Incredible Hulk vol. 2 #378

Title: “Rhino Plastered”

Writer: Peter David

Penciller: Bill Jaaska

Inker: Jeff Albrecht

Colors: Glynis Oliver

Editor: Bobbie Chase

Santa’s Helper: Kurt Busiek

In the children’s ward of the hospital, one kid is taunting a heavy set kid calling him “Fatso” and saying that he can’t catch him. Rick walks by thinking about how Marlo and Betty didn’t need him around just when they started getting along, and Samson definitely doesn’t need him hanging around. Rick walks by and sees the nurse struggling with the children. She says that this is a hospital, and it is Christmas. She says that is two good reasons they shouldn’t be picking on one another. The teaser says that the heavy kid started it and that he ate his bed. Rick tells the kids that this isn’t cool. He tells the big kid that he could hurt someone charging around, and he tells the smart alec kid that his face could get stuck that way. The heavy kid recognizes Rick Jones, “the superguys’ pal”. Rick says that is right and that he knows what he is talking about. Rick asks if they want to hear a story about how teasing can lead to bad stuff. He says that it involves the Hulk. The kid asks if he means the big green dumb guy. Rick says that back then he was gray and really smart. Rick says that it also involves another that was kind of like the heavy kid. He was called the Rhino.

Rhino sits next to a dumpster depressed during the holidays. Rhino walks up to two homeless guys near a fire. He asks if he can share their fire. He says that he isn’t cold, but that he just wants someone to talk to. The two homeless men run when they see Rhino. Rhino sees his reflection and says that he can’t stand it anymore. He says that he is stuck in a stupid costume and a stupid identity. He says that he has no money, no prospects, and no friends. He says that his only friends are other super-villains. He says that they never want to talk about football or broads… only fighting superheroes. He says that his life is in the sewer.

The homeless guys run out of the alley screaming about an ugly gray monster. One of them runs right into Hulk’s chest. Hulk says that he represents that remark. The homeless men shout that there is another monster. They say that the town is crawling with them. As Hulk gets back into the van, Rhino is walking out of the alley. He says that he is going to go knock over a bank and that always cheers him up. Rhino sees Rick asking Hulk what those guys were saying about two gray monsters. Hulk says that bums like that see two of everything. Rhino slumps down. He says that now the Hulk is in town and that if he does anything that the Hulk will show up and beat him just like before. Rhino says that he is so depressed.

The next day, Rhino is trying to bum some money, but no one wants to help out a super-villain. He spots a Salvation Army Santa raking in the money. Rhino waits until no one is around, grabs the guy and knocks him out. Rhino steals the Santa suit and puts it on. The suit covers up his entire Rhino outfit… even the hat conceals his horn. The Rhino begins to rung the bell and collect money for “the needy”. Clay, Rick, and Bruce walk by him. Clay is telling a story about him and Nick Fury. Rhino tells Clay to help the needy. Clay says that he already gave. Rhino picks Clay up by the back of his jacket and tells him to give again. Clay, Rick, and Bruce all put something in. Rick tells him to buy a new attitude with it. Suddenly a man from the department store that Rhino is standing outside of runs over to Rhino and asks for a minute of his time. Rhino says that he didn’t do anything. The man says that it isn’t what he has done, but what he can do. He say that the mall Santa hurt himself, falling down drunk, and that they need a substitute. He says that the kids are already lined up. Rhino asks if he is sure he wants a super-villain for this. The man says that Santa Claus isn’t a villain. The people cheer as “Santa” walk in. A tear wells in Santa’s eye. He says that this is the first time he has been greeted with joy and happiness instead of screaming. He says that he should have thought of this sooner, but as he sits down Santa’s chair collapses under his weight. Everyone laughs. The mall manager says that they will get him a reinforced chair.

