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I Have Issues (5)

Batman vs. The Incredible Hulk

“Can’t we all just get along?”

In the spirit of the summer blockbusters that will be battling it out for your hard earned money I decided to do this post on a little known gem from the 70’s. The Hulk and the rest of the Avengers are making a great showing at the box office, but Batman is coming in as a sequel to an already successful franchise.
 I myself go back and forth on which publisher I like the best. It’s like music, sometimes I want metal and sometimes I want some classical. While I am usually of the opinion that DC has the better more iconic characters, the Uncanny X-Men is my favorite franchise.  My first interest in comics came with the Uncanny X-Men. Then I hit High School and girls became my number one priority. Comics slid out of my life for three years.  Then in my senior year something brought me back. Of all the events to suck me back in, Superman getting new energy powers was the one that drove me back into the comic shop. You see my best friend in High School was the biggest Superman fan I have ever met. He is the kind of fan that loves the character so much that even a hokey money grab like this was met with the enthusiasm of someone reading Watchmen for the first time. His enthusiasm was so infectious that I bought all the issues leading up to the power switch and continued for the next several years. Much like the early 90’s comics that I love so much, these issues hold a special place in my heart. If you would tell me that those issues suck, I would probably have to agree with you in a way but just like music, sometimes it just hits you at the right moment and you always remember the time you enjoyed it.
So this one event, along with just falling in love with DC got me back into comics It then got me back into Marvel and then Image and finally now where I just love a good comic.
So while battling over which comic/event to write about this time I wanted to start a run of comics with great battles. This is a wrestling site after all and who here doesn’t love a good rumble?
My first thought when it comes to great comic fights, is the amazing Hulk/Wolverine from the Ground Zero storyline, but then who hasn’t read that one already? While sifting through my comics for an idea I came across this issue where the most unlikely of fights takes place. I can remember seeing this issue when I first got it and thought, “How the hell is Batman going to even put up a good fight against the Hulk?” Answer: He’s the goddamn Batman! Plus this is the Batman from the ‘70s who much like Superman at the time could pull off some amazing shit when he needed to.

DC And Marvel Present: Batman vs. The Incredible Hulk
(W) Len Wein (A) Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez

Inside a warehouse building, Bruce Banner is doing remedial jobs for Wayne research. It’s all a ruse however, as Banner has come to Gotham just trying to get close to an experimental Gamma-Gun. Banner feel’s this could finally be the device that could cure him of the Hulk disease he has been struggling with since his accident all those years ago. Suddenly everyone is laughing their asses off like they saw Hulk Hogan’s sex tape and Banner runs to grab a radiation suit to wear.  Just as Bruce is about to get suits to everyone, he spots the Joker and his cohorts. Banner thinks, “No…not him!” (I always find it amusing that in a lot of crossovers the characters from opposing universes know all about each other. I’m not sure if anyone has come up with an Earth-53 to explain where these events take place or not. Though I think I heard something about an Earth-B where things that can’t take place anywhere else happen.  It kind of defeats the purpose to say this is continuity on an earth where there is no continuity, but the creators probably just made it up to quiet nerds like me at conventions.) As Joker is about to have his men steal the Gamma-Gun, Banner rushes to the wall alarm to trigger it for help. Bruce is spotted by the criminals and they tackle him. As the men beat on him, Bruce Hulks out and tosses them all like ragdoll’s. Firing with all the guns they have, nothing stops the Hulk who smashes everyone and everything in sight! The few henchmen who remain standing grab the Gamma-Gun with the Joker and start running it out of the door. The group is surprised to find Batman swooping in to cut off their escape.  Batman sees the Hulk and tries talking slowly to the man-monster to calm him down, it’s then that Joker steps in to the conversation. The Joker points out that he too is constantly hounded by authority figures and that, hey they both have green hair! (I was waiting for him to point out that they both loved wearing purple but it never came up in the conversation.) The Joker then convinces the Hulk that Batman is scary looking and the ultimate authority figure and that if Hulk should smash anyone, it’s him! The Hulk agrees and charges Batman.

