Let's get this month started with a double shot of WeirdCool panels, shall we? Coming at you from December of 1983, Incredible Hulk #290 from Bill Mantlo, Sal Buscema, Carlos Garzon, Bob Sharen and Michael Higgins opens with the Abomination bringing kidnapped S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Katherine Waynesboro to a secret A.I.M. base where the yellow domed science terrorists want to create a new Mechanical Organism Designed Only for Killing aka M.O.D.A.K., only one they can control. Throwing Waynesboro into the Alteration Chamber where "intensive hypnotic suggestion" will turn her into a super mind, the physical manifestation of pure intellect! Hulk shows up to rescue his friend and teams up with ol' Modie to take on A.I.M. but it's a huge multiple back stabbing, double, triple crossing deal as Bruce Banner's scorned former father in law General Ross lets the DAK use Abomination if he'll kill the Hulk, who kidnaps Waynesboro for A.I.M. in order to take out the uncontrollable Mod, phew! The real victim here is Abomination who is basically used for muscle and has the emotional stability of a child. Waynesboro morphs into flying head/mind weapon MS. MODAK and immediately bonds with her male counterpart as you can't overcome the yearning of a match of the mind! But the big headed couple doesn't last as Modak wants kill everybody while the Ms. believes all life has value. No signs of Hostess baked treats, instead we get ads for two different networks Saturday Morning cartoon line ups, where NBC's includes Hulk, Spider-Man, Smurfs and Mr. T!
Next up is January, 1984's #291 that boasts a suicide dripping cover and note that it's Assistant Editor's Month. More weirdcoolness entails as assistant editor Ann Nocenti is visited by one Robert Bruce Banner at the Marvel offices one rainy night. Typical meta Marvel, you know, like Steve Rogers drawing the Captain America comic book in his own comic? Nocenti informs us that the top brass are at a convention, in San-Diego! Even though Comic-Con isn't until July, come on! Anywho this issue deals with General Thaddeus Ross, father of Betty who of course is Banner's love and eventual wife. We learn that the Ross family has a long history of military service and valor with Thad earning the nickname Thunderbolt for his hard charging ways on the battle field. But after his wife dies, the solider doesn't know how to deal with his feelings and pushes Betty away. Things don't get any easier when Betty falls in love with gamma scientist turned jade giant Banner and Ross is tasked with bringing the down the beast.
Things get weirder when Betty ends up with military guy Glenn Talbot after Banner is unable to control the monster but the Hulk then goes into Talbot's mind to fight some aliens controlling his mind? Phew! Now Ross feels like a total failure because the target he's been sworn to slay, has now been giving a Presidential pardon! So ol' Thunderbolt debates taking a dirt nap or eating a lead salad as he feels he doesn't deserve to wear the uniform or medals. But at the end of the day suicide is easy, learning to live with disgrace will be the toughest war the old warhorse has to fight...that real life sh!t...Some solid one issue adventures issues with smart, talking Hulk, excellent art, lots of character cameos and nice backstory fill in. I was just reading how comic book sales are taking a small dive since everything is super heavy handed, talking heads and a year long event leading to a special edition graphic novel. That of course has been my qualm with comics since 2000's X-Men and 9/11 as I don't read comics to be reminded of the real world per se, I read comics to be taken away into a new one. Graphic Novels are great, allegedly Wal-Mart is discussing installing a dedicated section in their stores but you won't get any sweet of the era advertisements for movies, video games, sweets or cartoons!