Category Archives: Hulk
Journey Into Marvel – Part 77
You will surrender this entire base to me immediately, and the planet Earth itself must accept me as supreme ruler within twenty-four hours! – The Metal Master
Extremites, all good things come to an end. The mediocre confused things also do that too. This is the last issue of the first Hulk line. The first Hulk had a tough go at it and today’s issue shows why the Hulk failed the first time.
Read the rest of this entry
Journey Into Marvel – Part 75
Extremites, we take for granted, in this post Tolkien/Lewis world, the intricacy of a comprehensive fictional world.
You may have noticed that I keep using the term: “Earth – 616.” This is the name the fandom has given to the collective world that all Marvel characters exist in. As time has gone on, there are other continuities that have been created, but 616 is the main one, and the one that Journey Into Marvel concerns itself with. I believe that Earth- 616 is one of humanity’s greatest expressions of collective creativity, far more vast and comprehensive then Narnia, and with even more complexity than Middle-Earth. It all began with today’s issue. Read the rest of this entry
Journey Into Marvel – Part 63
Extremites, you may not have known that in the Marvel/Atlas comic company all of the creative team, with the exception of those who were to young like Steve Ditko and those who were rated 4-F by the draft board like Stan Lee — served in the military. Knowledge of the military often bled into the creative work of the period. The culture of the military bled in too, and sometimes, that culture was negative. That’s clear in today’s story.
You may or may not have run into a World War II veteran who has trouble discerning cultural differences when it comes to Asian peoples. That is the fault of American and Canadian (for me) propaganda. ‘Yellow-face: a caricature of Oriental Asians is still present, seen recently in Rob Schneider’s character in I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry. It was very prevalent in the 1940s and the decades after the cultural conscience came to terms with the horrors of that World War. When the Maoists took China this stereotype bled to combine with Communism. General Fang the central villain in this Hulk story is an example of the stereotype. Read the rest of this entry
Journey Into Marvel – Part 62
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! Read the rest of this entry
Journey Into Marvel – Part 53
Allright, Extremites, we are half way through Hulk and he looks nothing like his debut. He has the intelligence of Banner and all the edge that was established in the first issue has been lost. Fitting that Hulk’s next conflict is against the Communists.
No doubt, you are as sick as I am of the Stan Lee Communist plot, but it’s what he has on offer for us today. Judging by the title, “The Gladiator From Outer Space,” I had high hopes that Hulk would now have a decent nemesis but the creatives once again throw Big Green under the bus. Read the rest of this entry
By: Julian Munds
In my last article about the Hulk, I alluded to fact that his first incarnation was a total and utter failure for Marvel; being canceled only after six issues.
I have been informed by a commenter, that Stan drew inspiration from Victor Hugo’s Quasimodo, the notorious Hunchback of Notre Dame.
Even though I have trouble seeing this character within Hulk, I read the source material alluded to by this commenter and it does indicate that Stan intended to base the character on that French classic. This made me wonder if Lee actually understood what he wanted to do with Hulk, for in that former article, I noted the character’s similarities to Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde.
Then I read this issue.
I have not read a more cluttered and shoddy issue since I endured that terrible Iron Man story where he went back in time to meet Cleopatra.
Stan Lee failed the Hulk in only his second issue by over burdening the plot with too many ideas which, in turn, crushed any possible development of the character.
It was common practice, during Stan Lee’s Silver Age tenure, that in the second story after the premiere of a character, they would face an alien invasion. For instance, the issue directly after the Fantastic Four debut, featured a blitz of the Earth from the shapeshifting Skrulls. Though the Skrulls went on to become major reoccurring foes their premiere was less then stellar.
In my discussion of the debut of Thor, I took Stan to task over his aimless use of the Saturnian Stone Men (retconned to Kronans) and the fact that they were inconsequential to the plot.
It seems to me that when Stan Lee and other creatives cannot think of a proper antagonist or a satisfying plot, for whatever reason, they just say “and then Aliens invaded.”
That is what happened here.
After all that time, in the last issue, that Stan Lee spent developing Banner/Hulk into a head of its time, fully psychologically real, three dimensional character, he
abandoned everything to declare: “And then Aliens invaded.”
The aliens in question are the aptly named Toad Men. Right there, in their name, the tackiness is obvious. These aliens are empty B-Movie villains.