A kid sits on Rhino’s lap telling him all the super hero action figures and playsets he wants. Rhino asks if he doesn’t want any villains like the Rhino figure. The kid asks who needs villains. He says that they get beat up all the time and that they are ugly and dumb. Hulk gets up to throw the kid, but the boy’s mother thinks that Santa is giving him a piggy back ride. The kid grabs Rhino’s horn under his hat. The kid quietly says that he isn’t Santa. He says that he is the Rhino. Rhino holds the kid up right in front of his face. He quietly tells him that if he breathes a word of this that he is going to “give you a ho ho ho right up the whazzoo. He asks if the kid gets it. The kid says that he got it, and Rhino says, “Good”.

As the kid’s mother drags him out of the store, the kid tells him mother that the Rhino is back there. The mother doesn’t listen and tells him that he can’t have a rhino, or a pony, or any other live animal. She says that they have to get to the sale at Sterns. Clay, Rick, and Bruce hear the kid mention the Rhino.

A kid is telling Rhino all the things that he wants Santa Claus to give him. Rhino snaps. He grabs the kid and says, “Give! Give! Give! You want everything handed to you! Why not do what I do? Take stuff! See it? Want it? Take it! See that bike over there? That luggage? That bowling ball? Take’em! You wanna be a wimp all your life? Make a statement! Take a stand! Take two stands! Take a whole podium!” Rhino goes to sit down.

Clay tells Rick that he has a funny feeling about that guy. Rick asks where Bruce is and that it is close to sunset.

Bruce pushes past a man in the bathroom and goes into the stall. He clutches his stomach. The man shouts at Bruce to take his turn. Bruce screams. The man says that it can’t be that bad. He shouts to move it and that other people have to use the can too. Suddenly the door smashes off. Hulk walks out. He flips a roll of toilet paper at the man and tells him it is all his.

Little Ginny stands with her mommy and asks if that is the real Santa Claus up there. Ginny’s mother says that it is. She tells her to be patient and that it will just a little further.

The kid sitting on Rhino’s lap says that he thinks that he is a really crummy Santa. Rhino says, “Ask me if I care. Man I need a drink.” The kid says that he thinks he is dumb and jams his finger in Rhino’s eye. He says that he bets that the beard is even fake and pulls off Rhino’s beard. The kid says that he bets that he is a super-villain because super-villains are big, dumb, and ugly, and that no one is bigger, dumber, or more ugly than him. The kid kicks Rhino in the shin and hurts his own foot. Rhino says that he has had it. He grabs the kid and throws him across the room. Hulk catches the kid. Hulk puts the kid down and tells him to step aside. The kid asks who he is. Hulk says that he is the spirit of fractures yet to come. Rhino recognizes the Hulk and says that he is swiping his color scheme. Rhino charges Hulk and drives him through the wall. Rhino leaps at Hulk. Hulk say that Rhino may be big, dumb, and ugly, but that this time he has met his match. Hulk kicks Rhino as he comes down.

Some kids in a comic store are looking at the cover to Star Trek #15. One kids shows the others where if you look at the rocks it spells out ‘Lost in Space’. Rhino comes smashing through the store’s window. Rhino says that he hates Hulk. Hulk says that Rhino isn’t at the top of his Christmas card list either. A woman tries to interrupt Hulk and Rhino. She says that she is Donna Schragis of Donna Schragis’ Exquisite Cookies. She says that their motto is “We Got Your Cookies Right Here”. She says that instead of fighting she suggests trying her delicious chocolate chip cookies. Rhino tries one. He asks if these are Macadamia nuts inside. Donna says that they are. Rhino shouts that he hates Macadamia nuts. He smashes the tray. Hulk grabs the woman and moves her out of the way. Hulk kicks Rhino and Rhino says that it isn’t fair kicking. Hulk says that anything is fair in love and war, and that he loves to make war. Rhino punches Hulk down through the floor.

