Incredible Hulk #352
Writer – Peter David
Artist – Jeff Purves
Joe Fixit sleeps soundly at the Coliseum Hotel and Casino and dreams of Jarella’s home world. The Inquisitor, evil ruler of the land, is looking for the Anti-Hulk, an unwelcome visitor who can be found by the color of his skin – gray. Two men, Jen and Bohb, learn that one of their men has smuggled a holy sister of Jarella out of one of the Inquisitor’s dungeons. She was captured and tortured for meeting with the Anti-Hulk.
Meanwhile, the Hulk is safe, being kept among wizard monks, who dress him in a tunic and cape. Hulk wishes to be free of his alter ego Banner completely. Gorsham, the head of the monastery, will help solve this problem if the Hulk is able to unite the people before ending the Inquisitor’s reign.
The Inquisitor’s men search a village for the Hulk. An unnamed sentry tries to take the daughter of a farmer until Hulk arrives on the scene. He smashes a few men into the ground while others fail to stop the Hulk with bows and arrows. The Hulk throws a small boulder at the men and the unnamed sentry breaks his leg. As he begs for help, the townsfolk rebuff his cry for help, surround him, and beat the man senseless.
As word gets to the Inquisitor about the Hulk sighting, he sends a large regiment of soldiers to stop the monster. Jen and Bohb watch over the rescued sister of Jarella but are kidnapped and taken to the Inquisitor’s castle. As Bohb is asked for information about the Hulk by the Inquisitor, he does not speak a word and is killed by a thrust of a spear.
The Hulk arrives to the Inquisitor’s castle, a large group of those ready to help end the Inquisitor’s reign, surrounding the grey goliath. As the Hulk leaps into action, he is blown back by a yellow light burst from the Inquisitor’s staff. The Hulk launches himself into the air and comes crashing down into the castle. The Hulk tackles the Inquisitor and destroys his staff of power. The Hulk loved Jarella’s world and thought it was a special place until the Inquisitor’s reign of terror ruined it. As the Hulk goes in for the kill, Jen tells him to leave him alive for the townsfolk.
The Inquisitor is shown on the rack in front of everyone gathered outside the castle. It took 10 hours of torture, but the Inquisitor finally relents and confesses that this is the one true Hulk. The Hulk blesses the Inquisitor then kills him.
Gorsham casts one last spell on the Hulk to rid him of Bruce Banner once and for all. The Hulk wishes to stay but he is no longer needed. Gorsham tells the Hulk that he has appointed himself the new leader of the realm. Before the Hulk can act, he is transported back to Earth. After the Hulk disappears, Gorsham says aloud that he will make this place a better world. In the Hulk’s place, an adamantium statue of the Hulk materializes which will be displayed to serve as a reminder that the Hulk is ever watchful.
The issue ends by revealing that when the Hulk was returned to Earth he ended up in the Yucca Flats instead of Washington D.C. Soon after he met casino owner/gangster Michael Berengetti and became Joe Fixit. The final surprise is that Hulk has transformed back into Banner!
I picked this issue up out the dollar bin because the cover had the Hulk wearing a toga, knocking out a bad guy. Out of all the different iterations of the Hulk throughout the years, the Gray Hulk/Joe Fixit version is one I’m not completely familiar. Jeff Purves had big shoes to fill after the legendary run of Todd Macfarlane on Hulk and I think he does a great job with the fantasy setting this issue. I like the blocky appearance of the Hulk- it makes him stand out more.
I’m curious to see what will happen next issue with the Hulk transforming back into Banner. For those fans of Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones, it’s well worth digging through the dollar bin for Incredible Hulk #351 and #352.