Friday, April 1, 2016

In Which the Hulk Actually Kills an Opponent

The Hulk finally took over the Tales to Astonish title in issue 102, making it The Incredible Hulk.  I was okay with this because Silver Age Sub-Mariner just didn't do it for me and the abbreviated space in shoving two stories into a regular-sized comic didn't make for mesmerizing storytelling.

So, I skipped a lot of issues and I regret nothing.  But just to catch up, the secret of the Bruce Banner / Hulk connection was out by then and Bruce had figured out he could change into the Hulk by getting himself excited... something that sounds dirty, but wasn't supposed to be.  Anyway, we're at issue #104 wherein the Hulk tangles with the Rhino and kills him.  Thusly:

And yes, it's not like the Hulk meant to start the fatal fire.

Wait a minute.

You knew that song was coming, but at least I gave you something different.

Anyway, Hulk tries to save the Rhino: 

Now, it's important to note that the fire may not have been what the Hulk was going for, it was still the direct result of the Hulk's actions.  And he meant to inflict damage.  The fact that he was more effective than he thought he would be really isn't much of a mitigating factor.

Anyway, Rhino knows he's dying and gives it one last shot:

Before you say, "Yeah, but he didn't intend to kill the Rhino," I'm going to cut you off there.  It's not the intent to kill the Rhino that is at issue.  The Hulk intentionally committed the act that brought about the Rhino's death and even someone with diminished mental capacity like the Hulk could have arguably foreseen that smashing a vehicle would cause the gas inside to explode.  Not that I wouldn't have raised that defense if I were defending him, but this is different from your typical "the bullet bounced off the hero's chest and struck the villain" or "the villain gets knocked off the cliff in combat" scenario.

In retrospect, the powers that be probably saw this as a bit problematic from a morality perspective (the Hulk was supposed to be sort of a hero, after all) and changed "death" to "coma" several issues later.  But still.

See you Monday!


Kid said...

But wasn't the Hulk acting in self-defence? If you try to kill me, and I push you away, and you fall and bang your head and die, could a lawyer seriously argue that even 'though it was not my intention to kill you, as it was my push that led to your death, I'm therefore responsible? If Rhino attacks Hulk, Hulk defends himself, Rhino dies, then he's the author of his own misfortune in my book. See? Who needs Matt Murdoch when I'm around?!

Adam Barnett said...

Like I said, it's not that he would be legally culpable, it's a question of the morality of it that gives one pause. It's a different standard for our heroes, who recognize that although they *could* kill their foes in self-defense a good chunk of the time, the hero code is that they're better than that. And the Hulk *was* considered a Marvel Comics "hero"... albeit a different kind of hero.

Richard said...

I always thought he killed someone in Tales to Astonish #61 when he knocked that guy inside the robot into a "bottomless pit."

Kid said...

Well, it would be different if, even in self-defence, he INTENDED to kill his opponent, but if someone inadvertently died as a result of Hulkie defending himself against them, it wouldn't mean he wasn't still a 'hero'. You go up against the Hulk, you gotta be prepared for the possible consequences.

Aaron Carine said...

Hulk did intentionally kill(or try to kill) several of his opponents. In the issue(I forget the number)in which Betty Ross was turned to glass,Hulk created a water spout to disintegrate Sandman--Sandman came back of course. He also killed sentient creatures who weren't human, so a court might have trouble deciding if it was murder. He ruthlessly tore Mogul to pieces--but Mogul was a robot. In the 1976 Annual, Hulk created a wind to disintegrate the smoke monster Diablo. Again, not the killing of a human, but it was fairly ruthless("Hulk,stop! I beg you!").

Kid said...

Well, he created a waterspout to defeat Sandman, but I'd say that he probably instinctively knew that Sandman wouldn't die. And when he tore Mogul apart, he knew that Mogul was a robot, not a human. That's why he tore him apart. And dissipating a smoke monster is not quite the same thing as 'killing' it, it's just dispensing with the immediate threat. However, I suppose it's all moot, because Rhino and Sandy (two 'real' human beings) didn't die, so no case to answer.

Evil said...

Well wait a minute, the Rhino was clearly about to die and the Hunk's response was to taunt him. I mean looking at it from your position, Adam, that it's more a moral issue than a legal one, demanding that he praise the Hunk's strength with his dying breath is pretty cold.