167. Titans Two

Fantastic Four 167 cover

Issue One Hundred and Sixty-Seven, Feb 1976

No! Hulk sees what you are trying to do! You are trying to rob Hulk — of Hulk’s one new friend — and Hulk won’t let you!”

The Thing and The Hulk break out of the military installation and take one of the aircrafts which Ben pilots to Missouri. They set down there so that the Hulk can sit on the Gateway Arch. Already, however, the army has found them and Ben tries to prevent the Hulk from attacking them. The rest of the Fantastic Four arrive and as the Hulk is attacking them, Ben has a change of heart and turns on the Hulk. As the Hulk is beating him, The Thing starts to change, back into his human form, and he falls off the Gateway Arch. He is caught and lands safely, now thrilled, Ben and the FF leave.

This is now the fourth of the Hulk/Thing match-ups (previous bouts were issue 12, issues 25 & 26, and issues 111-113), and the spin on the concept plays off well, even if it never fully develops. It would have been nice to see a little more development in Ben and Hulk’s relationship, but on the other hand, there is something very true in there not being any developments. That is to say, in Ben suddenly realizing after he has committed to running away with this stranger, that they have very little in common once the pressure of circumstances is no longer on them. And if the relationship between them is not exactly homoerotic, even if Ben does refer to himself and “green-skin” as “an item”, it certainly parallels an intense but brief romantic entanglement.167hammerin

There are some quiet but strong character touches taking place with Sue, who has still seen her powers increase lately, and who is shown withstanding the assault of both Ben and the Hulk, rescuing herself from a crashed aircraft, and then virtually walking on water. It’s nice to see her not only being engaged in the story, but showing some power at the same time. And Ben slowly coming back around very nicely compliments his reversal in the previous issue — and this is made all the more poignant when it is shown that Hulk really is stronger than Grimm, he has always been stronger, and Grimm and the FF know it even if the rest of the world don’t. To step in front of him is basically to sacrifice himself.

167punyThe weak link in this issue, which really should have been stronger, is the Hulk. Ultimately, all that he wants is just to sit on a bridge, which, however humble the aim, is pretty pointless. If Hulk had to reach someone, or stop something, or get to a certain point at a certain time (for whatever reason), then that could have carried the story a little further and actually made us feel for him at the same time. As it is, we don’t really care that he jumps off into the blue void at the end of the issue.

And neither does anyone else, apparently. Once again, the FF have let a violent threat flee the scene of a crime and walked off calling it a win. Why, oh why, after pursuing the Hulk to Missouri from Nebraska, do they not pursue him to the next state as well?


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