Hulk: Cutting Edge #1: Review

Dec 1995
William Messner-Loebs, ?

Story Name:

Ghosts of the Future: Different Madness!

Review & Comments

4 stars

Hulk: Cutting Edge #1 Review by (September 27, 2022)

Review: An odd item: why wasn’t this two regular issues of the series? Did they want to keep the story arc down to five issues to fit a trade so the two extra had to be shunted off to the side? The double-sized issue still belongs in the trade regardless of their numbering. So all that fuss aside, this is a pretty cool tale which, while not quite the exploration of the Hulk’s psyche as promised, is still quite enjoyable. The change of artist from Medina to the simpler style of Pelletier at midpoint is startling but not insurmountable and confusion vanishes in a couple of pages. The surprising part of this is that the Ringmaster is actually an interesting character. Divided from his Circus of Crime buddies, he’s a real person with hopes and fears—and a moral standard—that don’t usually show when he’s yelling orders at Princess Python or the clown whose name keeps changing. And there’s enough psychological baggage for everyone, including Ringmaster and Matt Talbot, a nastier version of his uncle.

Comments:Marvel Edge.”—Cover. Story falls between INCREDIBLE HULK #436 and 437. Pencils by Angel Medina and Paul Pelletier, each doing half of the issue. The Ringmaster is one of the Hulk’s oldest villains, introduced in INCREDIBLE HULK #3 along with his Circus of Crime.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Hulk: Cutting Edge #1 Synopsis by Peter Silvestro

Story continued from INCREDIBLE HULK #436.

Savage Bruce Banner has been captured by the US Army and imprisoned in a high security prison; Major Matt Talbot (nephew of the late Glenn) wants to learn the secret of the Hulk’s transformations so he calls in an expert: Maynard Tiboldt a/k/a the Ringmaster. Talbot is interested in Tiboldt’s hypnotic disc that can project solid images, offering him the technology to perfect it and $100,000 to sweeten the pot; conversely, he holds the possibility of prosecution over his head should he refuse. The Ringmaster agrees. After he departs, Talbot’s aide, possessed by Omnibus, manipulates Talbot’s mind to persuade him not to harm the Hulk but to learn his weaknesses….

With unseen guidance from Omnibus, a giant projector is assembled outside of Banner’s cell. The first effort is to show Banner scenes of Hulk in action, which does not trigger a transformation. Nor does showing him Hulk’s enemies such as the Thing and Rhino. But the image of Betty Banner appears by itself and enters the cell, calming Bruce and that is the key to his change into Hulk. Hulk tries to bust out of the cell but the broken bars simply reform. Suddenly, Ringmaster’s hands are cuffed and a giant black boar attacks the soldiers. Hulk realizes that if Ringmaster is involved, the bars must be an illusion. Hulk walks through them and clobbers the giant boar. And then the prison transforms into a forest area and they are under attack by Nazi troops, like the boar, a manifestation of Tiboldt’s childhood fears. As the army pursues Hulk, Tiboldt is menaced by a giant xenophobic Uncle Sam; Hulk returns to rescue Tiboldt, beating up Uncle Sam as the Ringmaster tries to get his thoughts under control—and then a sandstorm kicks up. Hulk finds himself in an army uniform, joined by the soldiers during Operation Desert Storm, reflecting the fears of the soldiers who were veterans of that mission. Then a SCUD missile lands on them….

Part Two: Hulk, Talbot, and Ringmaster crawl out of the sand and see a bunch of Arab slavers driving chained captives. Hulk recognizes one of the enslaved as Betty and the slave driver as Omnibus; he rescues Betty and battles snakes conjured up by the slave master. Hulk and Betty conjure up food and discover a city that Hulk recognizes: it’s the domain of the Maestro who has returned to take revenge and Hulk finds Janis Jones dying, accusing Hulk of having betrayed them. Then the Maestro appears and beats Hulk to a pulp. Betty takes out her childhood teddy bear Herkie and throws it at the Maestro; it grows teeth and bites into the villain—soon joined by hundreds more which devour him to the bone. Hulk and Betty reach the center of a maze where they find a giant spider with the face of the Leader with Talbot and Tiboldt. Then a giant centipede bursts out of the ground, with the voice of the Ringmaster’s father. Talbot is terrorized by an image of his Uncle Glenn as a bloodthirsty gorilla. Everyone’s worst fears coming true: and then Betty ages and dies, crumbling into dust in Hulk’s hands. With his last rational act, Hulk deduces where the machine must be and smashes it before turning back into Savage Banner and passing out. Tiboldt takes his money and leaves, feeling dirty. Talbot sees the day as a success….

Story continues in INCREDIBLE HULK #437.

Steve Moncuse
Joe Andreani
Paul Pelletier (Cover Penciler)
Steve Moncuse (Cover Inker)
? (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: Jack Morelli.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Bruce Banner
Bruce Banner

(Robert Bruce Banner)

(Bruce Banner)

> Hulk: Cutting Edge: Book info and issue index

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