By Roy Thomas, Steve Englehart, Gerry Conway, Archie Goodwin, Steve Gerber, Chris Claremont, Tony Isabella, Herb Trimpe & various (MARVEL)
ISBN: 978-1302929169 (TPB/Digital)
The Incredible Hulk #1 hit newsstands and magazine spinners on March 1st 1962. The comic book was cover-dated May, so happy sort-of birthday Big Guy!
Bruce Banner was a military scientist caught in a gamma bomb detonation of his own devising. As a result of ongoing mutation, stress and other factors caused him to transform into a giant green monster of unstoppable strength and fury.
After an initially troubled few years the irradiated idol finally found his size-700 feet and a format that worked, becoming one of young Marvelâ€™s most popular features. After his first solo-title folded, Hulk shambled around the slowly-coalescing Marvel Universe as guest star and/or villain of the moment, until a new home was found for him in â€œsplit-bookâ€ Tales to Astonish: sharing space with fellow misunderstood misanthrope Namor the Sub-Mariner, who proved an ideal thematic companion from his induction in #70.
As the 1970s tumultuously unfolded, the Jade Juggernaut settled into a comfortable – if excessively, spectacularly destructive – niche. A globe-trotting, monster-mashing plot formula saw Banner hiding and seeking cures for his gamma-curse, alternately aided or hunted by prospective father-in-law US General Thaddeus â€œThunderboltâ€ Ross and his daughter – the afflicted scientistâ€™s unobtainable inamorata – Betty, with a non-stop procession of guest-star heroes and villains providing the battles du jour.
Herb Trimpe made the Hulk his own, displaying a gift for explosive action and unparalleled facility for drawing technology – especially honking great military ordnance and vehicles. Beginning with Roy Thomas, a string of skilful scripters effectively played the Jekyll & Hyde card for maximum angstÂ and ironic impact as the monster became a pillar of Marvelâ€™s pantheon.
This compelling compendium re-presents The Incredible Hulk #157-178, encompassing cover-dates April 1971 to November 1972-August 1974 and opens without delaying preamble as the Hulk – having just returned to Earth and normal size after a heartbreaking sojourn in a sub-atomic realm – promptly and potently battles a brace of old enemies in â€˜Name My Vengeance: Rhino!â€™ (written by Archie Goodwin, with Trimpe inked by Sal Trapani). That clash is only resolved after gamma genius The Leader despatches Hulk and Rhino to the far side of the Sun. Here orbits a bizarre parallel worldâ€¦
During the early 1970s, throwaway Fantastic Four character Him was transubstantiated into a modern interpretation of the Christ myth and placed on a world far more like our own than the Earth of Marvelâ€™s universe. That troubled globe was codified as Counter-Earth and upon it messianic Adam Warlock battled a Satan-analogue known as Man-Beast.
Here and now, Hulk battles both the golden saviour and his evil antithesis in â€˜Frenzy on a Far-Away Worldâ€™, courtesy of Thomas, Steve Gerber, Trimpe & Trapani. Meanwhile on â€œtrue Earthâ€, heartbroken Betty – believing her lover forever gone – marries over-attentive, ever-present military martinet Major Glenn Talbotâ€¦
Steve Englehart assumed scripting duties with #159 as â€˜Two Years Before the Abomination!â€™ sees Banner and the Rhino explosively returned to our embattled globe, only to be again attacked by General Rossâ€™ Hulkbuster forces. The grizzled soldier is more determined than ever to kill Banner – to safeguard America and preserve his unsuspecting daughterâ€™s new marriage. However, the resulting conflagration accidentally awakens a comatose gamma monster even deadlier than the Hulkâ€¦
