Archive for Hulk

Hulk as Horror

I know this title is still ongoing, at least for a few more months, and I’ve never had an opportunity to review the individual issues — but again, I live four hours away from the nearest decent comics shop, so I’ve had to make do with trades for a while. Nevertheless, let’s review this as a whole production. It’s time to look at The Immortal Hulk, written by Al Ewing and illustrated by Joe Bennett, with cover art by Alex Ross.

When the Hulk was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1962, the character was as far as possible from the stereotypical lantern-jawed titan of justice. Stan Lee was inspired by a number of characters when creating him, including Frankenstein’s Monster and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

And the early Hulk showed those influences very strongly. The Hulk was a misshapen brute who could only take his powered form at night. The earliest Hulk was not a “HULK SMASH PUNY HUMANS” dimwit, but he didn’t have the refined intellect of Bruce Banner. He was cunning. He was, frankly, a raging asshole. And he could occasionally shapeshift in strange and unplanned ways.

Of course, time marched on, and it wasn’t long before we had the familiar Hulk we all know — not smart, incredibly angry, often heroic, but not always. But he’s a star. He’s been on TV, he’s been in cartoons, he’s been in movies. He’s safe, snuggly, loveable, at least to his mass media fans.

At some point in the comics, he’d gotten killed — the archer Hawkeye managed to kill Bruce Banner when he was temporarily cured of being the Hulk — but comics being comics, this didn’t last long, and the nature of Hulk’s resurrections had some wondering if he was actually immortal.

So when Al Ewing and Joe Bennett took the series over, they decided to take the Hulk back to his origins. They restored his cunning, merciless personality. They restored part of his original look.

And here’s how Issue #1 went. Bruce Banner is traveling again, staying undercover, and staying out of trouble. He stops in a convenience store at the same time as a kid with a gun decides to rob the place. He flies into a panic and starts spraying lead. The clerk catches a bullet. A bystander catches a bullet. Banner catches a bullet. All of them die.

Until nightfall. The night is when the Hulk rises from the dead. He’s smart. He’s cunning. And he’s angry. Coldly, terribly angry.

He finds the gang who ordered the kid to make the robbery. He takes them out. And the last one, the shooter, insists he only made a mistake, he’s not a bad guy.

And the Hulk smiles.

“The Immortal Hulk” isn’t a superhero comic. It’s a horror comic.

Who is this Hulk? Aside from his devious intelligence and icy rage, he’s much more controlled than most of his personas. He can converse civilly with anyone he wants, and he knows how to make intricate plans to get what he wants. And he still wants justice for the world — however, his plan to get justice involves, well, destroying the world. And Bruce Banner is, for once, in agreement with him.

The Hulk looks very much like the classic Hulk. No non-green colors, no mobster suits, nothing out of the ordinary, at least as far as gigantic green lumps of muscle and malice go. He’s got the giant Neandertal-esque browline, he’s got the snub nose, he’s got the oversized upper lip, the flat teeth, the beady eyes — but the eyes are greener than normal, and there’s plenty of white around the iris. They are eyes that say someone very smart, not very sane, and very, very scary is living inside that skull, and anyone who finds themselves eye-to-eye with that face is likely terrified out of their wits — and this definitely includes the reader.

In subsequent issues, the Hulk destroys a scientist who experimented on his own son using gamma radiation to make him immortal, he gets a hole blown clear through his chest, he tangles with Walter Langowski, the Sasquatch from Alpha Flight, who’s become possessed by an undead spirit who might be either Bruce Banner’s father or the One Below All — the Devil itself — or maybe even both at the same time. He gets carved into chunks and stored — alive and aware — in big glass jars. He gets dragged down to Hell, where he spends a whole storyarc horribly emaciated. He gets his face torn off more than once, always in loving closeups. He gets overdosed on gamma radiation and turns into a tumor of Hulks. We even visit the end of time when the Hulk is the last being alive, monstrously powerful, controlled by the One Below All, a cosmic horror smashing his way through one universe after another.

