Examining Tyrannus: The Hulk’s Knockoff Sub-Mariner

Journey Into Marvel – Part 62

Tyrannus is definitely a looker that's for sure.

Tyrannus is definitely a looker that’s for sure.

Extremites, a creative war floods every panel of the Hulk series. That greyish-purple Hyde knockoff monster of Issue #1 has disappeared into an altruistic, albeit selfish, Thing knock off. In comparison with the Fantastic Four series, which predates the Hulk by a few months, by their fifth issue they had solidified character intentions, traits, and even a few arch baddies. In contrast, in Hulk’s fifth we have Hulk who is barely defined as a character, Bruce Banner: who seems to both be a seeker of justice and a character that wants nothing to do with justice, and Rick Jones — I write with biting disdain.

Where’s the villains?

Hulk has no villains!

Hulk has thus far been the only villain of note.

Yes, some characters like the Ringmaster from the Circus of Crime have figured as a kind of antagonist. Yet, they haven’t registered beyond one off. None of them possess the gravitas of a Namor or Dr. Doom. Stan Lee tries to rectify this with Tyrannus.

Extremites, Tyrannus is the Sub-Mariner knockoff that features in this issue’s first story.

Banished by the fiendish Merlin from King Arthur’s court centuries ago, Tyrannus – a dark Roman wizard — became king of a group of underground dwellers known as the Subterraneans. There are so many lost races on the face of the Earth. Some day some nerd, a far bigger nerd than myself, should compile a collected map of all the races that have found civilization beneath our feet. Anyway, Tyrannus arrives at the conclusion that if he woos and captures the daughter of the commanding officer of “World Defence:” General Thaddeus Ross, he can be international overlord.

Bruce becomes wise to this plot while Betty Ross is on a date with the sinister Tyrannus, and changes into the Hulk at will — there’s no explanation for this change — and hitchhikes on Tyrannus’ drill ship to the centre of the Earth. Long story short Tyrannus uses Hulk’s love for Betty Ross to hold him captive as a gladiator to fight massive mechano fire droids for the pleasure of Subtereana. Needless to say,Hulk crushes the whole civilization in a cave in.

Although there are moments of genius , for instance when Hulk does away with the mechano droid and smirks at Tyrannus, this story lacks soul.

Stan Lee espoused creative unity in the early years of Marvel. He believed that whatever happened in the story cannot leave a lasting impact on the issue line as a whole, and everything must return to equilibrium at that the end of the story. That’s why at the end of this one, Betty Ross suffers ‘a kind of amnesia’ and forgets everything the Hulk (and Rick) have done for her underground. Betty must remain terrified of Big Green. Unity.

Look at how Hulk bursts through those Earth walls.

Look at how Hulk bursts through those Earth walls.

Tyrannus, as the first viable option to fill the vital role as Hulk’s archnemisis, is hollow. Aside from the one panel explaining the origin of Tyrannus — which is one panel more then most characters get — he’s very much a knockoff of the same Submariner themes. He’s an aristocrat of a bygone race that holds extraordinary rage against the Normals who he perceives abandoned him in the darkness. His sense of entitlement stems from a place of blood or hereditary rather then a place of real anger. Tyrannus believes that he is owed restitution from the surface world because of not anger but because he is the rightful heir to the world. Yet, another villain that represents that all time American propagandist fear of a monarch. Not to mention the whole Black magic thing reeks of Dr. Doom.

Until next time, Extremites, I remain: Julian Munds.

Story I Read:Beauty and the Beast!” (The Incredible Hulk #5 Jan. 1963)

Rating: 2 out of 5

Pros: Tyrannus is the best looking villain to date, the detail of his Roman garb is gorgeous. The expansion of the dynamic between Thaddeus Ross and Bruce Banner is well worth it, too bad it is only a short blip.

Cons: Tyrannus is a character we’ve seen before. The whole plot rings hollow. It reads very much like page filler. A story that is trying to limp a bipolar character along a little futher.

Next Review:The Hordes of General Fang!” (The Incredible Hulk #5 Jan. 1963)

Last Review:Spider-Man/Spider-Man vs. The Chameleon” (Amazing Spider-Man #1 Mar.

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About Julian Munds

I possess a degree in Theatre and Drama from the University of Toronto. I own my own theatre company called Snobbish Theatre. We focus our work on new versions of classics.

Posted on January 8, 2015, in Hulk, Marvel and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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