The few other comic book collectors and readers in my area tended to scoff at the Marvel reprint titles, because as they were not originals, they weren’t going to accrue in value like the new books would. But as i had no real desire to ever sell my collection, that wasn’t a big deal to me. And honestly, I liked and appreciated these reprint books. They were, at the time, the only way to catch up on the previous adventures of your favorite characters–the days of MARVEL MASTERWORKS hardcovers and expansive Trade paperback collections and Digital Libraries was still decades away. So I bought these books religiously, and enjoyed them virtually every time out.

This particular story is notable for a couple of things, but perhaps nothing so much as the fact that Sal Buscema was brought on board to ink Herb Trimpe’s breakdowns on this issue when it first saw print. Herb was in the midst of a long run on INCREDIBLE HULK, but Sal would eventually be his successor, racking up an equally extensive time on the title. In honesty, most of the work on this issue looks more like Sal than Herb, so I wonder how much Trimpe was giving Sal apart from the pacing and panel compositions. The storytelling is definitely Trimpe’s, but the finish is all Buscema. It all still looked pretty good either way, an effective combination. As you can see, the credits box has been slightly relettered to include a credit for Nel Yomtov, who colored this reprint. At the time the issue came out, colorist credits weren’t yet a thing at Marvel.

So last time, Bruce Banner was seemingly cured of his monstrous condition in the best way possible: he was given control of his transformations into the Hulk. Vowing never to become the Hulk again, Bruce wasted no time in proposing to his long-suffering girlfriend Betty Ross, and as this issue opens, their upcoming nuptials are front page news, at least in the Daily Bugle (one must figure that Spider-Man wasn’t making headlines that day.) This catches the attention of the Leader, whom Banner/The Hulk prevented from stealing a murder module last issue. Determined to revenge himself, the Leader casts around for a suitable cat’s paw through which to wreak his vengeance.

After a montage of past cover scenes that allows for a bit of Hulk action in these early pages, the Leader lands on the Rhino as his target. In his last fight with the Hulk, the Rhino had seemingly died–but here, we learn that he survived and has been in a coma ever since. it’s child’s play for the Leader to send his gigantic humanoid to abduct the Rhino from the prison hospital in which he’s recuperating. The Rhino’s powers had been revealed earlier to be the result of Gamma Ray bombardments, and so the Leader zaps him with blasts from his own super-evolved mind in order to wake him up and restore his power. Once again attired in his costume, the Rhino stands ready to attack the wedding and kill the Hulk.

Some time later, as the ceremony to unite Bruce banner and Betty Ross is taking place at the Ross household, the Leader and the Rhino pull up outside in an oil truck that conceals the Leader’s nuclear-powered Amplifier, which the Gamma genius intends to use to forcibly transform Banner back into his brutish persona. His plan is that the bestial Hulk will last out, killing Betty and everyone present before the Rhino steps in to annihilate him. And indeed, his rays do force the change upon Banner–and the change subsumes his intellect and personality beneath that of the Hulk once more. But the Rhino is impatient, and he steps between the Leader and his target before the Leader’s bombardment can make the Hulk totally lose control.

This, though, doesn’t stop the Hulk from utterly demolishing the Ross house, even as the wedding guests run for safety. The Rhino moves in for what he’s expecting to be a climactic fight, but even a little bit dazed and confused, the Hulk is no pushover. It’s a titanic and destructive battle between them that completely demolishes everything that’s left of the house. And despite the Rhino’s great strength and power, there doesn’t seem to be anything he can do to even slow his opponent down. INCREDIBLE HULK was very much a fight book in these days, and so there was typically a greater-than-average amount of chaos and carnage in every issue as compared to the other Marvel stars. No doubt, this was one of the appeals of the series.

As the fight rages on, the Leader has had an opportunity to charge up his Amplifier for one more fatal shot–but as he fires, the Rhino runs into the line of fire and gets shot in the back by the blast. This causes the Rhino to turn on the Leader, who attempts to escape the scene in a flying escape craft, having at least disrupted Banner’s wedding. But the Rhino grabs onto the underside of the ship and pummels at it, causing the craft to explode, seemingly killing the both of them. The Hulk muses that even when he doesn’t do anything, he somehow wins. And so, as he leaps away, the Hulk unknowingly leaves the broken-hearted Betty Ross in his wake. Because not only were her dreams of getting married shattered, but her father General Thunderbolt Ross was struck in the head by a falling piece of the building when the Hulk destroyed it. So his fate remains uncertain as the ambulances carry him away, and his aide Colonel Glenn Talbot vows to destroy the Hulk in retribution for this action. And that’s where the issue ends.

5 thoughts on “BHOC: MARVEL SUPER-HEROES #76

  1. That really is the best inking I’ve ever seen on Trimpe. It beats out either Severin by a hair. I also prefer Rhino as a Hulk opponent. he just never seems to be quite a powerhouse when up against Spider-Man. That’s a problem I have with Sandman too.


  2. Tom, you’re so right. Sal’s definitely comes through more here than Trimpe. I would say that Sal dialed it back when he was doing Hulk’s face (letting Trimpe be Trimpe) but all the other characters have that SB look to them — their faces and their poses for sure. Good call.


  3. Just one slight correction: Talbot was a major in this issue. His promotion to colonel didn’t happen till the Mantlo run. 🙂


  4. I’ve read a bunch of these Thomas / Trimpe stories for the first time recently, and I’ve really been enjoying them.


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