Incredible Hulk (2nd series) #391

Issue Date: 
March 1992
Story Title: 
War and Pieces: 2 of 3 – X-Calation

Peter David (writer), Dale Keown (penciler), Mark Farmer (inker), Joe Rosen (letterer), Glynis Oliver (colorist), Bobbie Chase (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor in chief)

Brief Description: 

In Reno, Marlo Chandler and Betty Ross Banner meet Jackie Shorr, Rick’s mother for the first time. Over in Trans-Sabal, the Hulk and the Pantheon continue to oppose Farnoq Dahn and his tyrannical rule. At first, Rick Jones is against what the Hulk is doing but learns from a local what is going on, who later on dies on the field of battle. In Dahn’s palace, he and Zack Galvin, the U.S. ambassador, meet up with members of X-Factor. On the battlefield, the Hulk holds his own against the Trans-Sabal troops. Eventually, he is opposed by X-Factor. The battle goes back and forth until Havok unleashes a massive amount of power against the Hulk. When extra members of the Pantheon arrive, a massive explosion occurs behind them.

Full Summary: 

Under a military tent in the country known as Trans-Sabal, the Incredible Hulk angrily asks Rick Jones what he means that he’s wrong. Sarcastically, Rick asks Hulk if he brushed that morning.

Hulk again asks him what he means telling him he’s wrong to be fighting beside the Pantheon there in Trans-Sabal. Rick replies that he didn’t definitely say he was, but does he know who’s on the side of the “bad guys?” When Rick tosses a metal panel with the S.H.I.E.L.D. emblem onto the table, Hulk asks him where he got it. Rick informs him off of one of those robot guys he trashed, but they weren’t just robot guys. They were new, improved S.H.I.E.L.D.-issue Mandroids. He reiterates S.H.I.E.L.D., the biggest good guy organization in the world. Picking up the piece of metal, Hulk tells Rick that this proves nothing. Except that even “good guys” can be on the wrong side every now and then.

Rick says that’s the point of what he’s trying to tell him. Slamming the metal piece on the table and shattering it, Hulk angrily tells Rick that he can sit on his point and proceeds to storm out. Giving the Hulk a moment to cool off, Rick exits the tent. When he does, Hulk says to Rick that he can relate to what he’s saying. To some degree, he shares his concern. Rick replies that he could’a fooled him. Putting his arm around Rick, Hulk states that he admits they’re on shaky ground legality-wise but not moral-wise. They’re making decisions based, not on international politics, but instead on human rights. He then asks him haven’t there been times when he’s seen things going on in the world and thought “boy, I wish I could go in there and make things better.”

When Rick responds he supposes, Hulk tells him that’s exactly what they’re doing there. Rick starts to reply but is cut off by Hector who tells Hulk that they’ve got a planning session they’d like him in on if he could. Ulysses states that Mr. Jones is welcome as well. Rick says well gosh-all-fishhooks, that’s swell. He thinks he’ll pass though. As the Hulk and members of the Pantheon walk away, Rick sees a young man cleaning his gun nearby and asks him what his name is. The young soldier calls Rick sir and introduces himself as Shurk. Rick invites him to chat for a few minutes but to lose the “sir;” it’s Rick.

At Farnoq Dahn’s palace, Dahn asks Zack Galvin that his “task force” has arrived. He trusts he will be suitably impressed. Galvin replies that he wouldn’t worry on that score. Once X-Factor enters, Dahn exclaims that he must say, when he informed him of this “X-Factor’s” presence, he had no idea there would be so many charming ladies as part of the team. He adds that Americans are so much more progressive about such things.

Working his way down the line, Dahn ignores Alex Summers and proceeds to kiss Val Cooper, Lorna Dane (Polaris), and Rahne Sinclair (Wolfsbane) on the hand. When he gets to Strong Guy, Strong Guy holds out his hand and tells Dahn that if he’s gonna kiss his mitt, try not t’slobber. After Dahn clears his throat, Val introduces the rest of her team – Guido, Jamie Madrox, Pietro Maximoff, and Alex Summers, the team leader. Dahn welcomes them all to his beleaguered little country and introduces their fellow countryman, Mr. Zack Galvin.

