HULK #24-25 (2001)

Until I started doing this blog and reading my way through every single Earth 616 story since Fantastic Four #1, I never realized that Paul Jenkins was the best Marvel writer of 2001. I’d say he is neck-and-neck with Garth Ennis, but all Ennis did was Punisher. Jenkins wrote several books, and all of them are pretty damn terrific. (Actually, Ennis did do a Hulk two-part special called Marvel Knights Hulk Smash, which will appear here when I get around to reading/posting about it. And it’s pretty damn good.

In this story, General Ross contacts Bruce Banner–who now seems to be fully in charge of his Hulk personae–and tells him that Abomination killed Betty–and basically sics Hulk on his old foe when the sight of Betty in stasis brings out the animalistic, savage Hulk.

Issue #24 is the “establishing issue” that unfolds the details above, along with a history of Abomination. The issue also juxtaposes scenes of Emil Blonsky who, like Banner, has been able to get his big mean green identity under control and is teaching a writing class at a New England college. Also like Banner, he is tormented by memories of his long lost wife.

Then we get to the knock-down-drag-out, giant-sized issue #25. It’s largely what you expect: Widescreen panels and two-page spreads, page after page of the two savagely going at it.

It’s John Romita Jr. at his best.

And just when Hulk is about to literally beat Abomination’s brains in…

…He softens, and Banner retakes control.

The twist? Instead of dying, Abomination ends the issue in confinement where Ross puts tapes of him and his wife saying goodbye, just before Emil Blonsky underwent his transformation to Abomination.

This is about as good as a Hulk comic can get.

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