One of the most surprising issues I have ever read. I first saw this issue back in 1991 – the mall near me had a small kiosk that sold baseball cards, comics and, oddly enough, sunglasses. They had about 40 comics in a few 3-ring binders for easy browsing – but this is the issue I always stopped at. Before my love affair with the Hulk even started I wanted this comic – because the Hulk I knew and the Hulk on this cover were 2 sides of the spectrum. They couldn’t be further from different if they tried. I was intrigued, but at the same time, I was unwilling to spend the $15 the man was asking for to own and read it. A few months later, I was given #343 and that turned out to be my FIRST Hulk comic. By the time I was willing to pay for #333 the kiosk was gone. I did pick it up later… years later – and it has been one of my favorite issues ever since.
The issue opens with a beaten woman on the floor and dreaming of shooting her husband until her husband knocks her silly. The Hulk, newly transformed back into the Grey Hulk, is with Rick Jones, who has just been cured of being the Mullet Hulk. Wile Rick is ready to thank Banner – the Grey Hulk just wants to be left alone. He knows that the sunrise is coming – and with that – Banner. He jumps far away and finds a small town – or more importantly, a liquor store. The Hulk gets stinkin’ drunk!
The sun comes up leaving a very intoxicated Banner to explain – or more accurately, slur what happened and who he is. But he blacks out and the police, including the Sheriff – who happens to be the same abusive husband from the beginning of the issue – take Banner to jail.
Rick arrives at Gammabase only to taken in – and Betty is there getting love notes from her Ex-Husband. We rejoin the abused wife who is recalling how she fell for her husband. What a great guy he was when they were young and in love. But now all she wants to do is leave.
Banner is in jail recalling everything Sterns said to him – how the Hulk doesn’t just appear at night because of the moon – but because of the sun. He tries to warn the cops – but the Sheriff decides to push his luck and abuse Banner instead. With the sun fully set, the Hulk comes barging out of the cell and makes quick work out of the Sheriff, throwing him out of a window. Not one to back down he continues to try and show what a big man he is – only to be more and more embarrassed by the Hulk.
Even the towns people cheer the Hulk on – calling the Sheriff a bully – saying he’s getting what he deserves! Only Blaire, the Sheriff’s wife comes to his aid. Only he isn’t happy about having to be saved by his wife, in front of HIS town. He screams at his wife, and tries to grab the gun she is holding out of her hands – only, the gun goes off – and kills the Sheriff.
Blaire says she didn’t mean to… and the Hulk responds with “Ha! Sure you didn’t!” And with that he takes off. The issue closes with Betty meeting up with Ramon, her Ex. She wants to feel wanted, special, loved – and she thinks Ramon can give that to her.
An amazing self contained issue that’s part of a bigger picture – showing how ruthless the Grey Hulk can be. His hate for Banner having him make worse and worse choices – getting him into bigger trouble than he needed to be. Almost like the classic 70’s television show. Grade: A+