Sunday, 29 August 2010

Incredible Hulk #154. Ant-Man and Hydra

Incredible Hulk #154, Ant-Man and Hydra(Cover from August 1972.)

“Hell Is A Very Small Hulk!”

Written by Archie Goodwin.
Pencils by Herb Trimpe.
Inks by John Severin.
Lettering by Artie Simek.

I’ve always felt the loopier The Incredible Hulk gets, the better it gets.

And it doesn’t come much loopier than this, as the Hulk’s shrunk to the size of a Barbie doll and still gets to whup Hydra’s ass.

Out to be reunited with Jarella, he breaks into the lab of Henry Pym - otherwise known as Ant-Man - and drinks the experimental formula Ant-Man first used in Fantastic Four #16, the one that can shrink its user down to sub-atomic level.

Sadly, being somewhat unstable, it only shrinks the Hulk to doll size, whereupon he’s captured by the Chameleon who hands him over to his Hydra pay-masters who want to unleash a deadly plague on the world.

Happily, even then the Hulk’s too much for the ever-hapless Hydra to handle but, transformed back to Bruce Banner at the tale’s end, what can save him from death at the heel of the Chameleon?

Frankly I’d despair of anyone who didn’t love this, as the Hulk teams up with the world’s least impressive super-hero, to fight the world’s least impressive super-villain, and Hydra demonstrate that, no matter how much the odds might favour them, they still can’t get it right.

At heart it’s just fun to see the mini-Hulk still ripping things to pieces, albeit on a smaller scale, and you have to love his epic fight with a bunch of rodents which ends on a conveyor belt of doom. “No!” He declares, “Hulk will not be cheese for giant rats--!” It’s plain irresistible -- even if it does throw up a question that’s obvious but was never addressed at the time.

Just how, in issue #148, did they get Jarella back to her own world? Looking back at it, she’s there, on the planet Earth, in the penultimate panel of that tale but then, in the last panel, they tell us she’s been returned. This issue reveals that Bruce Banner asked Ant-Man if his know-how could do the job but it’s clear the answer was no. So, this revelation in mind, just how was it done?

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