Incredible Hulk vol. 2 #371

Title: “Strange but True”

Writer: Peter David

Penciller: Dale Keown

Inker: Bob McLeod

Colors: Glynis Oliver

Editor: Bobbie Chase

The Dark Hulk leaps through the window of Strange’s house and says, “This body… this world… this universe… mine! All mine!” Strange quickly rattles off an incantation that stops the debris from hurting some tourists below and reforms it into his window. Namor notes that while it was effective that it didn’t even come close to rhyming. Strange says that he is a doctor not a poet. Namor asks what just happened here, and Strange guesses that the creature from the Strange Matter universe must have left a piece of itself on Bruce when the Hulk escaped. Strange says that there must be places where the two universes touch- one was that apartment’s closet and another is in Strange’s home where mystic energies converge. Strange says that he is going to try to create a spell to bridge the two universes, and that Namor should try to stop the Hulk.

The Dark Hulk is hiding in the shadows of an alley waiting for the sun to set so that the Hulk’s body will be at its strongest. Inside his head the Dark Hulk notices that Bruce Banner is rumbling about inside his head. He tells Banner to be quiet, and that he must concentrate on his business.

Inside the mindscape, Bruce says that he doesn’t know how he managed to take over the Hulk’s psyche, but that this is his mental plane and that he is ordering him out. Dark Hulk says that he has also taken over his physical presence, and that there is nothing Banner can do about it. Bruce leaps into Dark Hulk and actually manages to knock him back. Dark Hulk says that Banner’s mind makes up for some of his lack of physical prowess, but it is not enough as Dark Hulk flicks Banner off his feet with his thumb. Bruce asks Dark Hulk what he is. He says that he is exactly as Bruce theorized a creature of the Strange universe. Dark Hulk says that he is in fact the Sorcerer Supreme in his dimension. Bruce asks why Dark Hulk isn’t busy in his own universe. Dark Hulk explains that watching over all those people was a real burden and so he obliterated them all, but now he is bored and lonely. Dark Hulk says that the body of the old woman collapsed immediately upon entering his realm. He says that the Hulk’s body is doing much better. Suddenly Dark Hulk falls over. He says that it seems that his physical aspect is under attack. Dark Hulk raises spikes out of the ground around Bruce to act as a prison so that he can devote his full attention to the attack.

Dark Hulk is lying in a pile of garbage. He asks Namor if he sought to defeat him while his attention was elsewhere. Namor says that where his attention is is of little consequence to him. He says that what concerns him is the body and mind that he has stolen. Namor says that Dark Hulk will return them and go home, or he will have to resort to fisticuffs. Dark Hulk pounds Namor and sends him flying.

A police officer, that had mouthed off to his boss, is sitting in a speed trap somewhere in the middle of nowhere. The sleek red car that mowed down Doc Samson last issue goes flying by at 167 miles per hour. The cop radios ahead for back up.

Banner is managing to start slipping through his prison while the Dark Hulk has Namor in a full nelson. Namor says that Dark Hulk is only making this harder on himself. Dark Hulk says that Namor is boastful, but that he shouldn’t threaten things his power can’t back up. Namor raises his fist backward into Hulk’s face. He says that he will have to remember that if his power ever falls short. Namor smacks Hulk again. Hulk lands by the archway in Washington Square Park. Dark Hulk pulls up a jungle gym and throws the metal bars at Namor. The bars only shred Namor’s clothes, but manage to find their way into the bodies of the people behind Namor. Dark Hulk says that Namor shouldn’t get distracted as Namor looks at the people. Namor turns to Dark Hulk and says that he has his undivided attention. Namor starts laying into Dark Hulk. Strange comes flying over and thinks how he has to lure Dark Hulk back to his sanctum. Namor is getting tired as he punches Dark Hulk into the archway. Dark Hulk pushes over the archway. Namor is forced to dive onto a woman and protect her with his own body. Dark Hulk starts to revel in his victory, but suddenly he finds himself trapped in the Crimson Bands of Cyttorak. In the mindscape, Banner frees himself from his prison, but realizes that he has nowhere to go.

