This week we explore the Hulk, the implications of the logical conclusions of angering said Hulk and whether or not these implications will be found palatable. Or to put it simply, what if the Hulk got really, really, REALLY angry. Like, message board angry.
Our story begins, as it often does in tales of intense rage with Rick Fucking Jones. Of course, in this case the rage is mine but that isn’t important. We follow the usual chain of events as the dumbest teenager in the Marvel Universe drives Archie’s jalopy out to an atomic bomb testing site so he can play the harmonica and win fifty cents for an egg cream. Fortunately for him and unfortunately for anyone who owns property in New Mexico, Dr Bruce Banner races out to save Rick’s life. In this case, he fails to knock Rick into the radiation proof trench that all nuclear test sites feature and the two are both belted by gamma rays.
The military takes the two radioactive idiots back to Gamma Base and they’re both put to bed and given all the ice cream and ginger ale they could want. Problems arise when Bruce realizes he wants more vanilla and Rick telepathically reads his mind. Then, angered by indescribable pain and lack of that peanut butter stuff you drizzle on the ice cream and then it hardens, Banner freaks the fuck out and turns into the Hulk. He kicks a wall down and runs out into the desert.
When General Thunderbolt Ross arrives seconds later, Rick tries to cover for the man who saved his life. “Uh, yeah. Bruce WAS here. But then a giant… green guy busted in and kidnapped him. I think he was a robot.” Fortunately, in a post-Kirby Monster Comics universe, this is completely plausible and so the Army begins its search for a green, scientist kidnapping robot. Arch Hall Jr and a jeep with a shovel in the back are mobilized at once.
Meanwhile, the Hulk is absolutely hysterical, feeling nothing but pain and also really worried about the annoying teenager that apparently lives in his head. He tangles with the army a few times before Rick can convince him to go into hiding. Unfortunately, Ross observes Rick slipping the Hulk mental mash notes and realizes that they two are mentally linked. Desperate to hush up the unstoppable rage monster before the public finds out, Ross decides his best course of action is to start torturing Rick. General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross, ladies and gentleman. The man who never met a hornet’s nest he couldn’t poke with a stick.
Surprising literally no one, inflicting pain on the guy whose brain is psychically linked to the strongest scariest motherfucker on earth is a TERRIBLE idea. Hulk starts freaking out worse than ever, throwing around tanks and actually killing people. And since that isn’t bad enough, Ross goes ahead and tortures Rick to death. Now, personally, I have no problem with this but the Hulk oddly takes issue.
After a devastating attack on Gamma Base, Ross calls in the only people who can possibly help him: The Fantastic Four in their 43rd What If appearance. Unfortunately, the FF have little effect on the Hulk as Johnny fails to burn him, Reed almost gets torn in half and Sue fails to confuse him by turning invisible. Which is not a very good plan. Finally, the Thing takes a crack which would have been my first go-to but whatever. Unfortunately, then the Hulk hits the Thing with a nuclear missile.
Everyone thinks the two monster men are both dead until a human Ben Grimm carries an unconscious human Bruce Banner out of the giant crater. So it looks like everything’s going to be fine, right? Not so much.
Bruce regains conciousness, is flooded by the mental anguish of Rick’s death, turns back into the Hulk and snaps Ben’s neck. This causes Johnny to attack and the Hulk swats him like a fucking fly, reducing the Fantastic Four to the Fantastic Fiancees. “Well, I’m out of ideas.” Says Reed.
At this point, Thor and Iron Man, who have been watching the whole thing unfold on TV, arrive. Thor uses his lightening powers to overcharge Iron Man’s transistors (Silver Age Iron Man was always solving his problems with transistors. The only thing they couldn’t cure was alcoholism.) hoping to make the Golden Avenger stronger. What it mostly does is make Iron Man’s armour light up like a pinball machine when the Hulk twists his spine backwards.
Finally, with no other ideas, Thor just fucking grabs the Hulk and breaks his neck. Which probably would have saved time in the long run. As the Hulk dies, he turns back into Bruce Banner and Thor zaps the corpse with lightning, giving a proper burial to a fallen foe. And disposing of the corpse of the guy he just killed. Meanwhile, Ross is digging his own grave behind Gamma Base for that sixteen year old civilian he tortured to death. Whoops!