Monday, January 15, 2018

I grew up in a small town in northern Montana, and I may have mentioned this before, but the local radio was absolutely godawful when I was a kid. Anne Murray may have had the most hardcore songs in regular rotation. Top 40 countdowns were a rare treat. I don't think I heard Led Zeppelin until I went to college. So, for large swaths of my childhood, I listened to the Star Wars soundtrack (on 8-track!) and Power Records. Specifically, one LP with four stories adapting comics I wouldn't get to read for years; again, until I went to college: Amazing Spider-Man #125, "The Mark of the Man-Wolf!" Captain America and the Falcon #168 "And a Phoenix Shall Arise!" Fantastic Four #126, "The Way It Began!" And finally (although probably not in the order they were on the record) The Incredible Hulk #171, "Revenge!" Plot by Steve Englehart, script by Gerry Conway, pencils by Herb Trimpe, inks by Jack Abel.

The Power Records version ("At Bay.") actually begins slightly before the start of this issue, with Betty Ross and the Hulk trapped at an erupting volcano. The army sees them and rescues Betty, and while it had looked like the Hulk had left, he stowed away with them, hiding in a crate. Still, he might not have, even to be close to his "friend" Betty, if he had known they were going back to Hulkbuster Base. Betty and General Ross have a tearful reunion; possibly their first since the death of her husband, Major Talbot. Still, something else is up, as a soldier reports to Talbot's replacement, Colonel Armbruster, that the base was "completely deserted."

Aboard the plane, the Hulk had fallen asleep and reverted to Bruce Banner. Although confused, he finds some clothes and makes his way to the base's kitchens in short order. Meanwhile, another soldier tells Armbruster the base's radios had all been smashed as well, but since they still had the radios in their planes, Armbruster brushes it off, saying they'll figure it out after they unload. None of them see the cannon shell them from a hanger, destroying a jet, before--"Nightmare!...Not one uncrushable foe--but two!"

Ross, Betty, and the soldiers are captured quickly; and the Abomination and Rhino gruffly explain their team-up: to kill the Hulk, duh. They planned to use the Hulkbuster equipment to bring him in somehow, although it's not like it had been doing a bang-up job for the army, guys. Twelve hours later, said army has surrounded the base; and the Hulk's old friend Jim Wilson and his girlfriend Talia are blocked from entering. As they drive off, Bruce Banner wakes up from a nap in an emergency bunker: huh, the Hulk had slept, yet he was still tired, and he realizes he hadn't eaten yet, either. Still, Bruce has started to notice the base is somewhat empty, and stumbles across everyone locked in one of the "Hulk-retaining cells!" (How many of those do you need? Hulk-specific, anyway?) Bruce then badly fails an awareness check, as he is snuck up on by the 980-pound Abomination and grabbed. Panicked, Bruce becomes the Hulk again, who is confused to wake up and be immediately attacked, which I thought was how he usually "woke up." Maybe his last memory was going to sleep?

Rhino gets the Hulk from behind, but Abomination suggests using the Hulkbuster weapons instead. Seeing the Abomination packing heat, the Hulk takes off, but they're pretty sure he would be back. Outside, Jim and Talia have made it past the army blockade, and the Hulk meets up with them. They work out a plan, using Talia as an extremely unwilling decoy, to lure A & R out for the Hulk to hit; while Jim goes to get Ross and the rest out of their cell. Ross tells him there's no time for that, he has to disarm the gamma bomb first!

Abomination had set the timer on the bomb, which Ross explains was part of the self-destruct for the base, which sounds like a good way to make more Hulks, but okay. By turning up the intercom, Jim is able to hear Ross talk him through disarming it. It's not a bad sequence on the record, although Jim's "Far out! I did it!" is a bit cheesy. Up top, the Hulk had been mostly stalling at Jim's request, then decides "This is stupid," and ducks while Rhino and Abomination charge into each other, knocking themselves out. (It's far more dramatic on the record; a little anticlimactic in the comic.) With the base liberated, the TV news is there in short order--told nowadays, the government would cover that jazz right up. Ross thanks the Hulk for saving all of them, even though the Hulk distinctly remembers Ross being the guy chasing him all the time; yet it's Armbruster that attacks from behind, doing his "patriotic duty" and capturing the Hulk! He uses a clangy steel trap, that kind of reminds me of Arcade's garbage truck.

The next issue blurb here is for the Juggernaut, but the record ends with the narrator hopefully pointing out even though the Hulk was captured, he'd escape again soon enough: "He always does." That does make me feel better, Power Records Narrator! It's still available at Power Records Plaza, so check it out yourself!

1 comment:

Dale Bagwell said...

Hmmm, not 100% sure I had the record, but I know I had a reprint or tape cassette version of this. I know the one major panel that stood out for me out of the whole fight was when the Hulk stepped out of the way and Rhino and Abomination smashed into each other. The way Herb Trimpe drew it, looked like Abomination smashed so hard into Rhino, that his ear flew off. Good stuff.