In Delaware, near the Jersey border, the police have set up a roadblock. They spot the sleek red car coming towards them. One cop spots the car’s heavy caliber weapons and tells the others to get back. The car blasts right through the roadblock and the police cars explode.

Dark Hulk says that this is an effective trap… for Strange’s universe, but that the laws of his universe do not govern him. Dark Hulk shatters the Crimson Bands of Cyttorak. Strange confuses Dark Hulk by creating an illusion of a number of Dr. Strange’s. Namor gets up from the rubble of the archway. Dark Hulk realizes that Bruce is freed from his prison. In the mindscape, Dark Hulk leaps at Banner. He says that he was reluctant to eliminate Bruce because he was the core being, but that with each passing moment he is getting stronger. Namor breaks open a fire hydrant and bathes in the flowing water. Strange says that Dark Hulk seems distracted and tries the Eye of Agamotto on Dark Hulk again. Strange notices that it works much better this time. While Dark Hulk is busy with Banner in the mindscape, Namor plows into him physically. Strange tells Namor to fall back. Namor says that he runs from no man. Strange uses magic to cure those injured by the metal bars. Strange explains that he used the Eye to plant an irresistible suggestion to follow them and that he won’t realize the source until it is too late.

Dark Hulk is unconsciously moving to Strange’s house as he deals with Banner within the mindscape. Dark Hulk says that time is up for Banner and that he has no more tricks up his sleeve. Bruce says that he is wrong, and that behind this door there is an option. Dark hulk says that the sun has finally set and that the Hulk has superior strength, but that the force of Banner’s mind is stronger than Hulk’s. Dark Hulk sends out tendrils to grab Bruce so that he can possess Bruce’s mind. In the real world, Strange has Wong shut the door on Dark Hulk. Dark Hulk stands before Strange’s door while Banner is trying to push up the bar to the mental block door in his mind. Rintrah comes up behind Dark Hulk and punches him through the door to the inside. Bruce unbars the door, but it doesn’t open. Dark Hulk asks him what he was trying to accomplish. Bruce says that it isn’t sure. Suddenly the door opens and bathes Dark Hulk and Bruce in a powerful green light. When the roaring starts Bruce says, “No! No, it’s not possible! I didn’t realize…” In the real world Strange opens the portal back to the Strange Matter universe. Dark Hulk says, “No! No! Take it away! I’ll leave! I’ll leave! Just don’t let it get me! Keep it away! Keep it…” Dark Hulk shouts “away” as he is pulled back through Strange’s portal. Gray Hulk is left standing before the open door. He asks what that growling is, but when he realizes he tells Banner to help him close the door. Hulk says that they just got rid of one menace and can’t let another loose. Banner and Hulk get the door barred again. Namor tells Hulk to relax and that the enemy is gone. Hulk says, “Yours is… but my two are still… in… m…” Hulk passes out.

The next morning, Bruce is up and getting dressed. Strange says that the scar runs all the way up Bruce’s back now. Strange wants to look at it, but Bruce tells him not to worry about it, and that it is his problem. Bruce asks Strange if he managed to find where in Darien, Connecticut Betty is. Strange says that he made a few calls, and that Betty’s obstetrician told him that she is at 321 Maple Street. Strange also says that there is no good way to say this, but that Betty had a miscarriage and lost the baby. Bruce is silent for a minute. Strange asks if there is anything he can do. Bruce says, “No, it’s… it’s fine. It’s better this way. He probably would have been a freak. Like his father.” Strange suggests that Bruce might like to stay there a few days to get over the news. Bruce declines and says that he has a train to catch. Bruce gets up to Darien. He finds 321 Maple Street and discovers that it is a convent. Bruce looks through the gate and spots Betty, who is now a nun, reading Winnie the Pooh stories to some children.

No Excuses rating: 9 out of 10

Another fantastic issue. The mental block door is opened and there is something green and growling within. What could it be? The way that the battle within is working in unison with the battle outside is really clever. Dale Keown does a fantastic job capturing this battle. His work is not only very stylized, but he captures action very well, as any good Hulk artist should.