Friday, 23 July 2010

Incredible Hulk #124. The Leader and the Rhino

Incredible Hulk #124, the Leader and the Rhino, Bruce Banner marries Betty Ross(Cover from February 1970.)

"The Rhino Says No!"

Writer: Roy Thomas.
Innovator: Herb Trimpe.
Illustrator: Sal Buscema.
Letterer: Sam Rosen .

Things that start as tragedy might end as farce. Nothing better demonstrates that than The Incredible Hulk #124. In all honesty, the tragedy, although planned, never quite arrives but the farce certainly does - and from a highly unlikely source.

Having been cured of his unfortunate tendency to turn green, Bruce Banner's now free to marry Betty Ross. Sadly, no one's told him that the wedding of any Marvel hero's doomed to be gatecrashed by at least one super-villain.

With him being the Hulk's arch-enemy, that villain's the Leader, who proves his love for over-egging his puddings by reviving the Rhino from his coma, to serve as his lackey. The Leader's genius plan is to show up at the ceremony and turn Banner into the Hulk so the Hulk'll kill Betty Ross.

That's the intended tragedy. The only problem is the Rhino and the Leader then fall out and the Leader has to flee the scene to escape his supposed ally, leaving the Hulk somewhat bemused as to what's been going on. However, thanks to the Leader's machinations, it does mean the end of Bruce Banner's ability to keep his own intellect when he becomes the Hulk,

For what set out out be such a dramatic tale, the last few pages really are surprisingly comedic as the Leader and the Rhino turn on each other in a way that makes the Leader look a complete and ineffectual idiot. "Stop shaking my Escape Module, you, brainless brute! It's powered by very unstable molecules!" Yes, who wouldn't power their emergency escape vehicle with very unstable molecules? I'm not sure if this is a good thing or not. It's undeniably entertaining and it's always nice to see the ridiculously self-regarding Leader taken down a peg or two but it does somewhat undermine him as a menace. Still, I'm sure it's nothing his next grandiose scheme can't put right.

For whatever reason, Herb Trimpe doesn't draw this issue. He's credited as, "Innovator," while Sal Buscema's credited as, "Illustrator."Normally you'd assume that meant Trimpe did the layouts whilst Buscema did the pencilling. In truth, the layouts for the most part look like pure Sal to me. Regardless, a few lapses in scale aside, John's younger brother does a great job on the issue.

It's a shame the storyline that's seen Banner able to retain his normal intellect while in the Hulk's form ends here. While it was inevitable the old order'd be restored eventually, it would've been nice to see it last a few more issues. There was definite potential to the idea of the Hulk operating as a more conventional super-hero for a while. Sadly we barely had chance to get used to the development before it was taken away from us.

The thing that makes me happiest about this tale is the Leader's Giant Super Humanoid makes his return. As the last we saw of him was him being flung into an exploding volcano, presumably he's not the one we saw before. What makes me less happy is he's barely back before he's trashed by the Rhino. Exploding volcanoes, charging Rhinos, it seems life's no fun when you're a Super Humanoid.


Hoosier X said...

My Hulk collection was kind of spotty, but I tended to have them in clumps, or in the case of the earlier issues (up to about #111 and #112), I had many of the story's reprinted in Marvel Super-Heroes. (I still have a lot of the reprints.)

Hulk #124 was the last issue I had in one of the clumps. (I had #129, but I didn't have any others until #136. From there, I was only missing a few issues up to about #150.)

So I get what you mean about how frustrating it is that the whole Hulk-with-Banner's-brain plot was squelched without even making it through a whole issue! Come on! How about three or four issues!

I read this years after the original comic book came out, but I had bought #121 and #123 about the same time I got #124 so I knew what Bruce was going through. I don't usually get that involved in old comics, but I do recall rolling my eyes a bit.

But that's just how the Leader is! He just can't stand to see anybody happy! It's just like him to invite himself - and the Rhino! - to the wedding! No manners at all.

The Cryptic Critic said...

And he didn't even give them an electric toaster.

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