Comics historically have always been inspired by the pulp that used to flood the drive-ins. Drive-in B movies were terrible examples of film. They utilized sometimes ingenious film technique but the literary value of the stories presented was less then stellar.
And so it is with these Toad Men. There is no discussion of why they are attempting to take over the planet. They are just invading haphazardly from the skies.
Furthermore, how Hulk works into this invasion is not expanded upon either.
Hulk spends the majority of the issue creating chaos that more resembles a Japanese monster flick then a superhero comic. At one point he almost murders a family. Hulk also destroys a platoon that is attempting to defend the planet from the Toad Men onslaught. His story has no bearing on the invasion plot whatsoever, aside from Bruce’s accidental set off of his Gamma Ray weapon. In fact, he is really more of an obstacle.
Here’s a list of every major conflict in this comic by my estimation:
1. Bruce’s Conflict with controlling his inner Hulk.
2. Thunderbolt Ross’ belief that Banner is behind the Invasion, which makes so little sense I can’t even convey it to you here.
3. The Army’s attempts to defeat both the Hulk and Toad Men
4. Finally, Betty Ross’ kidnapping.
Every one of these conflicts works on their own. Each could adequately hold their own issue. Put together, however, it is a massively overwhelming flood of under developed plots.
These Hulk issues are 26 pages long. The standard Marvel invasion storyline can be covered in less then 8 Silver Age pages. Stan Lee burdens this issue with far too much.
The reason why Lee, and probably his penciler Kirby, were not able to get this character up and popular, like they did the Fantastic Four, is because they did not spend enough time investigating, or developing, what makes him tick. Hulk/Banner has too many internal conflicts to ably carry or influence an outer conflict, let alone four.
What they never did in these six failures is devote one issue to fully examine the relationship Banner has with his alter-ego.
Banner doesn’t need a classic antagonist like the other superheroes do because his antagonist is always going to be the Hulk, so frankly, there is an easily built in story line here.
There’s no need for Toad People.
Once again I renew my claim that Hulk/Banner was far too ahead of his time when he debuted.
A character like his, was failed not only by the creative team that wrote him, Stan Lee being the most to blame because he is both creator and editor, but also the medium. Comics had not yet been developed enough to handle such a complex character like his.
Remember when he debuted, the Fantastic Four were still a very new group and Thor had just premiered. The later morally complex characters like Ant-Man and Iron Man were still months away and their complexity also about two years away from featuring.
Hulk is the great Marvel experiment and sometimes experiments fail.
Rating: 0 out of 5
Pros: The Art is Stunning. Hulk is green. The depth of Kirby/Ayers artwork is of a kind Marvel wont see again for years.
Cons: Just about everything. The lack of direction, cohesion and ability to ably give enough time for plots to develop. No development for Hulk/Banner beyond horror movie monsterism.
Preceding Review: “Prisoners of Dr. Doom” (Fantastic Four #5 Jul. 1962)
Upcoming Review: “Spider-Man” (The Amazing Fantasy #15 Aug. 1962)
Take a look at this wonderful article about the Hulk television show. It gives a detailed look into what made up that show.
Give him a follow too, because it looks like his is a blog that will have extraordinary things to say.
- How Realism Sabotaged the Original Incredible Hulk (extremisreviews.com)
- Incredible Hulk wannabe does something incredibly stupid: He colors himself green with nuclear submarine paint (pennlive.com)
- The Incredible Hulk (theonekillis94.wordpress.com)
- Review – The Incredible Hulk (breathesbooks.wordpress.com)
Whenever we Brits want to moan about the state of TV today, a common mantra is to bemoan schedules that are packed with “cheap American imports”. The funny thing is that this is hardly something new. Back in the 70s and 80s, the schedules were always stuffed with American imports: Buck Rogers, The A-Team, Knight Rider, (and they never looked as cheap as British TV did).
There was even a superhero show: The Incredible Hulk starring Bill Bixby as David Banner and bodybuilder Lou Ferrigno as his alter-ego, the Hulk. It’s surprising that we got this show at all, because superheroes were hardly ever seen on our screens, with the exception of the camp classic Batman.
The Hulk’s catchphrase in the opening credits was always, “Don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.” Oh, but we did. We loved the Hulk. In fact…
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