Friday, 20 August 2010

Incredible Hulk #148. Jarella’s back

Incredible Hulk #148, Jarella returns(Cover from February 1972.)

“But Tomorrow-- The Sun Shall Die!”

Written by Archie Goodwin.
Plot assist by Chris Claremont.
Drawn by Herb Trimpe.
Inked by John Severin.
Lettering by Artie Simek.

Far be it from me to suggest someone do the obvious and send Bruce Banner to anger management classes but it’d be a whole lot cheaper and, you suspect, more successful than all the high-tech attempts to cure him put together. Just about everyone else in the Marvelverse has had a go and this time it’s down to space boffin Peter Corbeau who wants to harness the rays of the sun for the task.

Like all the other attempts, it works.

And, like all the other attempts, it fails.

Why? Because, in search of Bruce Banner, Jarella’s come to our world to try and take him back to hers. Unfortunately, the two events combined have destabilised the sun and if she doesn’t go back sharpish, minus the Hulk, it’ll go supernova. Meanwhile, an assassin of Lord Visis has followed her here and, in order to save Jarella from him, Banner finds himself having to transform back into the Hulk.

We can hardly claim it’s unfamiliar territory. Yet again Bruce Banner gets cured only, the first chance he gets, to turn himself back into the Hulk. If you were suspicious you’d start to think that, for all his complaining about being the Hulk, he actually likes it.

It’s pleasing to see Jarella back, although I can’t say I find her world and its political turmoils overly interesting and we barely get to see Lord Visis, the true villain of the piece. Dramatically it would’ve been much stronger if it’d been he, rather than a lackey who’d followed Jarella here.

In the final analysis it’s an issue that doesn’t change anything. At its conclusion, Bruce Banner’s still the Hulk, and Jarella’s back in her own world. It also probably suffers from being a single-parter, meaning we don’t get to see enough of Bruce Banner with Jarella and we don’t get to see what Betty Ross makes of this sudden appearance of a love rival she never knew existed. That should, after all, be the main source of human conflict in the story but instead it's nowhere in sight.

It’s not a bad tale but, in its unwillingness to change anything, it feels like a solid piece of filler rather than a vital tale. In the end, for all its readability, it’s a story you could remove entirely from the strip’s history and no one would ever notice.


Anonymous said...

Thanks to haphazard distribution, I'd missed #140, and for a few months following wondered just who this Jarella person was...thankfully I was able to buy #148 when it came out, which cleared up the mystery no end.

I do recall being surprised when the Hulk quite clearly and consciously murdered someone (as opposed to his unintended mass slaughter that probably happened but was never mentioned).

Was this Chris Claremont's first credit?

B Smith

The Cryptic Critic said...

The deliberate killing of the assassin stuck out for me too, but, after his massacre of a submarine crew and an entire village a few issues earlier, it seems we're just expected to turn a blind eye to these things at this point in the strip's history.

As for the Claremont thing. I'm afraid it'd take a more knowledgeable head than mine to answer it but I would've thought it must be a contender for his earliest credit.

Anonymous said...

This was one of the very first Hulk comics I ever read.I was five,and started reading comics around that time anyway.It's not so much a favorite of mine as it is a cherished memory.My favorite stories and characters during this time,were Doc Samson,Wendigo,Abomination,Rhino,Modok and of course,the Leader.Budd

The Cryptic Critic said...

It's true. There were an awful lot of great stories in this era. It's amazing how consistent the series was that even a tale like this, which is only ordinary by the standards of the strip in this era, is still a good read.

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