Writer: Peter David, Penciler: Dale Keown, Inkers: Mark Farmer, Marc Deering, Walden Wong & Scott Hanna, Colorists: Peter Steigerwald with John Starr
This 34-page, one-shot issue reunites the David & Keown team that had one of the most critically-acclaimed and memorable runs ever on The Incredible Hulk in the early 1990s. The story takes place at the time after Abomination infected Betty Ross with a transfusion of his and Bruce’s gamma-irradiated blood, fatally poisoning her, and leaving Bruce completely alone…with the Hulk.
The entire story is narrated by a very depressed and suicidal Banner, talking with a woman on his cellphone. He tells her the story of his life together with Betty, beginning with their first meeting, where David has the Hulk heckling Banner in his head. The Hulk hates Banner, and is a crude, cruel brute. Banner tells the woman he has tried many times to kill himself, but now he reveals he has a “foolproof” plan.
Just when you think the entire issue is going to be a rehash of Hulk history (a beautifully written and drawn rehash, but a rehash nonetheless), a villain shows up to threaten the woman Banner is talking to. A pissed Hulk shows up in a hot second (how did he know where she was?), and works out a lot of aggression.
Dale Keown is fortunate to be inked by a Who’s Who of Great Marvel Inkers, including Mark Farmer and Scott Hanna. One of the best colorists in the industry, Peter Steigerwald, adds much needed modeling and texture to Keown’s minimal backgrounds. Twenty-five years after his last Hulk work, Keown is still solid, but his style is much quieter and understated now.
Peter David doesn’t break any new ground or reveal anything fresh about Banner or the Hulk in this too-brief reunion with Keown. Not much happens in the “present” which was more than a bit disappointing. Knowing David's previous work, I also expected much more involved philosophical discussions than shown here. Like many reunions, the anticipation of reliving past glories set high expectations that were nearly impossible to meet, but I am still glad I attended.
• the curious and awkward choice artists make when they show two people greeting each other by shaking with their left hands
• the Hulk in fuzzy pink bunny slippers is worth the price of admission alone
• Holy Shiitake Mushrooms! (one of my favorite exclamations)
• a cameo from a famous Marvel killer