The Incredible Hulk #406 (June 1993)

This issue of The Incredible Hulk sees Captain America intervening in the case of his longtime friend and former sidekick, Rick Jones, who is suffering over the fate of his girlfriend Marlo Chandler, recently killed and then brought back to life but remains catatonic (for which no one could blame her). Eventually the big green guy, as well as the guy with the green ponytail, get involved, as you can see on the cover (which is definitely more exciting than seeing Rick cry at the feet of a silent, unmoving woman).

The relevant part of the story for us begins when Marlo’s brothers visit the local police captain with a court order to take custody of their sister, but the captain seems to respect… celebrity, I guess. (I mean, Rick does increase tax revenues, after all, which pays for those donuts he’s enjoying in stereotypical fashion.)

But he’s not doing nothing—he’s just asking another celebrity to help.

I agree, Marlo’s brother, it’s very cool! (Especially when he’s penciled by Gary Frank.)

In case you’re not up on current issues of the Hulk’s book: Scruffy Joe there is actually Rick Jones (alongside Marlo), and the blonde woman is Betty Banner, currently married to Bruce. And Betty has apparently had enough of all of this!

Just another day in the Banner household, I guess. (I wouldn’t use the nice glasses, though.)

Cap tries to appeal to Rick by using his own history, which Rick knows all well, having been at Cap’s side through the worst of her early period grieving Bucky Barnes, but it does no good.

Having taken his best shot, Cap lets the local police take over…

…until something green and angry this way comes.

Another fun Hulk Fact™: At this point (since issue #377), the Hulk has Bruce’s intelligence and rationality, as well as the gray Hulk’s snarky sarcasm, which may disarm Rick but doesn’t do much against Cap.

Cap ignores the Hulk’s attempt at a joke, using it instead as an argument to get Rick on his side, citing their earlier struggle with the Hulk in Captain America #110 (after which Rick engaged in the worst-timed cosplay ever). But the Hulk makes a valid point about valuing relationships over rules (especially unfair ones, as he judges them), and Rick sides with him over Cap.

After giving a “here we go again” sigh, Cap once again fights the Hulk, if only to distract him for a bit, and does a pretty good job of it, using smarts rather than strength.

I have absolutely no idea what Cap is doing here, how he shoots out of the house like that, or if he hits Hulk in the face or bounces off the stone railing next to the steps. Very strange scene, but it seems to have kept the Hulk mad, so I guess it worked.

Cap manages to duck the Hulk’s blows, and promises he can do this all day, while also smacking Big Green with the shield before Hulk introduces him to a pole—all to the delight of Japanese tourists.

Ha ha, very clever editorial footnote, Ms. Editor (Bobbie Chase). (According to the Marvel Fandom Database, they are saying, “Look, a new Hulk Comic book! I will like it very much!” and “Hurry up and shoot!”)

After the Hulk wraps the pole around Cap, Doc Samson shows up, inviting another stupid joke from his larger green friend and giving Cap time to rejoin the fight, hoping to use pressure points again, but to no avail.

Even if the Hulk didn’t like Samson’s line, I’m sure Cap did—but at least Hulk is consistent in stressing the importance of personal relationships and the ethics of loyalty expected therein, which he regards as more important than impersonal rules and laws. Cap disagrees, preferring a more impartial ethics that constrains individual choices, but Hulk dismisses this as well (in language well chosen to needle the Sentinel of Liberty).

(The role of impartiality in ethics is a perennial topic in moral and political philosophy: a fine place to start is Thomas Nagel’s Equality and Partiality, or the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on impartiality.)

The fight ends when Marlo wakes up, and Rick offers to order pizza. (I don’t see why he didn’t try that earlier.)


The Incredible Hulk (vol. 1) #406, June 1993: Peter David (writer), Gary Frank (pencils), Cam Smith (inks), Glynis Oliver (colors), Joe Rosen (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)

Collected in: Incredible Hulk Epic Collection: Ghost of the Past.

ALSO THIS MONTH: Captain America #416 and Mys-Tech Wars #4, Avengers #363, Invaders #2, and Infinity Crusade #1 (June 1993)

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