where the ingredients he needed were kept, while at the same time, he released Betty in a forest through which Bruce and company were driving while some robots chased after her to use as a stalling tactic, as Bruce, upon transformation into the Hulk, would go to her rescue. Sterns planned to use the bomb-making materials he’d stolen for the purpose a most evil plot: to destroy a town of about 5000 residents, whom he’d even made sure to keep cut off from the outside world by having any news they received be cleverly masked so as not to include anything that could tip them off to his own intentions. Thus, when Bruce, Betty and company arrived, they were unsuccessful in convincing them…before the explosion that took almost all the town with it, save for four individuals, those being a teenage girl and her boyfriend, a priest and a salesman. The Leader would soon take them away and brainwash them to serve as additional minions of his.

The Hulk had been caught in the middle of the blast, and when this happened, while he was still gray, he regained the ability to turn into the Hulk at daytime, though at one point he found that it was difficult to cope with sunlight. And this led to a most amazing adventure of his, as he ended up in Las Vegas, as an enforcer for a kindly casino manager. This is also where Marlo Chandler, then a call girl in Vegas, first appeared, asked by the casino staff to provide the Hulk with a fun night together. The world of comics can be quite full of surprises, can’t it? As can also the world of the Hulk under David’s pen.

During this time, the Hulk faced off against the Absorbing Man, who’d been hired by a crooked casino magnate to try and put an end to the giant bodyguard standing in the way of his mob. We get a little insight into the thinking patterns of Carl “Crusher” Creel as well. And the fight between the Hulk and Crusher is one of the best matches in Hulk history.

Marlo would later go on to marry Rick Jones, and become a good friend of Betty’s as well. This collection has some very good suspense included in it, and it’s great reading for fans of the er, gray goliath, as he was here at the time. Very well done.

Copyright 2006 Avi Green. All rights reserved.

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