(Round One)

As Hulk lunges, Batman deftly leapfrogs over the brute to land safely on the other side. Hulk turns in disbelief at how fast this man is and then sends a green ham hock his way. Batman again evades by ducking under the punch.  Batman then attempts to strike at the green monster’s nerve centers, the whole time thinking, “Fall! Why won’t you fall!” The Hulk just gets angrier to which he takes another swipe at Batman who falls back, realizing he needs to stay away from the monsters grip. However Batman’s plan comes too late as the Hulk gets him in his grip. Just as he’s about to snap his spine, Batman boxes Hulks ears to which he finally let’s go in pain. (I love Batman, but I call bullshit on that. Superman boxing Hulks ears? Okay. This, not so much.) The Hulk tosses a large piece of equipment at Batman who at the last second gets out of the way. Hulk is about to smash puny Wayne when the detective throws down a handful of sleeping gas pellets that can “drop an elephant”. The Hulk, just smart enough for battle tactics, sucks in some fresh air and holds his breath.  Batman put’s a breather on his own mouth and then with all of his strength, pushes his body from a kneeling position into a sharp kick into the Hulk’s solar plexus. The Hulk let’s out his breath and then instinctively sucks in the gas. The Hulk trudges towards Batman but at the last second topples over, unconscious.

(First fall goes to Batman)

Hulk reverts back to Banner and Bruce Wayne comes out to help him. Bruce offers him a job in Wayne corp to create another Gamma-Gun and this time with an eye toward helping Banner find a cure for his curse.  Elsewhere the Joker is using his newly acquired Gamma weapon on the Alien creature known as the Shaper of Worlds. The Shaper is a somewhat obscure Hulk villain who is a sentient cosmic cube that has decided to use his abilities to make dreams and nightmares come true. Shaper looks like a Voltron Rowbeast with tank treads instead of legs. You know what? Here:
The Shaper was flying in space but got too close to a supernova and now has been damaged. His dreaming powers have driven him insane and he needs power to get back to normal. The space being has promised Joker unlimited power if he can help him. Now with the Gamma-Gun, the Joker fires into the Shaper. At first the gun appears to be working, but then the Shaper informs his criminal cohorts that the gun has failed and if the Joker wants the power he was promised he must find another way to fix him.
Later, Banner is aboard a ship in Wayne’s fleet and is starting to lose his cool.
The other scientists working for him are telling him that there is something wrong with the gun. Banner does not want to hear it. Before he can Hulk out, Alfred approaches Banner and calms him down. (They don’t mention it, but this makes me wonder if Banner had someone in his life like Alfred, could he have learned how to control himself? Alfred has kept Batman from going over the edge for years, so it stands to reason he could do the same for Banner.)
Meanwhile Batman is scouring the streets for information on the Jokers whereabouts. After beating on a few thugs in a warehouse, Batman finds a clue.
Back on the ship, the military show up and demand Bruce Banner turn himself in.  Alfred protests this, but Banner agrees to go peacefully for the safety of everyone around him. Alfred just won’t give in, and gets a rifle butt to the face for his trouble. It’s then one of the military men yells at another that the boss told them to act like they are proper military. Banner realizes that they are not who they say they are and after a couple of seconds of struggle, he Hulks up! After an unsuccessful Taser blast later, Hulk is again throwing soldier boys around like toys.  Suddenly a looming shadow over Hulks shoulder causes the green giant to pause. Turning around, Hulk finds a monster twice his size in the vague shape of a man but made of some kind of dough. The monster was created by the Shaper of Worlds to bring the Hulk in, and does just that as it morphs it’s midsection into a cage and traps the Hulk inside of it.  
Back in the Jokers hideout he convinces the Shaper that Banner, could figure out how to fix him right up. At the very mention of his puny alter-ego, Hulk rages and destroys the dough boy and charges the Shaper. With what little power he has left, the Shaper freezes the Hulk just before he is about to destroy everything. The Hulk jumps away, but the Shaper lets the Joker know that he must bring him back, because he does not have the power to do it himself.
The next scene is by far my favorite of the comic. Batman sees his signal in the sky and swings towards it. As he reaches the rooftop with the spotlight, he finds the Joker has lit it up. Before Bat’s can pound the clown prince of crime, he lets the Dark Knight know the situation they are facing. A Hulk loose in Gotham. The Joker convinces Batman that they need to work together to find the monster. Batman reluctantly agrees and in the next panel the two star-crossed characters are running the streets like partners. One panel even shows Batman sneaking a peek from an alleyway while the Joker is behind him, looking inside a trashcan (Classic!)  Soon this preposterous pair comes across the Hulk who is about to thrash two criminals who tried to mug him in his sleep.  Batman tries again to reason with him, but the Hulk wants none of it as he jumps away, warning him that he should not follow.

