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Hulk #4: Review

Jun 2014
Mark Waid, Mark Bagley

Story Name:

Who shot the Hulk #4

Review & Comments

Rating:
4 stars

Hulk #4 Review by (June 21, 2014)
Subtle clues in this and other Comments may have alerted you to the fact that I am a continuity geek. Banner's swift cure at the end of this issue allows him to appear as his normal self in OS (but the preview of #5 suggests that something will bring us back to Mark Waid's original plot direction.). However there are still another major Hulk storyline to fit in. In a sequence with no breaks Banner was involved with an alternate timeline bad Avengers and Hulk in Avengers #25-27. In Av#28 he worked out what the Illuminati have been doing in New Avengers and secretly joined them, with the bad Bruce Banner being arrested by SHIELD for a faked rampage to cover for Bruce's disappearance. Banner has been in NAv since #18, still with no gap. Meanwhile in the immediately connected Av#29 OS tie-in Captain America remembers how Dr Strange cast a spell to blank his memory of what the Illuminati were up to. Cap, IM and some other Avengers (not Hulk) then got taken on a time-trip. IM returned early from the trip in Av#30 to take part in NAv#18ff. OS#3 suggests that the Watcher's eye made Cap remember the Illuminati at the beginning of that issue. If that is so then all of this follows Hulk's adventures here. (Completely scuppering my off-the-wall idea last issue that the Hulk in this series is actually the bad Banner imprisoned by SHIELD in Av#28.) However it's a tight squeeze, not to say apparently impossible, to dovetail Banner's disappearance into the Illuminati with his actions in OS and the upcoming tie-in Hulk/Iron Man series. I await these future OS issues to see if it can be made to work.

Extremis is the technovirus that enhanced Tony Stark at the beginning of Iron Man vol 4. Despite having documented later issues I still don't know whether he actually lost the Extremis process in #517 (of whichever volume you think that is in). What I do know is that he spent the 1st 5 issues of the current series tracking down people who were using Extremis and taking it off them. In #26 Arno Stark created a better, safer version which is what is being used here. (Arno Stark is the *real* son of Howard and Maria Stark, and Tony was adopted. Arno was kept hidden. For the explanation see The Secret Origin of Tony Stark. Arno is even cleverer than Tony. And he's nothing to do with the same-named Iron Man 2020 who is probably being written out of continuity by the current Uncanny Avengers story arc.) The end of this issue says Original Sin is next. Actually this title is taking a month off, and the gap will be filled by the Hulk/Iron Man OS tie-in mini-series (billed as OS#3.1-3.4) which connects with Hulk's appearances in OS itself (Iron Man will be taking time off too).

The right Avengers are on the cover this time, possibly because the interior team did the cover this issue. But they're still fighting Hulk instead of Abomination, probably because Marvel think that'll sell more copies. We knew Banner had secret contact outside SHIELD and in Indestructible Hulk #9 we found out it was Daredevil, who was keeping tabs to make sure SHIELD didn't make Hulk do anything Banner didn't want. But I don't think we knew about the blackmail angle. Iron Man recognises the teleporter bracelet as Beehive technology. I presume this refers to Beehive group of scientists who 1st appeared way back in Fantastic Four #66-67, creating Him/Adam Warlock. They renamed themselves the Enclave (behind the scenes) in FF#207. Original members were last seen in Warlock (2004) #1-4, but Enclave was represented by new characters Ted Goodrich and Stella Webb in the last 2 issues of IndH, leading up to Banner getting shot. So does this mean Enclave is behind what's happening now?



 

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Hulk #4 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
A group of Avengers (Captain America, Captain Marvel, Iron Man and Sunspot) came to help Hulk against the Abomination last issue.

