Waid, Bagley, Hennessy, Keith
I will most certainly be SPOILING!
Dammit, Mark Waid! Last issue, you had me flagging under a massive amount of disappointment, thinking this story was going to be just another way to sell SHIELD. Hulk’s vulnerability had been tossed aside, and everything was very clandestine.
This month you have officially rocked my socks off! When we left off, Maria Hill was trapped with an irate towny as three agents of whatever group is controlling Abomination stepped through the wall. Immediately, Hill takes the towny as a human shield, which, to me, felt really unSHIELDlike. In fact, it was so much so, that even one of the enemies comments on it. Thanks to her spy arsenal, Hill uses her misdirection to fell and interrogate one of them.
With the threat that creatures like Hulk and Abomination represent, it was fitting that shortly after Hulk is beaten back into Banner, the Avengers show up. They immediately begin trying to contain the Abomination, and are struck by two things. First, the green menace doesn’t seem to be interested in fighting anything but Hulk. Second, he is emitting a massive amount of Gamma radiation, way more than normal, bordering on lethal.
The villain, who still has no name, tells us that he is from deep in Banner’s past, and that he is the mastermind behind the technology and science that has allowed for the recreation and weaponization of Abomination.
Finally, the abomination decides to deal with the gnats named Avengers so he can return to his mission. During his resurgence, he easily deals with Iron Man, Sunspot, and Captain Marvel. They mention that the radiation is enough to weaken the Hulk. This is underscored by the fact that Banner begins screaming and clutching his head.
Here is the most interesting part of the comic. The higher levels of radiation are affecting Bruce’s mind! From the way things play out, I think his absorption of the radiation is healing, in a kind of sideways manner, Bruce’s brain. Every moment he stays in the radiation, he remembers something, and then forgets. Or he can speak intelligibly and the next it is disjointed sentences and words that make no sense.
Iron Man calls ahead, warning Captain America that Abomination is on his way. Cap rushes off to face him to protect Banner. What happens next is Director Hill trying to convince Banner to leave this fight to someone else, to run. Even in his delirious state, his mind constantly in flux, the courageous core of the man remains intact. Willing to sacrifice his mind permanently, Banner rushes into the fray and into the Hulk. The fight is almost depressingly one sided, with the Abomination once more pounding our favorite Savage Super Hero into the dirt. Only this time something has changed. The issue ends with a bleeding Hulk, standing out of the wreckage holding Captain America’s shield and growling defiantly;
“Hulk never give up. Never Surrender.”
I have to say, this issue was incredible, more for the idea of the radiation changing banner’s mind than any of the action going on around the town. The mystery of who is behind it all is there, and yes, as any reader would, I want to know. But the correct direction here is all Bruce Banner. I get the feeling that something big is going to change with his character, his powers, and the nature of the Hulk himself. I can’t wait for next month’s issue, because Hulk will be delivering a star-spangled beat down.
My rating 4.5 / 5