"Phantom From 5,000 Fathoms!"
Written by Steve Englehart.
Drawn by Herb Trimpe.
Inked by Sal Trapani.
Lettering by John Costanza.
Colours by David Hunt.
The romance of the sea may be lost on the Hulk but it's not lost on Steve Englehart who kicks the tale off with a quick bout of John Masefield's Sea Fever. He's not the first writer to quote poetry in the strip and I do wonder if The Incredible Hulk has at this stage featured more poetry than any other super-hero comic.
Sadly such dreaminess can't last and, deciding the best way to get home from the frozen Arctic wasteland he's found himself in is to go for a swim, the Hulk promptly finds himself captured by the mysterious Captain Omen, master of a gigantic submarine that doubles up as a citadel. Not short of ambition, Omen wants to claim all the sea floor as his territory.
Quite what the Sub-Mariner and Attuma would make of that isn't touched on but we do know the Hulk's not impressed and goes into Hulk Smash Mode, only to find himself stood on the sea bed and having to obey Captain Omen's orders if he wants to keep the air supply that's the only thing keeping him alive.
It's nice to see comic books honouring their tradition of total originality as the Hulk comes up against an antagonist who in no way resembles Jules Verne's Captain Nemo and has a name that's in no way an anagram of it. But, despite his lack of originality, Omen's an intriguing character. It's hard to make out if he's a bad guy or just lacks man-management skills and, as with last issue, Trimpe seems to be enjoying himself, in his depiction of the huge sub, with its strange-looking crew, mechanical birds and and giant Toad Whales.
Again the main intrigue comes from the capture of Thunderbolt Ross, with a new character - Colonel John D Armbruster - introduced. Armbruster's been engaged by Washington to lead the mission to rescue Ross from the Russians and even though I don't like to make snap judgements about someone, with his background in Vietnam and overly-brisk manner, I can't help feeling he's going to turn out to be trouble.