The Hulk’s seen shifts employed in his habits and tactics over the years. There were a few a decade in which the big green fellow was treated as a buffoon. There were eras in which Banner, even when mutated into the Hulk, proved relatively intelligent. We’ve seen him mumble along, and we’ve seen him hold conversations. we’ve seen him maintain functionality, and we’ve seen him shut down. He’s unpredictable, to say the least.
The Incredible Hulk still exists within comic pages because has always been an interesting character.
I just didn’t realize how interesting, until I picked up Essential Rampaging Hulk, Vol. 1, a massive 600-page book with so many amazing storylines it’s hard to peel the book from the hands.
A part of the allure may be the fact that the book is surprisingly risqué for its day. We’re talking about 40 year old material here. Here’s what issues the collection features: Rampaging Hulk #1-9, The Hulk! #10-15 and Incredible Hulk #269. And what waits in some of these issues is downright stunning.
Let’s just say that Curtis Magazine (a Marvel imprint) wasn’t all too concerned with politics, and while I might be wrong, I don’t believe the Comics Code had control over magazines, which meant the book and it’s brilliant behind the scenes minds were able to push the envelope. It worked.
The stories are violent. Villains die and no one blinks an eye. Structure damage is trendy. Child abuse is freely explored in a few suspect manners. There are a few edgy race angles of the book. The Hulk as Curtis released it was nothing like the Hulk that we know today. You think that monster in the Avengers movies is intimidating? He’s a cupcake compared to a few older and different incarnations of the Hulk.
In The Hulk #11 a husband and father openly assaults his family verbally as well as physically; his small son left a bruised, swollen mess of a child.
In The Rampaging Hulk #7 sees the Hulk tangle with a demonic look phantasm of some sort. It’s capable of invading a human being and imitating a human being.
There’s a battle between Hulk and Namor that essentially results in the deaths of countless individuals.
Hulk tangles with a massive prehistoric sea monster.
He fights robots, and hulk smashes monsters.
The book is old enough for publishers to have known to steer clear of the Code by going with the magazine format, and the end result were a few legendary creators granted a certain freedom to explore avenues that comic books may not afford a visionary.
Doug Moench is the collection’s MVP, but there are plenty of respected talent connected to this collection, Sal Buscema, John Warer and Jim Starlin included.
Fantastic book that offers up the idea that it’s a simple action piece. It’s not. It’s edgy science fiction with horror tones and executions with hints of comedic relief before more taboo material is touched upon.
And for the record, it’s a damn fine book.