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Rampaging Hulk, The / The Hulk! #25: Review

Feb 1981
Steven Grant, Gene Colan

Story Name:

See Synopsis

Review & Comments

5 stars


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Rampaging Hulk, The / The Hulk! #25 Synopsis by Barry Harter
Dreams of Iron...Dreams of Steel
Credits: Bill Flanagan - Gene Colan - Alfredo Alcala

Bruce Banner is interviewing for a custodial/supervisory, on a very minor level, position at the Simms School for Special Children as the story begins. Mrs. Blocker, superintendent of the institution, warns Bruce the job doesnt pay much, but the rewards are above a monetary value. Which he discovers over the first week of employment. In addition to his duties, Bruce finds himself caring for many of the students on a personal level. To celebrate his first week, Mrs. Blocker invites Bruce to the weekly dinner she shares with former student Earl Slocum. Through him, Bruce is offered extra work on his Saturday off at steel shop where Earl works. Of course Bruce accepts and quickly learns everyone has their own personal demon. For Earl, its Gunoa bully who takes great pleasure in harassing his retarded co-worker. Bruce finds the opportunity to needle Guno from time-to-time, though Earl is quick to defend his tormentor. At the end of the day Earl invites Bruce to a small farm house formerly owned by his parents and now given to the school that raised him. Inside the young man is eager to show Bruce some of his mementoes from his childhood including a note tacked to the wall with "My Name is Earl" scrawled on it. Earl tells Bruce that his mother had told him it was the proudest day of her life when he learned to write his name. Through their conversations, Bruce begins to learn how Earl can forgive Guno his indiscretions. Leading Bruce to the backyard, Earl convinces him to climb a tree with him. The limb Bruce leaps to is too frail to handle the his weight and the Hulk emerges from the fall. Earl becomes the teacher now and soon has the Jade Giant writing his name, which is pinned to the wall above Earls. All this has a calming effect and the Hulk becomes Bruce again who makes Earl promise that he can never reveal Banners secret. The work week begins again and for Bruce does so without incident. But, late one night Earl notices a light on at the steel shop located next door to his apartment. Hes able to sneak over the fence and spy through a window where he sees two men talking. The next day he tells shop manager Henry Silva what hed seen the night before, but is told not to worry about the incident. Earl then confides in Mrs. Blocker and Bruce, who believe something sinister is happening. Saturday comes again and Bruce returns to earn some extra money. While there, Earl is called to Silvas office where he is confronted by the manager and another man; the one Earl had seen the other night. The man in question is revealed to be Bobby Gerber, son and future heir to Gerber and Sons Steelworks, a rival company. The co-conspirators choose to eliminate Earl to keep him quite. While all this is happening, Bruce has taken Earls place on the line wearing his wielding helmet. Guno takes the opportunity to needle who he thinks is Earl causing the change from mild-mannered Bruce Banner into the Incredible Hulk. Of course the Hulk doesnt take kindly to being called names and eloquently informs Guno, "Hulk is not a re-tard! Hulk is Hulk!" And, begins to settle the matter in typical Hulk fashion. His would-be-tormenter is fleet of foot, though, and nearly makes good his get away when the others in the factory attack the Hulk. All the commotion has halted Silvas and Gerbers plans to kill Earl and alerted Mr. Weathering, shop owner, and the authorities. Gerber and Silva escape in the confusion to a nearby car, but Earl is still after the industrial spies. The Hulk takes notice and leaps in front of the speeding automobile, stopping it and the two escapees. The plan is discovered, arrests made, and Bruce heads into the sunset by the end of the story. Yet, there is a happy ending for one of the cast as Earl is seen treated in a different light by Guno who serves him up doughnuts and job advice.

Comments: This is probably my favorite story of all The Hulk magazines that Ive read. Author Bill Flanagan shows a gentler side of the Hulk, which has been done before, but when done right, as it was here, is always touching. However, Mr. Flanagan seems to have forgotten, as has the Hulk, that Jade Jaws learned to write several years before when he met Cracka-Jack Jackson in the Incredible Hulk #182. Again, another touching story with a bittersweet ending that has the Hulk etching Cracka-Jacks epitaph with his finger on a piece of rock.

Comments (2): Almost all of the letters on the letter's page dealt with the near rape scene that played out in issue #23. Associate Editor Ralph Macchio chose to offer the feelings of some of the pro-gay readers who fired off angry letters dealing with the situation, and to his credit, argued the issue well. Though the feelings were homosexuals were presented in an ugly light, Macchio argued that any rape, straight or gay, was an ugly issue and that, though the two would be rapiests were men attempting to violate another male, the story did feature a straight man as a wife beater and that all no matter their sexual orientation were could shed a bad light on their peers. Also taken to task was John Byrne who apparently made some comments in an interview in the Comics Journal about homosexuals.

Carnival of Fools
Lora Byrne - Gene Colan - John Tartaglione

Bruce Banner wanders onto the grounds of a carnival where the owners daughter, Bonnie, takes pity on the down-on-his-luck ex-gamma physicist and hires him as one of the carnies. Bruce earns Bonnies trust, and maybe a little more, over the following weeks, even saving her from burning to death when a drunk carnie wrecks a truck into a propane tank. Bonnies father, Felix, pieces Bruces disappearance and the Hulks appearance together and concocts a scheme to turn the Jade Giant into a sideshow attraction. Bonnie bulks at the idea at first, but being daddys girl, she agrees finally. Of course no cage hold the Hulk, even an electrified one, and like the fateful scene in King Kong when the paparazzi start to snap their photographs, the Hulk escapes. Felix rushes to turn off the generator suppling the electricity to Hulks former cage that is sparking and is electrocuted leaving Bruce back on the road and a sadder, if wiser, Bonnie owner of a one-horse carnival.

Stars: 3

Comments: Fairly standard Hulk story, though the whole business of trapping him in an animal cage is a little ludicrous. Prior to the story, Steven Grant offers a four-page treatise on split personalities dealing mostly with fictional stories.

Gene Colan
Alfredo Alcala
Joe Jusko (Cover Penciler)

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