INCREDIBLE HULK #465-467 (1998): Betty Ross dies; Peter David run ends

Henry Gyrich reviews recent events for the President, who makes a cameo, and manages to get Bruce Banner a silent, under-the-table amnesty–as long as the beast is truly under control.

There are a bunch of touchpoints on Banner’s evolution as a character from “smart Hulk” to repenting survivor, as he plays cards with friends.

Betty ruins the game because she wants to get Bruce alone to play strip poker in their quarters.

Rick Jones gets an exoskeleton that enables him to walk and has some extra capabilities. He uses it to try to keep Hulk subdued (Banner’s changes into Hulk seem pretty random at this point) while Gyrich interviews Banner’s friends on whether Hulk should get the amnesty.

There’s a heavy dose of slapstick and humor, but also Banner wrestling with his guilt. All the questions of amnesty have him looking at all the damage he’s done to the people he loves.

At the end of issue #465 we see something is happening to Betty…

…She’s getting gamma poisoning.

General Ross blames Hulk, who is already wrestling with guilt across this issue. Banner emerges from Hulk, does his science thing…But fails.

Betty’s death leads Bruce to attempt suicide, and we enter into a dreamland/hallucination world.

Death, suicide, and despair are hard for any art form, but comics especially–given that they’re populated by gigantic, overmuscled guys with green skin. It’s handled well here–expertly.

In the end, we see that General Ross stole Betty’s body before it could be cremated. So, you know, this isn’t really a death anyway. She’ll be back.

But as for writer Peter David, his very, very long run on Hulk is over. He appears in the final panel…


…There’s a picture of Stan Lee on the mantle.

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