Val tells Galvin that his rep as a company man precedes him. Galvin thanks her and shares the same courtesy towards her. Alex then asks what the story is, something about the Hulk? Galvin tells him yes, apparently he’s hooked up with a group called the Pantheon, a bunch of vigilantes who roam the world doing “good” as they see fit. Alex asks that he means like the X-Men. Lorna says Alllex...

Galvin tells him whatever, the point is that in this instance of do-gooding, the Pantheon’s butting heads with a U.S. ally and the Hulk is helping them. Val tells him okay, no problem, they can handle the Hulk. Pietro agrees – absolutely, they’ll use his stupidity against him. Galvin informs them that actually, he’s extremely smart and crafty now. Alex says he heard, but he’s smaller, gray, and weaker than before. Galvin corrects him and says that actually, the Hulk is bigger, greener, and stronger than ever. Guido states that they’re pure of heart, and so they must always win. Galvin replies “there you go.”

Dahn angrily tells them that he doesn’t care how they do it as long as it gets done. He wants this Pantheon and Hulk out of his country and away from his people, where they can have no influence on them. He then tells Galvin and X-Factor that they have a job to do. And the sooner they do it, the more pleasantly disposed he’ll be towards their government. As Dahn walks away, Lorna asks Guido if that guy is a “blork.” Guido replies nah, he’s a stupid-head. He then asks Lorna to remind him to beat him senseless before he goes. Jamie indicates that he’ll remind him in case she forgets.

Inside the command tent, Ulysses shows Hulk and Hector a map and points out sector 21-A just outside the city of Jaffan. This is the ideal place to cut the supply lines, there at Sendara Pass. They could even create a pincer movement, take them from in front and behind. He begins to tell Hector that his platoon would lead... but Hector cuts him off. He asks why his platoon? Why is he always the point man ‘stead of him, Ulysses? Ulysses replies because he’s the best. Hector agrees that’s true but to get to their supply line, they have to get past about 50,000 troops, in the middle of a very nasty desert. And their Air Force, planes courtesy of the U.S., is protecting their airspace. The Hulk informs them that he wouldn’t concern himself with that if he were them.

Outside the tent, sitting on some crates, Shurk cleans his gun and tells Rick that he comes from a city called Jaffan. His father was the newspaper editor there, or was until he wrote editorials against Farnoq Dahn. Then one day the newspaper and his father vanished. He hasn’t seen them since. Rick replies that stinks, he didn’t know that. Shurk adds that his mother raised a fuss with the local police. She was held for questioning for a week. When she came back, she hardly spoke. She was covered with bruises and... Wiping some tears from his eyes, Shurk tells Rick that when word got around that the Pantheon was coming to liberate their country, he had to join them. Rick asks him what his mom would think about that. Shurk replies that he wouldn’t know. She took her life a year after his father vanished. Putting his arm around Shurk, Rick tells him that he’s sorry he lost his parents. He knows what that’s like.

Stateside, at a local Big Bite restaurant, Marlo Chandler continuously taps her spoon against her coffee cup. Grabbing her hand, Betty Ross Banner tells her to stop it, she’s making her edgy. Marlo asks making her edgy? Some woman calls out of the blue, says she’s Rick’s mother... Rick, the toughest orphan this side of Annie? And she wants to meet with her, kind of hard to be relaxed.

Just then, an older lady walks up to their table and introduces herself as Jackie Shorr, Rick’s mother. She then thanks Mrs. Banner for agreeing to see her. Taking a seat next to Marlo, Jackie asks who she is. Betty introduces Marlo as Rick’s girlfriend. After she sees the shocked look on Jackie’s face, Marlo asks her if she’s okay. Jackie apologizes, she knew Rick was all grown up but it caught her off guard, that’s all. She proceeds to tell Marlo that she is quite striking. Marlo tells Jackie that, before they go any further, what’s the deal? Where has she been?

