One of the things I loved about the 90’s comics, well, early 90’s anyways, was how beautiful the illustrations were! When McFarlane and company ruled the pages you could not stop staring at the art! I know I am not the only one,but I am guilty of buying issues strictly for the art and not even reading the issue! Keown did that for me with the Hulk. I could care less about the stories half the time, I was more interested in staring at panel after panel of awesomeness!
These issues I did read, mainly because the Punisher was guest starring. I’m a sucker for the Punisher! Although, he really did nothing for the story here, but it was still pretty great! Michael Berengetti has died and the Punisher is there knowing it was a guy named Sam Striker. Striker wanted to be the #1 in Vegas and he knew taking out Berengetti was the way to do it. When Berengetti’s widow returns to the Coliseum Striker is there asking for the deceased “private files” to his business. When his widow rejects his request he laughs, that is, until the elevator doors open and the Hulk shows up.
The Hulk, now in his “Mr. Fixit” persona, tells Striker to beat it and Striker sics his men on him. Big mistake! The Hulk takes them out in record time, all but Frost. Mr. Frost is Striker’s right hand man and he is a big guy! So big, in fact, that the Hulk can’t even break his grip! But Striker leaves and the Hulk tells Mrs. Berengetti that he will take the culprits who killed her husband down.
Meanwhile, Rick is meeting his real mother. The Hulk goes to talk to the detective who is working on Mike’s case but she is not there. The Punisher is outside, trailing the Hulk, but his real mark is the house they call Frost! Paris, one of the Pantheon tells the Hulk that Striker is certainly guilty. The Hulk asks how he knows this and Paris admits he is an Empath. He also tell the Hulk that the person following them in the ice cream truck has some major hostility toward them. The Hulk tells the driver to follow his directions.
Next thing you know the Limo swings around and heads right at the truck. The Punisher swerves out of the way and crashes but he is out in a moment armed to the teeth! He opens fire on the Hulk’s entourage and the bullets bounce off the Hulk like tennis balls. When bigger and bigger guns don’t work the Punisher pulls out a grenade, but Hector (another Pantheon member) hits it back at him. The Hulk saves the Punisher’s life by grabbing the grenade and letting it go off in his closed fist.
Meanwhile, Rick Jones has no interest in meeting his real Mother. Now, Striker is furious about Fixit’s appearance. He tells Frost to take care of him. But the Punisher tells the Hulk that he is after Frost and the Hulk says he wants Striker out. And the Hulk has a plan to do just that…
So, apparently there was a storyline in the Spiderman series, one that I never read, that has Doc Ock beating the Hulk. Even I know that is ridiculous! Well, in the opening of the next issue we see Ock trying to rob a casino and the Hulk takes him out by flicking him with one finger! Such a great shot! Then, we see the Punisher ready to take the good Doctor out, but the Hulk stops him. Elsewhere, we see Paris talking to Striker telling him that he’d like to join his organization. He tells Striker he knows how to get rid of Fixit and that Fixit has his “fat fingers” in some drug business.
Rick Jones is back in his side story where he apparently does want to know his Mother… maybe. In Vegas, the Hulk and Punisher are putting on a show for Striker. They are pretending to be in the middle of a drug deal when Striker shows up. He tells them to give him the drugs, the money and to leave or he will give the photos that Frost is taking to the authorities. Then he admits that he killed Berengetti and even shows him the gun that did it. That’s when all hell breaks loose and the cops, working with the Hulk, come out ready to arrest Striker!
Frost opens fire and the cops return it, only Striker seems to be caught in the cross hairs! Frost takes off with the Punisher not so far behind, but even when Frank puts a few rounds right into his chest, Frost can still throw a car at him! Frost tries to escape in a Police helicopter but the Hulk has different ideas. He crashed the helicopter into a casino and takes the fight indoors. Frost takes a hold of the Hulk and covers him in ice! Hulk also notices that his foe doesn’t bleed! As Frost is about to leave, thinking the fight is over, the Hulk breaks free and lances Frost, impales him right through the chest. He grabs Frost’s neck, but Frost’s head comes right off! The Hulk asks “What are you?” and Frost responds with “I’m a head of my time!” and with that he explodes, leaving nothing but snow. In the end, the Police have Striker in custody, but Frost got away, much to the dismay of the Punisher. Detective Sanchez suddenly identifies the Punisher, but he gets away with the help of the Hulk.
I love the Punisher, I really do! I really don’t think he was used effectively here but the story is so fantastic, who cares?!? I love the Frost character is great, unfortunately, according to Ratchet, he never makes another appearance. His origin is touched upon later in issue #437, and apparently the Leader is involved (of course!) but he himself never appears in an issue of the Hulk. That’s too bad. I love these issues so much and Keown is at his absolute best here!
– Later, David