Thursday, 16 September 2010

Incredible Hulk #167. Modok

Incredible Hulk #167, Modok(Cover from September 1973.)

"To Destroy The Monster!"

Written by Steve Englehart.
Drawn by Herb Trimpe.
Inked by Jack Abel.
Lettering by John Costanza.
Colours by P Goldberg.

Different people take bad news in different ways. Some take it well. Some take it badly.

And then again, some take it like Betty Ross-Talbot.

Finally back in the country, Thunderbolt Ross tells Betty her husband's dead, and she responds with admirable dignity, by going completely and totally insane. It might be a bit irritating of her but you can't blame the poor girl. Let's face it she has been somewhat through the mill over the years. First her boyfriend turned into a big green monster, then she got turned into a glass statue, and now this.

Still, it's not all bad news for her. At least she has visitors. First the Hulk goes to see her before smashing his way out through the wall, and then Modok shows up, atop a fifty foot tall robot body.

Sadly, Modok's not there out of the goodness of his heart. He wants to turn her into a weapon to use against the Hulk. Unfortunately for the huge-headed heel, the Hulk chooses that moment to return, and the traditional carnage ensues. Having had his robot body trashed, Modok flees the scene.

But this isn't the end of his plans. Betty Talbot's still a madwoman, and a madwoman is just what he needs.

Main creative news of this issue is Jack Abel takes over the inking from Sal Trapani. I have to admit I much prefer Trapani or John Severin on the strip but my lack of love for Abel isn't enough to seriously mar my enjoyment.

Part of that enjoyment comes from Steve Englehart being in the mood to do what I don't think any writer had done before on the strip and that's to inject a little humour into the Hulk's character. Last issue, we had his complaint about being smart never having done him any good. This issue we have him, flowers in hand, kicking the heel of Modok's robo-body, demanding it tell him whether it's a good guy or bad guy so he can know whether to smash it or not.

There's a strange fatalism about Modok that's oddly endearing. While other criminal masterminds spend all their time boasting about how the Hulk has, "No chance against my robot/ gun/ tank/ army/ plane/ mutant/ turnip/ whatever," Modok's fully aware of the danger the Hulk poses to his robo-body, choosing to visit Betty's hospital only after he believes the Hulk's gone. I suppose, as Modok's instinct is to avoid confrontation, you have to wonder why he wanted a giant robot body in the first place. Stomping around being fifty foot tall's hardly the best way to keep a low profile, and you do wonder how come no one at the hospital seems to have noticed a fifty foot tall robot blundering around the grounds.


Sean Strange said...

Haha yeah this issue is pretty comical, but any comic with Modok in it is going to be good for a laugh as far as I'm concerned. It’s too bad Modok wasn’t Hulk’s arch-enemy instead of that high-browed bumbler the Leader – Modok is so much cooler with his flying chair, evil beekeeper organization and vast network of spies sending him reports. And if Hulk’s pure brawn and Modok’s massive brain ever teamed up, think how easily they could take over the world!

Hoosier X said...

This is a good one! Modok is so awesome! Especially with his 50-foot robotic body. But is it this issue or the next where Betty is running around in the nude as a prelude to turning into the Harpy?

Anonymous said...

As an answer to Hoosier X's question,you'll just have to wait and see.HaHa,that was probably one of the few times anyone's seen Betty Ross naked.Not even the Hulk or Banner is ever seen in the buff,except in the Ang Lee movie.However, Modok does make a return as Hulk's foe during the Bill Mantlo/Sal Buscema early 80s era.Modok even had the nerve to turn Banner's than girlfriend/lab assistant into a bride of his own likeness!Go figure.All that plus the Abombination too.The first time I'd read Hulk #167,was when it was included in an oversized collecter's item edition.It was surely a blockbuster,with all the great stuff.Budd

The Cryptic Critic said...

Judging from the comments, it's clearly a well loved issue.

As for Betty Ross naked, I always assumed that if you did a poll of which comic book characters people would want to see nude, poor old Betty wouldn't get much of a look-in and yet, judging by comments I've seen on this and other sites, the Betty Ross Naked story does seem to have lodged in people's minds.

Tom McWeeney said...

Art-wise this issue begins what I consider Trimpe's finest stint on any book during his long career. Hulk #167-186 are him at his peak and Abel was the best inker he had on the Hulk. I have a few originals from this issue and the inks are sweet.

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