Peter David and Dale Keown's Most Incredible Hulk Tales
A look back at the greatest Hulk stories by Peter David and Dale Keown as they reteam for ‘Incredible Hulk: Last Call’!
Do you think you know the Hulk? If you’ve ever been a fan of Marvel’s Green Goliath, then you owe a debt of gratitude to Peter David. His 12-year run on INCREDIBLE HULK redefined Bruce Banner’s alter ego, and his influence can still be felt in IMMORTAL HULK and even Marvel Studios’ “Avengers: Endgame.”
David’s INCREDIBLE HULK run had the good fortune of having some of the greatest comic artists in the industry, including Todd McFarlane, Gary Frank, and Liam Sharp. However, some of David’s finest work on the book was with artist Dale Keown. Before Keown went on to create PITT and carve out his own legend, he and David collaborated on 27 issues of INCREDIBLE HULK which left an indelible mark on the character. Among other milestones, David and Keown introduced Professor Hulk and celebrated the 30th anniversary of Hulk’s first appearance.
On Wednesday, June 5, David and Keown will reunite for INCREDIBLE HULK: LAST CALL #1, which will put the Hulk in the fight of his life. To celebrate the occasion, Marvel.com is looking back at the best INCREDIBLE HULK stories by David and Keown.
INCREDIBLE HULK #367
Admittedly, readers may be a little lost if INCREDIBLE HULK #367 is their first issue. For starters, it’s the fourth part of the "Countdown" storyline, which left the Grey Hulk in dire straits after he was poisoned and left with only a few hours to live. Keown’s first issue on the title showed fans an emaciated and desperate Hulk unlike any they had ever seen before. By the end of the issue, it was Banner who demonstrated a ruthless side when he came face-to-face with his would-be murderer, Mad Man.
INCREDIBLE HULK #370-371
This two-parter tends to be overlooked in David and Keown’s run, but it deserves more recognition for bringing three of the original Defenders back together. Namor, the Grey Hulk, and Doctor Strange faced a new threat that seized control of Hulk’s body. But the biggest development here was the foreshadowing of the Green Hulk’s return. Even the villain from another world feared that Hulk.
INCREDIBLE HULK #372
After years of the Grey Hulk, the Green Hulk finally reemerged in INCREDIBLE HULK #372. It’s a glorious depiction of the classic Hulk, especially when he literally sheds Banner’s skin. But more importantly, it reintroduced Betty Banner into Bruce’s life and gave them a happy reunion. It was an emotionally affecting moment between two people who truly loved each other.
INCREDIBLE HULK #373
Of course, if Betty wanted Bruce back, she had to take the Hulk as well. INCREDIBLE HULK #373 gave Betty a chance to find common ground with the Grey Hulk. Keown’s cover image actually captures a scene from late in the issue when the two shared a laugh about an extremely unlikely scenario.
And if you love action, the Hulk and Doc Sampson fight was top notch.
INCREDIBLE HULK #376
The Green Hulk and the Grey Hulk really hated each other... and that’s putting it mildly! David and Keown topped themselves again with a Hulk vs. Hulk story that took quite a serious toll on Bruce Banner. It also led to one of Banner’s most triumphant moments when he declared that “Banner is the strongest one there is!”
INCREDIBLE HULK #377
This is the biggest milestone of David and Keown’s time together and the debut of Professor Hulk. But before the ultimate smart Hulk could emerge, Bruce Banner and his two Hulks had to confront the source of their shared rage before becoming whole. By this time, Keown had really hit his stride with the Hulk. And his first depiction of the combined Hulk was truly unsettling.
INCREDIBLE HULK #383-384
Would you believe that these issues actually tie into INFINITY GAUNTLET? While half the population of the world disappeared, Hulk got reacquainted with his old enemy, the Abomination. However, Hulk was at a distinct disadvantage in this rematch since the battle with Thanos left Hulk just a few inches tall.
Strangely enough, it gave the Hulk a rare moment of empathy for Abomination’s plight. He was once a man, and the woman he loved couldn’t see past his monstrous exterior to reunite with her lover. At the time, Hulk and Betty were having similar issues. It just took the end of the world to put things into perspective.
INCREDIBLE HULK #390-392
At the same time that his INCREDIBLE HULK run was unfolding, David was also the writer for X-FACTOR. He brought his two titles together for “War and Pieces,” a three-part story that pit the Hulk and X-Factor on opposite sides. Hulk and the Pantheon were in the country of Trans-Sabal on behalf of the rebels while X-Factor was unwittingly brought in to prop up the corrupt and deadly regime. It was fun to see David and Keown play with the heroes of X-FACTOR, but the story put them and the Hulk into some very grey shades of morality.
INCREDIBLE HULK #393
For Hulk’s 30th anniversary, David and Keown put the spotlight on Igor Drenkov, a Russian operative who was sent to spy on Bruce Banner before the fateful Gamma Bomb explosion that turned him into the Hulk. Drenkov was haunted by his past and a very vengeful Hulk because he was the one who triggered the bomb in an attempt to murder Banner. Hulk wanted Drenkov to pay, but it was only at the end that he realized just how deeply guilty Drenkov felt about his actions. Drenkov’s descent into madness started long before the Hulk came looking for payback.
HULK: THE END
In 2002, David and Keown reunited for a one-shot that imagined a world where the only living people were Bruce Banner and the Hulk. This was far in the future, where their eternal battle for dominance over the same body continued. The biggest difference this time was that Banner wanted to let go and the Hulk just wanted to be left alone. Only one of them got their wish, in a very “Twilight Zone”-style ending.
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