Monday, 11 October 2010

Incredible Hulk #185. Glenn Talbot blows up.

(Cover from March 1975.)

"Deathknell!"

Written by Len Wein.
Art by Herb Trimpe.
Lettering by Ray Holloway.
Colours by Glynis Wein.


There are two halves to this month's issue of The Incredible Hulk, the first one interesting and the second one not so interesting.

Captured at the end of last issue, Bruce Banner's in a cell at the Hulkbuster Base and, while he's there, gets a visit from the President who's dropped by to check out the base.

But that's when Colonel Jack Armbruster discovers Glenn Talbot's a human bomb on a mission to blow up the President, and both Armbruster and Talbot go ka-boom (or even "Wha-Doomm!") as Armbruster sacrifices himself to save the nation's leader. This prompts Thunderbolt Ross to climb into a very odd contraption and use it to attack the Hulk.

So at last Marvel find a use for Colonel Jack Armbruster which is to kill him. It probably says it all about the lack of point his presence has had in the strip that this is his finest moment. It could be that it was felt that having a character sacrifice himself to save the President was a great bit of drama but my suspicion is Len Wein was simply bored with the character and decided the fastest way to get rid of him was to blow him up.

It'd be nice to say Armbruster'll be missed but, apart from annoying Thunderbolt Ross, it was always hard to see what he was doing there. It's ironic that, only at the moment of his death, thanks to his act of self-sacrifice, does he become an interesting and admirable character who we'd like to know more about.

The second half of the tale's clearly inferior to the first as, such intrigue dispensed with, Thunderbolt Ross reverts to his old-style persona of Man With A Vendetta Against The Hulk. It can be argued he's sent into that mode by the death of his son-in-law but, after his more recent characterisation, it still feels odd - as does his method of stopping the Hulk, which is to, from thin air, produce his own version of J Jonah Jameson's Spider-Slayer, a somewhat clunking, unwieldy device that looks like the wind could blow it over.

On other matters, it's hard to see why Bruce Banner starts the tale in chains as, in his Bruce Banner guise, he's no threat to anyone, and the chains are clearly not designed to hold the Hulk.

If there's anything that reminds us we're reading a tale from the 1970s it has to be the scene where Armbruster's desperately trying to work out how to get one of those new-fangled computer things to produce a print-out. Ah those were the days, when only scientists knew how to do even the simplest task with a computer. Actually I'm starting to miss Armbruster now - and I'm starting to feel a little cheated that we never got to know more about him. If only they'd highlighted his more admirable qualities before the moment of his death...

2 comments:

Aaron said...

Armbrusterrrr! He was my world!

Anonymous said...

This was the issue that introduced both the Hulk's and General Ross's humane side to me.I had never read too many Hulks before,so to see the Hulk's compassion toward Betty showed a kinder,gentler side to the big green guy.Same with ol'Thaddeus E.Thunderbolt,when he came to take her hand to calm her and the Hulk is tearing the joint up,this was quite a crazy spire of everything happening and tender moments.To quote one of my favorite country song titles;"Take these big chains off my arms,I'm just the Hulk."Budd

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