Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Hulk 282 (April 1983) "Again, Arsenal!"

The story opens with The Leader sitting at his computer aboard Omnivac, his orbiting space station plotting ways to conquer the world now that he believes the newly intelligent Hulk, finally under the control of Bruce Banner, is no longer a threat. Back at the Empire Hotel, Tony Stark is informed by the management that Bruce Banner and his friends can no longer stay at the hotel after it was trashed in last issue's battle with the Leader. They relocate to Avengers' Mansion to avoid more civil destruction. There, Bruce Banner helps Iron Man search for Ommivac, the Leader's orbiting space station using Stark's Omnifunctional Detection Device. Banner's Krylorian lover Bereet requests permission to film scenes for a documentary she is making on the Hulk. Iron Man refuses because there is no security clearance for cameras in Avengers Mansion. Bereet storms out in a huff and meets Jennifer Walters aka the She-Hulk in the hallway. Jen tries to be friendly but Bereet gives her the brush off. Meanwhile in the Bahamas, Betty Ross is sunbaking on the beach in a bikini trying to forget Bruce Banner. Her father General Thunderbolt Ross, on the beach in full military uniform, tells her that Banner remains a monster and should be forgotten once and for all. He embraces his daughter and they both shed a tear. Meanwhile back at Avengers Mansion Bruce and his cousin the She-Hulk are in deep conversation. Bruce aske Jen for forgiveness for turning her into a monster, but she tells him that she does not consider herself a monster and likes being the She-Hulk, as she is no longer the victim she once was. Her origin is retold. A former lawyer, Jennifer Walters was gunned down and lay close to death until a gamma-radiated blood transfusion from Bruce saved her but also transformed her into the savage She-Hulk. She considers herself now "an aggressive, positive force for good"; she likes being green and fighting supervillains and only has gratitude for what Bruce did. She tells Bruce that she does not consider herself or Bruce to be monsters and reassures him of her support. Suddenly, Jarvis is heard crying out in pain. Bruce, now with the power to transform into the Hulk at will, morphs into the Hulk and heads off to see what is happening,just as Stark's Omnifunctional Detection Device locates Omnivac. Arsenal the Living Weapon has emerged from the deepest sublevels of Avengers Mansion (Arsenal was created by Howard Stark, Tony Stark's father, in the closing days of WWII, and was controlled by a computer code-named "Mistress" with the voice of Maria Stark, Howard Stark's wife. It made its first appearance in Avengers Annual #4). The She-Hulk is attacked by the Living Arsenal and she wonders whether Bruce still has the rage that the Hulk had formerly now that he has control over his transformation. That question is answered in the affirmative as Banner gets angry and fights the living Arsenal with full Hulk power, until he destroys him. Banner discovers that the fight has been set up by the She-Hulk and her fellow Avengers, who suddenly appear, to prove to him that if he fights with Hulk's heart instead of Banner's head he can still be unstoppable. Iron Man informs the Hulk that the Leader has been located and the Hulk calls the Avengers to join him and go after the mad genius. "Next Month: Follow the Leader!"

The best thing about this comic is the art. Sal Buscema and Joe Sinnott are two of Marvel's greats. After reading a comic I like to just flip through the pages revisiting some of the interestig panels. Usually there are one or two worth considering again. This issue has whole pages full of great panels. The Leader never looked quite so egg-headed and malevolent as he does here. Tony Stark's eyes behind Iron Man's helmet speak volumes and the She-Hulk just leaps off the page. Bill Mantlo writes some pretty good dialogue too. Here's a sample of Sal Buscema's Hulk art, this one from three issues later - Hulk #285. Of course, it looks better in colour but this will give you an idea of his dynamism! "Get out of my way, insect!"

My rating 3 and and half stars. You can see the page I built at the Marvel database here.

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