And over all of this rises the mystery of the Green Door, a magical gateway every gamma mutate sees when they die. What is its purpose? How does it work? Who controls it?

And it turns out almost anyone with powers based on gamma radiation is going through their own terrible, horrific mutation. The Absorbing Man, who can drain gamma radiation, ends up with his body split open and his skull and spine waving in the air like a serpent when he absorbs too much. Betty Ross regains the ability to turn into the Harpy, but a far more powerful, horrific version, willing and eager to kill and eat anyone who gets in her way — including the Hulk himself. And the Abomination becomes an even more dreadful monster, an acid-spitting horror with a maddening, indescribable anatomy. Rick Jones is missing, presumed dead, for quite a while before he eventually shows up and starts making his own disturbing transformations. And the Leader? No one really knows where the Leader is…

And yes, there’s horror and body horror and battles against characters who should be familiar but have become bizarre and creeptastic, but we should also acknowledge that the character work here is thoroughly excellent. It’s not just that the gamma mutates change their personalities every time they shift shape, but the other supporting characters are all well-done, too. The two most important in this series are Jackie McGee — not the antagonistic reporter from the ’70s TV show, but an African-American reporter for the Arizona Herald, who’s following the Hulk to write articles about him — and General Reginald Fortean, the commander of Shadow Base, a secret anti-Hulk military project.

Verdict: Thumbs up. The key question is this: Is the series worth reading? And the answer is: You’re damn straight it’s worth reading. It’s great to see long-form horror starring familiar superhero characters, particularly Marvel’s original Silver Age horror character. Al Ewing’s writing, stories, and dialogue are all excellent, and Joe Bennett’s art is downright revelatory. His characters are wonderfully expressive, showing every moment of fear and pain, as well as layer upon layer of rage — and the horrors he shows off are, even for those of us protected by the impenetrable barrier of the comics page, surprisingly and sometimes gut-clenchingly terrifying.

The series won’t last forever — it’s probably got about a dozen issues to go, at this writing, before it reaches Issue #50, when Ewing plans the end. But there are plenty of collected editions you can pick up right now.

Is it worth reading? If you love the Hulk, if you love horror, if you love great comics, it’s not just worth reading, it’s required reading.

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Green Beans

Yeah, I’ve been remarkably lazy with blogging this month. I mean, I’ve had lots of interesting things to keep me occupied, like work, and eating and sleeping, and um, video games and… umm, well, I’ve basically been very lazy. And I will probably continue to be lazy. Huzzah for sleep!

Anyway, here’s something I noticed the other day I thought was interesting…

The other day, artist Alex Ross released the latest cover he’d made for the “Immortal Hulk” series (and holy cow, do I ever need to review that series, right?), depicting the Hulk and the Thing sitting down in a diner for some chow.

Hopefully, their waitress is about to inform them that they’re going to have to pay for the booth they’re wrecking — and to remind them about the “No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service” sign they apparently ignored when they came in.

But the other great thing about the cover is the little detail of what the Hulk is eating. ‘Cause the thing a lot of people forget is that, ever since the ’70s, the Hulk has really, really loved eating beans.

And he’s loved making other superheroes eat beans, too.

So be like the Hulk and go eat a nice, big bowl of beans. Hey, it’s the weekend, and you don’t have to worry about stinking up your office, right? Plus you don’t have a gamma-powered digestive system, so whatever you do in the bathroom, you’re probably not going to completely destroy the toilet…

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The Most Marvelous Marvel


Ms. Marvel #4

Kamala’s brother, Aamir, has announced that he wants to get married to his girlfriend Tyesha. While Kamala is initially elated, her spirits fall when she realizes the newlyweds will still be living in her parents’ home, so she’s going to be more overwhelmed than ever, particularly with her grades falling and her duties as a superhero and Avenger getting tougher. But when she discovers that Bruno is running a new experiment utilizing 3D printed robots and rudimentary artificial intelligence, Kamala hits on an idea — she gets a couple of robot duplicates of herself that are just smart enough to repeat a few simple phrases and mimic her movements. Now she can be in more than one place at the same time! Things should work great as long as the 3D printer doesn’t go out of control, right?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Oh, mercy, glorious super-science superhero super-shenanigans! It’s a wonderfully well-told story with great art and absolutely grand humor. People, y’all are reading this, right? If you aren’t, you’re freakin’ crazy, and you need to go out and buy all the Ms. Marvel comics you can. Do not hesitate, people!


