‘Lost in the Longbox’, Episode 23: “Incredible Hulk” #378 (1991)

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The Incredible Hulk #378
(Marvel Comics, 1991)

Written by Peter David
Pencils by Bill Jaaska
Inks by Jeff Albrecht
Letters by Joe Rosen
Colors by Glynis Oliver

Greetings from the Wasteland!

Nothing brings that warm holiday feeling to your heart like the smell of fresh-baked cookies, a warm cup of coffee, and the slightly musty odor of an old comic, pulled freshly from its companions and brought to the counter, money in hand to add it to your own personal stash.

And such with this offering, a cozy little tale called “Rhino Plastered”, written by Peter David. This is, of course, not Seinfeld’s Peter David, but Eisner Award winner Peter David, a veteran of such titles as Spider-Man and Aquaman, he has helped to shape the comic world with creations such as Spiderman 2099 and co-wrote the 1996 Marvel/DC crossover storyline with Ron Marz.

Here we have a somewhat lighter book. It takes place during the period of the grey Hulk, when he was wandering the country in a van with Rick Jones and Clay Quartermain, the latter trying to keep the former in check. (One of my favorite eras of the Hulk storyline, kind of a gamma-infused Kung Fu.)

The story begins with a somewhat weepy Rhino, sitting in an alley and bemoaning his tortured existence. He scares a couple of bums away from their trash can, and in doing so elicits cries of …run “before that ugly gray monster comes after us!” Of course the other gray monster in this story is nearby.

Rhino decides that with the Hulk in town it is too risky to try to heighten his spirits by knocking over a bank, so instead he knocks over a department store Santa and takes over his gig. The outfit is perfect. The suit covers his body and the beard most of his face, the hat slips neatly over his horn. Everything is tripping nicely along, all yule spirit and such, when the Rhino flips out over a greedy child who pokes him in the eye and kicks him in the shin. The kid goes sailing through the air, into the gentle clutches of the Hulk. The two tussle about, throwing bowling balls, eating cookies, all of it culminating in a weeping child, who tearily chastises the two for fighting. The Rhino resumes his spot with the Hulk as a giant elf, ending the story on a holly jolly note.

This is a nice, light-hearted story, something to ease yourself into the holiday spirit. The artwork is not the Todd McFarlane Hulk that I grew to love as a young man, but with exaggerated toothy smiles and more comic relief than normal, the style works nicely for a one-off about the Hulk fighting Santa Claus.

Happy Holidays! Go out and give a friend a comic book!

___________________________

Follow Brad Gischia on Twitter:  @comicwasteland

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