Peter David, writer
Dale Keown, artist
Mark Farmer & Marc Deering, inkers
Peter Steigerwald, colors
This story documents the night after Betty Ross’ murder, a low spot in Bruce Banner’s evolution as The Hulk. Bruce makes a call to a suicide hotline and in that conversation revisits the number of times he’s tried to commit suicide and failed. This time he has a fool-proof plan. But will he succeed? The tensions in the story is internal. Bruce’s battles with himself and his distorted relationship with the world due to his relationship with The Hulk.
This character has undergone several evolutions in its history, many brought on by the pen and pencil of writer Peter David and artist Dale Keown. David wrote the Hulk comic book from 1987-1998, issues #331-467! Notably, David has created stories, such asFuture Imperfect, which brought us Maestro a futuristic elder-version of Hulk, a re-imagined Grey Hulk, and Professor Hulk. My personal favorite is a story called, The End, which documents The Hulk living a solitary life, the last one on earth, combating a flock of flesh-eating birds.
While the outward representations of The Hulk have morphed and changed from the grey solitary hulk in issues 1-6 to the Immortal Hulk in recent issues, the internal state of Dr. Bruce Banner has remained static and rigid. He hates his marriage to The Hulk. He’s angry, isolated, marginalized, but not forgotten. Bruce has the kind of black and white thinking that leads to unhealthy emotional places: Because I can’t control these urges, this thing inside me, I must kill it, kill myself.
What David and Keown excel at is the visual and psychological representation of the pathos, the curse, that holds Bruce captive. The Hulk is big, bulging, immovable. Bruce’s psyche is injured, alone, starving. What remains for Bruce is his desire to have a cause worth staying alive to fight. This transition occurs at the end of this issue when a villain reveals themselves to the suicide prevention operator while she’s talking to Bruce. What we all need is a reason to fight, to continue, to remember the good we can do.
What I like about this story is the reminder that these kinds of struggles, the ones we have with our demons, leaves scars on ourselves and others. However, I’m not sure that this issue advances the story of The Hulk at all. It’s a reminder, a call back, and re-emersion in the David – Keown magic but not an advancement of the character. Still, I’d recommend this story to any fan of The Incredible Hulk or to anyone who wants to know what this character is really about at it’s core. 9/10