by Jon Quixote
Ah, 1968. It was a time of conflict, complexity and, if my Oliver Stone films are to be believed, widespread conspiracy. The moon might still have been made of green cheese. A brash young idealist from California entered the White House, determined to ensure the American dream came true for a generation of crooked lawyers. And the Incredible Hulk had a new writer and his own title.
Back to the fun!
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One of the more popular comic-geek debates these days is that whether or not the Hulk is a killer. I’ve always felt that he wasn’t – that the key to the Hulk was that he was misunderstood. To establish Hulk as a killer is to say that the heroes of these early Hulk stories were Thunderbolt Ross and Major Talbot. And those guys are douchebags.
And true enough, these stories don’t forget to underline that for all his strength and savagery, the Hulk is actually a noble soul. In this one, the Hulk makes clear his M.O.: He only fights those that threaten him. He refuses to kill an enemy begging for death in this one. He rescues the Rhino from a fire (after beating him up) in the next issue. He is, without a doubt, a superhero. Just a dumb, easily misled one.
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Hulk at this time is in his noble savage phase. However, under the pen of Gary Friedrich he is also more articulate than we’ve usually seen him. The better to verbalize every single action he does, I guess.
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Herb Trimpe takes over the art duties from Marie Severin. Trimpe is considered a definitive Hulk artist, but right now I’m sad to see Marie leave. Her art was great right from page one – it felt more mature than even the Kirby and Ditko issues, more visually expressive. But over the last few issues, Severin appeared to take it to the next level, and Hulk pages were beautiful, detailed and iconic.
The Incredible Hulk Annual #1
Yes. I’m reading the Annuals too. This contains some more Marie Severin art. I also wanted an excuse to post the Steranko cover.
And this issue also contains: LOCKJAW! Lockjaw, the tragically mutated Inhuman, mutated into a teleporting dog by the mutative Terrigen Mists! He fights the Hulk. I consider the outcome to be a tie.
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Ka-Zar! Stan Lee is also back on writing duties. And John Severin is inking Herbe Trimpe to the point that it looks like John Severin art.
After trashing Red China for a couple issues, Hulk hitches a ride on a rocket that crashes in the Savage Land. My favourite scene is where Ka-Zar somehow takes credit for the whole thing. My second favourite is where Ka-Zar leads Banner to a mysterious machine that Banner deduces is just about to destroy the whole world.
Yup, Stan Lee’s back on writing duties alright.
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The cliffhangers are easily the best parts of the book. Stan Lee might have sloppy, ridiculous plots, but he’s got a great sense of humor and adventure.
Here, an Alien Race (oh yeah, Hulk’s in space again) makes a space-ship to send Hulk home, but they must pressurize it first. Hulk can’t wait and insists he can survive. So they blast off. And then he changes into Bruce Banner. HA!
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My favourite part was when the Sandman calls The Mandarin, “Charlie Chan.” I guess he’s not scared by the Mandarin’s threat that he’s the "World’s Greatest Master of Karate!" As I am only the World’s Greatest Master of Hi-Karate, I can only sit here, be envious, and smell like disco.
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Na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na Leader. Leader. Leader.
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I dunno though. The Leader doesn’t seem very smart to me. If you’re going to launch a nuclear missile from a base to start WWIII, wouldn’t you first disable the anti-missile missile at the same base? Or fire two missiles at once, so the single anti-missile missile couldn’t abort your plan, so that you’d have to go all the way back to the control room to fire another one?
Dr. Doom would’ve thought of that. S’all I’m saying. I still love the Leader though.
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Dorma happens by and rescues Bruce Banner from a watery grave, on the off-chance that he too may know Hercules.
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Roy Thomas takes over scripting duties from Stan, and though we’ve seen iterations of it before, we finally get “The Madder Hulk Gets, The Stronger Hulk Gets!” And lo, a plot device is born.
General Ross vows to destroy the Hulk. Betty says, “if you do, then you’ll also kill the man I love!
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“Maybe here in the place called Florida, Hulk can find the quiet he wants.” Hulk = My Aunt Adele. Except when Adele went to Florida she didn’t randomly interfere with a missile test. I think.
General Ross vows to destroy the Hulk again. Betty says, “if you do, then you’ll also kill the man I love.
A swamp monster steals Betty. Major Talbot says that the moment he saw it he knew that nobody could stand up to it, not even the Hulk. Hulk proceeds to destroy it. Major Glenn Talbot: Intelligence Officer.
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Hulk in the 60’s comes to an end with a fight against The Thing and the rest of the Fantastic Four. And by the end of it, Bruce Banner is cured! He can control his transformations, his mind remains in the Hulk’s body when he does, and he pledges to never become the Hulk again. I for one, believe him.
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And now, a word from our sponsor:
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Trivia Time: Bruce Banner’s alma mater is Desert State University, in New Mexico. Now you know.
This is the first time we’ve seen Bruce Banner split from the Hulk. This technique will be put to good use in the future by writers whose goal is to bore the living hell out of readers with psychobabble and repetition.
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Hulk and Banner have re-merged, but he can’t change back to Banner anymore. If this is true, Betty tells her dad, “Then you’ve killed the man I love!”
The Hulk also appears to have picked up an African-American teenage sidekick from the streets. With so many comic books trying to be movies these days, I’m happy to read one with the simpler goal of trying to be like Diff’rent Strokes.
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I’ve been doing little else but reading Hulk comics for a day and a half now, and as tiring as it can be, I still can have fun. Here a little girl in Eastern Europe (oh yeah, Hulk’s in Eastern Europe now) convinces Hulk to overthrow a dictator who’s going to kill her father. “If Draxon can make a little girl cry… then he must be bad…And Hulk Will Smash Him!” Go Hulk Go!!
By the end of the story he will also change the political system of a tiny nation – creating a democracy where once was a system of succession via regicide and jewellery-wearing. In your face, Dubya!
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My eyes are blurry and my head is pounding. I’m either changing into a Hulk of my own, or I’ve been staring at the computer screen too long. This might be the one downfall of this Comics on DVD-ROM idea.
It’s time for my regularly scheduled Saturday Stupid-Drunk anyway. I’ll be back tomorrow, no doubt with a much worse headache. Fun!
by Jon Quixote