â€˜Nightmare in Niagara!â€™ finds the misunderstood man-brute instinctively drawn to the honeymooning couple, only to encounter amphibian outcast Tiger Shark and another blockbusting battle issue, after which his northerly rampage takes the Green Goliath into Canada. â€˜Beyond the Border Lurks Death!â€™ has the Hulk a reluctant ally of recently hyper-mutated Hank McCoy – best known as the bludgeoning Beast – in battle against the Mimic. This veteran X-foe possesses the ability to absorb the attributes of others, but the gift has become a curse, going tragically, catastrophically haywire and threatening to consume the entire planetâ€¦
Still under Northern Lights, Hulk encounters carnivorous, cannibalistic horror the Wendigo in â€˜Spawn of the Flesh-Eater!â€™, but the maniacal man-eater harbours a shattering secret which makes it as much victim as villainâ€¦
Pushing ever Pole-ward, Hulk reaches the top of the world but cannot elude Rossâ€™ relentless pursuit. After a cataclysmic arctic clash, â€˜Trackdownâ€™ sees man-monster and his stalker fall into the super-scientific clutches of Soviet prodigy the Gremlin (mutant offspring of the Hulkâ€™s very first foe the Gargoyle). Although the Gamma Giant breaks free with ease, the General is left behind to become a highly embarrassing political prisonerâ€¦
Shambling into Polar seas, Hulk is captured by a fantastic sub-sea colony of aquatic human nomads in #164â€™s â€˜The Phantom from 5,000 Fathoms!â€™ Decades previously, egomaniacal Captain Omen had created his own mobile submarine nation, roaming the ocean beds at will, and foolishly thought the Jade Goliath could be his latest freakish beast of burden. Sadly, the draconian dictator has no idea how his dissatisfied clan hungers for freedom, fresh air and sunlight. They disastrously rebel, following â€˜The Green-Skinned God!â€™ to their doomâ€¦
Incredible Hulk #166 finally finds â€œOlâ€™ Greenskinâ€ back in the USA, hitting New York just in time to clash with Battling Bowman Hawkeye and brain-eating electrical monster Zzzax in â€˜The Destroyer from the Dynamo!â€™ Meanwhile in the sub-plot section, a bold bid to rescue General Ross from the godless Commies succeeds, but seemingly costs the life of his new son-in-lawâ€¦
Jack Abel took over inking duties in #167 with â€˜To Destroy the Monster!â€™ as grieving widow Betty Ross-Talbot suffers a nervous breakdown and is targeted by intellectual murder-mutate M.O.D.O.K. and his minions of Advanced Idea Mechanics who need an infallible weapon to break the Hulk.
As ghetto kid Jim Wilson fortuitously reconnects with the Emerald Behemoth, Bannerâ€™s bestial alter ego effortlessly destroys M.O.D.O.K.â€™s giant robot body but fails to prevent Bettyâ€™s abduction, and next issueâ€™s â€˜The Hate of the Harpy!â€™ reveals her as gamma-mutated avian horror programmed to destroy her former loverâ€¦
Issue #169 finds the temporarily triumphant Harpy and her verdant victim trapped aboard an ancient floating fortress in the sky, enduring â€˜Calamity in the Clouds!â€™ before battling together against monstrous android Bi-Beast. When M.O.D.O.K. attacks, intent on possessing its alien tech, the response eradicates the last vestige of the sky-citadel, propelling a now-human Banner and Betty onto a lost tropical island inhabited by incredible alien creaturesâ€¦
Englehart, Chris Claremont, Trimpe & Abelâ€™s monster-romp â€˜Death from on High!â€™ features an army of alien castaways in all-out terrain trashing aggressive action who fall to someone even tougher, after which subplots and human drama recommence with excessive bombast but no appreciable fanfare as â€˜Revenge!â€™ (by Gerry Conway – from an Englehart plot) finds the Green Goliath a stowaway on a plane back to military Mecca Hulkbuster Base.
The jet carries Project: Greenskinâ€™s new commanding officer. Spit-&-polish Colonel John D. Armbruster has taken over from the recently rescued but now politically sidelined Thunderbolt Rossâ€¦.