The Totally Awesome Hulk #3

Lady Hellbender, the Monster Queen of Seknarf Nine, wants to capture Earth’s greatest monster — Fin Fang Foom! Amadeus Cho, the new Hulk, is eager to help out — but there’s the issue of a cruise ship in distress nearby. Can he save the ship without losing control of his anger? And can he stop Fin Fang Foom with his brain and not just his brawn? And is Lady Hellbender really on the Hulk’s side?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a nice, action-filled comic that’s never shy about dipping into the humor of the situation. It’s great to see Amadeus remembering that he can use his genius to fight monsters and not just the Hulk’s strength. Also, dang it, I’m in favor of any comic with a good guest-starring role for Fin Fang Foom.

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Chained Heat


Bitch Planet #6

Last issue, Meiko Maki was murdered by the guards on Bitch Planet. In this issue, we learn who she was and what she did to piss off the Powers That Be. Her parents were secret rebels against Earth’s male-centric corruption. Her mother is a violin teacher — but her violin lessons are just a cover so she can teach girls forbidden subjects like math. And her father is a spaceship engineer who’s just made a not-so-accidental error on his latest design that would fatally sabotage a spacecraft. Unfortunately, his latest error has been caught by a colleague who plans to blackmail the family — he’ll help cover up the error in exchange for having sex with his daughters. But Meiko has her own plan to save her family, even if it dooms her to an early death on Bitch Planet.

Verdict: Thumbs up. The story is really wonderful, the characterization is great. I love the violin lessons as cover for secret math class. And I must say, I’m becoming more and more amazed, happily amazed, by the devotion the series is shown by fans. Women getting the “NC” (Non-Compliant) tattoos from the comic in real life? Do you know of any other independent comic series that inspires fans like that? And I love the way the comic is now including short articles on feminism and related topics in the back pages. This comic is something special, and while I want to learn what happens next in the story, I also want to learn what happens next with the fandom.


The Totally Awesome Hulk #2

Amadeus, Maddy, She-Hulk, and Miles Morales meet up with Lady Hellbender, the Monster Queen of Seknarf Nine. She and her giant lizard mostly knock the Hulk around, mainly because Amadeus is a sexist dweeb. Maddy settles most of the problem, Amadeus loses control of his temper, Lady Hellbender reveals that she collects monsters to take them to her homeworld, and we catch a glimpse of next issue’s Big Bad.

Verdict: Ehh, thumbs down. I didn’t find myself particularly entertained, and I’m starting to wish this comic had Banner in it as something other than a flashback.


The Ultimates #3

Fresh off their success in evolving Galactus into a being who brings life to the universe instead of death, the Ultimates have just found out that the Shi’ar Empire is good and angry about the change in the Devourer. Meanwhile, it’s been discovered that too much time travel has caused severe damage to the space-time continuum, and in order to diagnose how bad the problem may be, the team will actually have to travel outside the universe in order to get a look at time from the outside. And once they make it to the Neutral Zone, the Blue Marvel discovers an old friend waiting for them.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Outstanding superheroic sci-fi, with wonderful characterization and art.

