What I Remember:
This book was the only book that I had that featured Grey Hulk. Bruce is running around in an odd looking jumpsuit and I remember a sequence where the villain coerces a man to kill himself in the bathtub but other than that not a whole lot.
The Incredible Hulk #338 “Mercy Killing”
Writer: Peter David
Penciller: Todd McFarlane
Inkers: Jim Sanders III
Letterer: Rick Parker
Colorist: Petra Scotese
Assistant Editor: Bobbie Chase
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-In-Chief: Tom DeFalco
Publication Date: December 1987
Cover Price: 75¢
Re-Collection Price: $4.99
A man sits in the bath with a radio playing, lamenting the wrong turn his life has made. Suddenly a woman appears calling herself an angel of mercy and drops the boombox into the tub, killing him.
Bruce Banner is having nightmare that he’s being chased by the Hulk when the angel appears, killing the Hulk. Bruce awakens in a high-tech SHIELD-issue bus, along with Rick Jones and Clay Quartermain.
They’re on the run and looking to find a bunch of Gamma Bombs that they fear will be used to create many new Hulk-like creatures. Quartermain removes the tracking device and places under the tractor trailer of a trucker that gives them and the waitress a hard time in the diner.
After Bruce is nearly killed by the bus (driven by the angel) they travel to a hospital looking for Betty Banner, but she left the hospital.
The Angel of Mercy interrupts and tries take out Bruce but disappears when she hurts someone who didn’t ask for her help.
Banner and company head out to the desert so that Bruce can transform safely into the Hulk and Rick tries to convince the Hulk to help find the bombs when the angel reappears and attacks the Hulk, trying to end Banner’s suffering.
Bruce refuses to die before finding the bombs and Hulk manages to remove her weapon and turning it back on her. He finally frees himself by blowing up a nearby gas station.
Meanwhile, the trucker has a run in with SHIELD forces, searching for the bombs and Banner. His rig is destroyed. He travels home, lamenting his life and is met by an Angel...
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This book was an unusual take on the Hulk because not only is he grey but his speech is different. He’s far more articulate than he is often portrayed as and sounds like the Thing. I’m not really sure why the grey Hulk speaks like this, but he does.
The villain was interesting because she thought she was helping people by killing them. The man in the tub, the trucker and Banner are all in over their heads and in desperate situations but none of them express notions of suicide, she provides them with an out they might not have thought of without her.
What I like about this book and older comics in general is that this is one-off story that fits into an overarching narrative. There’s the overall story, where Betty Banner is in the hospital and Banner, Jones and Quartermain are searching for the missing gamma bombs, but the story of the Angel of Mercy is tied up nicely in 22 pages.
I love McFarlane’s stylized art. His work is distinctively Todd McFarlane's and it’s interesting to see him work on characters that he’s not as famous for working on. Overall, this is a fun book from Peter David’s decade-long run. Overall, this is a fun book with a great cover.
Next week, it's an all new, all different Justice League as I take a look at Justice League #1 by Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMattais and Kevin Maguire!