Jackie replies that she’s been out of the country some. Men were after her. But that’s in the past, they’re in jail now. But she kept appraised of what Rick was up to. How could she not? His “Teen Brigade,” and then Captain America... such an exciting life. Her boy with the Captain. She’s decided, after so many years, that maybe it’d be better if she stayed out of his life permanently. But then she read his book, and saw what a sad childhood he’d had. And then she read the wire service’s report of how they were living out here in Reno and how Rick was there also, and , well... here she is. Marlo asks why she left him. Jackie tells her that, my dear, is a very long story.

In Trans-Sabal, the troops loyal to the country are relaxing and looking through a Playboy magazine. As they do, they ask one of the soldiers manning a gun and ask him if there’s any sign of the enemy. The soldier replies of course not. If you ask him, there’s no one within a million miles of... of...

Just then, the soldier sees the Hulk staring back at him through the scope. Carrying his own gun, Hulk tells the soldiers “hello.” He knows what they’re thinking. “Where’d he come from?” He informs them that he kind of burrowed there, actually. He then tells them that they do realize they have the opportunity to surrender and avoid a lot of needless violence. Not that he’d ever surrender, of course, but it’d be in their best interest.

The soldiers response is to unload on the Hulk with everything they have. Sighing as the bullets bounce off of him, Hulk says honestly, kids these days, it comes from watching too much TV. The Hulk then shoots his rifle into the middle of the troops. When he does, one of the troops calls on the radio for the destroyer and states that their foe has shot knock-out gas at them. At that moment, three jets arrive on the scene and open up fire on the Hulk below. Brushing off the blasts, the Hulk angrily calls them idiots. He’s trying to be considerate by just using knock-out gas and they drop bombs on him and blow their own people to bits. Jumping through one of the jets, Hulk says and they think he’s a monster. They should look in the mirror.

Watching through his binoculars, Hector informs the Pantheon troops that Doc Banner’s softening them up, all right. Actually, he’s tearing them to shreds. He then tells his crew to rock and roll. Turning to Shurk, an armored Rick Jones recommends him to armor up, it’s liable to get hot out there.

At the Sendara Pass, the Hulk crashes the jet he is riding on top of into the caravan of Trans-Sabal loyal troops. Leaping away from the crash, Hulk jokingly says thanks for flying Trans-Sabal and to come back real soon. At that moment, Hulk takes a shot to his chest which knocks him backwards and hard into the ground below. Picking himself up, Hulk asks where that came from; he thinks he busted a rib. Some sort of plasma blast, but they’d need a gun the size of a building to generate that kind of power. Looking up, Hulk sees a six member crew of super-heroes standing in front of him. Havok introduces himself as a member of X-Factor, a duly deputized arm of the U.S. government. He then informs the Hulk that he’s in violation of treaties and to surrender. Polaris whispers to him to say “please,” it couldn’t hurt. Taking note, Havok then tells the Hulk to please surrender.

Rushing towards them, Hulk asks X-Factor, huh? Do the other guys know they copped their name? Well they’ve got five seconds to take off – one, two, five. Using her powers of magnetism, Polaris picks up some metal beams and tosses them towards the Hulk. As she does, she laments that politeness was worth a shot. Avoiding the beams, Hulk determines that he hits the ground with enough force, it’ll knock them off their feet and he can finish this fast. Havok then informs Strong Guy via his headset to attack the Hulk from the front while Wolfsbane attacks from the behind, cutting his ammo loose. Strong Guy acknowledges the plan and proceeds to tackle the Hulk. As Hulk puts Strong Guy in a headlock, he remarks that he never thought he’d meet someone with biceps as big as his and a brain the size of a walnut.

