I Have Issues (5)

Batman vs. The
Incredible Hulk

“Can’t we all just get along?”
In the spirit of the summer blockbusters that will be
battling it out for your hard earned money I decided to do this post on a
little known gem from the 70’s. The Hulk and the rest of the Avengers are
making a great showing at the box office, but Batman is coming in as a sequel
to an already successful franchise.
 I myself go back and
forth on which publisher I like the best. It’s like music, sometimes I want
metal and sometimes I want some classical. While I am usually of the opinion
that DC has the better more iconic characters, the Uncanny X-Men is my favorite
franchise.  My first interest in comics
came with the Uncanny X-Men. Then I hit High School and girls became my number
one priority. Comics slid out of my life for three years.  Then in my senior year something brought me
back. Of all the events to suck me back in, Superman getting new energy powers was
the one that drove me back into the comic shop. You see my best friend in High
School was the biggest Superman fan I have ever met. He is the kind of fan that
loves the character so much that even a hokey money grab like this was met with
the enthusiasm of someone reading Watchmen for the first time. His enthusiasm
was so infectious that I bought all the issues leading up to the power switch
and continued for the next several years. Much like the early 90’s comics that
I love so much, these issues hold a special place in my heart. If you would
tell me that those issues suck, I would probably have to agree with you in a
way but just like music, sometimes it just hits you at the right moment and you
always remember the time you enjoyed it.
So this one event, along with just falling in love with DC
got me back into comics It then got me back into Marvel and then Image and
finally now where I just love a good comic.
So while battling over which comic/event to write about this
time I wanted to start a run of comics with great battles. This is a wrestling
site after all and who here doesn’t love a good rumble?
My first thought when it comes to great comic fights, is the
amazing Hulk/Wolverine from the Ground Zero storyline, but then who hasn’t read
that one already? While sifting through my comics for an idea I came across
this issue where the most unlikely of fights takes place. I can remember seeing
this issue when I first got it and thought, “How the hell is Batman going to
even put up a good fight against the Hulk?” Answer: He’s the goddamn Batman!
Plus this is the Batman from the ‘70s who much like Superman at the time could
pull off some amazing s--- when he needed to.


DC And Marvel
Present: Batman vs. The Incredible Hulk
(W) Len Wein (A) Jose
Luis Garcia-Lopez


Setup
Inside a warehouse building, Bruce Banner is doing remedial
jobs for Wayne research. It’s all a ruse however, as Banner has come to Gotham
just trying to get close to an experimental Gamma-Gun. Banner feel’s this could
finally be the device that could cure him of the Hulk disease he has been
struggling with since his accident all those years ago. Suddenly everyone is
laughing their asses off like they saw Hulk Hogan’s sex tape and Banner runs to
grab a radiation suit to wear.  Just as
Bruce is about to get suits to everyone, he spots the Joker and his cohorts.
Banner thinks, “No…not him!” (I always
find it amusing that in a lot of crossovers the characters from opposing
universes know all about each other. I’m not sure if anyone has come up with an
Earth-53 to explain where these events take place or not. Though I think I
heard something about an Earth-B where things that can’t take place anywhere
else happen.  It kind of defeats the
purpose to say this is continuity on an earth where there is no continuity, but
the creators probably just made it up to quiet nerds like me at conventions.)
As
Joker is about to have his men steal the Gamma-Gun, Banner rushes to the wall
alarm to trigger it for help. Bruce is spotted by the criminals and they tackle
him. As the men beat on him, Bruce Hulks out and tosses them all like ragdoll’s.
Firing with all the guns they have, nothing stops the Hulk who smashes everyone
and everything in sight! The few henchmen who remain standing grab the
Gamma-Gun with the Joker and start running it out of the door. The group is
surprised to find Batman swooping in to cut off their escape.  Batman sees the Hulk and tries talking slowly
to the man-monster to calm him down, it’s then that Joker steps in to the
conversation. The Joker points out that he too is constantly hounded by
authority figures and that, hey they both have green hair! (I was waiting for him to point out that they both loved wearing purple
but it never came up in the conversation.)
The Joker then convinces the
Hulk that Batman is scary looking and the ultimate authority figure and that if
Hulk should smash anyone, it’s him! The Hulk agrees and charges Batman.


(Round One)

As Hulk lunges, Batman deftly leapfrogs over the brute to
land safely on the other side. Hulk turns in disbelief at how fast this man is
and then sends a green ham hock his way. Batman again evades by ducking under
the punch.  Batman then attempts to
strike at the green monster’s nerve centers, the whole time thinking, “Fall!
Why won’t you fall!” The Hulk just gets angrier to which he takes another swipe
at Batman who falls back, realizing he needs to stay away from the monsters
grip. However Batman’s plan comes too late as the Hulk gets him in his grip.
Just as he’s about to snap his spine, Batman boxes Hulks ears to which he
finally let’s go in pain. (I love
Batman, but I call b------- on that. Superman boxing Hulks ears? Okay. This,
not so much.)
The Hulk tosses a large piece of equipment at Batman who at
the last second gets out of the way. Hulk is about to smash puny Wayne when the
detective throws down a handful of sleeping gas pellets that can “drop an
elephant”. The Hulk, just smart enough for battle tactics, sucks in some fresh
air and holds his breath.  Batman put’s a
breather on his own mouth and then with all of his strength, pushes his body
from a kneeling position into a sharp kick into the Hulk’s solar plexus. The
Hulk let’s out his breath and then instinctively sucks in the gas. The Hulk
trudges towards Batman but at the last second topples over, unconscious.


