Incredible Hulk #110

by

Or – “The Line Between Hero And Monster…”

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So far during the WWH crossover, we’ve seen Hulk fighting the United States army, the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, and successfully taken over the entire island of Manhattan. Nobody questions that his actions are justifiable to himself, and honestly, some of the people he’s put the hurting on richly deserved it (I’m lookin’ at you, Mr. Stark!) but we’ve seen edges of a darker path in his actions. Now that he’s gathered his enemies in one place, Hulk now has to make the decision indulging his basest urges for revenge and living up to the expectations of his fans, the Renegades and Amadeus Cho.

Previously, on Incredible Hulk: Amadeus Cho, seventh smartest person in the world, found out about the gutless actions of the members of the Illuminati, and began WWH1.jpgformulating a plan to save the Hulk, who for some reason he sees as a kindred spirit. Siphoning funds away from Warren Worthington (The Angel)’s personal fortune, he began setting in motion a plan to help Hulk, even purchasing the old Gamma base in the desert to give Hulk a place to be left alone. Drawn into his web, The Angel, along with Hercules, Namora of Atlantis, and the new Scorpion (described by Cho as a “ninja belly dancer.” Heh…) have watched as the gamma goliath fought through literal armies of enemies, and gathered his foes at Madison Square Garden. Hulk seems to be intent on forcing his enemies to fight to the death in gladiatorial contests, much as he was forced to on Sakaar, but Amadeus believes that he cannot, that he WILL NOT go through with it, and has snuck into his stronghold, with an assist from Scorpion. Now, confronted by the Hulk, Amadeus’ youthful resolve may have wilted just a little… As the Green King confronts the young lad, his backup team watches from a distance, waiting for the page that indicates Cho needs help.

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Pak’s take on Hercules (to put it in gamer terms, a man with a low INT and a very high WIS, who manages to balance the ideals of ancient Olympus with a modern take on reality) really rocks, especially with his comments on “trash talking.” While the two guys, a girl, and a giant pair of wings wait it out, Hercules comments on why he trusts the boy “He has the heart of a lion, and he’s the seventh smartest person on the planet. He’ll know what to say.” What does the seventh smartest man in the world say, faced with a hurricane in human form carrying a blade the size of a ’57 Buick? “Oh, $#!+.” Heh… Hulk asks him how he can claim to be on his side, while consorting with his greatest foes, and Amadeus, for the first time, seems to doubt his belief.

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After a moment of shocked silence, Cho looks at the sword, piercing his jacket but not his body, he stammers a shell-shocked “Told ya.” Before Hulk can strike again, Scorpion quickly yanks him out of the way. Amadeus tries to shake her off, insisting that he’s proving his point. Hulk and his Death’s Head units leap into action, but before Scorpy can attack, Amadeus takes her down. A DH comes out of nowhere, and the child who should always be called Mastermind Excello, makes his move.

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“…Scorpion’s arm’s packed with a cocktail of new toxins designed by SHIELD to goof up your gamma-powered physiology.” Hulk hesitates, seemingly more out of confusion than fear, as Amadeus shows him his plan, and his new machine. “I’ve been working on a new device… The completed machine would project a shield over the entire area… It’ll be your place, where they’ll finally leave you alone. I call it Gammaworld.” Hulk asks why he wants to help him, when Hulk himself is a stone killer. “Whatever,” replies Cho, and Hulk tries to give him a little tough-love.

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Amadeus finally lets the other shoe drop as to why he believes in Hulk. “I’ve read every document about you in every database imaginable. I’ve studied every recording and report of every fight you’ve ever been in. So I know what’s happening. I’ve figured out how your brain works. You’re like me…” Amadeus tells the Hulk that he KNOWS that Hulk’s mind is always working, making sure that no one gets hurt, explaining how after decades of mindless destruction, Marvel still claims that Hulk has had almost no casualties.

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“…and yet you haven’t killed a soul.” Hulk is really thrown by this, and insists that he killed Trauma several years ago, to which Amadeus reminds him it was self-defense. “How’d you know that?” asks Hulk, and Cho smiles. “I guessed. Gotcha.” Hulk reminds him that he killed Jarella’s father all those years ago during the pitched battle for the Microworld, and that he killed the Red King who tortured him, and Cho once again points out the obvious. “Yeah, and Captain America killed himself some Nazis once. Big deal. That was WAR, Hulk…” Finally angered enough to act, Hulk drags Cho into the air, leaping to the top of the Garden, and pointing at the ruins of Manhattan, saying that this, too, is war. Hulk tells him that he’s NOT going to kill his enemies, they’re going to kill each other. Amadeus realizes that he’s not kidding, and does the unthinkable. “Just remember you brought this on yourself…”

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“You paged?” The Angel swoops in, flinging the Scorpion into Hulk’s face. She hits him with the full range of her poisonous cargo, and Angel is horrified, thinking she was going to go for the stun. “This is the end, flyboy,” smirks the murderous green teen, and Amadeus realizes he has to act quickly. He kneels by the poisoned Hulk, and whispers in his ear…

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“…RUN!” I love this kid, and it’s obvious that Pak loves writing him. Once again enraged, The Hulk towers over Amadeus and roars his giant roar, while Cho stands his ground. “Whatever…” replies Cho, and the Hulk finally reaches his breaking point.

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Hulk looks back over his shoulder for just a moment before leaping away, and the renegades quickly move into action to retrieve Amadeus. Angel expects to find a twisted body beneath the wreckage, but instead, Hercules pulls away the rubble to see…

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…Cho was exactly right about the Hulk’s mind, and his capabilities. But simply being ABLE to keep anyone from being hurt is not the same as doing it, and there’s still a lot of hatred twisting in the green guy’s gut. I’ve said it before, many of US would do the same thing in his shoes… Hopefully, Hulk’s a better creature than he thinks he is.

World War Hulk has been a nice change of pace as a crossover, with character moments that make perfect sense, and a real commitment to making sure that people who don’t read it all don’t miss important plot points. The events of the last few months of Incredible Hulk have all taken place between the pages of the main book, but they’ve tried to make it clear how the timelines intersect. The use of Amadeus and his renegades as the central characters of the book while its star is busy beating everyone down works to great effect, making me wonder if some or all of the characters will still be in the cast post-WWH. There’s been a lot of talk about whether the Hulk is actually a hero or not, but it seems pretty clear here, as Amadeus plays Jiminy Cricket and proves that he, too, has doubts about his own actions. Incredible Hulk #110 hits all the right notes, and scores a well-deserved 4 out of 5 stars.

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