(Round Two)

Batman tosses his Batarang tied to a rope around the Hulks ankle. Holding on tight, Bat’s sails through the air. Hulk crashes through the roof of a parking garage and Batman has to angle his descent just right to land through the hole and not get splattered.  Gas pellets worked really well last time and Batman not one to give up on a good plan tries it again. The Hulk waves his hand in a fan like motion and blows it away. Batman, sure that this would work again was already in motion for a flying kick, and realizes too late that the gas is gone. Hulk gets Batman’s ankle in a grip and using his momentum against him to toss him against the wall. (I hate to be nitpicky but wouldn’t it have been better to grab his leg and stop the momentum. The Hulk’s strength coupled with Batman’s momentum would have snapped his leg in half! I know… they would never do this.) Batman arcs his body so his feet absorb the impact against the wall, stopping himself from a broken back. Picking up a car, Hulk tosses it at Batman who dives through the passenger side window and out of the driver’s side, avoiding yet another near death attack. Once through the car and in the same motion, Batman grabs onto Hulks leg. Again trying to reason with the monster, Batman gets smacked to the ground. Hulk picks up yet another car, and Batman realizing he is severely out of his element here throws a handful of smoke bombs on the ground. In seconds, the Hulk can’t see his prey and starts to smash through everything and collapses part of the parking garage in the process.  Hulk, through with his temper tantrum jumps away yet again. The Joker shows up and pulling wreckage away finds Batman mostly fine under a couple of cross-beams that took the brunt of the collapse.

(I’m giving the second fall to Hulk, though Batman definitely had some cool moves in this one.)

