What if... The Hulk Had Become a Barbarian?

Actually titled "What if Hulk's girlfriend Jarella had not died?", I suppose that would have been a little obtuse for people who weren't really following the Hulk in those days. Screwing with a character's well-established origin is one thing, but going into details of contemporary plot lines isn't quite as iconic. Especially for us poor souls living in another century, long past the revelance of said story arc. And as you'll see, it's a story that cheats in other ways. New events not dependent on the turning point, revelations that may or may not hold up in our universe, and of course, the misleading cover art.

What If Vol.1 #23 (October 1980)
Based on: Incredible Hulk #205 (Nov 1976)
The true history: Hulk spent some time in the subatomic world of K'ai where he and the world's queen Jarella fell in love. When he was returned from the microverse, Jarella came with him. In saving a child from falling debris, she was crushed herself and died.
Turning point: What if Jarella saw through the illusion of the kid?
Story type: Happily ever after
Watcher's mood: Heavy on the mascara.
Altered history: Apparently, the kid Jarella saved was just an illusion cast by minions of the Dark Gods, ever at odds with the world of K'ai. In this alternate timeline, she saw through the illusion and hesitated before jumping to the boy's rescue. As a result, she wasn't crushed by the falling masonry. She and the Hulk are almost immediately whisked off to Hank Pym's side. He's found a way to shrink the Hulk and Jarella back down to K'ai in what I can only describe as an orgy of plausible technobabble.
They fight their way through all the micro-worlds of the Marvel universe before finally landing on K'ai. The populace is happy to see its queen, the Hulk gains Banner's mind as part of K'ai's "spell" again, and they are soon married. One night, a tentacle comes to visit.
The Hulk sees the thing and destroys it, along with the Dark Gods he finds in the basement. He never notices in the rubble the copy of Jarella the Gods were trying to foist on the realm.
(This is an odd piece of plotting, confusingly putting the true Jarella's identity in doubt, but then never paying off.) Soon, the Dark Gods are raising the dead, sending plagues on the good people of K'ai and other horrors. Jarella creates her own team of Defenders to fight evil under the Hulk's leadership. And fight evil, they do.
Some of them with odd weapons...
In any case, the main villain is revealed as an undead Visis from Incredible Hulk #155 who explains the plot before Hulk drops a mountain on his head. The Hulk vows to continue the good fight against the Dark Gods, and we can imagine the series taking that tack for a while. At least until a new creative teams comes in and changes the status quo again.
Books canceled as a result: None.
These things happen: Planet Hulk proves that. The Hulk became a barbarian warlord on an alien planet instead of another dimension, but the result is much the same. As for Jarella living, there have a been a few false hopes (including recently in the Red Hulk stuff), but nothing has stuck. She's Uncle Ben Dead.

Next week: What If Aunt May Had Been Bitten by that Radioactive Spider?
My guess: 45 years later, she has to undo her marriage to Doc Ock by selling her soul to the Devil.


Prime Director said...

45 years later, she has to undo her marriage to Doc Ock by selling her soul to the Devil.


Anonymous said...

I've never read any comic where Jarella actualy appeared (when she was alive), but she is one of my favourite Hulk groupies... I mean, friends.

So the dead girl in the temple was a clone? Or a Skrull? I was never sure.



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