Bargain Comic Reviews

New Reviews of Old Comics

Incredible Hulk #304 (Feb. 1985)


Hulk_304Purchase price: $1

Check out that Mike Mignola cover!  Although I find the aliens a bit odd, I like the overall design and the Hulk himself looks pretty cool.   I admit Incredible Hulk isn’t one of those titles I’ve followed for years and years and have an idea of what is going on, but I’ve recently read about Bill Mantlo’s life, and it was mentioned his “Hulk in another dimension” story was fairly well regarded when it came out, and this happens to one of the issues in that arc.  If you’re a comic fan from the 1980s you’ve likely read Mantlo’s writing, and you’ve probably enjoyed those stories.  The fact I know about Mantlo’s real life story means it is likely common knowledge among comicdom, but on the outside chance you haven’t heard about him, follow the link http://www.lifehealthpro.com/2011/11/07/tragic-tale.  It’s sad as all hell, but sometimes we need a reminder that not every story is a happy ending to help appreciate the good we have in our lives.

The first nine pages of “Prisoners!” written by the previously mentioned Bill Mantlo, illustrated by Sal Buscem and Gary Talaoc, center around the “The Uncanny U-Foes” a super-powered team that is imprisoned in a special Nevada facility designed just for them.  When a special district attorney comes for a visit some simpleton guard slips up and gives the prisoners an opportunity for escape, which they naturally take.  Unfortunately for them the escape leads to them ripping the physical fabric of space (I hate when that happens) and disappearing from the face of the Earth.  Now that’s how make sure the Feds don’t recapture you.

Elsewhere the star of this comic is trapped at an inter-dimensional crossroads, banished there by Doctor Strange for reasons known only to people who read the previous issues (I’m not one of them).  The big problem with being trapped in such a space isn’t lack of oxygen as you might think, but finding something to eat; McDonald’s has yet to open a restaurant here.  The Hulk is also easily bored so he chases light spots (like a dog) and that light spot leads him to another planet, one that has vegetation, water and animals.  It also has an “alien” who befriends Hulk even though neither speaks the other’s language.  He shows Hulk what is edible and Hulk saves him from a massive rock slide.  Everything is going great until a giant spaceship pulls up and captures Hulk’s buddy.  Turns out this dude, who looks a lot like an early version The Thing, was exiled on this planet to await trial for his crimes.  The trial has come and he has been sentenced to death.  Hulk tries, in vain, to save his friend, but ends of crying over a dead body.  Hey, this is the second of two Hulk comics I’ve read within the past year where the big green guy is crying (ADD LINK).   The issue comes full circle with the U-Foes showing up next to a grieving Hulk.  Sounds like a good set-up for #305.

When I turned on to page ten and saw a depressed, sallow looking Hulk sitting next to a tree made up of human limbs I thought this issue was going to be a total waste.  I mean the Hulk banished to another dimension?  C’mon.  Mantlo, however, pulls off a good story that shows the monster within Hulk abating and reconnecting with his human side, which I’m assuming is the whole point of this arc.  That said, I feel sorry for the U-Foes who are about to cross Hulk’s path at exactly the wrong time.  My guess is #305 will have a lot of Hulk Smash.  I’ll have to look for it.

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