Incredible Hulk #370-371 (1990)

The original three Defenders unite to fight, quite literally, a monster in Dr. Strange’s closet.

It’s name is Shanzar.

Shanzar possesses Hulk, so that Namor has to subdue him while Strange exorcises the demon. We never get a good look of Shanzar in this comic–just his scary claw hands.

My favorite part of the issue is when daytime comes and Hulk changes back to Banner, and Sub-Mariner notes how muscular Banner is.

I get that this is a story point—Peter David is building towards a thesis that Banner and Hulk are the same person—but it’s also a meta critique of comic book art in general.  And a point that will be greatly exacerbated in the 1990s.  “Civilians” like Tony Stark and Bruce Banner always have perfect bodies, even though they rarely work out and aren’t enhanced.

We’re moving towards the uniting of Banner and Hulk “permanently,” so that each won’t be skulking around each others’ skulls when the others’ bodies are walking around Earth.  Lots of arguing between Hulk and Banner in the mystical “closet” world, including Hulk insinuating that he can please Betty better than Banner.

Very cool stuff.

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