Sunday, October 23, 2011
Monster On The Prowl!
A few years ago thanks to the wonderful and cheap Essentials volumes from Marvel, I was able to fulfill a life-long dream of reading the whole of then-Marvel continuity from the beginning with Fantastic Four#1 and forward. As I bounced back and forth month by month from title to title, I learned a bunch about a fictional universe I thought I was well familiar with, and how it had developed.
Just like those lucky fanboys long ago in the halcyon days of Marvel's beginnings, I was privy to the slow and steady unfolding of the stories and such which we know today are all branded "Marvel". But then it was much less a settled thing. At first in classic fashion, the heroes like the FF, Thor, Iron Man, Ant-Man, Doc Strange, and eventually Spidey all operated in their own worlds. That changed slowly, bit by bit.
The Hulk had his own book in Marvel's earliest days and was well established, but famously lost it after six issues. Kirby drew the books and covers for all but the sixth which was done by Steve Ditko. Then the Hulk became itinerant, showing up in the FF before becoming briefly an Avenger in a very stormy but memorable stint. His story then shifted back to the FF and even into Spidey's world before eventually he got his own series again in Tales to Astonish. The saga of the Hulk as woven through those early issues by Stan and Jack (and even Steve) is really the first grand tale of the Marvel Universe, and by the end of it, the nature of how Marvel saw itself was transformed.
Here is a gallery of early Kirby covers featuring the King's early more monsterish take on the Hulk, whose story in those early years was the story of Marvel.
And here are Ditko's covers for the Hulk's earliest career.