Tuesday, November 13, 2012

One Hulk, Two Hulk, Red Hulk, Blue Hulk.

Today's issue has a Blue Hulk, but it isn't a gimmick, nor cute like Hulk-Sized Mini-Hulks: Hulk/Sub-Mariner '98, "Lifesblood" Written by Chris Cooper, art by Doug Wheatley.

This was set almost immediately after Peter David's last issue of Hulk, and after Betty's death, Bruce is still in a bad place. Taking a small boat out "into the middle of nowhere," Bruce plans on shooting himself, but can't bring himself to do it. Still, he manages to shoot the boat full of holes, and goes down with it. He hulks out, but even the Hulk can drown...

Meanwhile, in the Sub-Mariner's Atlantis, a plague caused by bacteria called "the Black Tide," is taking a toll on Namor's people, including his old friend and Grand Vizier Vashti, who wants to leave and die with dignity. (We saw part of this storyline some time ago...) And the Hulk is recovered by an Atlantean scientist with an unseen master, and given "water-breather elixir," a "speechfeeder krill, and then a "sonar bat-ray." Since the latter treatment involved cramming the bat-ray into the Hulk's mouth to get a sonogram as it died; the Hulk objects, and smashes his way out of the scientist's ship. Still, the scientist had taken something from the Hulk, that he planned to test...on Vashti.
Later, the Hulk wonders how to get out of this one: the elixir could wear off at any time, killing him. If he turned back into Banner, the pressure would kill him. If he went to the surface, he'd be in the middle of the ocean, and wouldn't know what direction to swim in. (Is the latter a problem? The Hulk should be strong enough to pick a direction and just go, hitting land eventually; unless he turned back into Banner first.) Those questions are put on hold, though, once Namor attacks the Hulk. Which is a pretty traditional greeting from their Defenders days, but this time Namor thinks the Hulk has betrayed him. He accuses the Hulk of giving his enemies his irradiated blood, which infuriates the Hulk, since said blood recently killed Betty.

The fight is interrupted by the arrival of the gamma-infused Vashti, who is now a super-strong monster. Namor and the Hulk team-up and capture Vashti, and the gamma effects wear off; just as the Hulk turns back into Banner. Banner is thrilled that he is finally going to be free; so he's a little less enthused to wake up in Namor's flagship. There is also some good news, and some bad news: the transfusion of the Hulk's blood cured Vashti of the Black Tide infection. Unfortunately, he was only the test subject, Attuma the barbarian was even now rampaging through Atlantis with new Hulk-power.

As Attuma proves more than a match for Namor, the Hulk rejoins the battle, but isn't at full strength. Namor finds the scientist to see how Attuma is able to use the Hulk's blood without it either wearing off or poisoning him, then returns with the answer: Attuma had a feeder system in his costume, pumping Hulk-blood into his stomach. (OK...) The Hulk rips out the tubes, and possibly most of Attuma's stomach; but Namor is obviously disappointed the Hulk left him alive.
Namor has another favor to ask of Banner: using the leftover Hulk blood to cure the Atlanteans of the Black Tide, and create a gamma purifier to prevent further infections. Banner sees numerous positive uses for gamma radiation; and Namor points out a man could devote a lifetime to such research. An Atlantean couple also wants to name the newborn saved by Hulk blood "Banner," instead, Bruce asks them to name her "Betty." As Bruce is taken back to the surface, Vashti orders the gamma purifer dismantled, as being too dangerous, but it already served its purpose, saving a life: Bruce's.

I liked this one: it ties up a dangling Sub-Mariner plotline, and builds well off Peter David's work. Better than the 1999 Hulk series would...

1 comment:

Dale Bagwell said...

Yeah you're right, this story does seem like a logical progression of Peter David's last issue. Glad to see at least one positive application of gamma radiation as you pointed out, since that usually's not the norm. Maybe this Chris Cooper guy might have written a pretty good run with the series if he was allowed to.