Incredible Hulk #379-382 (1991): Hulk joins Pantheon

Check out the cover logo  “Featuring Doc Samson.”  Does including Samson on the title really boost sales?

Due to Ringmaster’s hypnosis and Samson’s therapy, all the voices in Banner’s head are unified.  And they’re thirsty. So they go to a bar.

Of course there’s a big bar fight, but the focus, as always with Peter David, is on character.  It’s remarkable that the 1990s, which are best known for testosterone-filled, over-muscled characters with bad feet (at least when Rob Liefeld draws them), also produced some of the best character-driven comics ever: Peter David’s Hulk and Peter David’s X-Factor.

In the bar, Hulk meets Ulysses, Hector and Atalanta, who represent “The Pantheon.”  We’ve seen a bit of them before.  (Note how Hulk refers to Ringmaster as “Ringo.”  Peter David is a genuinely funny guy.)  They want to use the newly intelligent Hulk to create the world they want to see.

There’s a skirmish with them, Hulk lets them think they knocked him out (to avoid a big battle in a populated area, and because he wants to know what they’re really about), and they take him away.

While he’s kidnapped, Doc Samson and Nick Fury try to find him.  That’s why we get the “featuring Doc Samson” tag on the cover—issue #380 is almost all Samson.

Once inside the base, Hulk meets the leader of the Pantheon, Agamemnon, who says the group’s essential mission is to prevent problems rather than react to them, and they want Hulk to be a big hammer in their toolbox—and they want Banner’s brain as well.  You can see how seductive that would be for him: His fully integrated being is sought, not just his fists or his genius.

Hulk resists at first, But in the end he joins up.  And they all become friends.

And he gets a new costume:

It’s purple!

These issues also show Betty Ross deciding whether she loves the “integrated” man or just the Bruce parts, and to help her work out these issues she moves in with Marlo (Mr Fixit’s ex-GF).

There’s also a brief Abomination appearance, wearing a trenchcoat, preluding his appearance next issue.

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