The camp is eerily deserted and the reason becomes clear as bludgeoning brutes The Abomination and The Rhino attack the new arrivals. Subduing the entire garrison, they try to detonate the baseâ€™s gamma-bomb self-destruct device but are utterly unprepared for the Hulkâ€™s irascible interventionâ€¦
Roy Thomas plotted Tony Isabellaâ€™s script for #172 wherein the Hulk – captured by the ungrateful soldiers he saved – is hurled into another dimension, allowing a mystic menace to inadvertently escape. â€˜And Canst Thou Slayâ€¦ The Juggernaut?â€™ (with a telling cameo by The X-Men) proves even a magically augmented menace canâ€™t resist our favourite monsterâ€™s might.Â Thomas then scripts all-Trimpe delight â€˜Anybody Out There Rememberâ€¦ The Cobalt Man?â€™, as another old X-adversary – Ralph Roberts – picks up the Jade Giant at sea before sailing his research vessel right into a nuclear test explosionâ€¦
Dying of radiation exposure, the deranged technologist is determined to demonstrate atomic bombs are bad to a callous, uncaring worldâ€¦ by detonating one over Sydney in â€˜Doomsdayâ€¦ Down Underâ€™ (Conway, Thomas, Trimpe & Abel). A second clash with the azure-armoured Cobalt Man results in a blistering battle in the stratosphere, a cataclysmic explosion and Hulk crashing to earth far, far away as a â€˜Man-Brute in the Hidden Land!â€™ (#175, by Thomas, Trimpe & Abel)â€¦
Here – after the usual collateral carnage – a typically short-tempered encounter with the Uncanny Inhumans and devastating duel with silent super-monarch Black Bolt ends with the gamma gladiator stuck in a rocket-ship hurtling to the far side of the sun for a date with allegory, if not destiny…
Hulk had briefly visited once before and now crashes there again to complete a long lain fallow allegorical epic. It begins with â€˜Crisis on Counter-Earth!â€™ by Conway, Trimpe & Abel. Since Hulkâ€™s departure, Man-Beast and his animalistic minions (all spawned by godlike genetic meddler The High Evolutionary) had become Americaâ€™s President and Cabinet. Moving decisively, they finally captured Warlock and led humanity to the brink of extinction, leaving the would-be messiahâ€™s disciples in utter confusion.
With the nation in foment, the Hulkâ€™s shattering return gives the messiahâ€™s faithful flock opportunity to save their saviour in â€˜Peril of the Plural Planet!â€™ but the foray badly misfires and Warlock is captured. Publicly crucified at the behest of the people, humanityâ€™s last hope perishesâ€¦
Meanwhile on true Earth, Ross and Armbruster discover trusted comrade Glenn Talbot has escaped from a top security Soviet prison and is making his triumphant way back to the USAâ€¦
Scripted by Conway & Isabella, the quasi-religious experience concludes with â€˜Triumph on Terra-Twoâ€™ as the dead prophet resurrects whilst Hulk wages his last battle against Man-Beast, just in time to deliver a cosmic coup de grace before ascending from Counter-Earth to the beckoning starsâ€¦
To Be Continuedâ€¦
This superbly cathartic tome also offers some seminal extras, beginning with a Hulk-themed crossword puzzle from in-house fan vehicle F.O.O.M. (Friends of Olâ€™ Marvel; February 1973). The second issue – September – was an all-Hulk affair and from it comes a stunning cover and editorial illustrated by Jim Steranko, a â€˜Hunt the Hulkâ€™ game and â€˜Many Faces of the Hulkâ€™: a collage of previous artists (Kirby, Ditko, Dick Ayers, Trimpe, Marie & John Severin, Kane, Steranko, Bob Powell, Mike Esposito/Demeo, John Romita Sr., Bill Everett, John & Sal Buscema), plus a history by Martin Greim, a checklist of appearances to date and strip spoof â€˜Hunkâ€™ by Thomas, Len Brown, Gil Kane & Wally Wood.
Also on view are 8 original art pages by Trimpe and assorted inkers from the stories contained herein.
The Incredible Hulk is one of the most well-known comic characters on Earth, and these stories, as much as the movies, cartoons, TV shows, games, toys and action figures, are the reason why. For an uncomplicated, honestly vicarious and cathartic experience of Might literally making Right, you canâ€™t do better than these yarns.
Â© MARVEL 2021