by Travis Starnes, CMRO Editor
The Incredible Hulk
Written by Stan Lee, Art by Jack Kirby
Published: May 1962
This first issue, and mostly this first 6 issue run, of the Hulk is not like the green machine we come to know later in the marvel universe. Clearly they were going for a different feel then the (at least for a while) anger filled monster that we get in later runs of the series.
You can definitely feel that Lee wanted a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde type feel, with a strong mix of atomic hoopla and red scare that predominates much of the comics of this time. There is the clear fascination with the magic of radiation, and is the origin for many of the early super-heroes. Character wise there is one major difference, in that this version Banner becomes the Hulk at night, not when he gets angry.
The art is also a prototype of the Hulk we know, and will change a lot in later iterations of the title. Physically he is smaller then the well known “Green” hulk, and has a grey hue instead. While the grey color comes back several years down the line, the size does not. His face also looks more human then it does in later versions of the Hulk.
The writing is also pretty standard for the time, with everyone being very “arch” and caricatures of personality types. The characters feel the need to explain out everything, no matter how obvious it is. This story, and several issues after, are broken up into individual vignettes, just as the FF is early on. Long single story pieces do not show up until later iterations of the comic.
The story itself shouldn’t be a big surprise for fans of the series. Banner notices someone on the test range of his new gamma bomb, and rushes out to save the person. While rick is thrown to safety (in a trench, again showing the lack of knowledge of how radiation works), banner is subjected to gamma radiation, which eventually turns him into the hulk.
As the Hulk he goes home remembering a cure, where he finds Igor the soy and defeats him. Interestingly while he is shot in the shoulder as the hulk, and ignores the wound, he is then hurt and needs medical care as Bruce Banner when he transforms back.
He then goes to fight the Gargoyle, a Russian super-scientist who is also hideous. Banner convinces him that he can make him look human, and the Gargoyle helps Banner escape.
It is interesting that they decided to go with this character, seeing how it is so much different then what you get with the FF, the other big comic by Marvel at the time. While I have never personally been crazy about the Hulk as a character, and find the writing in this issue hard to get through, as a deviation from their other title it does make for an interesting comparison.