Hulk lands on a bunch of bowling balls. Rhino says that Hulk isn’t so tough, and that anyone with half a brain can see that. Hulk says that explains Rhino noticing it. Rhino leaps down. He tells Hulk to admit that he can’t handle him. Hulk says that “anyone this side of Woody Allen” could take him. Hulk says that all it takes is plenty of balls. Hulk knocks out a bunch of bowling balls. Rhino starts tripping on the bowling balls.

Rick and Clay are looking for Hulk and Rhino. Rhino smashes through the window. Clay pulls his gun on Rhino. He tells him to freeze and that he is an agent of SHIELD. Rhino knocks Clay’s gun out of his hand. He says that is good because he never killed one of those before. Clay starts to read Rhino his rights. Rick his Rhino with a bat and tells Clay that he is boring him to death. Rhino says that he is going to gore him to death. Hulk taps Rhino on the shoulder. Rhino turns and sees Hulk with the Santa hat and beard on. Hulk says, “Ho ho ho” and punches Rhino. Hulk says that Rhino has been a very bad dimwit and that Santa is going to have to turn him into Christmas mulch. Rhino charges, but Hulk leaps over him. Rhino says that he liked Hulk better when he had a ten word vocabulary. Hulk asks Rhino what his problem is anyway. Rhino says that he can’t even take his suit off. Hulk says that he hasn’t had a woman since he put it on. Rhino asks why Hulk thinks he is so irritable. Hulk hits Rhino off.

Ginny’s brother says that Santa is flying. Ginny’s mother asks where she is.

Rhino gores Hulk and penetrates Hulk’s skin. Hulk lies on the ground clutching his stomach. Rhino puts his hat and beard back on. He says that he tried to do something decent. He says that he tried to be a nice guy. Rhino says that they didn’t want that. He says that they wanted this instead. Ginny stands there with a tear in her eye and says, “Santa? Santa, why are you hurting this gray man? I thought you were good. I thought you were supposed to help people. My mommy said you were really Santa. But maybe you aren’t. Maybe there isn’t any Santa at all, and maybe Mommy lied.” Rhino says, “Uhhhh… well your mother was… uh… she was telling the truth.” Hulk looks at Rhino surprised. Rhino says, “You see, this guy, he was, uh…” Hulk says, “uhhh… naughty?” Rhino says that he was naughty, but now he is going to be nice. Hulk says that they are both going to be nice. He says to watch. Rhino and Hulk smile together. Ginny’s mother runs over and tells Ginny to get away from them. Ginny says that it is okay. She says that he is Santa and that the gray man is Santa’s helper. Ginny asks if her mother sees. Rick starts saying, “Yes, Virginia, there is a…” Hulk and Rhino both tell him to shut up.

Rick tells the children that the Hulk and Rhino worked together rather than wreck a little girl’s beliefs. Rick says that he and Clay were proud of them. He says that the Hulk was pretty grumpy, but that he did manage to sneak in some holiday cheer.

A woman cozies up to Hulk with his Christmas hat on.

Rick tells the kids that is what happened. He asks then what that story tells them. The heavy kid says that it tells them that he is a “big dumb lying doody-head” and kicks Rick in the shin. The kids high five one another and says that Rick thought they were going to believe that story. Rick hobbles away and says that he doesn’t know why he even bothers anymore. He says that he is going back to dodging super-villains.

No Excuses rating: 8.5 out of 10

“Y’see, kids, the Rhino was what you call a manic depressive.” This issue is a riot! You really have to read the issue for yourself and see the comedy and the comedic art. One the serious side it was cool to see the Rhino actually on top of the Hulk. Rhino is a cool villain and he rarely gets any respect. It’s also nice to see that he didn’t forget that started out the issue regretting his super-villain roots and that he didn’t let it stand in the way of him acting ABOVE being a super-villain and protecting the innocence of a child. The art was good and in some spots really funny. Good stuff. 3.5 out of 5 for the art.

Review and pictures by The Leader

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