Hulk #55-59 (2003): Hide In Plain Sight

I love a good prison break.  Every time I read a story where one is featured, I tell myself, “You should have had a ‘Prison Break’ tag when you started reading the 1966 books.”  I’m just doing it this time, recognizing that it is woefully incomplete.  As I go through old posts, I’ll add it back in.

The prison break in this story takes up several issues and, like most of Bruce Jones’ Hulk stories, boils slowly.  I really love this run.  I know it’s very different.  Up until now, a good Hulk story meant a lot of punching and mindless action.  So for those picking up a random issue expecting a classic story, these were head-scratching tales.  Hulk noir???

Anyway, Bruce Banner is in New York and has a random conversation with a woman after they both see a news broadcast about Absorbing man being held at an underground prison.  After their conversation, the woman goes down to the subway and jumps in front of a train.

We then see Crusher Creel in his cell, eyes glowing, with a sinister grin.

The woman, named Judy, worked at Creel’s prison.  We see the authorities investigating the suicide and believing Absorbing Man was behind it—even though he’s stuck in a jail cell.  During the interviews, one of the staffers’ eyes start glowing and he attempts to rape a coworker.  Something is clearly wrong.

Meanwhile, Banner has his second random encounter—this time, with Judy’s friend Pamela.  He sees her on the street and recognizes her from a news story about Judy’s suicide and approaches to tell her he’s sorry for her loss.  They begin talking and are attacked by thugs.  During the fight, Pamela gets the same “glowing eye possession,” which gives her the ability to fight them all off.  After the thugs run, she turns back to normal and has no memory of the encounter.  Then, possessed again, she pushes Banner in front of a train.

Obviously, he Hulks out.  Afterwards, they talk again and Banner’s face gets switched with Creel—making it clear to us that somehow Absorbing Man has developed the power to possess others and force them to do his will.  Creel then forces Banner to change into Hulk, and possesses him.

From there, Creel and Banner fight for control over Hulk’s body.  After some twists and turns, Hulk is forced to break Creel out of prison.

Big fight.

Now we get to the disappointing and confusing part.  Banner manages to trick Creel into jumping into the mind of a dead person, which seems to kill Creel.

But we’re shown that, across the world, a child is born with glowing eyes…

So…No explanation of how Absorbing Man got these powers.

We are told later, in Captain Marvel #18, which I haven’t reviewed yet but when I do the review will appear here, that this was not the real Absorbing Man—it was a duplicated created by Genis Vell when he altered the timeline.  But still no explanation how this gave him mind-jumping powers.

This story was a lot of fun, up until the end where we get no answers at all. 

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