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Back in the Swing


Spidey #1

Here’s this great new series by Robbie Thompson and Nick Bradshaw focusing on Spider-Man when he was still in high school. He tangles with the White Rabbit, does badly on a pop quiz, get pushed around by Flash Thompson and rescued by Gwen Stacy, and visits Oscorp just in time for an attack by Dr. Octopus. Can puny Parker save the day — and what more terrible menace is now keeping an eye on him?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Fantastic story and art — the art is very reminiscent of Art Adams, by the way, which is definitely a good thing. And it’s always great to be able to revisit Peter Parker’s youth — Spidey’s glory days were definitely his high school years, and while this is modernized quite a bit — the Wall-Crawler takes a selfie of himself and White Rabbit after he defeats her — this story still has the feel of the classic era.


The Totally Awesome Hulk #1

Well, Amadeus Cho, 19-year-old Korean-American smartass, buddy of both the Hulk and Hercules, eighth smartest person in the world, now has gamma-spawned powers of his own. So he runs around the world with his super-genius sister Maddy, beating up monsters (and often getting beat up by them, too), and getting accustomed to how gamma radiation messes with his own rage issues. So is life gonna be all sunshine and bacon cheeseburgers for Amadeus?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Okay, I could take or leave Frank Cho — he draws pretty, but his arrogance always makes me want to find more interesting artists. But Greg Pak writing Amadeus Cho? Yeah, I’m down with that.


Prez #6

The whole country is freaking out about the cat flu, and Boss Smiley and his corporate flunkies have crafted a bill to let them cure the flu, but also give them the right to patent any living organism. President Beth Ross thinks that sounds like bull, and she throws ’em out. The bill gets passed over her objections, but a very wealthy supporter manages to patent the DNA of the corporate goons himself and threatens to sue them for existing. Meanwhile, the former War Beast drone, now calling herself Tina, wants to live her own life and is looking for a new job. Might that include protecting the President from deranged cat-flu worshipers?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Very nice political satire with a cool sci-fi edge. (The comic makes a point that Tina is transgender — which I’m not sure is entirely accurate for an only-recently sapient genderless robot. Personally, I think what makes her really interesting is her embrace of evangelical Christianity…)


Sensation Comics #17

The final issue of this series features a story by the great Trina Robbins. Wonder Woman meets up with the Cheetah, who reveals that the plant that grants her cheetah-like powers is almost extinct — and without it, she’ll die. Diana agrees to fly her to the island where the berries are native and help her harvest the last of them, but her invisible jet is shot down. They discover a mad scientist has been using the berries to transform animals into quasi-human forms. When Lex Luthor sends his goons to shut down the project, a bloodbath ensues. Can Wonder Woman rescue everyone? Can the Cheetah be saved? Or will she become worse than ever before?

Verdict: Thumbs up. The cheetah-human hybrid really is tailor-made for an “Island of Dr. Moreau” pastiche, right? The art by Chris Gugliotti is a bit funky, but I’m really happy to see any and all stories by Trina Robbins, so it’s all good, as far as I’m concerned.


All Star Section Eight #6

The miniseries wraps up with Sixpack getting to hang out with Superman in the Fortress of Solitude. Sixpack confesses that he’s afraid he’s not real, that his adventures are just the hallucinations of a drunk freezing to death in an alley. But Supes tells him it’s all real, shows him a statue of Sixpack as one of the world’s great heroes and… hands him a bottle of whiskey. But just as Section 8’s leader is ready to go, the rest of his team is falling apart. Will there be anyone to save the world from All-Consuming Evil?

Verdict: Thumbs up. The rapid self-destruction of the team is really the funniest bit of the issue, though the hallucinatory Superman telling Sixpack “It’s going to be okay” while  handing him a bottle of rotgut is grimly hilarious. Still, I do wish this issue had lived up to the promise of the previous one.

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Friday Night Fights: Free for All!

Well, my children, it’s the end of another thoroughly gruesome week, and one measly weekend just ain’t really gonna settle things down for us. But it’ll help. So let’s celebrate while we can with everyone’s favorite: FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS!

