Friday, October 30, 2009
Musings about the Incredible Hulk Part 2
My Hulk musings on my random collection continues
Originally posted January 14, 2009
Our first stop is the classic Incredible Hulk 140, with a story by the great Harlan Ellison.
“The Brute That Shouted Love at the Heart of the Atom.” What a great title. They just don’t make them like that anymore.
The story involves the Hulk being shrunk by a quasi-human named Psyklops. In this microscopic world the Hulk finds a kingdom of Green humans and a beautiful empress Jarella. The queen digs Jade Jaws and gets her sorcerers to teach the Hulk their language. Somehow in the process their magic merges Banner and the Hulk and so for the first time the Hulk body is piloted by Banner’s mind.
In the end Psyklop’s giant hand whisks the Hulk out of the Kingdom and makes him normal sized again. However, the enraged Hulk who was truly happy for maybe the first time is stronger than Psyklops could ever guess and Psyklops is overpowered.
Then as a final indignity a huge hand again comes crashing in through the ceiling and this time Psyklops is killed by the before mentioned claw-hand.
To me this story isn’t so much a comic, but a comic book version of an episode of the Twilight Zone or the Outer Limits. Just like the Twilight Zone where Astronauts travel to the end of the universe and seems to tap at glass only to reveal that the universe as we know it is nothing more than a glass jar on some unknowable behemoth’s shelf. In this comic the Hulk travels to a microscopic world, but in the end we see, that the world the Hulk knows. Good old Earth 616 is really just a microscopic world to whatever dark clawed power punished Psyklop’s failure.
Incredible Hulk 148 is the sequel to Ellison’s story and actually improves some elements of the original.
The Issue begins with “Thunderbolt” Ross and the others looking at the almost completed Project Greenskin Base, (whose plans appeared a few issue before in issue 145 and were the only cool part of that entire issue.) But anyway, some fighter planes find the Hulk in the desert and shoot sedative tipped missiles at him knocking him out. Now that’s cool!
Then the scene shifts to Jarella it her microscopic world, now she is a warrior queen. A much better match for the Hulk then as portrayed in Ellison’s story.
Somehow Jarella’s sorcerers transport her to earth just as the Hulk is bombarded with solar radiation and cured.
Well, everything is not alright because an assassin from the microworld piggybacked with Jarrella and unless they are both returned to their world solar energy flares caused by the imbalance of their presence on Earth will destroy the world!
Incredible Hulk 210
Len Wein and Sal Buscema produced this disappointing issue.
It’s been a rather large jump from 148-210. Banner has a new girlfriend April Sommers. Over at “Gamma Base.” Talbot and Betty Ross are married. Doc Samson is around, Thunderbolt Ross too of course and some other dude with blonde hair that looks a little like Quicksilver.
Banner meets Doctor Druid, (my least favorite Avenger ever. I avoid those issues like the plague.) and they go looking for Maha Yogi. (a crappy X-men villain)
Banner claims he’ll help Druid as Banner but that he’s not “changing into the Hulk again…not even to save the whole blamed Planet!” Is he really that dimwitted to believe he can control it? Dude you transform into the Hulk when you get angry even 8-year-old kids understand that. And further why would Druid want Banner around for a firefight. He’s playing you!
This is “revealed” on the last page. I say “revealed” because the betrayal is also featured on the cover.
Incredible Hulk 231
What a difference a day makes. Roger Stern and Sal Buscema are putting the Hulk back on track. The artwork (rather than the phoned in 210) is tremendous especially the full page shot of Hulk smashing a police car to bits.
The story is really neat too. The Hulk wanders into a town at 2 a.m. and sees this guy (Fred) being thrown out of a bar and about to get beat up. Hulk sees him as an innocent being attacked by a soldier and defends him. Fred knowing a good thing when he sees it wants to be friends with the Hulk. The Hulk says that Fred’s “long hair is crazy!” but agrees to “bed down” at Fred’s place.
A very funny scene follows of Hulk waking up in the morning. Fred’s girlfriend has come over and surprised Fred with eggs and beans, but it is the Hulk that comes to breakfast first. I love the Hulks happy face as he eats contrasted to the girlfriend screaming and running away.
Incredible Hulk 233
Marvel Man appears in this issue, the Hulk kicks his butt and as he’s on the ground some little kids asks him what his name is. “Marvel Man,” he says “That’s a stupid name,” the kid replies. Did this kid represent readers? In the next issue Marvel Man says his new codename is Quasar.
Later in the Issue Talbot gets off a plane and sees a newly redesigned knockout Betty. “I almost didn’t recognize you,” he says again mirroring the readers.
Fred and the Hulk continue their journey after the Hulk beats up some villain named Jackson and Marvel Man. And at the end of the issue Fred pulls into a house and is greeted by Trish Starr.
Incredible Hulk 334
Fred is surprised that the Hulk and Trish Starr already know each other
Starr describes her five previous appearances in Marvel Comics. She was captured by her Uncle, “Egghead” who was going to siphon off the energy from her brain, fortunately Ant-man stopped him. She then goes to New York and discovers her old friend is secretly Nightwing. Then her uncle plants a car bomb and blows one of her arms off. Then she turns to mysticism and ends up forming a bond with an evil extra dimensional being Shazanna and is saved by Dr. Strange and the Hulk. (If you can name all those appearances you get extra points)
What is wrong with this girl? Does she have the worst luck ever?
There is a great scene in this issue where some of the house’s residents are discussing with Fred and Trish that the Hulk is eating all the food and should leave. The Hulk slowly stews silently until his anger explodes. The Hulk smashes a table and shouts “Tell Fred’s friends to stop talking about the Hulk like he wasn’t here! Hulk HATES that!!”
Later while the Hulk is asleep Fred and Trish have a very interesting conversation. Fred says that he’s disappointed in the housemates and asks, “what happened to all the principles and ideals we used to pledge ourselves to?”
“We were all such a part of the sixties,” Trish replies, “maybe we didn’t try hard enough to make something of the seventies”
This is interesting on so many levels because Marvel is always in the present this was effective for more than twenty years until the end of the Bronze Age when it was kind of like “hey, how come no one’s aging?”
There are a whole bunch of issues still to come in my ramblings.