Tag Archives: The Incredible Hulk

Today’s Super Comic — The Incredible Hulk #271 (1982)

My year of daily positive comic book reviews is almost up! The final ten reviews begin here! (Not top ten; the randomness continues.)

In the comics, the original Guardians of the Galaxy had an entirely different lineup from the movie cast, and the film’s characters all had separate comic book introductions. Rocket Racoon debuted in The Incredible Hulk, in an issue that’s so delightfully ridiculous.

Hulk finds himself transported to an alien world, where he’s greeted by a talking racoon and walrus. The racoon totes a laser gun, and the caption introduces him as “Rocket Racoon, guardian of the Keystone Quadrant” (still working his way up to guarding a whole galaxy).

And if his name reminds you of a certain Beatles song, that’s apparently by design. The issue title, after all, is “Now Somewhere in the Black Holes of Sirius Major There Lived a Young Boy Name of…Rocket Raccoon!” Plus, the plot entails a Gideon’s Bible, and Rocket has to save his girlfriend Lylla.

In addition to the Beatles references, we’ve got killer clowns, deadly rabbits, and Keystone Quadrant Kops. The main villain is a mole.

The issue shows how comics work wonderfully as a vehicle for unbridled imagination. Sure, this isn’t sophisticated literature, but consider it from the perspective of a kid reading it in 1982. It’s creative fuel for a young reader. In retrospect, the issue reminds us that not all comics need to grow up. Providing goofy fun for kids is always a worthy cause.

By the way, contrary to his cinematic counterpart, here Rocket self-identifies as a racoon.

Writer: Bill Mantlo

Penciler: Sal Buscema

Inker: Jim Novak

Cover: Al Milgrom

Publisher: Marvel Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Marvel Unlimited; Comixology

Appropriate For: ages 8 and up

Today’s Super Comic — The Incredible Hulk #140 (1971)

A recurring theme in the early Hulk comics was home. The Hulk (and Bruce Banner, too, of course) was constantly in search of a place to belong, but he kept finding he didn’t belong wherever he happened to be. He’d almost find happiness on occasion, as either Hulk or Banner, and then it would be snatched away somehow or another. So he kept moving on in a never-ending odyssey—the hero’s journey home, even though he hadn’t exactly figured out what “home” was.

Perhaps the best iteration of this early format was in Incredible Hulk #140, in a story conceived by the great Harlan Ellison and scripted by one of the era’s the prolific Marvel writers, Roy Thomas.

The Hulk is stranded in a subatomic world, where he inadvertently saves a kingdom of green-skinned people, immediately earning their adoration. Bruce Banner’s brain takes over Hulk’s body, and he becomes engaged to the queen of this world. He’s respected and admired, and he has much to offer. He’s not a monster here.

So you know it’s all going to get ripped away from him.

The ending has a perfectly tragic touch. As the Hulk reverts to his usual brainless self, he’s vaguely aware of the happiness he had, and he bounds off in search of that place—unaware that it’s within a mote of dust clinging to his clothes.

Story: Harlan Ellison

Scripter: Roy Thomas

Penciler: Herb Trimpe

Inker: Sam Grainger

Publisher: Marvel Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Marvel Unlimited; Comixology; included in Hulk: Heart of the Atom (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 9 and up

Today’s Super Comic — The Incredible Hulk #371 (1990)

incredible_hulk_vol_1_371It’s a Defenders reunion special in the pages of The Incredible Hulk. Doctor Strange and Namor the Sub-Mariner work together to defeat a possessed Hulk, and Bruce Banner assists from the inside.

The action combines magic, psychology, and good old-fashioned fisticuffs, and the book never forgets its sense of humor (writer Peter David gets bonus points for working in both a Doctor Who and a Star Trek reference early in the issue). And it advances the Hulk’s ongoing storylines, leading to an unexpected cliffhanger that sets up a rather unconventional romantic obstacle for a comic book character.

A fun time all around.

Writer: Peter David

Penciler: Dale Keown

Inker: Bob McLeod

Publisher: Marvel Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Comixology; included in The Incredible Hulk Visionaries – Peter David, vol. 5 (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 10 and up

Today’s Super Comic — The Incredible Hulk #348 (1988)

Incredible_Hulk_Vol_1_348The Hulk was gray for a while in the late ‘80s, but the change wasn’t purely cosmetic. His transformations were no longer triggered by anger, but by daylight and nightfall. Hulk and Banner were still two distinct, opposing personalities, but the Hulk stopped being a mindless monster. Though still far from a scientist, the Hulk now possessed rational thought and craftiness, and he could hold down a job as a Las Vegas enforcer known as “Mr. Fixit.”

But among all those changes, the core essence of the character remained. The Hulk wants two things above all else—to keep being the Hulk, and to be left alone. And now he has the means to build a life for himself without having to be on the run all the time, and he can devise ways to keep Banner under control because he knows when the transformations are coming. It feels like progress (for the Hulk if not for Banner), but nothing can be too easy, of course.

In #348, an old enemy, the Absorbing Man, comes to town, hired to put down this new Mr. Fixit guy. And of course he strikes in daytime. So the Hulk has to fight off this reminder of his old life while the sun continuously threatens to bring Banner back. He has to bury himself under layers of clothing or keep to the shade, all while trying to defeat this intrusion into his new life. Like any good comic book fight, this one has stakes beyond just winning the battle.

Peter David had a lengthy run writing the Hulk, and he kept things remarkably fresh and creative throughout, all while staying true to the concept.

Writer: Peter David

Penciler: Jeff Purves

Inker: Mike & Val Gustovich

Publisher: Marvel Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Marvel Unlimited; Comixology; included in The Incredible Hulk Visionaries –Peter David vol. 2 (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 10 and up