Tonight’s battle comes to us from February 1983’s Marvel Two-in-One #96 by Tom DeFalco, Ron Wilson, and Mike Esposito. Ben Grimm is stuck in the hospital after a rough battle, and now a whole bunch of supervillains are on the way to finish him off.




But Marvel’s superheroes aren’t gonna let Aunt Petunia’s favorite nephew down, are they?


That’s a bunch of Marvel’s greatest superheroes beating up on the Rhino, MODOK, and a bunch of Moloids. Not a bad way to kick off the weekend, is it?

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The Best Sound Effect Ever

I’ve never been able to figure out which comic this panel came from (which is why I’ve never used it for Friday Night Fights), but it never fails to make me happy.


I bet if you were ever around during a fight where Thor and the Hulk were smashing cars around, you’d need to go to the bathroom, too.

((ADDENDUM: In the comments, Habbakuk identifies the issue as “The Incredible Hulk #300 – mindless Hulk post-Secret Wars rampaging and being fought by all the different heroes before being banished by Doctor Strange to The Crossroads.” Many thanks, Habakkuk!))

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Friday Night Fights: Doom Squeezins!

Alright, kids, it’s the weekend! Whatcha gonna do to start things off? Darn your socks? NO! Mop the garage? NO! Go on Twitter and send threats to people because their race, gender, or sexual orientation differs from your own? NO! Hug adorable fluffy animals? Well, actually, that sounds like a great thing to do. But what we definitely will do to start the weekend is indulge in pointless comic-book violence! That means it’s time for… FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS!

Tonight’s battle comes to us from October 1971’s The Incredible Hulk #144 by Gary Friedrich, Roy Thomas, Dick Ayers, and John Powers Severin, as the Hulk meets up with the colossal villainy of Dr. Doom! Turns out Hulk likes to give hugs, too!






I have nothing more to say. I’m off to hug some adorable fluffy animals.

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Friday Night Fights: Tummy Time!

Alright, kids, this may be my last Friday Night Fights for a few weeks. There’s a decent chance I’ll be moving before the end of the month, and there’s a real good chance I’ll be too busy for a while packing up my stuff, getting everything moved, and getting my house set up to spend a lot of time digging up new fights to post. If I can post something up, I’ll do it, but y’all don’t expect me to prioritize the fights over moving.

Tonight’s battle comes to us from September 1981’s Batman vs. the Incredible Hulk by Len Wein, José Luis García-López, Dick Giordano, and Glynis Oliver. Batman meets up with the Hulk, fisticuffs ensue, and the Dark Knight figures he’ll balance the ridiculously long odds by hitting Green Genes with some knockout gas. Doesn’t turn out the way he plans, though…



A kick in the breadbasket by a normal man and a few lungfuls of gas is enough to KO the Hulk? I don’t buy it. But dig that awesome José Luis García-López artwork!

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Friday Morning Fights: Love is a Battlefield!

We’re doing things a bit different today. SpaceBooger has requested we have everything set up and ready to go early today — so here we are, starting the weekend even earlier than normal. We’ll have some reviews a bit later today, but for right now, it’s time for… FRIDAY MORNING FIGHTS!

People, I haven’t won a single match in this latest set of 12 rounds of Friday Night Fights — and I’m actually A-OK with that. It means I don’t have to dredge up an extra battle for the prize fight in the next couple weeks — I always have so much trouble finding decent fights for these things, so it means I get a couple weeks rest from worrying about finding good scans. Rest is good. I love rest.

And the last thing I want is to ruin my chance for a little extra rest by screwing up and actually winning this week’s match-up. So I’m throwing the match by posting something that doesn’t actually include any fighting!

So, from 2006’s Defenders: Indefensible by J.M. DeMatteis, Keith Giffen, and Kevin Maguire, here’s magic-slinging cosmic villain Umar very definitely not fighting the Hulk.




Tee Hee!


Aw, poor exhausted Hulk! Poor, happy, exhausted Hulk!

Now go on, you mooks, and don’t vote for me! I need my rest.

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