So, I will try to recall as much as I can here… in 1998 there were die-hard Hulk fans who were none to happy with the direction Peter David was taking their beloved hero. Marvel’s answer to this was to bring back the Savage Hulk persona in a new series called The Rampaging Hulk. While it didn’t do terrible by today’s standards, in 1998, in the midst of Marvel’s bankruptcy, it wasn’t considered a success and it was cancelled after 6 issues. Too bad – it was actually pretty darn good. I have gone back and given each issue a separate rating – so if you’re interested you should go back to Part 1 of the review 🙂 On to Part 2!
We join Ross and Talbot as they survey the damage that was caused from the Hulk / Ravage fight (from issue #2) They have the freeze ray ready to go. Elsewhere, we join Bruce Banner searching for Prof. Crawford in a residential area. He finds him, half naked and unable to walk, and he asks Bruce for help. Bruce gets him back to his house. Bruce discusses trying to find a cure before sunset when Crawford will most likely turn back into Ravage. Crawford lets Bruce know he has no intention of curing himself – he loved and longed for the power that he felt as Ravage. Ross and Talbot show up looking for Bruce – Crawford gives him up pretty quickly and they shoot Bruce with a tranquilizer dart. Without Bruce there to stop him Crawford wants to figure out how to be Ravage all the time! (Thrilling, intense music should be played at this part) Bruce is being held, sedated, by the army. Betty tries to talk to Bruce but he just asks her to leave. Next, Thunderbolt Ross shows up and tells Bruce that there is a green monster destroying everything in his path.
Ravage is taking all sorts of pleasure in destroying whatever he can – and then the army shows up and starts to shoot him – but with little effect. Ravage takes a helicopter down and then takes off. Meanwhile, Bruce and Thunderbolt Ross are inspecting Crawford’s lab – where Ravage shows up and destroys his teleport pods. Bruce tells him that he has ruined his chances for a cure – not to mention that he will return to being Crawford at sunrise. Ravage says that there are prototype pods hidden away – and this pisses Bruce off pretty good. He Hulks out and they begin to battle again – but this time Ravage is amazed at the Hulk’s strength. The lab begins to crumble around them and the Hulk takes Ross to safety. The classic moment comes outside of the lab when Ross and Hulk just stare at each other – Ross realizing that the being that he has hunted to destroy for so many years just saved his life. As Ravage comes out of the building the army is there and hits him with the freeze ray. As they are about to hit the Hulk they tell Ross to get out of the way. Thunderbolt actually hesitates… before stepping aside. But the Hulk jumps toward the freeze ray and destroys it, then he leaps away. Talbot tells Ross at least they were able to get Ravage. Ross continues to wonder if he had let the Hulk get away by hesitating.
This is a pretty decent issue – I actually enjoy the art very much – and the story gets better as it went along. B-
In issue 4, we have a guest penciler – I really liked Rick Leonardi’s pencils but Dave Ross does the Hulk justice – even though there are certain shots that he makes the Hulk look like a retarded child. The Hulk sits a top a mountain thinking about how he hates everyone. Or, more to the point, how he just wants to be left alone. We join little Danny and his Father as they are cooking dinner. Danny hears the Hulk’s screaming which his father mistakes for the wind. Hulk begins to have a tantrum and jump around which causes an avalanche (hence, the cover) The avalanche covers the cabin that Danny and his father are in, trapping them. Meanwhile, back at Gamma Base Betty and her father argue about him spending his life searching for the Hulk rather than spending it with his family. They continue to examine Ravage for clues to how to get the Hulk while Talbot spends time with Col. Reeves, a visitor from the Pentagon. Reeves is unimpressed with the new cell claiming that no cells have held the Hulk yet – what makes this one different (he is so right!) and tells Talbot how he’d deal with the Hulk once and for all. He’d wait till the Hulk transformed back into Banner – and then he’d shoot Banner in the head. (Which is actually how Frank Castle handled the Hulk in The Punisher Kills Off the Marvel Universe)
Danny and his Father, whose name, we find out, is Mitch Bennett, have a new visitor – a half naked Bruce Banner comes tumbling into the cabin. Bruce and Mitch notice the cabin starting to crumble under the weight of all the snow – they decide they need to try and get out – but Bruce also remarks on how much Mitch loves his son – not like his Father, a jealous, rage-filled man who hated Bruce for needing love and attention from his Mother. As the cabin continues to crumble Bruce, Mitch and Danny start to head up the tunnel that the Hulk left behind. As they travel higher and higher Bruce gets more and more worried. They make it to the top – but just as they do Danny slips and falls and knocks Bruce down behind him. Mitch sees the Police and Rangers looking for them – he calls them over to help. The Hulk bursts from the snow with Danny safely tucked under his arm. As the Police are looking through the snow Bruce shows up with Danny – Mitch scoops him up into his arms and thanks Bruce for saving his son. And then the Police begin to cuff Mitch. Bruce asks what’s going on – and Mitch confesses that he kidnapped Danny from his Mother because of a custody battle he didn’t think was going to go his way. Bruce is stunned. Meanwhile, back at Gamma Base Talbot and Ross have called in a few recruits to help locate the Hulk – The Fantastic Four!
This is a classic type story complete with a twist ending you don’t see coming – and to throw the FF into the mix? Pure gold! A-
Come back tomorrow for… I will give you a hint – he’s green and 3 inches tall…