Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Incredible Hulk - Slugfests!

The displaced Hulk continued his tour of the burgeoning Marvel Universe with a visit to the pages of the Amazing Spider-Man #14. Steve Ditko gets to draw the jade giant again with a Stan Lee script when Peter Parker alter ego heads out west and becomes part of a movie which appears to employ actors in the roles of the deadly Enforcers and the Green Goblin.

But of course these are the real deals and the scheme was to get Spidey into a deadly trap. The battle winds through the caverns of the area and the Hulk pops up in the middle of the battle. It's furious action before old Greenskin disappears again into the darkness.

He shows up again in the pages of Tales to Astonish #59 as a guest-star in the ongoing Giant-Man series. Hank Pym tries to get the Hulk to rejoin the Avengers and heads out west to accomplish that. He finds himself in the middle of the whole Hulk scenario dealing with Thunderbolt Ross, Betty Ross and Dr.Bruce Banner.

And of course the Hulk appears and battles rage and Hank Pym is forced to head back home having failed in his attempt to win the Hulk back to the Avengers fold.

But this story does serve as a nifty introduction to the Hulk's new ongoing series as part of Tales to Astonish with the very next issue. He would eventually be joined by the Sub-Mariner in a series which displaced the Giant-Man stories and even later would take over the numbering of Tales to Astonish when the Hulk would at long last get his own book once again. He wouldn't lose it again for decades.

While getting back his own series, the Hulk has one more guest-shot in him. He ends up battling Thor in a story which gives more detail of the awesome clash between Hulk and the Assemblers in pages of Avengers #3. Actually this flashback story, one early contender for the first retro-continuity, is related by Thor to fans who like many Marvelites of the time wanted to know which of the two titans was stronger, so he relates a more detailed rendition of their battle in the early Avengers yarn, one which at the time we didn't have time to see fully, nor really know happened at all. 

This story by Stan Lee from Journey Into Mystery #112 is beautifully rendered by Jack Kirby and Chic Stone and showcases the raw power of the Hulk as few stories had done to that point.

And that's a wrap for the early adventures of the Hulk. After getting his own series back he appeared less and less in other titles as other oddball heroes seemed to come along to fill that role like Ka-zar and The Inhumans. But it will always be the Hulk who did it first and in many ways best. His tumultuous journey across the landscape of the early Marvel Universe did much to define that very thing itself.

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  1. You've just made a convincing argument for a trade collection of the Hulk's "in-between" adventures. By the way, do you know the horror story about that ad for the new series? They cut out and slightly altered the Hulk figure from the original art board for Hulk #1. Stupefying.

    1. I might be misreading you, but let me say that such a collection exists and has been the source of my readings this month - the Epic Hulk collection volume one. Find and enjoy!

      Did not know about that ad, but doesn't really surprise me. Comics were slightly above trash, and the artwork to produce was just so much pulp paper after it was were used, a by product of a process barely seen as a trade let alone the fine art. The horror stories of material being thrown away, used as cutting boards and such is legion and this one is just one more to add to that collection of grim day notices. Sigh.

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    2. I absolutely did not know about that; thanks so much. I've been eyeing the Kirby Epic Collection of the Silver Surfer as well.

  2. It's surprising that they cut up the original art. Usually, they'd just use a stat, I would've thought.

  3. A stat makes a lot of sense in retrospect, but I have the feeling that Marvel's small in-house staff was scrambling during this period (probably looked like one of those sped-up endings to the Benny Hill Show, complete with "Yakety-Sax" music). My source is the Jack Kirby Collector, but I'm not sure of the issue. There was a pic of the ad art and the account of a guy who stumbled across it and realized it had been cut out of the original for the cover of #1. You could see the wite-out and paste-lines. I guess it's amazing that they hadn't bothered to just throw out the art once the series was cancelled.


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