Incredible Hulk (Vol. 1) #152

Background

U.S. Senator Clegstead allied himself with General "Thunderbolt" Ross to convince the Senate to continue funding for Ross' Hulk-Busters to ensure that the Hulk is captured. Clegstead has a personal interest in capturing the Hulk. He is convinced that the Hulk holds the cure to his terminal cancer.

At some point Clegstead obtains a sample of the Hulk's blood and deliberately injects himself with it, turning himself into a gelatinous monster whose "skin" is highly acidic. He then finds the Hulk (who is *coincidentally* in D.C.) and attacks him. Since their battle takes place during a heavy rainstorm, there is abundant lightning. When the Hulk attacks Clegstead with a metal flag pole, a bolt of lightning strikes the massive conductor and electrocutes Clegstead.

The government quickly - and incorrectly - implicates the Hulk in the senator's disappearance.

Story 'But Who Will Judge The Hulk?'

  Incredible Hulk (Vol. 1) #152
Summary: Peter Parker Cameo
Arc: Part 1 of 'Trial Of The Incredible Hulk' (1-2)
Editor: Stan Lee
Writer: Gary Friedrich
Pencils: Dick Ayers
Inker: Frank Giacoia

The army has tracked down the Hulk in Nevada. Using the S.H.I.E.L.D. LMDs at their disposal, Ross is able to initiate ground attacks without endangering any of his men. They are finally able to render the Hulk unconscious with the "Para Net", a high-intensity electrified net. They secure him with titanium cables.

Ross makes a call to the President who is ecstatic at the news that the Hulk has been captured. He promises to contact the Attorney General who will determine the proper approach for his prosecution. Ross is caught completely off-guard by the President's intentions. He was under the assumption that the Hulk would be captured in order to cure him, not put him on trial. Orders are orders and they will be followed.

As if on cue, Hulk reverts back to Bruce Banner. Ross has him tranquilzed to prevent another transformation and loads him into a specially prepared ambulance (titanium of course) and carried to the detention center at the base.

Matt Murdock (Daredevil) is contacted to represent Bruce Banner. He immediately boards a plane for Las Vegas to be with his client on the flight back to New York.

The Hulk's capture instantly makes the news. The government is formally accusing him of "conspiracy to destroy public property and endanger human lives". As the members of the Fantastic Four read the article from the paper, Reed reminds his teammates that they need to testify on Bruce's behalf to remind the public that he's not responsible for the Hulk's actions.

On the flight from Las Vegas to New York, Murdock is having trouble discussing the upcoming case with Banner due to the heavy sedation they placed him under. Only by threatening to have any conviction overturned due to civil rights violations does he convince Ross to give Banner a stimulant to help him think clearly. Ross strongly reminds Murdock that this may be a horrible mistake if Banner changes into the Hulk at 40,000 feet.

At JFK airport intense security preparations are made for the Hulk's arrival. The press - specifically Jonah and Peter for the Daily Bugle - are there to cover this historic event. The Fantastic Four arrive to assist if necessary.

Back on the 747 heading to New York, Banner shakes off the effects of the tranquilizer and begins to panic when he realizes what's waiting for him. Banner practically begs for another tranquilizer when he feels his pulse quicken. Murdock wants Banner to be in charge of his faculties and prevents the administration of the sedative. Unable to calm down, Bruce turns back into the Hulk.

Realizing his mistake, Murdock stands between Hulk and his long-time adversary. He's determined to prevent the Hulk from destroying the airplane. He talks to the Hulk in a language he understands and ultimately wins over the creature's trust. This occurs moments before the plane lands at JFK.

Once the plane lands, Ross destroys the trust between the Hulk and Murdock by implying that they were stalling until S.H.I.E.L.D. could move in and secure him. The Hulk becomes enraged and bursts out the side of the plane to the gathering crowd.

General Comments

The official reason the Hulk is captured is "conspiracy to destroy public property and endanger human lives". The real reason was his involvement in the disappearance of Senator Clegstead. Got to love the way "payback" is officially explained.

Seeing Richard Nixon as President was a bit shocking. The cover date for this issue (June 1972) was the same month that Nixon's men were captured breaking into the Democratic Party headquarters at the Watergate Hotel. This ultimately led to his resignation from the office of President. This is purely coincidence as the cover dates are usually two months in advance, but it's just odd how that worked out.

The only real complaint that I have is Hulk's dialogue. When Banner is the Hulk, he's supposed to have the I.Q. of a four-year old. In this issue we have him forming relatively complex (yet simplistic) statements questioning why the army always attacks him for no reason. Looking over this issue with my "mature" mind I wonder why they didn't have him give shorter, broken monologues. This bothers me because they just write a full sentence and replace any personal pronouns with "Hulk".

Here is a quote from the issue to prove my point: "But men had to come after Hulk... with guns.. and bombs .. and hate! Now Hulk has only once choice ... to smash men!". Here's my take on it: "Why men attack Hulk? Men leave Hulk alone ... or Hulk smash!!"

Overall Rating

3.5 webs. The story progresses at a reasonable pace, all elements coming together logically. Having Matt Murdock represent the Hulk and Reed Richards planning to testify on his behalf just makes sense.

Despite some pickiness on my part, this was an enjoyable read.

Footnote

The background for events leading up to this issue was provided by HulkLibrary.com A site dedicated to Marvel's jolly green giant.