Turning around, Hulk tells Wolfsbane that as for her, Toto, it’s back to Kansas and punches her away. Polaris decides that there’s no time to stop Rahne’s flight because it looks like the Hulk is killing Guido. Jean told her that she slowed him down by using TK to slam his eyes shut. She tries the next best thing, wrapping the beams around his head, blinding him. When she does, Multiple Man creates three copies of himself and they all attack the Hulk simultaneously. They are then joined by Strong Guy and Quicksilver.

Watching on a monitor inside Dahn’s palace, Val tells Dahn that his spy plane is giving them an excellent battle view. It’s quite an asset. Grabbing Val’s backside, Dahn tells her that she has quite a nice asset herself. Slapping him, Val angrily tells him hands off. Enraged, Dahn says to her that she dares slap the Farnoq of Trans-Sabal? Stepping in between them, Galvin tells them to remember they’re on the same side.

On the battlefield, the Pantheon troops charge towards the Trans-Sabal loyal troops. As they open fire, Shurk asks Rick why he isn’t shooting. Rick informs him because he never shot anyone. He means, he thought Bruce just wanted him there for moral support. He… he can’t start killing people. Just then, Shurk is riddled with bullets and falls to the ground. In response, Rick fires his rifle at the enemy. When he leans down to check on his fallen comrade, Shurk’s last words ask Rick if he got them. Rick says yes, he got them goo and tells Shurk to just lie still.

Fighting back against X-Factor and ripping the metal bars off of his head, the Hulk asks them don’t they get it yet? Muscle boy, and speedy with the high-speed punches, and the one man army – they just irritate him. If he were wearing a flea collar, this would be over already. Looking up at Polaris, he says to her that she’s the one giving him the most trouble. A shame really, he loves the hair. As the Hulk leaps up towards Polaris, Havok shoots him with another plasma blast. Falling to the ground, Hulk charges to Havok and informs him that is the last time he uses him for plasma target prac…

When the Hulk’s pursuit slows to a crawl, Havok asks him what’s wrong, are the fleas starting to itch? Hulk asks what he’s doing. Havok replies that the gamma rays that are part of his ambient aura are one of the components of cosmic rays which he absorbs. He’s powering up using the power of his own body. He then tells Doctor Banner to surrender. He means it or he’ll blast him. And in his weakened condition, he won’t survive. Havok tells Hulk to surrender. Hulk yells back to drop dead.

Away from the epic battle, Ulysses welcomes Ajax and Atalanta to Trans-Sabal and asks where Prometheus is. Atalanta informs him that he’s unloading the car and asks what the status is. Ulysses replies that everything is under control. Just then, a massive blast occurs behind them.

Characters Involved: 

The Incredible Hulk (green-skinned)
Rick Jones
Ajax, Atalanta, Hector, Ulysses,and other unnamed individuals (members of the Pantheon)

Havok (Alex Summers), Multiple Man (Jamie Madrox), Polaris (Lorna Dane), Quicksilver (Pietro Maximoff), Strong Guy (Guido), Val Cooper, and Wolfsbane (Rahne Sinclair) (all X-Factor)

Farnoq Dahn (leader of Trans-Sabal)
Zack Galvin (U.S. diplomat to Trans-Sabal)

Betty Ross Banner
Marlo Chandler

Jackie Shorr (Rick’s mother)
Various unnamed patrons and employees of Big Bite

Various unnamed rebels (Shurk is the only one named)
Various Trans-Sabal troops (Gammal is the only one named)

Story Notes: 

The Incredible Hulk became a member of the Pantheon back in Incredible Hulk (2nd series) #382.

The Hulk and the Pantheon started their crusade against Farnoq Dahn last issue, Incredible Hulk (2nd series) #390.

Jackie Shorr is not Rick Jones’ mother as she claims in this issue. In Incredible Hulk (2nd series #398) she will stab Marlo Chandler.

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