Monday, November 30, 2015
Love Will Keep Us Together - Or Will It? Incredible Hulk 148
Incredible Hulk #148 (February 1972)
"But Tomorrow -- the Sun Shall Die!"
Archie Goodwin-Herb Trimpe/John Severin
Doug: A couple of weeks ago I sang the praises of John Severin's inks over Herb Trimpe on the Incredible Hulk book. I was initially going to review Hulk #140, which features the 1st appearance of Jarella. But after noticing that her second appearance contained the above mentioned art team, the decision was pretty easy. So here we are. I'll be reading and scanning from the trade paperback, The Incredible Hulk: Heart of the Atom. I've read several of the stories from the start of the book, and while certainly no Hulk aficionado, I have enjoyed myself so far.
Doug: We open in the New Mexico desert at Project: Greenskin. Assembled are General "Thunderbolt" Ross, Betty Ross, Major Glenn Talbot, and Dr. Peter Corbeau. This was a nice bit of Marvel history for me, as I'd only known Corbeau from the first Sentinels story in the All-New, All-Different X-Men. Everyone's there to discuss how Corbeau's plan for the Hulk, using his StarCore technology, is going to work. Corbeau is convinced that he can permanently free Dr. Bruce Banner from the Hulk. Of course, he has to have the Hulk to make this work. That's where the Hulk-Busters come in. Right then (because, you know, this is a comic book and we only have 20 pages to work with), Ross is alerted to a local Hulk sighting. Immediately four fighters are dispatched to bring in the Jade Giant. Quick comment -- Trimpe's love of aviation really shows in these few panels! We cut to the back 40, where the Hulk lumbers along, oblivious to all around him. We the readers, however, can see over his shoulder the approaching jets. Archie Goodwin does a nice turn when he writes, "Of machines that can out-distance their own sound, that can all but sit on your massive neck before they're heard...?" And then BRA-KOW! Seriously -- bra-kow and the Hulk goes tumbling, his ears ringing. The second pair of planes are on him immediately, strafing him with sedative-tipped missiles. Down, and out.
Doug: We cut to another world, where we see the fair queen Jarella leading a small detachment of men through a wilderness. Above, men loyal to the traitor Visis wait on winged steeds. As soon as Jarella's column emerges from cover, they are set upon. The battle rages, and most of Jarella's men are slain. The queen fights well, and still stands at the conclusion of the fracas. She thinks to herself that she needs a warrior, the man she loved from before. Bruce Banner. For those of you not aware, the Hulk had been shrunk to atomic size by the villain Psyklop, emerging on a microscopic world where he became a champion for the queen. That queen, Jarella, pledged to marry him, which really ticked off Visis, her suitor who would be dictator. As the Hulk could not speak the language of the strange world, Jarella's sorcerers concocted some magicks that not only allowed him to learn the language but also gave him the brain of Bruce Banner while still the Hulk. Got it?
Doug: Jarella makes her way to the retreat of her chief sorcerer and tells him that she would like to regain the services of Banner. Torla, the magician, says that it would take incredible sorcery, and might be so dangerous as to shake not only their world but the very cosmos! Cut to earth, where the Hulk is now bound in the presence of Dr. Corbeau. Corbeau relates that he has more than a humanistic stake in this operation -- he and Banner were college friends, so it's personal. Corbeau says that StarCore's sun-facing orbit is going to allow him to harness the energy of the sun, project it to Earth, and bathe the Hulk in enough solar energy that it will completely eradicate the gamma energy stored in his cells. Guess what? It works! The Hulk shrinks/changes to Banner, and nearby technicians report that there is no presence of gamma radiation anywhere in the area. Banner has indeed been cured! But immediately StarCore's sensors alert the scientists and military brass to a new danger -- a huge solar flare, large enough to have destroyed the Earth. Ross asks Corbeau for an explanation -- Corbeau can only hypothesize on the coincidence of what has just happened with the Hulk.
