Sunday, July 11, 2010

Marvel History Post 30: The Incredible Hulk # 5

Issue: The Incredible Hulk # 5 Writer: Stan Lee Artist: Jack Kirby Publication Date: January 1963 Brief Summary: Thunderbolt Ross wants Bruce Banner to capture the Hulk. Betty, his daughter, is in love with Bruce. Bruce is the Hulk. It's not an easy situation by any stretch of the imagination. Meanwhile, a goon that lives beneath the earth's surface (not Mole Man!) plots to take over the world. His name is Tyrannus. He was banished to the center of the earth by Merlin (you know, the magician), and he drinks from the fountain of youth to maintain his boyish good looks. He first plans to seduce Betty. Bruce meets him and doesn't like him. He follows Merlin with Rick, and comes across a cave Merlin and Betty went down into, where their footprints stop in front of a large boulder. To get past it, Banner turns into the Hulk, where he and Rick get taken for a ride to the center of the earth by Tyrannus. Tyrannus subdues Hulk and Rick with gas, and they wake up to him calling them his slaves, as he controls the fate of Betty Ross. He makes Hulk into a gladiator for him. Hulk beats up a robot, raging, and then goes for Tyrannus, but alas, is paralyzed by Tyrannius. While Tyrannus is making Hulk perform menial labor for his amusement, Rick frees Betty, and then goes to free the Hulk. With Betty free, Hulk confronts Tyrannus, trapping him beneath the Earth's surface so he will never get free. The other three return to the surface in an escape podule (handy thing, that) and Betty remembers nothing of the ordeal. In the second story, Hulk is bounding around when Thunderbolt Ross tries to trap him in an iceberg. The iceberg melts, so epic fail. Hulk then returns to being Banner, but explains that when he is Hulk he is growing more and more hesitant to return to being Banner. He needs Rick to keep him from remaining the Hulk. Meanwhile, a crazy dictator named General Fang from Llhasa threatens, and Banner decides he must be stopped. The Hulk and Rick take off for Llasa, and when they arrive, Hulk frightens Fang's troops, who think he is the abominable snowman due to a stylish white fur suit he wears. He does pretty well for himself for a while, but eventually Fang captures him in a cage of electrically charged bars. Rick, being a good sidekick, sneaks up and short circuits it, and the Hulk is free to take care of Fang and drop him off in the land of his enemy. Good deed done for the day. Commentary: The best part of this comic was that even though the Hulk is no longer an automaton, he is developing a crueler, baser personality which is distinct from Banner's. It was cool to see a bit of the Hulk's personality, as not much motivation was given for the bad guys in this issue. I guess Tyrannus was bummed about being stuck hanging out in the underground with Mole Man for a neighbor, but neither Tyrannus nor Fang had a well developed personality or motivation. Stan is no fan of easy romances, and Betty and Banner's should prove to be one of the toughest. Not only have they not confessed their feelings to each other, but they've got Betty's dad to contend with as well. Quick Thoughts:
  • The percentage of thought bubbles that are related to romantic intrigue in these early stories has to be at least fifty percent of them.
  • From where is Tyrannus getting the gadgets to see the surface world?
  • There's a classy reference to Chubby Checker by Rick Jones in this issue. As a fan of popular music, I'll be noting when music is referenced a lot.
  • Any time a plane crashes or explodes in the early MU there is a successful parachuting out by the pilot, conveniently captured in the panel.
Favorite Quote: "I mean that you, and the rest of the weakling human race, will be safe when there ain't no more Hulk-- and I'm plannin' on bein' around for a long, long time!!" - Hulk Favorite Panel: I hope that at some point, somewhere, I walk past a place selling an Abominable Hulkman stuffed animal. I will purchase one. Next: Journey into Mystery # 88