Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #381

Background

Spider-Man encounters my second favorite hero, the Incredible Hulk!

Story 'Samson Unleashed'

  Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #381
Summary: Doc Samson
Arc: Part 1 of 'Spider-Man vs. Hulk Rematch' (1-2)
Articles: Aunt May Parker

The story begins with the Hulk meeting Doc Samson in an airport. After greeting each other, Samson invites Hulk to go with him to a presentation of a revolutionary development that looks promising in curing people with split personality. It's a gamma virus that unleashes repressed emotions in schitzophrenics that they cannot consiously admit to having. Hulk is outraged that Samson would even suggest using gamma rays after all the freak accidents and monsters that gamma rays were responsible for, including Hulk and Samson themselves. Hulk leaves the airport angry.

Meanwhile, Spider-Man saves a kid from some bullies, signs the kid's lunch box, and then swings home to "have relations" with MJ.

Later on, Peter Parker arrives at the presentation of the gamma virus and sees that Doc Samson is there too. The presentation begins in which a person with multiple personality is to be bombarded with the gamma virus, but, as Hulk predicted, something goes wrong. The Virus detects Samson's immense gamma signature and breaks through the radiation containment dome that was holding it and infects Samson. The virus causes Samson to unleash all his pent up frustration and rage, of which he has a lot. It also makes him a lot stronger, and he was pretty damn strong to begin with. Samson, made pretty savage by the virus starts to trash the place, screaming that he has to kill Banner (the Hulk). This is because his pent up rage is mostly from his years of failiure in trying to capture the Hulk. Peter, in Spidey gear tries to calm Samson down, but the Savage Samson is in no mood and lashes out at Spidey, eventually bringing the ceiling down on him and then leaving to find and kill the Hulk.

Samson finds Hulk and attacks. Even with his increased strength, Samson is no match for Hulk, who uncharacteristically is all too ready to beat his friend to death. Hulk beats Samson pretty bad. Spider-Man tries to break it up, but Hulk swats him away. Then, unexpectedly, the gamma virus inside Samson detects even greater gamma energy in the Hulk, and as Samson throws himself at Hulk, the virus leaves Samson's body and infects Hulk. Hulk, now possessed of a virus that lets out all his rage, becomes as mad, and as strong, and as savage as he ever has been. The issue closes with Samson (now in his right mind again) and Spider-Man standing before a pissed off, ready to attack, Hulk!

General Comments

Well, I love the Hulk, and have always enjoyed Spidey's interactions with the green goliath, but it wouldn't be right to give this book a high rating just because it has Hulk and Spider-Man together. It needs to have substance also. That said, it's a good story, a great cliffhanger, but with some mischaracterizations and pointless scenes. For example, the Hulk would probably savagley beat Samson to within an inch of his life if he was still the savage Hulk, but this is the Merged Hulk, who owes a huge debt to Doc Samson for reconciling all his split personalities just recently before this issue was published. This is a more civilized and intelligent Hulk who would not be so ready and ungrateful to attack Samson when he is obviously not in control of his own mind.

The Merged Hulk did fight Samson once in Hulk #406 (I think), but that was completley differant and more justified circumstances. Also, the Hulk was undergoing therapy from Doc Samson when this comic was published. They were on pretty good terms. But whatever. The story as a whole was entertaining and enjoyable, and I am forever a stark raving fan of Bagley's art. The scene with Peter and MJ seemed a little weird, being thrown in there for no real reason other than gratuitous sex, but it didn't bother me that much.

Overall Rating

Bagley's art is usually good and this is no exception. It's a fun story, but has some tacked on scenes and mischaracterization that keep it from being 4 webs.