Monday, May 21, 2012

Comic School Review: The Incredible Hulk #1 (1962)

Let's continue our wild foray into the seminal comics of Marvel's youth by taking a long overdue look at  The Incredible Hulk #1 from 1962, the issue in which Stan Lee and Jack Kirby gave laborious, mucousy birth to their legendary monster! Thrill as one of their crowning achievements starts crowning and then pops his mighty misshapen head forever into our world!

Just look at this beautiful cover and remind yourself why Jack was king, and Stan was a jester...

I picked this one up from Comixology for a puny $1.99, and you should too if you'd like to read along!

To find out what I learned about the Hulk's incredible origin... join me after the jump!

Our story begins deep in the desert where the obviously insecure and sexually awkward Dr. Bruce Banner has built a menacing monument to his inadequacies...

The incredible G-Bomb! Named for it's ability to seek and destroy the incredible G-Spot!

Clearly Bruce Banner is one seriously intense dude who has everything riding on his ridiculous dick missile. Which is not to say that he's a stuttering weakling though, this version of Banner is a dapper pipe-smoker...

That mistrusting worry wart in the back is Igor, a lumbering fellow scientist who Bruce quickly tells to shut it. Bruce is all pent up and he's going to let this G-Bomb go off no matter what. 

General Thunderbolt Ross comes barrelling into the room demanding an explosion. He is totally batshit insane in this comic and calls Bruce a "milksop". His hot but vacuous daughter Betty is here too and she quickly gets a verbal smackdown Stan Lee style. I have a feeling Stan might have been hurt in the past.

Jesus, Betty. Go back to your needlework and pastries! Can't you see the men are blowing shit up?

Igor still doesn't like it and threatens Bruce who kind of brushes him off and let's Igor know that he doesn't like bullies. This Igor character is a bad seed and Bruce knows it but there's not a lot he can do against the oaf. He proceeds with the test only to discover that... oh wait... some idiot kid has driven out to the bomb site! Could it possibly be...

No... surely not...

Oh my god, you guys! It is! It's Rick Jones! Leader of the Teen Brigade!

"Hey! Rick! I bet you can't drive your jalopy into the shadow of that cock bomb and play a tune on yer' harmonica! Whatsa' matter, Rick? You chicken?" 

Rick's certainly a cocksure teen who plays by his own rules and Banner has to push him away from the bomb site. But lunkhead Igor sees these as the perfect opportunity to cleanse the world of a couple of nerds so he actives the G-Bomb and - although Rick and his harmonica are safe - the unfortunate Bruce is caught in the blast!

I kid around with a lot of this stuff, but can we just pause to admire this wonderfully iconic piece of Kirby art! 

Shit just got real, yo!

Amazingly though, Bruce survives (although he apparently continues screaming for a couple of hours according to the text). As punishment for his recklessness they keep him in an observation room with an increasingly irritating Rick and as the sun sets an incredible and unexpected change takes place!

Bruce unwittingly transforms into a far smaller and bluish-grey Hulk! Rick states the obvious and Hulk does what we've all been wanting to do for a few pages now:

BAM! Bitch goes down! The surprisingly verbose Hulk doesn't know what is going on so he smashes through the wall and starts crumpling up cars on the army base. Rick has serious issues because he's already so smitten with Banner by this stage that he goes running after him. I think maybe Rick is part wookiee and figures he owes Bruce a life debt.

Hulk heads to his house to find the "gamma ray formula" but that bastard Igor is already there and ransacking his stuff. He shoots Hulk and Hulk knocks the paste out of him. Luckily brilliant scientist Bruce had hid the formula where nobody could possibly find it...

Way to go, Bruce! Who'd have thought to tape their secret formula underneath a transparent glass container on your desk. Good job labelling it too.

Hulk finds a picture of Bruce on the table and is distraught to discover that he is a pipe-smoking, bespectacled nerd with a tiny penis. I did mention that this version of the Hulk never shuts up, right?

HA! Take that, Rick!

All of this must have taken about twelve hours, because suddenly the sun rises and Hulk transforms back into Bruce just as the military police arrive. Yeah. Apparently this early Hulk isn't triggered by anger, but rather the time of day.

You'd think Bruce would get arrested by the bumbling cops can't link him to the monster. Instead they have their own theories on what went on last night...

Why isn't that guy in the Avengers? Hobo Bear gonna' ruin your picnic!

Betty turns up to check on Bruce and inadvertently cockblocks Rick! I think it's pretty clear how Rick swings here:

Betty is shooed away and Bruce sits in defeat, awaiting his inevitable transformation at sunset when he will become the Hulk and can beat the shit out of Rick again.

Then we have a total change of scene and pace! That buffoon Igor is rotting in jail and it is revealed that he is really a Soviet spy and he uses a device hidden on his fingernail to send a secret message beyond the iron curtain to... the GARGOYLE! The Gargoyle appears to be an angry, mutated baby.

The Gargoyle is wicked pissed that a being exists who is as powerful as he, so he vows to slay him as a show of might. He will then no doubt slay the men who is wearing a sweater as green as his, and the baby who is just as ugly.

He rides a missile to America where he lands in the same desert where Bruce and Rick are out driving. Bruce is getting a creepy earbashing from Rick who says things like (actual dialogue): "You're brainy and cultured and all that jazz!"

Luckily for Bruce, night falls and he Hulks out but he is intercepted by Betty (!?) who quickly faints like "all, weak, helpless creatures!" Nice one, Stan.

The Gargoyle shows up and hits both Hulk and Rick with a specially designed pellet which makes them his willing slaves. He transports them back to Russia but is surprised on arrival to see that Hulk has reverted to Banner. And then we learn the Gargoyle's little secret...

Science comes to the rescue! Bruce can use radiation to turn the Gargoyle into a relatively normal (but ugly and hairless man) but the radiation will take away his genius and make him a regular person. The desire to fit in and look (semi) normal quickly trumps the desire to be smart and the Gargoyle is transformed into a (kind of) regular dude. Grateful, he let's Rick and Bruce ride home on his rocket (guffaw).

But when the other Russians show up and realise what the Gargoyle has done he commits suicide by blowing them all up. He dies for the beautiful country America which had attacked only a day ago. And Bruce, as official spokesman for the US, couldn't be happier:

We can only hope! Better dead than Red, amIrite???

And that is the sensational first issue of the bluish-grey, short Hulk who never shuts up! Knocked it out of the park, fellas!


  1. Love these reviews!

    I remember reading that the hulk being blue grey was a printing error and they couldn't keep a consistent grey (I think). They asked the printer at the time what colour can they keep consistent and were told green was pretty good.

    Oh I also think that folder is not top secret notes it's just Banner's porn folder with a misleading label. Might explain the structural design of the bomb

  2. I like that hiding your porn in 1962 was taping a couple of mislabelled racy postcards to the bottom of a beaker.