But this issue starts with a flashback to when Bruce Banner was hired by SHIELD at the start of the previous series. A previously undisclosed component of the deal was that Banner had major dirt on some important people/organisations. Lawyer Matt (Daredevil) Murdock had the information, and would release it to the press if he didn't hear from Bruce regularly. (There's a bit of hand-waving to explain why he didn't use his lawyer cousin Jennifer (She-Hulk) Walters.) But Banner has been incommunicado with brain damage for a while, so how come nothing's happened?

The Avengers got flattened by the Abomination last issue, and when CM and Sunspot dig CA and IM out of a collapsed building Cap discovers his shield is missing. Hulk has it and is using it to hit Abomination with.

Hulk has been missing for weeks, and when the Avengers turned up here they learned from SHIELD Director Maria Hill that Banner had been shot in the head and kidnapped. When SHIELD rescued him he didn't know who he was and had lost his high IQ. They hid him in a false identity here in a small town in Colorado to recover. Now when he becomes Hulk his gamma healing ability starts 'fixing' his brain damage, but is likely to 'heal' it into a low IQ or even vegetable state.

Bruce's mental state is somewhat erratic. But in 1 of his more lucid moments last issue he deliberately became the Hulk to save his friends from Abomination. So the Avengers want to stop the fight as quickly as possible, to minimise the effect on Banner's brain.

But Iron Man is worried about the effect of Abomination's intense gamma radiation. It stops Marvel and Sunspot from getting too close, and is probably irradiating the townsfolk. Abomination was sent here by the people who kidnapped Banner, and they severely increased his radiation level.

They also sent 3 'soldiers' last issue to help Abomination. They got away from Hill, but not before she took a wristband off 1 of them. Tony Stark recognises it as a teleportation device, which gives him an idea.

Hulk is still losing the fight against the souped-up Abomination when the Avengers put Iron Man's plan into operation. CM and Sunspot deliberately start absorbing the gamma radiation to drain as much off Abomination as they can. The monster lashes out and makes Hulk drop Cap's shield. Iron Man flies in and grabs it and attaches the teleport device to it, which he has modified. Stark throws the shield back to Hulk and tells him to hurl it at Abomination with all his might. And the monster disappears.

Tony had rigged the teleporter to activate on impact. The harder the hit the further it would send its target. Stark figures Abomination should be out around Jupiter. (As established last issue Abomination is actually a corpse being remote-controlled by the bad guys.)

Carol Danvers and Sunspot fly off to harmlessly expend their absorbed energy in space, then return. Banner wakes up a mumbling idiot. Maria Hill wants to take him for SHIELD doctors to help, but Shellhead says her 'help' has got him in this state. The Avengers will help him.

Hill goes to see Daredevil in San Francisco to tell him what's happened to Banner. It turns out that SHIELD broke the encryption Bruce used in his communications with Matt, and Maria has been using a voice synthesiser to imitate Banner when talking (long-distance) with Murdock.

Tony Stark takes Banner to his futuristic city Troy where he and secret brother Arno enlist the aid of Dr. Carpenter who was tricked by the bad guys into operating on Banner in #1. They employ his neurosurgery skill to remote-operate surgical machinery that will implant a dose of Extremis in Bruce's brain.

They expect Extremis' repair function to gradually return Banner's brain to the state it should be in. But it may take a few days. However Bruce wakes up immediately, knowing who he is and with his genius IQ back in play.

But there's a strange effect in his eyes (possibly like stars in the sky).

A 'next' box says Original Sin.


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> Hulk: Book info and issue index

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Preview Pages
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Mark Bagley
Andrew Hennessy
Jason Keith
Mark Bagley (Cover Penciler)
Andrew Hennessy (Cover Inker)
Jason Keith (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: Cory Petit.
Editor: Mark Paniccia.

Characters

Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Bruce Banner
Bruce Banner

(Robert Bruce Banner)
Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)
Captain Marvel
Captain Marvel

(Carol Danvers)
Daredevil
Daredevil

(Matt Murdock)
Hulk
Hulk

(Bruce Banner)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)

Plus: Abomination (Zombie).