"The Man Who Came Down On A Rainbow!"
Written by Len Wein.
Drawn by Herb Trimpe and Marie Severin.
Lettering by John Costanza.
Colours by Glynis Wein.
Still blundering around behind the Iron Curtain, the Hulk meets a man called Glorian who travels by rainbow and takes him to a world that can only be called the Hulk's idea of paradise. It comes complete with the late Crackajack Jackson, Jarella and a whole host of lovely flowers.
It's not real of course. Unknown to the Hulk it's the handiwork of the Shaper who's been convinced by Glorian to use his powers to fulfil the dreams of others in order to bring them happiness.
Well, because it's paradise, everything's fine and dandy for a spell, as the Hulk gets to spend time with his newly-rediscovered friends. But every Eden must have its serpent - or in this case an amphibian - and so it's not long before it all goes wrong, as old foes the Toad Men show up and, looking for slaves, abduct the Hulk and his companions.
Writer Len Wein seems to have set himself a challenge to see how many old characters he can get into one issue of a comic book without it getting over-crowded, and so we get the return not only of the Toad Men (whoever thought they'd be showing their faces ever again?) but also Crackajack Jackson, Jarella and the Shaper. The one new face is that of Glorian who I believe made his debut in an issue of The Fantastic Four. I have to admit I've never read that particular tale and so my knowledge of the character beyond what we see here's somewhat limited. He seems a nice enough bloke, though possibly a little too perfect to be someone you'd actually want to meet.
Another returning fave is Marie Severin who, several years after she departed the strip, returns just as the Herb Trimpe era's drawing to an end. I have to say I can see more of Severin's hand in the artwork than I can Trimpe's, although there's plenty of pointing going on by the various characters so, in that at least, Trimpe's style shows through.
Leaving aside the hints of a gay subtext running through the tale, it's hard to avoid the feeling the strip's moving into a new era. Neither last issue nor this feel like Hulk tales had previously. There seems to be more concentration on the Hulk as a character and more of a stylised feel, as though Wein's looking for a new direction for the title. While, on the art front, Trimpe seems to be gradually becoming more marginalised. In the last few issues, Joe Staton's influence on the look of the strip had become increasingly heavy and now we have Marie Severin's involvement.
In a way, it's a reversal of how Trimpe started on the strip, where he seemed to be being eased into it over a number of issues. He now seems to be being eased out of it the same way. It's a shame. It would've been nice to see Trimpe going out with a full-blooded bang rather than sliding his way sideways out of it but those of us who're Trimpe fans can at least take heart that there's still a few more issues to go before he's receded from the strip completely.