The Rampaging Hulk #1


 The Rampaging Hulk Started in 1977, as a black and white book. Apparently the thought was that being black and white would somehow appeal to a more adult audience, though there was little change in the content from the full color Hulk books apparently meant for kids. The book is split into two stories, the first featuring the Hulk and Rick Jones, and the second featuring Bloodstone. 

The Krylorian Conspiracy is said to take place right after the initial run of Hulk books in the early 60's, though the writers apparently didn't bother to go back and read those books as several details about character and how the Hulk transforms were not consistent with those early books. Research isn't the only weakness the writers had. There are several instances of terrible grammar, misspelled words, and common phrases using the wrong words. The dialogue is clunky and the story itself is kind of dumb. The art, on the other hand, is kind of amazing. The way the Hulk is drawn is great, and the human characters are very detailed. The Gargoyle and the aliens by contrast look like very little thought or effort were put into them.

The story begins with the Hulk and Rick Jones seeing some troops in the desert near their hideout out doing maneuvers. Hulk doesn't like it and decides to run them out. He tosses their own shells back at them and then decides to bug out. General Ross later finds DR. Banner in the desert, and starts to piece together that Banner and Hulk are never in the same place at the same time. Luckily his train of thought is derailed when Betty somehow finds him in the desert to let him know that UFO's have been spotted over Rome. Rick and Bruce decide to split to Italy to help take care of any alien menace and to get away from Ross for a while. The Gargoyle also sees coverage of the space ships and decides that maybe aliens would be more accepting of his deformities than humans are.

Now I want to take a second to remark on the coverage of the aliens depicted in the comic. No contact has been made, so no one knows anything at this point. But somehow everyone has just decided that the aliens are men from Mars (which turns out to be wrong). In addition to this, they have an artists rendering of what the aliens might look like based on scientist's information regarding the conditions on Mars. Apparently there is something about the environment of Mars that would cause the inhabitants to develop bodies shaped like Spaghettios, complete with the hole in the middle. Keep in mind, this is Marvel's attempt to reach a more mature audience.

Anyway, back to the story. Banner Hulks out on the plane and an alien spy sees it. We find out that the aliens are hunting one of their own, a techno-artist named Bereet. Hulk runs into them, and with the urging of the Gargoyle is persuaded to befriend them and help them hunt Bereet. Meanwhile Rick is out searching for the Hulk and finds the fugitive alien instead. While the other aliens are squat, froggy looking dudes that might be distantly related to Vogons, Bereet is a scantily clad bird lady.  She has a bag of holding (she doesn't call it that, but that's what it is. If you don't know what that means go find a D&D nerd and ask them) that she keeps all her nifty inventions/art pieces in. Hulk finds Rick and Bereet and is going to smash her, but then the other aliens turn on him and try to kill all three. The leader of the aliens also smacks Gargoyle around after he protests them trying to kill Rick and the Hulk.

Of course now that the Hulk realizes what's really going on, he turns his attentions to destroying the alien armada. With help from Bereet and her bag of tricks, and Gargoyle hijacking the lead ship and running a kamikaze mission, the aliens are chased back to their base under the sea. It's a dumb story with one remarkable detail that I purposely didn't mention until now. The aliens can change shape and have already infiltrated human society. So while the Krylorians came after the Skrulls, this story sets up the same premise as the Secret Invasion storyline which came 30 years later. I am kind of glad they took the one cool idea from this otherwise very lame story and reused it.

The 2nd story in the book follows Ulysses Bloodstone in his quest to get the fragments of the Bloodgem. The Bloodgem fragmented 10,000 years ago and a fragment embedded itself in the chest of Bloodstone, who became immortal and strong. He is on his way to an island with his companion Brad. Three men are smuggling a Bloodgem fragment and get on the same boat as Bloodstone. They attempt to kill him, but he beats them down. They do get the upper hand with Brad, who is then tended by Samantha Eden. The ship is then attacked by a giant creature named Goram who is looking for the fragment of Bloodgem.

Goram beats Bloodstone to the fragment and takes off. There's some stuff with Bloodstone's nemesis who has nothing to do with anything that transpired, but wants to know who did. There's mention of a conspiracy. Samantha is asked to join Bloodstone and Brad (not a very catchy buddy cop title, is it?) on their journey to the island. We don't really know what became of the three smugglers and would be assassins. Killer Shrike shows up at the end so we know what peril Bloodstone has to face in the next issue. The main thing I found of interest was the similarities between the shards of the Bloodgem and the Infinity Gems. The Infinity Gems appeared a few years before the Bloodgem, so if there was any influence they influenced this. This story, like the first, doesn't seem much different than the fare in the regular comics, but at least it's not so badly written that the intended adult audience isn't going to be turned off by bad grammar and clunky dialogue.

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