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What If #80: Review

Dec 1995
James Felder, Kerry Gammill

Story Name:

What If The Hulk Had Evolved Into The Maestro?

Review & Comments

3 stars


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

What If #80 Synopsis by Fabian Haynes
Diverges from: Incredible Hulk #377. During Doc Samson's attempt to merge all of the Hulk's personas into one being through psychotherapy, Bruce realized that the "monster" that haunted him all of his life was his father. However, instead of an image of Bruce's mother serving to overcome the image of Bruce's father and uniting the personas, Bruce "attacked" and "killed" the image of his father and resolved never to be weak again.

As a result, Banner went into a catatonic state. However, the Ringmaster, who assisted Doc Samson by hypnotizing Bruce, laughed at Bruce during the critical juncture following Bruce's resolution of his fear. (The Ringmaster's mocking of the Hulk may have pushed the Hulk over the edge at this critical point since the Hulk's inability to be respected over the years may have played a role in him becoming the Maestro in other alternate realities.) Since all three of the Hulk's personas merged into one being, the Hulk became a intelligent, cunning, and powerful being. As a result of the circumstances of his merger, namely the Ringmaster's mocking and Bruce "killing" the mental image of his father, the Hulk also became ruthless. In fact, he began to act like the Maestro. At this point in time, however, he was not very articulate since the merger had not stabilized. The first thing that he did was crush the Ringmaster's skull. Resolving to keep his childhood fears of his father a secret, the Hulk cut the power in the hospital. Realizing that everyone in the hospital was in danger, Doc Samson contacted the Fantastic Four for help. However, before Doc Samson could fully explain the situation to them, he was killed by the Hulk. Later, the Hulk killed virtually everyone in the hospital. After Betty revealed that she knew his secret, the Hulk attempted to kill her as well. However, Reed Richards and the horribly mutated Thing arrived and attacked him. Realizing that he needed to hide while his thought processes became stable, the Hulk grabbed Betty, leapt away and hid in a nearby zoo. However, Reed and the Thing tracked and pursued the Hulk to the zoo. Upon arriving, Reed equipped the Thing with a gamma pulse emitter that he hoped would transform the Hulk back into Bruce. He also gave the Thing a radiation suit that would protect him from the intense radiation that the emitter projected and prevent him from being further mutated. Although the Thing was initially hunting the Hulk, the Hulk quickly turned the tables and began hunting the Thing. To this end, he distracted and attempted to tire the Thing by causing him to chase after sounds in the zoo. The sounds were actually the animal necks that the Hulk broke. As the Thing came across each animal's corpse, each animal turned out to be more evolved than the previous. Shortly after the Thing found the a gorilla's corpse, the Hulk attacked the Thing and caused his radiation suit to be shredded. Desperate, the Thing ignored Reed's warning and fired the gamma pulse emitter at the Hulk at point blank range. By this time, the Hulk's merger was stabilized and he articulately scoffed at the Thing's attempts. Afterwards, he hurled the radioactive Thing into Reed, who died from the intense radiation. However, the residual radiation from the gamma pulse emitter destabilized the merger of the Hulk's personas. Consequently, he cycled mentally and physically through his various incarnations. After the Hulk transformed into his Bruce Banner persona, Bruce realized that the new Maestro-like incarnation would eventually become permanently dominant. To save Betty from this new incarnation, Bruce, he snuck behind the Thing and shouted "Hulk SMASH!" Instinctively, the Thing turned and punched Bruce. Bruce was killed instantly.

Kerry Gammill
Ed Benes


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Doc Samson
Doc Samson

(Leonard Samson)

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