Friday, March 14, 2008

Lesser Known Joe Casey Comics: The Incredible Hulk #469

[Continuing my look at Joe Casey's short, mostly forgotten run on The Incredible Hulk. New posts Monday, Wednesday and Friday.]

This issue, along with the next two, help set up Casey's Deathlok, filling in the other half of the equation as Cable provided the hero... and this run provides the villain(s).

Here, Bruce Banner, on the run and in search of his wife's killer, gets himself kidnapped by Devlin Deangelo, some piece of shit crook that specialises in superpeople-related crime. He's kidnapped Banner to fix the Super-Adaptoid, and promises to help Banner find his wife's killer if he does so... of course, that's not actually going to happen, but Banner is also smart enough to know that if he refuses, men with big guns will probably kill him. The Hulk doesn't seem an option to him as he works as reprogramming the Super-Adaptoid so that, when he escapes, it will attack Deangelo and his men. That doesn't exactly go as planned as it attacks Banner, which brings out the Hulk and then two fight until the new programming kicks in.

Where this run ties into Deathlok is Deangelo providing the Ringmaster with his new eyes, which he then uses on Banner to send him to Vegas to take on his former Circus of Crime. Toboldt shows up in Deathlok on a much grander scale, using his hypnotic eyes for political gain. In the next two issues, we'll also see the Clown (albeit in a different form), another major player in Deathlok.

Bruce Banner continues to solve problems as himself rather than relying on the Hulk. Most of the issues has Banner figuring out what to do and then acting, the Hulk only showing up when absolutely necessary--when a super-villain appears. The line between Banner and the Hulk is the line between alter-ego and mask; Deangelo isn't a super-villain, he's just a common arm's dealer that specialises in bigger things, which really makes him a petty thug, one not worthy of the Hulk's attention, almost.

The first page of the issue has a nice gag as Banner waits in a bus station and kid next to him plays with superhero action figures. Namely, Captain America and Iron Man--the founders--and the kid plans to get Thor next. A nice little reminder that the Hulk is not on the same level of those heroes despite being a founder of the group--something Captain America is not. Banner's response is to sigh while the kid sings the theme song from the Captain America cartoon series from the '60s. After Banner leaves, the kid then sings the theme from Iron Man's show.

Next issue, the Circus of Crime.