Saturday, October 15, 2005

Defenders Saturday

The Hulk #126

By the way talk about giving away the story right on the cover – the cover blurb is “The Hulk is Doomed! He’ll never defeat . . . the Night-Crawler.” Incidentally that little dash in the middle clues you in to the fact that this is not the X-Man’s Nightcrawler (who frankly would last about 30 seconds in a fight with the Hulk, unless he ran away). The title begins with Bruce Banner laying on the ground after having battled the Absorbing Man (Thor villian with the power to, you guessed it, control gravity) – a group of evil cultists grabs him and carries him to an old house.

One of the group, a young blonde woman named Barbara (who ends up being surprisingly important later on) has some doubts, but she is quickly reminded of her “oath.” Bruce Banner awakes in a cultish temple, with a big wheel in front of him and a priest who offers this philosophy. “Sometimes it is necessary to play with fire, unbeliever, so that a universe might be consumed.” That seems kind of obvious. Anyway, Barbara uses a pot of vapors to overcome Banner. Then there is a brief scene of the Army worrying about the Hulk because they can’t find him. “Have you noticed how nobody has smashed us in a while?”

We return to the cult leader, who, by the way, has a goofy hat (thus continuing the theme of goofy headgear) who casts a spell hurling Bruce Banner through Space and Time, causing him to comment, “Good Lord! This - - Can’t be - - ! I Feel like I’m hurtling thru space - - thru time itself.”

Then we see Dr. Strange standing in the dimension he was trapped in at the end of his Sub-Mariner crossover, clearly disgusted that he hasn’t been the center of attention, until now. Also he’s being tortured, in some sort of mystic hoop, by the undying ones who continue to look like fish/frogs although they now have bull horns too.

Meanwhile Bruce Banner doesn’t know where he is but weird stuff is happening. And then the Night-Crawler appears. He has a weird crown head, metal body, and a mace. Banner tries to resist his growing fear because he doesn’t want to become the Hulk again. Meanwhile in the real world, Barbara, the doubting cultist, notes that trying to make Banner into the Hulk is kind of mean. So her cult leader thrusts her through the portal. You know what they say, spare the portal-thrusting, spoil the cult.

Anyway after the Night-Crawler attacks the hapless Barbara, Banner becomes the Hulk – and plows into the Night-Crawler. The Hulk, showing typical well-adjusted honesty, says “Hulk is only like himself! And there is none like him!!” Hulk offers to take off and not fight, but Night-Crawler refuses this generous offer and uses his Scepter of Shadow to plunge the Hulk into darkness. The Hulk fights the darkness for a while, falling off of the floating rock (by the way, all the other dimensions in the Marvel Universe seem to consist mostly of floating rocks). Anyway Hulk hits the rock so hard that it creates light.

Then the Night-Crawler threatens to use his scepter to blast the hulk, but Barbara somehow destroys the scepter by throwing a rock at it. They don’t make scepters like they used to. Anyway the Night-Crawler, understandably upset, threatens to pound Barbara, but the Hulk leaps from his rock to punch the Night-Crawler, and after a sonic attack, Hulk claps his hand and destroys the universe (it wasn’t a very big universe). So Night-Crawler, remembering the plot must somehow involve the Undying Ones, whisks them off to the home of the Undying Ones.

Upon arrival, the Night-Crawler attacks the Undying ones and Dr. Strange, in a traditional fashion, takes credit for stuff he had no control over. Barbara, showing characteristic sense, takes Dr. Strange’s place on the torture wheel, as some sort of penance for her past sins. Hulk comments, “There’s so much - - Hulk doesn’t understand - - !” Dr. Strange, ever the soul of generosity and kindness, replies “Nor do you need to know, Monster that once was man!” Dr. Strange then teleports them back to earth where they part ways.

The Generosity of the Hulk (speaking to the Imprisoned Dr. Strange)– “You want out, weird one? Hulk can free you.”

The Humility of Dr. Strange (last page of the comic) – “Still there comes a time to put aside the trappings of a former life - - and walk among men - - as a man!”

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