Preview Issue: “Nuclear Spring”
Theme: The Incredible Hulk
Quick Summary: The Planetary team breaks into a secret government base where an aged general tells them the Planetary Universe version of the Incredible Hulk story.
Opening Line: "You come on in, boys. Have a drink on me. Been a long day."
Page 4, panel 1: The general seems to be overly green, his shirt, eyes, and skin all sharing in this tone. Perhaps this is a reflection of his hatred of David Paine.
Panel 2: It’s stated the experiment took place in 1962, this was the year the first issue of The Incredible Hulk hit the news stands.
Panel 4: The general makes mention of “integral series” bombs; then in the next panel notes that the bomb is also a computer. This relates to the mathematical Integral Test for Convergence. This test is used to find if a series of positive numbers are convergent. Perhaps this “convergence” relates to Planetary’s theme of attempting to break and analyze the veil between universes.
Page 5, panel 1: Paine was trying to “monkey” with the “machinery of the universe.” The result of the bomb, had it been successful would be more or less to replace the matter from Universe A with matter from Universe B; or as we see, take the matter from Universe A and combine it on the atomic level with matter from Universe B.
Panel 4: Paine called his device a “quantum box,” a theory more popularlly known as Schrodinger’s cat. This means in the context of the story that Paine doesn’t know what the result of the bomb blast will be since because of the bomb’s nature all possible states exist within the affected matter until it is observed.
Page 8, panel 1: This is the battlefield where the US army combated Planetary’s Hulk analogue. The way the general talks it seems that this battle happened shortly after Paine was blasted with the universal matter swap. But note the wreckage in the upper left corner. It is an Apache Helicopter, a piece of equipment that was not introduced to the army until 1984. In fact the first test flight was in 1975.
Surely you must be thinking that this is a simple error I uncovered, but I don’t think it is so simple. With any other comic series I would agree—a simple lapse on the part of Cassaday—but here, with the level of interconnectiveness and continuity, I can only assume that a later date during the 1980s is being hinted at.
Panel 4: “He finally died. In nineteen eighty three.” 1983 saw a story line where Bruce Banner’s mind took full control of the Hulk. This is most likely Ellis’ comment that the Hulk comics ran out of story lines there.