The Hulk wanders the streets and comes across a blind man. Hulk is surly as usual and wonders to the blind man why everybody won’t just leave him alone! The blind man manages to convince the Hulk that maybe if he wishes to be accepted by people that he should help them instead of destroying things. Then the Joker appears from an alley and agrees with the blind man that the Hulk should come with him. (Any other villain and this would be ridiculous, but the Joker is damned unpredictable, I buy it.) The Hulk agrees and goes with the Joker.  The blind man then pulls his face off revealing it to be a mask, and that man is Batman, true story.
At the docks the Joker tells Hulk to go in and destroy the Shaper. Batman, enraged at the Joker for not going in with him, slaps the clown in the face.  Running to catch up, Batman tells the Hulk that they should work together, the Hulk reluctantly agrees. Just as the two reach the outside of the warehouse the Shaper creates a nightmare for them. A horde of villains that have challenged both Batman and the Hulk over the years appear and together the heroes take them down.
Villain Roll Call!
Two-Face, Rhino, Abomination, the Leader, Killer-Moth and the Scarecrow.
Now on to the warehouse, Batman finds the door locked and prepares to pick it, the Hulk simply smashes it open. The Shaper has created a barrier to protect himself, but the Hulk thinking he is stronger charges into it. The power of the barrier is so great that it knocks the Hulk unconscious and changes him back to Banner. However the Shaper was able to siphon off some of the Gamma radiation in the attack. The Shaper, now repaired and stocked back in energy reserves decides that he want’s to go back to the stars to do whatever it is that he does out there. The Joker then reminds the Shaper the deal they made at the beginning. Batman realizes that the Joker’s whole game plan was to just get more power for himself. (The heck you say?) The Shaper keeps up his end of the bargain by granting the Joker the power to make his dreams come true. (He gives him a copy of “The Secret”?) The Joker changes his costume with a snap of his fingers. He now wears a jesters costume as he flies away on a Persian rug. Having turned all of Gotham’s people into clowns, the Joker flies around surveying his new kingdom as Batman follows him. Oh did I also mention that the Joker turned Batman fat and has him in a jester variation of his costume.  Banner, now awake and the Hulk again is also turned into a clown. (Strange enough this isn’t the first time the Hulk has been in a clown costume, remember Avengers #1 when he hid in a circus?) The next page has all of Gotham turned into an Alice in Wonderland parody, while the Joker is the Mad Hatter. Also Batman and the Hulk are in matching Tweedledee and Tweedledum costumes. (Wow this shit really went off the rails didn’t it?) After several more pages of complete nonsense from the Joker he starts to burn out as he just can’t settle on what crazy mofo thing to create next. Just as the Joker lets his mind slip Batman gives him a punch that knocks him on his ass.  The Joker now too crazy to even use his powers is sent back to Arkham.  Jim Gordon realizes that Banner is missing but before he can put out an A.P.B. Batman tells him to let him go. “You know we’re lucky in a way. At least we have our dreams! But all Bruce Banner will ever know is a living nightmare!” (Man, that’s some deep dark shit to end a comic on Wayne.)

So for a comic I think this had its moments and the fights were pretty impressive but the whole Shaper of Worlds business was a little much for me. The Shaper complicated a comic that didn’t need to be rocket science.  Still I enjoyed this issue even more on the second time around; maybe I’m getting soft in my old age?

 So we have a draw in this comic, but who will win the battle at the box-office?

I have gotten several email requests for reading all of my past installments of “I Have Issues” without having to search through the Blog of Doom to get them. For those that are interested I have created a Blog at that has all of my past installments in order, for your reading pleasure. Thanks everyone for the support!
(J. Ryan,


  1. I'm strictly a DC guy now, but I, too, became hooked on comics due to X-Men. Well, I started reading Superman when I was 5 ('89) and Batman the next year, but Jim Lee's X-Men revamp was just as instrumental in hooking me. After Age of Apocalypse, Onslaught, Ben Reilly's death, Heroes Reborn, Emerald Twilight/Kyle Rayner and Bane's neutering post-Knightfall, I gave up on comics and didn't return until "Hush" in 2002. I've not looked back, but I just can't get into Marvel books, no matter how I try.

    I actually have this book, and it's a ton of fun. Goofy, Bronze Age fun, but fun nonetheless.

  2. Funny, Ben Reilly's death is what brought me back, as all that Clone Saga nonsense turned me off to comics completely. 

    Plus, having my favorite villain, Norman Osborn, be the one to do it helped. However, I was disappointed they had made him another Kingpin, but fixed that not long afterward.

  3. I legit enjoyed Ben more than Peter. It was refreshing, and I enjoyed "Pete" getting to ride off in the sunset. It felt natural, sort of like Dick Grayson taking over as Batman from Bruce (granted, that was more natural). When they killed him off and lazily revealed he was the clone all along (after writing themselves into a corner), I was like, "This whole medium is bullshit." Sort of like I was about DBZ after a while.

    Hush and then Geoff Johns' Green Lantern brought me back, and now I'm in for ... however long.

  4. Marvel is what got me into comics.  But I stick mostly to DC now as they handle the adult stuff much better than Marvel does (Animal Man, Swamp Thing, Batman, etc.).


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