WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Fantastic Four #13 by Dan Slott, Sean Izaakse, Marcio Menyz, Joe Caramagna and Esad Ribic
The Hulk has recently undergone a reinvention that's turned him into a truly fearsome monster. This version of the Hulk is vengeful and furious, leading him to take cruel revenge against the people he deems deserving of some pain. It was only a matter of time before a villain tried to use this version of the character for their own purposes, and The Puppet Master made a real attempt of it in Fantastic Four #13. But now he'll serve as a very painful proof of what happens when someone crosses the new Hulk.
Who Is The Puppet Master?
Phillip Masters/The Puppet Master first appeared in Stan Lee and Jack Kirby's Fantastic Four #8, making him one of the team's oldest villains. Using radioactive clay, the Puppet Master can control the actions of anyone he carves a small statue of. The stepfather of Ben Grimm's long-suffering love interest Alicia Masters, Puppet Master cares deeply for the young blind sculptor. However, this extends to a hatred of anyone who would try to "steal" her from him, notably the Fantastic Four's Thing. He's targeted the Thing multiple times, but his anger intensified when Alicia married Ben.
His newest scheme sees him create a doll of the Hulk, taking over the jade giant and using him to target Ben Grimm while on his honeymoon with Alicia. Puppet Master inadvertently picked the perfect time to attack. The honeymoon coincides with the week once per year when Ben loses his powers and reverts to his human form. Desperate to end the fight before becoming human again, Thing stands his ground and (barely) knocks the Hulk out, freeing him from Puppet Master's control. This also lands Grimm in the hospital with a broken arm.
Puppet Master's Plan Wasn't The Best Idea
The issue's epilogue reveals the new Hulk worked his way through the Raft to make his way to Puppet Master. There, Hulk shows the pleading villain why he shouldn't have messed with this version of him. Although Puppet Master indicates Hulk didn't mind the chance to throw down with the Thing (which is why he was able to control him in the first place), the green giant makes an example out of the villain. Hulk crushes Puppet Master's hands. However, he's not done there, as Hulk proceeds to beat the villain further, which is a pretty horrifying way to get back at him.
The Hulk has been manipulated in the past. He's even been turned against the other heroes in the process. But this is a Hulk who willingly and happily fought the entire Avengers lineup recently. This should hopefully convince most villains to give the Hulk a lot more privacy. Although, others may see it as the Hulk revealing his new potential for dastardly deeds.
The more pressing concern for the Fantastic Four comes from the fallout of Puppet Master's attack and any potential reprisals from the villain, though he'll probably be out of commission for awhile. When he comes back, the knowledge that he brought this on himself might just serve as a wakeup call and cause him to change his villainous ways, though he might also want to take an even more extreme revenge against those he feels have wronged him. Well, that's if Hulk left him capable of ever moving again.
Fantastic Four #14 goes on sale September 4.