Friday, January 20, 2017
The Incredible Hulk - Beauty And The Beast!
With the fifth issue of The Incredible Hulk you get the sense that Stan Lee and Jack Kirby along with inker Dick Ayers had finally landed on a formula for the series. In the previous issue they had blended the intelligence of Bruce Banner with the raw power of the Hulk and given him a personality which was bellicose and abrasive, what some these days call the "Joe Fixit" persona. Essentially he's a street thug, but one with immense unimaginable strength.
In the first story we get a real fantasy element introduced when Tyrannus, the immortal ruler of an underground kingdom (creating the wonderful complexity with the Mole Man from Fantastic Four debut) cottons to the looks of Betty Ross and uses his advanced equipment and weapons to come to the surface and lure her into his grasp. Bruce Banner and Rick Jones quickly realize the threat and the Hulk is activated to pursue the villain to his underground kingdom and rescue Betty. Despite centuries of battle experience (thanks to the famous waters that Ponce De Leon famously sought) Tyrannus is not able to defend against the Hulk's might though he does briefly get him involved in some gladitorial contests. Rick Jones helps to save Betty and the trio escape with the Hulk using the techniques of Samson to forestall recapture.
In the second story we have a real whopper. The monks of Tibet are under threat by a Red Chinese warlord named General Fang. The Hulk and Rick Jones leap to assist and engage Fang's army. It's a sprawling battle which roams across the landscape but eventually the Hulk uses a white furry suit to use the power of myth to scare Fang's forces. He makes them believe he is the Abominable Snowman and that along with a formidable rejection of Fang's rocketry defeats the army despite its efforts to charge him down. My favorite moment is when the Hulk uses tall twisted-back trees to create a mighty wind to blow away paratroopers. Capturing Fang, the Hulk and Rick drop him off in territory under U.S. control and the warlord is made powerless as our heroes wonder what comes next.
The strength of the Hulk in these stories seems to be growing by the minute and the second story in particular felt more like a Superman yarn than a more down-to-earth Marvel story. The Hulk is impossibly strong to begin with, but in this story the laws of physic give way before his utterly impossible strength.
But before the next issue of the Hulk can land on the stands, he makes a guest appearance in the Fantastic Four. To be Hulkinued tomorrow!