INCREDIBLE HULK #424-426 (1994-1995): Fall of Pantheon

The Pantheon have been around for a long time. I love Peter David’s run on this book, but I’ve never found the Pantheon all that interesting. In these issues, their former leader, Agamemnon, goes nuts and destroys the Pantheon base and several members die. It almost feels rushed given how long these characters have been in this comic, but I’m not sad about it because, again, I never found the Pantheon all that interesting.

During the conflict Hulk changes to Bruce Banner. I love the way it’s depicted on the cover:

We haven’t seen him become Banner in years. And the twist is that…

…Smart Hulk becomes Hulk-brained Banner!

Betty also gets mortally wounded, and is dying.

Issue #426 deals with crazy Banner and dying Betty. The Banner parts of the story, which involve Doc Samson trying to figure out what’s going on and Bruce being in an asylum, are pretty damn hilarious. Just like Bruce “thinks” he’s Hulk, another patient, “Mr. J(ordan)” thinks he’s Green Lantern.

Another one is Mercy–from Hulk #338.

These are all superhumans that Samson is working with. Over the course of the story, we learn that the Bruce/Hulk transformations never stopped being possible, they were just being controlled for various psychological reasons.

Mercy ends up saving Betty while she’s on the operating table. Apparently, part of her power set is psychic and she helps Betty find the will to live.

Meanwhile, Nick Fury swoops in and steals Bruce Banner under the guise of needing to keep the Hulk threat neutralized.

Which, given how much damage Hulk has caused for the past #425 issues, actually makes a ton of sense.

But Banner jumps out of the SHIELD plane and, when he hits the ground, Hulk emerges. His emergence is paralleled with Mercy’s healing of Betty.

There’s a reason people applaud Peter David’s run on Hulk as some of the best writing in the history of comics. The reason? Because it is.

Great stuff.

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