Thursday, 22 July 2010

Incredible Hulk #123. The Leader and his tripod

Incredible Hulk #123, The Leader and the Murder Module tripod(Cover from January 1970.)

"No More The Monster!"

Written by Roy Thomas.
Drawn by Herb Trimpe.
Inked by Herb Trimpe.
Lettered by Artie Simek.

Sometimes a man needs a new direction in life. Perhaps he needs to take up stamp-collecting or bird-watching. Maybe he needs to spend long hours in his shed, smoking a pipe and building crystal radio sets.

Of course, more often than not, he simply needs to stop being a homicidal green monster.

And so it's time for a whole new direction in the life of Bruce Banner, as the Fantastic Four cure him of being the Hulk. Not only that but, thanks to Banner's own tweaking of the formula, he can now become the Hulk at will and retain his original intellect. Thunderbolt Ross takes advantage of this by asking Bruce to guard the military's new super-weapon, the three-legged Murder Module, and the Leader decides to steal it. Banner decides to stop him, only for the Hulk's mind to reassert itself under pressure.

Why do I get the feeling this isn't going to end happily?

There are two obvious questions raised by the Murder Module. One is why you'd design a weapon to have three legs, a notoriously unstable method of locomotion? The other is why does the Leader want it in the first place? Obviously he wants it so he can kill people. The only problem with that is a man of his genius could easily create one for himself rather than wasting time trying to steal it and, given how quickly the Hulk reduces it to a pile of scrap, it clearly wouldn't have been much use in his plans for World conquest anyway. I think you have to conclude the Leader just likes to do bad things for the sake of doing bad things, which is fair enough when you're a gamma-ray mutated villain of questionable sanity who probably doesn't get out much.

For the second issue running, the Hulk shows himself willing to commit murder, failing to crush the Leader to death only when Banner's intellect prevents him. It's a far angrier, more destructive version of the Hulk than we've seen before and one whose arrival's coincided with the tenure of Roy Thomas whose view of the character seems far less benign than Stan Lee's ever was.

In a certain other blog I could mention, I pointed out the strange tendency for people in comics to only ever refer to each other by their surnames, and it goes into overdrive here. Despite the fact they've done him the biggest favour ever, Bruce Banner repeatedly and exclusively refers to the members of the Fantastic Four by their last names and they only ever refer to him as "Banner." Is there really no room for friendship in the world of Marvel heroes? Still, at least we should be grateful he doesn't insist on calling his fiancée "Ross" and she in turn doesn't call him "Banner."


Hoosier X said...

You're right about the Leader being evil just to be evil. That's what I like about him, and why he gives me the creeps. He does evil stuff just because his hyper-active, gamma-ray-warped mind cannot tolerate the boredom that descends upon him when he isn't doing evil things.

That's how I read him. Evil genius. Dangerous when bored. Not a good entity to have as an enemy. Not very trustworthy as an ally either - as the Rhino will soon discover.

Ray Tomczak said...

Actually, there is a third question raised by the so-called "Murder Module." If it was built by the U.S. military, presumably for the purpose of defending America and its people, why on Earth is it called a "Murder Module"? The U.S. Army isn't in the business of murder, at not officially.

The Cryptic Critic said...

In fairness, I think it's only Thunderbolt Ross who calls it the Murder Module. If I remember right, its official name is a lot more innocuous.

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