Doug: Cut again back to Jarella's world, where she is in the process of being sent in search of Banner. Her sorcerers warn that the consequences could be dire. Bravely, she goes through with it. But we see that someone spies on this process. It is Visis, who knows enough magicks of his own to be able to send his top assassin into the stream behind Jarella -- with orders to slay the queen and her champion. Back on Earth, all concerned are monitoring the sun's activity. Banner, hero that he is, tells Corbeau if he really thinks the process to remove the Hulk's presence is to blame, then reverse the process. Corbeau will hear none of it, and offers that Banner should go to Corbeau's retreat on the coast, get some separation and relax. Banner takes him up on it, and after a military flight soon finds himself listening to the surf. Just then a green aura begins to glow on the sands. Suddenly Jarella appears, human-sized, and greets Banner. Bruce is elated to see her and hops the deck's fence to embrace the girl he'd loved those months before. But Fialan the assassin has also made the passage and lurks just yards away. But his malevolent plan is interrupted by the noise of a helicopter. It lands, and Glenn Talbot emerges to ask Banner to return to the desert with him.
Doug: Back at Project: Greenskin, Banner is updated on the sun's status. It seems that the sun has been affected not only by the process they'd used on Banner, but also by "the appearance of some object that ripped the very fabric of our time and space... something that broke from another dimension." Yup - Jarella. And the sun's cure for it's current condition is to burn itself out! Banner speaks up and says that any thoughts of sending her back will surely send her to her death at Visis' hands. Corbeau says to relax, that he's working on an alternative. However, if the solar system burns out, Jarella's world will along with our earth. Very soon a SHIELD craft lands, piloted by none other than Dum Dum Dugan, who has brought Col. Nick Fury himself to the desert. And Fury's brought with him a present -- a Life Model Decoy of Jarella, perfect in every sense. The team gets to work immediately on making the dimensional transfer of the LMD in Jarella's place, which is a mystery to me. Was it just that any transfer was made, or is it Jarella's presence here that is the problem. Seems to me (and what the heck do I know about it?) that if they sent the LMD but she stayed here the problem would not necessarily be ended. Ah, Marvel science. Gotta love it! Anyway, Banner reports that his part of the operation is successful, so they should be good to go. Jarella suddenly appears, to speak in private with her potential betrothed. But again standing just off-stage is Fialan (how's that security at Project: Greenskin, hmmm?). He gets off a shot, and then hovers menacingly above our couple.
Doug: Bruce breaks from Jarella and runs away. Fialan scoffs, as the coward has now left Jarella to him and his mission. As he levels his blaster at her, the building begins to shake. A rumbling emanates from the closed door behind which Banner had locked himself. And suddenly, bursting forth is the incredible Hulk! Fialan levitates higher, out of reach of the behemoth. Hulk turns to see Jarella, and they come together. Just then Fialan blasts a large bank of machinery, causing a huge explosion. Jarella is killed in the chaos, and a distraught Hulk emerges from the smoke right in front of Fialan, whose ability to escape has been destroyed as well. Hulk grabs him, and in one of the very few times I can ever recall metes out his own brand of justice. The following panel is interesting, as Hulk cups his face in his huge hand and says, "Hulk did it... but... It does not bring Jarella back!" But it's Jarella who approaches to console the Hulk -- Corbeau and Ross had planned to employ the LMD once they knew Jarella's assassin was on site. But now Hulk is faced with a new dilemma -- the military still need to save our sun. Hulk stands against them, but he's shot from behind with the heavy tranquilizers. Now down, Corbeau tells Jarella it is time. She consents, and soon is back in her subatomic world. The sun almost immediately begins to quiet its activity and all is right with the world. That is, except for the broken heart of the Hulk.
Doug: I've found these tales of Jarella captivating. It's interesting to read them as stand-alones. Although they tie together, the many adventures that came between these stories make me wonder which is better -- to read this as a running narrative, or as treats dispersed to the reader along the way? Jarella's first appearance was in Hulk #140, the follow-up is in today's issue (#148), and then we saw her again in #156. Then we don't find her until #202, around four years later! So I'd love for any of our readers who came to these stories off the rack to discuss their impact on you. Did you feel that this was a plotline that should have been explored on a more frequent basis? Or did you think perhaps that, knowing Jarella's ultimate fate as we do, the story should have been compressed and told over the course of maybe just a year's worth of issues? While Goodwin's script forced me to suspend my disbelief a time or two, I thought the art was fabulous. Herb Trimpe is a penciler who has a unique style and I'm not always his biggest fan. But under the influence of John Severin, the art here is a winner. This was overall a nice 20-minute diversion.