"And Canst Thou Slay... The Juggernaut?"
Plotted by Roy Thomas.
Scripted by Tony Isabella.
Drawn by Herb Trimpe.
Lettering by A Kupperberg.
Colours by P Goldberg.
You have to hand it to Dr Peter Corbeau. Every time he tries to help the Hulk, he messes up on a scale few could even aspire to. Last time he showed up, he almost blew up the sun. This time his incompetence is less ambitious, managing only to bring the Juggernaut back to Earth and enabling him to team up with the Hulk in an unstoppable rampage.
But, of course, given the Juggernaut's evil intent, it's not long before the Hulk and he are hitting each other hammer and tongs.
You can't help feeling there's a certain amount of repetition going on here. Only last month we had the Abomination and Rhino teaming up to destroy the Hulkbuster Base, and this issue it's the Hulk and Juggernaut's turn. Editor Roy Thomas even acknowledges the fact in one of his captions.
In fact, the fight between the Hulk and the Juggernaut's arguably the most disappointing thing about the mag, simply because, when they first meet, the Juggernaut bucks the trend for comic book villains by showing no interest in fighting the Hulk at all. The Hulk shows no interest in fighting the Juggernaut. They merely see each other as necessary and temporary allies in their mutual bid to escape the base.
It makes a refreshing change to be offered the prospect that, once they've busted out, they're simply going to go their separate ways, with the story serving mainly as a means to reintroduce the Juggernaut to the Marvel Universe. Therefore it feels somewhat of a let-down when things revert to formula, and a sequence of events is contrived to make the Hulk and Juggernaut start to fight. It's not that we don't all want to see the answer to the question of who'd win a scrap between the Hulk and the Juggernaut. It's just that it feels a lazier and more obvious development than to have them simply split up once they're out.
There's also the problem that a battle between the Hulk and Juggernaut inevitably carries a sense of futility as, realistically, we all know there's never going to be a winner. And so it is that we get a Deus X-Men Machina ending in which the Juggernaut's helmet comes off just as Professor X and Marvel Girl show up to take advantage of his head-wear deficit and zap him with the mental blasts that finish him off. The Hulk's not even directly involved at this point, having grown tired of his scrap with the Juggernaut and wandered off. Echoes again of last issue.
In truth, given that neither the Hulk nor the Juggernaut could ever defeat the other, the most interesting conflict in the issue's really between Thunderbolt Ross and Colonel Armbruster. The General, who's matured over the years to feel he has a sense of duty to both the Hulk and Bruce Banner, doesn't approve at all of the way new Hulkbuster commander Armbruster's doing things. I suppose there's an irony that the gung-ho and cocksure Armbruster's basically doing things the way Thunderbolt Ross used to and, just like Ross - and Dr Corbeau - he manages to get it wrong every step of the way.