Let me first say hello. My name is Frank Raynor and I have been a comic fan for more then 30 years. I have had the fortune of meeting Bill Gladman a couple of years ago. Both being older comic fans, we hit it off immediately(even if he is an Avengers fan ) and we have debated fervently over many a topic. I think we are at a crossroad in the current comic age. The readers are getting older with many potential young readers being led astray by such threats as internet, gaming consoles, and even Facebook. I thought I would start this blog to cover many a subject that I have discussed with my fellow comic collecting friends. Let me first reiterate the title of today's entry: "Where art thou Hulk?"
The Hulk is absolutely my favorite character. I first came across him at the tender age of 7. My grandfather bought me a copy of Incredible Hulk Annual 5(grumbling about the $0.50 price tag the whole time). This issue was unique d/t it pitted the Hulk against many of the Silver and Bronze Age aliens in the Marvel Universe. For those keeping tabs, some names of the aliens are as follows: Goom, Blip, Groot, and Xemnu the Titan. Anyhow, seeing the green lug just connected with me. Maybe it was because I was this chubby kid who envisioned turning green and kicking a few butts when other kids picked on me. Or it was that the Hulk was a kinder "Jeckyll and Hyde" character that ultimately did good in the end. So I collected as many Incredible Hulk comics as I could. My collection really started to boom when I joined the military and I bought my 1st Mega Silver Age issue. That would be Incredible Hulk #6 drawn by Steve Ditko and featured the all deadly Metal Master!!!! I still laugh how the Hulk beat him by making a fake gun made out of plastic and cardboard scraps thus convincing the Metal Master that he had lost his powers. As an adult I realized that many of the issues from around 150-290 were very "blah" stories. Sure you had ole Wolvie show up in 180-182 but he never really took off until his introduction in X-men Giant Size #1. There was even a space raccoon story that still gives me shudders when I see the cover. Readers must have had a soft spot for the green goliath to support him through those years. Then came the John Byrne storyline that caught everyone's attention and led to the awesome run of Peter David. In my opinion, this is the run that defined the Hulk for today's comic reader. Peter used a lot of imagination and a little old fashioned "Hulk Smash!" to carve the biggest impact on the Hulk's history.
Which leads to the last couple of years. My Hulkie has vanished. At least the one I cherished. Instead Hulk fans seem to have a discombobulated version of this now iconic Marvel hero. 1st there was World War Hulk. I didn't mind the idea and I did like the Planet Hulk story. I did think that World War Hulk wasn't executed very well especially in the end. You just made the Hulk the most powerful person on the planet, capable of splitting the earth with a stomp. He then chooses to be taken out before he does anymore damage and is imprisoned deep beneath the earth. The a "Red Hulk" appears that is the antithesis of the original. He is cruel, cunning, and even gets hotter when angered as opposed to stronger. I recently read the HC story of the Red Hulk and I did not like it. 1. I don't like the Dr. Seuss use of color coding Hulks-"One Hulk, Two Hulk, Red Hulk, Blue Hulk!" 2. I didn't like that they reduced every other hero in the story to being stupid and cliche. 3. You end up bringing the green Hulk back to beat down the Red Hulk for Apple Pie, baseball, and the American Dream. My big question here is "What do you do with the Hulk now?". Peter David used a lot of imagination and storytelling to make the Hulk viable. He went off the "Hulk Smash" beaten path and totally reshaped the character. The Hulk is now the stereotypical dumb brute and that is not a horrible thing. However something does not feel right about this present incarnation. I can't put my finger on it but he is a hollow shell of his former self. Maybe it is because he was so powerful at the end of World War Hulk that a downsized version seems boring. Or maybe it is the bitter taste in my mouth after reading Red Hulk. I just cannot pinpoint it and I don't know the answer at the present time. I do have one suggestion that may work if done correctly. Cancel his current book and leave him to be a supporting character in other books until he can be straightened out. This has worked before. The original series was discontinued after issue 6. He floated around from 1963-1968 before getting his own book back. These appearances were in now classic issues like Fantastic Four issues 12, 24&25, Avengers 1-5, Journey into Mystery 112, Amazing Spider Man 14, and Tales to Astonish 59-101. Not a bad batch of books for their time if you ask me. That is just my two cents on it. I apologize for the length of this, my first blog. I want to thank Bill Gladman for talking me into doing this. One final thing, my top ten Hulk comics/storylines. See if any of them rings a bell
10. Incredible Hulk Annual #5-The one that started it all.
9. Incredible Hulk 205-The death of Jarella. The emotion for me at the end of the story was intense, especially as a kid.
8. Incredible Hulk 234-237 These issues dealt with the Hulk fighting an evil corporate executive character(Trask) and Machine Man! This was the one bright
in the otherwise horrible run between issues 230-290.
7. Tales to Astonish 79-I loved this story of Hulk fighting the ever loving Hercules. Great cover!!!
6. Tales to Astonish 90&91- I loved the Abomination and this was the beginning.
5. Incredible Hulk 162-I loved the 1st appearance of the Wendigo. This issue dealt with cannibalism, something not heard of in comics in 1972.
4. Journey Into Mystery 112&Defenders 10-Hulk VS Thor-Nuff Said!!!!!
3. Incredible hulk 180&181-Not only the 1st appearance of Wolverine but the villian fought is the Wendigo!!!!! I loved this when I was a kid.
2. The whole Peter David Incredible Hulk Run-I don't want to sound cheesy but Peter was the man behind ole greenskin. Even on his bad days, Peter's
stories were diverse, unique, and gave a whole new perspective on the Hulk. To single out a couple of issues would be an injustice to the sum of his work.
1. Fantastic Four 25&26-Round 2 of the first mega fight in Marvel history(the first being FF#12) between The Thing and Hulk. Many ideas were implemented at
this time by Marvel for their heroes. The books are still viable today. I suggest any FF, Hulk, or Avengers fan read these books.
Thanks again, until next time!!!!