(W) Peter David (A) Dale Keown (CA) Dale Keown
Synopsis for “Honey, I Shrunk the Hulk”
With the fragments of Bruce Banner’s multiple personalities at war with each other, Doc Samson has begun working to cure Banner of this affliction. In a deep hypnotic state with his patient, it looks as though Doc Samson is in a session with Bruce and both of his Hulk personas. However, the gray Hulk wants nothing to do with the green Hulk and vice versa. When the two try to fight, however, they harmlessly pass through each other. Samson tells the two Hulks that they need to work together in order to save the life of their host. The two Hulks find that has been constructed in their session. Suddenly, they hear someone shout out the word monster, getting the attention of Banner and both of the Hulks.
The scene playing out before them is when Bruce was a young boy at Christmas and was found by his father opening his gifts early. However, this time, in the place of Bruce’s father Brian Banner, is a massive monstrous creature. Bruce unleashes both the Hulks at this new monster, but it snaps the green Hulk’s back and disembowels the gray Hulk. Doc Samson tells Banner to stand up to the monster, but Bruce has slipped into a reclusive state ending this scenario. Doc Samson snaps them out of their hypnotic state as he fears that Bruce might be withdrawing even deeper into himself. His assistant, the Ringmaster of the Circus of Crime, admits that although he has used his hypnotic disks to enthrall an entire audience he has never seen a challenge like this. However, he has agreed to help Samson as a means of making amends for his past life of crime.
Bruce Banner is put under hypnosis again and he and his Hulk personas are made to watch the day in which Bruce’s mother Rebecca tried to flee her abusive husband with Bruce. They watch as Rebecca Banner packs pags for them and tries to make it to the family car with Bruce. They are stopped again by the monster that is standing in for Bruce’s father in these memories. When the creature tries to kill Rebecca, the two Hulks try to stop him but are seemingly incinerated. The monster then smashes Rebecca into the pavement, killing her. Doc Samson asks Bruce how should he react to the sight of his mother’s death. Bruce goes to his younger self and tells the boy to emote, to feel something. When the boy is too stubborn to show emotion, Bruce slaps his younger self across the face. This causes the young Banner briefly turns into a Hulk. The Banner child then asks his older self if he is happy.
In the real world, Betty Banner and Marlo Chandler are in the hospital waiting room waiting for results from Doc Samson’s session with Bruce. Betty asks Marlo what her relationship was with her husband. Marlo insists that they were just friends, but when Betty asks who Joe Fixit was to her. When Marlo doesn’t answer, Betty figures it out. While Betty fumes over this, Marlo reminds her what Doc Samson told them about Bruce having Multiple Personality Disorder and how he promised to cure him for good. When Marlo asks if she should go, Betty breaks down in tears, confiding that even after all this time she has known Bruce, she has never known who he really is. When Rick Jones enters the room, but sees the emotional scene playing out and decides to give the two women some privacy.
Meanwhile, the therapy session goes on, and Bruce and his alter-egos explore his romantic life. Starting his romance with Susan Jacobson in college. One night while they were kissing, Susan complained that Bruce doesn’t show any emotion. When he tried, the persona of the gray Hulk took over and he pushed it too far. Disturbed by the situation, Susan broke things off with Bruce and stormed out. Doc Samson stands in and points out that Bruce seems to have problems with strong emotions like passion. Bruce explains that his focus on his studies were safe from these emotions that he had little control over. Also kept him safe from the memories of his mother’s grave. They are suddenly taken there and are attacked by the monster again. It once again incapacitates the two Hulks, leaving Bruce to face it alone. It’s when Bruce comes to terms with his emotions and give into them that the monster begins shrinking.
When Bruce finally comes to terms with the guilt he felt over his mother’s death, the creature transforms into the form of his father. This form then crumbles away giving way to the form of his mother. Rebecca Banner tells her children that it is over. That they don’t need to fight anymore and that they need to work together. Following the guidance of their mother, the two Hulks and Bruce merge together. In the real world, Bruce suddenly begins to transform into the Hulk once again. While out in the waiting room, Rick limps over his leg, complaining about how a kid kicked him in the shin. Betty gets fed up and goes to see how her husband is doing. That’s when the Hulk — green once more and larger than ever before — opens the door and tells his wife that he’s finally home.