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Rampaging Hulk, The / The Hulk! #26: Review

Apr 1981
J. M. DeMatteis, Gene Colan

Story Name:

Several Stories: See Synopsis

Review & Comments

4 stars

Rampaging Hulk, The / The Hulk! #26 Review by (February 15, 2010)
Credits for the second and third story: Lora Byrne (writer), Gene Colan (penciler), Dave Simons and John Tartagliose (inkers).


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Rampaging Hulk, The / The Hulk! #26 Synopsis by Djoser Fortunado
Credits: J.M. DeMatteis - Gene Colan - Alfredo Alcala

Bruce Banner finds himself riding in a bus full of hippies (and one particularly attractive one he's befriended) on their way to a commune one night. She shows him the book "BE HERE NOW" by pseudo-Buddhist dread-poet, Ram Dass, explaining that Bruce may be able to find inner peace where they are going. When the bus arrives, the riders are corralled into a meeting room, where they attend a dramatic reading from a cultish Charismatic Leader, who pulls Bruce's new friend aside to ask how they can work together to recruit him. Bruce catches wind that something suspicious is afoot, but is tired and goes to sleep with the rest of the hippies, in one common room packed with sleeping bags on the hard, wooden floor. Late at night the leader tries accost Bruce's "friend" and a lamp is kicked over, sparkng a cabin-wide fire and a panic among the hippies. Awoken by the commotion but caught in the blaze, Bruce hears the screaming voice of his Hippie Damsel, and the stress triggers his inevitable transformation, which enables a truly dramatic HULK-Leap through the blazing cabin, to rescue said hippie damsel. She recognizes him as Bruce, oddly enough, and Hulk takes her in his arms as he bursts through the cabin wall to safety. This creates an exit for the other "followers" to flee as well. Attractive hippie girl is critically injured somehow, and badly burned in the blast, and actually dies in Hulk's arms, up the hill from the burning Commune. The charismatic leader is consequently brought up on charges by the controversial expose' which follows the fire, and Bruce returns to the scene just in time to see his Commune dismantled by the local authorities. Seeing them, Bruce hits the road, remembering his hippie love, and Hulk, in apparition form, cries in rememberance as well.

Comments: This story is a remarkable example of J.M. DeMatteis's early writing before he became a giant in the comics industry. A professional rock musician/singer/journalist before he entered comics in the 70's, Namaste is an interesting peek into the characters he likely encountered in his travels (Think "Almost Famous" meets Jim Jones). Also of note is the exquisite collaboration of expressive masters Gene Colan & Alfredo Alcala- an American/Filipino combination, for which this large format B & W mag was a great showcase of their truly expert draftsmanship.

"Where Troops are Encamped"
Lora Byrne- Gene Colan- Dave Simons

Dr. Banner has landed himself in yet another awkward stumper, as he is introduced to a Militia-style family oriented group, whom he joins up with basically because they're willing to help him out for the time being. Bruce seems concerned about the children being taught to use guns, and expresses this to the family in his usual sort of assertive but mostly passive-aggressive manner. Holding his opinions back only sets the stage for one righteous HULK-Out, which occurs after one of the young ladies is shot in the leg during target practice. (She was set up by the leader, for expressing similar sentiment to Bruce's objections) The HULK leaps into action and rescues the beautiful young woman by carrying her off into the woods, where she witnesses him transform back into Banner. After the change, Banner tends to her wound with an improvised bandage, wrapped over the areas where she's been hit with shrapnel. He carries her away to civilization, where hopefully they together can tell others of the Militia-madness taking place in the nearby hills. Can't stress enough how beautifully drawn this was- what a great issue to stumble on in a bargain bin as a kid!

Comments: A beautifully watercolor-inked Gene Colan story, I remember this one really bringing the Hulk comics to life for me as a child. The Illustrations were three-dimensionally rendered in gray-tones, over Gene Colan's ingeniously expressive 'camera angles', and dramatic, figurative characterization.

"The River"
Lora Byrne-Gene Colan- John Tartaglione
Bruce Banner's hitchhiking antics earn him a free stay with a couple who live beside a mountain-side river. Bruce achieves a certain peace with them, fishing all day and eating home cooked meals at night. He even dons flannel shirts loaned from the husband, and shoots a couple smiles here & there. No particular reason to Hulk out--- on the surface. One night a storm comes along to spoil the fun, and it's truly HULK vs. NATURE! As the fortifications of the couple's River-side shack give way, Bruce's endebted survival instincts compel him to save the drowning couple, who've show him such generosity all this time. Bruce actually succeeds in saving them, as himself! HOWEVER, the raging torrents drag him back in, and it is beneath the pounding rivers unceasing fury that Mr. Green-Jeans finds reason take charge of the situation. The couple think Bruce drowned, but witness as his HULKing form blasts out from the torrent, and Bruce's hide is saved by his emerald-brained gem of an Alter-Ego. HULK swaggers off into the hilly sunset in his leaping, bounding way- the storm clouds parting dramatically before him, and the generous couple's reaction is left to the reader to interpret. Did they connect HULK's jade-skinned form to Bruce (since they ARE in the middle of nowhere and frankly, Bruce was the only other guy around), or is seeing the HULK's elusive form kind of like seeing BIGFOOT to them? I guess we'll never know, which is kind of nice--- lending a kind of Mythical quality to Jade-Jaws' possible presense, within the context of our comparitively puny, human world.

Comments: I recall this story being particularly confusing, mainly because the inking was so swished all over the place that it was hard to distinguish what Colan's original layout would have been.

Gene Colan
Alfredo Alcala
Joe Jusko (Cover Penciler)

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