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The Incredible Hulk vs Rom the Spaceknight
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Incredible Hulk 296 Hulk vs Rom Click for larger pic
The Incredible Hulk issue 296 is one of my favorite comic books from back in the day. This is one of those classic issues that you can read over and over again. Not only does the Hulk take on Rom Spaceknight, but he also battles another Hulk.

 "To Kill or Cure"  starts out with Rom Spaceknight searching for Dire Wraith lairs when his energy analyzer picked up gamma rays coming from Bruce Banner's lab. Of course, Rom investigates which leads to Rom having to take on the Hulk.

Previously, in issue 295 the Hulk had just came back from the Secret Wars, which most comic book fans look back as one of the biggest comic book events of Marvel Comics' history. It was the event that brought us Spider-Man's black costume and left the Thing able to change at will from Ben Grimm and back to his rocky form. At this point Bruce Banner had finally managed to gain control of the Hulk's power while still retaining his Banner persona. This was probably, at the time, the longest Banner had ever been in control as this particular story line had ran for several issues.

I knew like most readers the rampaging Hulk would be back soon enough and issue 296 was basically the return of the Hulk's angry self. This Hulk as it turns out would be even more monstrous than he was originally.

While Banner was fighting the Secret Wars, Max Hammer a old time gangster had taken over Banner's lab. Before Hulk/Banner had left, he forced Banner to shoot him up with gamma rays to cure his frail health. Max had kidnapped Banner's girlfriend, Katherine Waynesboro. Interesting note, in issue 294 Max Hammer was called Max Stryker and by issue 295 he's suddenly known as Max Hammer. I'm not sure what happened there.

Max took it upon himself to radiate the sick with gamma rays. It seemed like a good idea to make the sick healthy, but unfortunately, gamma rays always come with a price. Eventually, everyone exposed began to die except for Max Hammer who became the Hammer Hulk. I have to think that this Hulk was inspired by the aged Hulk from the Incredible Hulk TV show that Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno faced.

On the TV show, from the two part episode, "The First" it was an older man named Dell Frye who sought gamma rays for the sake of the power it gave him. Check out the episode trailer.

What always struck me as interesting was how much skinnier this older Hulk was than the Banner Hulk. The regular Hulk looked like a body builder and the old version like a giant basketball player.

 

Hulk vs Hulk
Hammer Hulk and the Hulk battle as Banner loses control, and the Hulk side of his persona takes over.

This Hulk is more uncontrollable than usual and attempts to kill Hammer Hulk if not for the intervention of Rom the Spaceknight.

Rom's neutralizer shines upon the two Hulk's, but only the old Hammer is affected, once again becoming an old man.

The Hulk continues his attack against what is now a helpless old man.

Kate Waynesboro informs Rom of the Hulk's injured leg, which was injured in the Secret Wars. Rom attacks the Hulk in order to prevent the Hulk from becoming a murderer.

Rom attempts once again to neutralize the gamma rays in the Hulk in hopes of returning control to Banner. Unfortunately, it only does so momentarily.

The Hulk attacks Rom mercilessly, until Kate gets in the way and when the Hulk slaps her back, Banner is jolted back into control. The Hulk then jumps into the air screaming, "God in heaven, help me! Help me!" as Rom attends to Kate.

Rom Notes

 At the time Rom and his war against the Dire Wraiths was completely intertwined into the Marvel Comics universe. Rom appeared in several other Marvel series as well as his enemies the Dire Wraiths in Marvel books such as Power Man and Iron Fist, the X-men, Marvel Two-in-One, etc

According to wikipedia as Marvel no longer owns the rights to Rom, some of the reprints including Rom had Rom completely removed from the story.

The Incredible Hulk: Regression trade paperback features a heavily edited version of The Incredible Hulk #296, removing Rom's entire appearance in the issue.

Fans of Rom will be happy to hear they can read Rom's latest adventures on Kindle on Amazon.

Unfortunately, it looks like if you want to read all of Rom's original adventures, you'll probably have to get back issues.

 

Rom's Return to Comics

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