(First fall goes to
Batman)

Hulk reverts back to Banner and Bruce Wayne comes out to
help him. Bruce offers him a job in Wayne corp to create another Gamma-Gun and
this time with an eye toward helping Banner find a cure for his curse.  Elsewhere the Joker is using his newly
acquired Gamma weapon on the Alien creature known as the Shaper of Worlds. The
Shaper is a somewhat obscure Hulk villain who is a sentient cosmic cube that
has decided to use his abilities to make dreams and nightmares come true.
Shaper looks like a Voltron Rowbeast with tank treads instead of legs. You know
what? Here: http://images.search.yahoo.com/search/images?_adv_prop=image&fr=yfp-t-521-s&va=shaper+of+worlds
The Shaper was flying in space but got too close to a
supernova and now has been damaged. His dreaming powers have driven him insane
and he needs power to get back to normal. The space being has promised Joker
unlimited power if he can help him. Now with the Gamma-Gun, the Joker fires
into the Shaper. At first the gun appears to be working, but then the Shaper
informs his criminal cohorts that the gun has failed and if the Joker wants the
power he was promised he must find another way to fix him.
Later, Banner is aboard a ship in Wayne’s fleet and is
starting to lose his cool.
The other scientists working for him are telling him that there is something
wrong with the gun. Banner does not want to hear it. Before he can Hulk out,
Alfred approaches Banner and calms him down. (They don’t mention it, but this makes me wonder if Banner had someone
in his life like Alfred, could he have learned how to control himself? Alfred
has kept Batman from going over the edge for years, so it stands to reason he
could do the same for Banner.)
Meanwhile Batman is scouring the streets for information on
the Jokers whereabouts. After beating on a few thugs in a warehouse, Batman
finds a clue.
Back on the ship, the military show up and demand Bruce
Banner turn himself in.  Alfred protests
this, but Banner agrees to go peacefully for the safety of everyone around him.
Alfred just won’t give in, and gets a rifle butt to the face for his trouble.
It’s then one of the military men yells at another that the boss told them to
act like they are proper military. Banner realizes that they are not who they
say they are and after a couple of seconds of struggle, he Hulks up! After an
unsuccessful Taser blast later, Hulk is again throwing soldier boys around like
toys.  Suddenly a looming shadow over
Hulks shoulder causes the green giant to pause. Turning around, Hulk finds a
monster twice his size in the vague shape of a man but made of some kind of
dough. The monster was created by the Shaper of Worlds to bring the Hulk in,
and does just that as it morphs it’s midsection into a cage and traps the Hulk
inside of it.  
Back in the Jokers hideout he convinces the Shaper that
Banner, could figure out how to fix him right up. At the very mention of his
puny alter-ego, Hulk rages and destroys the dough boy and charges the Shaper.
With what little power he has left, the Shaper freezes the Hulk just before he
is about to destroy everything. The Hulk jumps away, but the Shaper lets the
Joker know that he must bring him back, because he does not have the power to
do it himself.
The next scene is by far my favorite of the comic. Batman
sees his signal in the sky and swings towards it. As he reaches the rooftop
with the spotlight, he finds the Joker has lit it up. Before Bat’s can pound
the clown prince of crime, he lets the Dark Knight know the situation they are
facing. A Hulk loose in Gotham. The Joker convinces Batman that they need to
work together to find the monster. Batman reluctantly agrees and in the next
panel the two star-crossed characters are running the streets like partners.
One panel even shows Batman sneaking a peek from an alleyway while the Joker is
behind him, looking inside a trashcan (Classic!)
 Soon this preposterous pair comes
across the Hulk who is about to thrash two criminals who tried to mug him in
his sleep.  Batman tries again to reason
with him, but the Hulk wants none of it as he jumps away, warning him that he
should not follow.


