"Mind Over Mayhem!"
Written by Len Wein.
Drawn by Herb Trimpe.
Inked by Joe Staton.
Lettering by Artie Simek.
Colours by Glynis Wein.
Incredible Hulk #188 might be memorable for many things but the one that leaps out at you like a sore sauropod is the introduction of Droog, the murderous poetic triceratops of terror.
With his love of flinging rhyming couplets at you as he tries to kill you, Droog has to be the strangest creation the strip had yet come up with and, bearing in mind this is the comic that once brought us a giant killer mouth in space, that's quite a boast to make. What the thinking was behind Droog's conception is anyone's guess but you can only suspect Len Wein may not have been totally serious when he first proposed it.
Still, however bizarre the thing may be, it does guarantee that, once read, the story'll never be forgotten, as the attempt to rescue Glenn Talbot from the Gremlin's fortress continues.
Thanks to Clay Quartermain happening to have a bomb concealed beneath his fingernail, the rescue party bust free from their cell and confront the Gremlin who summons Droog to deal with them. As the Hulk fights Droog, the good guys make their escape, just before SHIELD blast the fortress to smithereens.
You can't ignore the fact that SHIELD's actions in annihilating the fortress seem somewhat irresponsible, as they have no way of knowing whether Ross and his gang have actually got out of the place first. In all honesty, I'm not sure SHIELD overall come across as the most reliable organisation in the world. Every one of their agents that we see this issue seems perhaps a little too "flamboyant" and gung ho for the sake of professionalism.
Still, this is a comic book and we know the good guys win through in the end.
And so, minus the Hulk, our gang return to the US with Glenn Talbot's body.
His mind however is another matter, as the Gremlin had swapped it for that of one of his own agents before sending it back to the US in the exploding impostor we saw in issue #185. Because I don't have the intellect of a master-criminal, I don't have the slightest clue why the Gremlin did the mind-swap in the first place. Why didn't he just send Talbot back in his own body? And why was the loyal Soviet agent who now occupies Talbot's body being kept in one of the Gremlin's cells?
So, overall, it's a tale that no sense makes,
But in its insanity, entertainment it never fakes,
And proves there was some creative steam still,
With Wein and Trimpe's hands upon the till.
Blimey, it's infectious.