Everything begins in “Call of the Desert” (originally published in The Incredible Hulk # 314, December 1985). Doc Samson confronts an out of control Hulk, suspecting that Bruce Banner is unable to regain his human form. In “Freedom!” (The Incredible Hulk # 315, January 1986), Doc Samson’s experimental procedure liberates Bruce Banner from his violent alter ego, the Hulk.
At first, the consequences are devastating for Bruce Banner, since the Hulk really is a part of his repressed psyche which came to the surface after being bombarded by gamma rays. In “Battleground” (The Incredible Hulk # 316, February 1986), She-Hulk and Betty Ross try to give Banner (currently in a catatonic state) the best medical treatment they can find. But the Hulk is still a rampaging monster, causing destruction on a major scale in New Mexico. Despite the timely intervention of the Avengers and the West Coast Avengers (referred as the Bi-Coastal Avengers in the cover), nobody manages to capture the Hulk, and only Doc Samson has the scientific mind and the superhuman strength to carry out such difficult task.
In “You're Probably Wondering Why I Called You Here Today” (The Incredible Hulk # 317, March 1986) and “Baptism of Fire” (The Incredible Hulk # 318, April 1986), Bruce Banner is almost fully recovered, and he has a clear goal: now that the Hulk is an independent entity, he is to be hunted down and then exterminated. For the first time ever, Banner’s greatest adversary is the Hulk.
Another important innovation would take place in “Member of the Wedding” (The Incredible Hulk # 319, May 1986); with the presence of Rick Jones, Marvel’s first teen sidekick, Bruce Banner and Betty Ross finally get married. Hulk # 320 was never published as part of the monthly series but fortunately it became a fascinating standalone story: “A Terrible Thing to Waste” (Marvel Fanfare # 29, November 1986).
Told exclusively in splash pages, “A Terrible Thing to Waste” is an example of Byrne’s superb storytelling abilities. This extraordinary artistic accomplishment was also a fitting farewell, since Byrne would soon abandon Marvel and reestablish himself as one of DC’s most prominent creators. Byrne’s final issue features two very special supervillains: Hammer and Anvil. Hammer Jackson and Johnny Anvil had met in jail years ago; at first Johnny was a racist man who despised his African-American colleague, but eventually friendship prevailed; after overcoming their prejudices, these two men escaped from prison together and their chains were later transformed by extraterrestrial technology into an ‘energy synthecon’. Like Siamese twins, they became inseparable, sharing an intimate physical and mental connection. It’s quite possible that they adopted the nom de guerre Hammer and Anvil as a reference to their strength and durability, but also as a veiled confession of their true sexual orientation, the hammer would be the active partner in this homosexual relationship, and the anvil would be the passive one.
|Hulk versus Juggernaut|
|Modok versus Hulk|
|Doc Samson versus Hulk|
Si en el siglo XIX el Dr. Jekyll y el Sr. Hyde fueron una metáfora de la dualidad de la naturaleza humana, en el siglo XX el Hulk fue la encarnación de esta escisión psicológica, de la constante lucha interna entre la razón y la rabia. Byrne, sin embargo, decidió hacer un movimiento audaz separando físicamente a Hulk de Bruce Banner.
|An uncanny experiment / un extraño experimento|
|Bruce Banner is free / Bruce Banner está libre|
|Wonder Man & Iron Man|
|Namor & Hercules|
|Bruce Banner & The Hulk|
|Hammer & Anvil|
|The death of Hammer / la muerte de Hammer|
|Hulk wins again / Hulk gana de nuevo|