I have talked about this issue for years now, I have mentioned numerous times how this is my favorite issue – and was shocked to learn that I haven’t even reviewed it yet! At last count I have about a dozen copies of this issue – none of which are CGC graded – that will be my next project. I have three extremely beautiful copies – one signed by Herb Trimpe – a few reading copies and some in the middle grade. Why? I have no idea.
So, this issue begins with the Hulk on the bottom of the ocean – captured and imprisoned by Captain Omen. The Hulk must keep following Captain Omen’s ship to keep getting oxygen filled helmets. It’s at one of the helmet switches that the Hulk learns that Captain Omen’s crew wants to revolt against him. They want to live on land – they are tired of the bottom of the ocean, deformed and alone. They tell Hulk that he is the only one who can help save them.
Meanwhile, Ross, captured by the Russians, is to be killed off; but Talbot is off to save him. The Hulk, assisted by Omen’s crew, begin the mutiny and are ready to take over the ship! They go crashing through the wall – but Captain Omen has another trick up his sleeve – a trick called… AQUON! A half-fish, half-man type creature that it as strong as the Hulk – but can breathe underwater! The Hulk and Aquon have a fearsome battle that ends when they rip through one of the walls of the ship and the ocean pours in!
As the ship fills up with water Omen tells his son to seal off that section or the entire ship will sink. When they do, the Hulk and Aquon are stuck in the flooding part of the ship – still battling – but now Aquon has the advantage! As Aquon takes control of the fight, Omen opens a hatch that drains the water back into the sea. Aquon and Hulk get caught up in the whirl pool – only Hulk stops himself from being sucked out of the ship.
Finally, the ship is saved – but Omen’s crew still demands to be taken to the surface. Omen obeys and the crew finally gets taken to the land. They rejoice and celebrate their new freedom – and thank the Hulk – the one they revere as a God, for fulfilling their dreams. Then, the crew, one by one, begin to explode. They burst right out of their skin. Filius, Omen’s son jumps back onto the ship as it ascends into the sea. He begs his Father to let him back onto the ship – but Omen says he dare not open the door again – so that the remainder of the crew does not die as well. He apologizes to his son and continues the dive. His son goes down with the ship, banging on the door, begging for his father to reconsider and open the door to let him in. But he does not. The Hulk is left alone, standing on the beach where a whole group of people once stood who thought of him as a God. He wonders how a Father and Son can live together their whole lives – but not even know each other.
This issue represents the best of what the Hulk comic can offer. The Hulk – a reluctant hero once again – saves people – only for them to meet a horrible, ironic fate. The end of the issue has such a great moment with the Hulk thinking about the Father/Son relationship. A relationship that will not even be explored until quite a many issues later. Such a sad, fantastic end. I could read this issue a thousand times and never get tired of it! Grade: A+ Funny enough – if you go to this page and scroll down you will see that there is a mistake on this page – Issue #165 is put on the page twice, once as the cover of #163 AND #165