Loch Ness + Cape Fear + Hulk = Loch Fear (and goofiness)
Several months ago we looked at an Incredible Hulk comic in which the titular big guy, in what surely set a new land speed record for comic book pathos, was betrayed by his own shadow. Granted, it was his shadow possessed by an evil alien from a long-forgotten Marvel mag, but still — it was an indicator of just how miserable the life of a Green Goliath can be. Today’s comic, roughly contemporaneous, sets no marks in this field, nor does it try to. Instead it vaults our child-like hero across the Atlantic Ocean and deposits him amongst the Scottish moors, where he encounters an ersatz Loch Ness Monster, lairds and beans. Lots and lots of beans.
Though there’s never a Fay Wray damsel in distress as billed by the cover, you can’t accuse this comic of disappointing. Why? Because it’s chock full of the goofiness that made one-off comics of this era such a pleasure to peruse. And since Hulk is in Scotland, we’re given a metric ton of ochs, hoot mons and such — which can be neat when not bewildering an American like me, separated by a common language. This is a fun read, another Len Wein/Herb Trimpe/Joe Staton oddball triumph.
Our story opens on the waters of Loch Fear, with the Hulk being snared in, of all things, a fishing net:
Two things. One, I’m reminded of Quint’s line in Jaws: Back home we got a taxidermy man! He gonna have a heart attack when he see what I brung him! Two, should the Hulk really ever find himself trapped in a fishing net? It makes his “HULK WILL SMASH!” threats sound more than a tad empty, no?
Well, he tears his way out of it, but only after the fisherman, Angus MacTavish, hauls him onboard. Angus tries to soothe the savage beast with some fish, but Hulk will have none of it. Apparently on some vegan kick, Hulk wants beans. Beans, dammit!:
One can only imagine the gastrointestinal pyrotechnics that a Hulk-sized serving of beans could set off. Don’t light a match!
So big-hearted Angus brings the giant green monster he dragged out of Loch Fear home with him, without batting an eye, without thinking twice. And this is obviously a big shock for Mrs. Angus MacTavish:
Like any good woman, she resolves to defend hearth and home with a frying pan, only to be mollified by promises of Hulk taking care of the Loch Fear Monster:
Hulk gets his meal, and somehow the MacTavishes find in their ramshackle cottage a chair sturdy enough to support his weight. (Maybe they simply had him sit on the floor.) Just look how happy he is:
The action kicks off after Hulk beds down, turns back into Banner (does Hulk digest real fast, or does Bruce wake up with fifty pounds of beans in his gut?), and armed thugs break in and abduct Angus and the guy in torn purple pants who’s suddenly in his living room. They’re dragged to the castle of the local laird, Black Jaime Macawber:
I realize Macawber’s right hand is extended forward, which means that it’s supposed to be drawn larger under the rules of perspective, but it looks like a giant Mickey Mouse mitt. Also, he’s essentially Sean Connery if Connery kept his Zardoz hair, ditched that movie’s red diaper thing, and went back to his native garb. Though the native garb in this case seems to be to authentic Scottish attire what Lloyd Christmas’s Aspen duds in Dumb and Dumber were to regular ski clothes.
Macawber knows of MacTavish’s hatred of the monster that threatens his life and his trade, and has gotten wind of his desire to do something about it. It turns out that Black Jaime doesn’t want the monster killed for one big reason: tourism. Yes, the monster brings in big tourist bucks, and certainly more than anything brought in by fishing. Which means our villain is just a good capitalist at heart, and wants nothing more than to cater to overfed foreigners toting cameras and maps. So he locks up Angus and the half-naked guy, and, long story short, we eventually get to the Hulk shooting out of the water like a dolphin and pounding the monster in the face:
Read the comic to discover its senses-shattering conclusion, which somehow manages to both dispose of the monster yet retain it as a tourist destination — everyone wins (kind of). And along the way revel in the Incredible Hulk making a heavily accented Scottish friend, enjoying the hell out of a huge plate of beans, and cracking the Loch Fear Monster in the mush. If this doesn’t satisfy a comic book reader, then it’s doubtful anything will. Excelsior!