Friday, February 8, 2013

Marvel Comics Silver Age DisContinuity 005 Incredible Hulk #1

Marvel Comics, Fantastic Four, Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Discontinuity

One of the greatest guides to the concept of continuity in a specific series is The DisContinuity Guide: The Unofficial Doctor Who Companion by Paul Cornell, Martin Day and Keith Topping, first put out in 1995.

From my point of view the genius of this work is in the way the authors peel back the layers of a complex text like Doctor Who, and start back at the beginning, when we didn't know anything about the series or what it would eventually evolve into.

This allows us to see the ways in which the universe was expanded, sometimes carefully, often times not. We get to see undeveloped themes and the earliest examples of new themes.

Like an evolutionary biologist studying our small, brown furred burrowing human ancestors, we get a look at the way things were without the baggage of the way things are.

Marvel Comics Silver Age DisContinuity 005


Title(s) :
The Hulk
The Coming of the Hulk
The Hulk Strikes!
The Search for the Hulk
Enter... The Gargoyle!
The Hulk Triumphant!

Publication Date/On Sale Date : 
May 1962/March 1, 1962
Writer/Artists : 
Sources : 

No Prizes : 
In one panel the Hulk is colored with pale skin, rather than gray.


When the Hulk is first introduced, we learn that Banner becomes the Hulk with the setting sun, and becomes Banner again during the day. In this issue the sun sets as Banner is taken to the other side of the world, to the Soviet Union, where the sun should be rising. It is not night everywhere on Earth all the time. This makes the story hard to timeline properly.


Quotes : 
Betty: Oh Daddy, don't be so unfair! Dr. Bruce Banner is one of our most famous scientists! I'm sure he knows what he's doing!
General Ross: You keep out of this, Betty! This is man talk!
Hulk: Bruce Banner! Why do those words stay in my head?? What is that name to me?

Continuity : 
Introduction, first appearance of Dr. Bruce Banner aka the Hulk, Rick Jones, Gamma-Bomb, Igor, General "Thunderbolt" Ross, Betty Ross, the Gargoyle.

Bruce Banner is described as a genius and America's foremost nuclear scientist. He cures the Gargoyle within hours of declaring he can do so.


The Hulk's origin is one of Banner being a decent guy. He risks his life to save Rick Jones, a stupid teenager breaking into the atomic test range on a dare.


Igor is revealed to be a "Red Spy" and imprisoned. He has a "sub-miniature transistor short wave sending set" pasted onto his thumb.


When the Gargoyle learns of the Hulk, he immediately sets off to the United States to slay or capture him. He does so in a missile launched from a Soviet sub. Somehow the Gargoyle tracks down the Hulk nearly instantly.


The Gargoyle has a gun that fires a pellet that eliminates the will, and makes its targets compliant slaves. He then takes the Hulk and Rick Jones to a raft and then to a submarine from which is launched another missile (copied from the American X-15) to get back to the Soviet union.

We learn that the Gargoyle is another victim of radiation poisoning, and when Banner offers him a chance to be cured, the Gargoyle takes it. Cured, the Gargoyle helps Banner and Rick Jones escape back to America, and then blows up his lab, striking back on the country that turned him into a monster.



Links : 
There is a picture of Nikita Kruschev on the wall of the office of a Soviet Union bureaucrat. There is one in the Gargoyle's office as well.


There is an advertisement for two other Marvel Comics in this issue. Amazing Fantasy will soon introduce Marvel's most popular character, the amazing Spider-Man.


Location : 
Desert, somewhere in the United States
Soviet Union, behind the "Iron Curtain"

Bottom line : 
An excellent first issue, despite the contrivance near the end of the trips back and forth to the Soviet union by missile. The Hulk is not a hero, he's dangerous, even to Rick Jones, his only friend, who he seems about to kill before the sunrise prevents him.


The Hulk's feats of strength are amazing, but still a far cry from the feats seen in later comics or in the movie The Avengers


Betty Ross is a terrible character in this book. She's every stereotype of the suffering, patient woman rolled into one. Still she gets a pretty great speech here, talking about the "strange, almost supernatural forces all around us!" It's almost a if she's had a premonition of the new heroic age beginning in the Marvel Universe, the coming of the superheroes and supervillains that will forever change the world. But this small speech hardly redeems the terrible characterization Betty suffers from Lee and Kirby.


Lastly, some of the art in this issue from Kirby is pretty spectacular. The full page panels that showcase the Hulk really highlight his power, pathos and unpredictability. 


I'd love additional insights and comments.

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