(Round Two)

Batman tosses his Batarang tied to a rope around the Hulks
ankle. Holding on tight, Bat’s sails through the air. Hulk crashes through the
roof of a parking garage and Batman has to angle his descent just right to land
through the hole and not get splattered.  Gas pellets worked really well last time and
Batman not one to give up on a good plan tries it again. The Hulk waves his
hand in a fan like motion and blows it away. Batman, sure that this would work
again was already in motion for a flying kick, and realizes too late that the
gas is gone. Hulk gets Batman’s ankle in a grip and using his momentum against
him to toss him against the wall. (I
hate to be nitpicky but wouldn’t it have been better to grab his leg and stop
the momentum. The Hulk’s strength coupled with Batman’s momentum would have
snapped his leg in half! I know… they would never do this.)
Batman arcs his
body so his feet absorb the impact against the wall, stopping himself from a
broken back. Picking up a car, Hulk tosses it at Batman who dives through the
passenger side window and out of the driver’s side, avoiding yet another near
death attack. Once through the car and in the same motion, Batman grabs onto
Hulks leg. Again trying to reason with the monster, Batman gets smacked to the
ground. Hulk picks up yet another car, and Batman realizing he is severely out
of his element here throws a handful of smoke bombs on the ground. In seconds,
the Hulk can’t see his prey and starts to smash through everything and
collapses part of the parking garage in the process.  Hulk, through with his temper tantrum jumps
away yet again. The Joker shows up and pulling wreckage away finds Batman mostly
fine under a couple of cross-beams that took the brunt of the collapse.


(I’m giving the
second fall to Hulk, though Batman definitely had some cool moves in this one.)

The Hulk wanders the streets and comes across a blind man.
Hulk is surly as usual and wonders to the blind man why everybody won’t just
leave him alone! The blind man manages to convince the Hulk that maybe if he
wishes to be accepted by people that he should help them instead of destroying
things. Then the Joker appears from an alley and agrees with the blind man that
the Hulk should come with him. (Any
other villain and this would be ridiculous, but the Joker is damned
unpredictable, I buy it.)
The Hulk agrees and goes with the Joker.  The blind man then pulls his face off
revealing it to be a mask, and that man is Batman, true story.
At the docks the Joker tells Hulk to go in and destroy the
Shaper. Batman, enraged at the Joker for not going in with him, slaps the clown
in the face.  Running to catch up, Batman
tells the Hulk that they should work together, the Hulk reluctantly agrees. Just
as the two reach the outside of the warehouse the Shaper creates a nightmare
for them. A horde of villains that have challenged both Batman and the Hulk
over the years appear and together the heroes take them down.
Villain Roll Call!
Two-Face, Rhino, Abomination, the Leader, Killer-Moth and
the Scarecrow.
Now on to the warehouse, Batman finds the door locked and
prepares to pick it, the Hulk simply smashes it open. The Shaper has created a
barrier to protect himself, but the Hulk thinking he is stronger charges into
it. The power of the barrier is so great that it knocks the Hulk unconscious and
changes him back to Banner. However the Shaper was able to siphon off some of
the Gamma radiation in the attack. The Shaper, now repaired and stocked back in
energy reserves decides that he want’s to go back to the stars to do whatever
it is that he does out there. The Joker then reminds the Shaper the deal they
made at the beginning. Batman realizes that the Joker’s whole game plan was to
just get more power for himself. (The
heck you say?)
The Shaper keeps up his end of the bargain by granting the
Joker the power to make his dreams come true. (He gives him a copy of “The Secret”?) The Joker changes his
costume with a snap of his fingers. He now wears a jesters costume as he flies
away on a Persian rug. Having turned all of Gotham’s people into clowns, the
Joker flies around surveying his new kingdom as Batman follows him. Oh did I
also mention that the Joker turned Batman fat and has him in a jester variation
of his costume.  Banner, now awake and
the Hulk again is also turned into a clown.
(Strange enough this isn’t the first time the Hulk has been in a clown costume,
remember Avengers #1 when he hid in a circus?)
The next page has all of
Gotham turned into an Alice in Wonderland parody, while the Joker is the Mad Hatter.
Also Batman and the Hulk are in matching Tweedledee and Tweedledum costumes. (Wow this s--- really went off the rails
didn’t it?)
After several more pages of complete nonsense from the Joker he
starts to burn out as he just can’t settle on what crazy mofo thing to create
next. Just as the Joker lets his mind slip Batman gives him a punch that knocks
him on his ass.  The Joker now too crazy
to even use his powers is sent back to Arkham.  Jim Gordon realizes that Banner is missing but
before he can put out an A.P.B. Batman tells him to let him go. “You know we’re
lucky in a way. At least we have our dreams! But all Bruce Banner will ever
know is a living nightmare!” (Man, that’s
some deep dark s--- to end a comic on Wayne.)

So for a comic I think this had its moments and the fights
were pretty impressive but the whole Shaper of Worlds business was a little
much for me. The Shaper complicated a comic that didn’t need to be rocket
science.  Still I enjoyed this issue even
more on the second time around; maybe I’m getting soft in my old age?

 So we have a draw in
this comic, but who will win the battle at the box-office?

I have gotten several email requests for reading all of my
past installments of “I Have Issues” without having to search through the Blog
of Doom to get them. For those that are interested I have created a Blog at http://lostscribe0.blogspot.com/
that has all of my past installments in order, for your reading pleasure.
Thanks everyone for the support!
(J. Ryan, [email protected])