HULK #34-39 (2002): Return of the Monster

Bruce Jones arrives. His run is beloved by me, but I know not everyone likes it. It moves Hulk to a grittier series–away from the multiple personalities and explorations of hidden identities.

In the first issue, in a simple story, Hulk takes down some gang bangers while Bruce is on the run from the law–since Hulk is accused of causing the death of a young boy. Hulk is a monster again, and Bruce is not able to control him.

It’s a good tone-setting first issue.

The following issues, including the ‘Nuff Said crossover, have similar discrete adventures concurrent with a military group hunting Banner/Hulk. Along the way, he gets messages from “Mr. Blue” on a digital message board that warn him and enable him to elude his pursuers. He is also befriended by Sandra Verdugo, a special agent who was betrayed by the government killer pursuing Hulk.

She’s got powers. At one point, she’s shot in the head and lives.

The arc ends with Banner getting evidence that Hulk did not commit the crime he has been accused of. His friend Sandra seems to be killed in an explosion–along with his pursuer–but her hand emerges from the grave at the end.


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