Marvel did a series of promotions a few years ago where each month, a different book would get a promotional push and an introductory issue priced at 25 cents. In August 2003 Incredible Hulk #55 was priced low and hyped high. Too bad the Hulk was AWOL from his own book at the time! Bruce Jones had been writing the book as a conspiracy tinged man-on-the-run suspense thriller with Bruce Banner hunted by a bunch of mysterious government agents and God, was it boring. On top of all the black ops blabbity-blab, Jones was apparently determined to never ever ever EVER show the Hulk doing anything. NO MATTER WHAT.
This didn’t sit well with Hulk fans who, for some crazy reason, actually wanted to see the Hulk when buying a Hulk comic. I had quit buying the book after too many Hulkless issues, but when I heard that the 25-cent issue would kick off a new storyline bringing back the Absorbing Man, I figured I’d give it another shot. Of course I dig the Absorbing Man. He's a big brutal lunkhead with a ball and chain to lay upside your head - what's not to love? Surely, I reasoned, the Hulk would have to show up in a promotional issue, returning to battle one of his greatest foes? Surely there would have to be some action to be found? Not so fast, sparky.The HULK’S ELBOW made a one-panel appearance in this land mark issue.
The rest of the story was a slimy, unsavory, mess recasting Crusher Creel as a sort of body-hopping Hannibal Lecter serial killer/rapist type. Somehow, he had learned to use his absorbing abilities to possess others, and spent the entire issue in an energy cage, grinning manically as his mind hopped from body to body casually murdering people. There was a nasty attempted rape scene, as Creel possessed a woman to come on strong to a co-worker, then possessed the co-worker to try to rape the woman. Banner was in there, acting all emo, and there were some government types in a secret prison under a graveyard, holding Absorbing Man in custody. I’m not sure I explained all that very well, but rest assured, it was very stupid. Even at 25 cents, a crappy, boring Hulk comic with no Hulk whatsoever is still a rip-off.
Forgetting to put the Hulk in his own comic? That’s a Stupid Comic Trick.