Hulk Smash Club!
Hello. My name is Field, Lyle Field.
I am the newest member of the Hulk Smash Club!
The first rule of Hulk Smash Club is you don’t talk about Hulk Smash Club!
The second rule of Hulk Smash Club is you don’t talk about Hulk Smash Club!
The third rule of Hulk Smash Club is you have to talk about your experiences with the Incredible Hulk.
Since it is also the 50th Anniversary of the Incredible Hulk, I will talk about Marvel’s Green Goliath.
My initial experiences with the Incredible Hulk focused more on the late 70s/early 80s television series and any appearances the Green Goliath made in other Marvel titles that I happen to be reading at the time.
My very first issue of the Incredible Hulk was not by my choice; however it is one that I welcome. It was October 1982 and I was laid up with a very serious medical condition at the local hospital. Comic books greatly helped get me through, especially reading the final long-awaited chapter of the Great Darkness Saga that appeared in Legion of Super-Heroes #294 and a number of my friends bought me comics books. One of those books was the Incredible Hulk #278, the first of a two-parter where an intelligent Hulk wanted Amnesty for his (supposed) crimes until the White House was attacked by Krylorian ships (actually created by the Leader). The Hulk routed the attack with help from the Avengers and the Fantastic Four and he became a hero. From there I started a 16 year run on the Incredible Hulk series.
Bill Mantlo wrote some action packed and dramatic Incredible Hulk stories during his five-year run but it was his last year on the title, assisted by Mike Mignola, entitled Crossroad of Eternity that started deeply exploring the psychological angle of Bruce Banner, especially since it was revealed that he was a victim of child abuse and triggered his dissociative identity disorder. In 1985, stories on deep psychological trauma did not make great action packed stories to the masses of comic book fans and sales on the Incredible Hulk suffered.
Jim Shooter, Marvel Comics’ Editor-in-Chief at the time, put writer/artist John Byrne onto the Incredible Hulk while Mantlo and Mignola took over Byrne’s Alpha Flight title. Byrne took a different stance on the title by separating Bruce Banner and the Hulk into two separate entities. Banner became leader of the Hulkbusters whose job was to hunt down the mindless Hulk and he even had time to marry Betty Ross. In the six issues that Byrne wrote/drew the title, the sales on the Incredible Hulk started to increase again but due to editorial disagreements between him and Shooter, Byrne was replaced with Al Milgrom. Meanwhile, Byrne moved over to DC Comics in mid-1986 where he revamped Superman during the Post-Crisis on the Infinite Earths era.
Al Milgrom (co-creator of DC’s Firestorm and current artist at the time on the West Coast Avengers) served as writer/artist on the Incredible Hulk for nearly a year. His first assignment is to rectify the “mess” that Byrne created and merge Banner and the Hulk back together. This took another six issues to do and it gave a great two-part Hulk vs. The West and East Coast Avengers (with help from She-Hulk and the Vision) but sales fell again afterwards, especially the rise of the Rick Jones Hulk and the return of the Grey Hulk. It was also the time were I was very close to leaving the Incredible Hulk until the saviour of the title arrived, Peter David.
In the spring of 1987, Peter David began a near twelve-year run that totally changed the entire make up of the series, Bruce Banner, the Hulk and associated supporting cast. Peter David’s mantra for his entire Incredible Hulk run focused on Banner’s dissociative identity disorder (DID); specifically he had the condition even before he was the Hulk. DID is the subsistence within the person of two or more distinct personalities where each personality state may be experienced as if it has a distinct personal history, self-image and identity including a separate name. The change from one personality to another is often very sudden and is generally triggered by stress or some relevant environmental stimuli. David introduced some infamous and unique new Banner personalities such as the Joe Fixit persona, as a vague Las Vegas enforcer/tough guy, the Professor Hulk persona, who possesses the Savage Hulk’s power, the Grey Hulk’s cunning and Bruce Banner’s intelligence, and the Maestro, a future version of the Hulk in a possible dystopian future where he ruled.
Peter David worked with numerous famous artists during his Incredible Hulk run. Some were up and comers during the time including Todd McFarlane (creator of Spawn), Dale Keown (creator of the Pitt), Gary Frank (artist on the “Superman & the Legion of Super-Heroes” arc) and Terry Dodson (current artist on the Uncanny X-Men). A few were veteran artists such as George Perez (current artist on the New DC 52’s World’s Finest) and Adam Kubert (artist on the “Superman: Last Son” arc).
In 1998, Peter David left the Incredible Hulk but not before he wrote his most inspirational and personally emotional arc entitled “The Beauty and the Behemoth” that featured the death of Betty Ross Banner (actually now alive and kicking as the …. ugh! …. Red She-Hulk). It was right around the time that David’s wife left him. However, when Marvel executives were pushing for the idea to see the return of the Savage Hulk, David decided to part ways. It was also the exact same time that I left the series. My reason for leaving, David’s final issue had great closure and acted as my series finale. But I would eventually return eight years later.
I returned to the Incredible Hulk in 2006 at the same time as the start of the Civil War mini-series (which in my opinion is the greatest politico-centric series that I have ever read to date) where the self-righteous Illuminati (consisting of Iron Man, Professor Xavier, Dr. Strange, Namor the Sub-Mariner, Mr. Fantastic and Black Bolt) deemed the Hulk an intolerable impending danger to the Earth and to their own plans and sent him to live a peaceful existence on a planet with no intelligent life. Unfortunately, for the Hulk, the rocket crash lands on the violent world of Sakaar where the Hulk rises from an imprisoned gladiator to rebel leader to king. Greg Pak’s penned Planet Hulk was the one of the single greatest sagas to run during the 2000s where the Hulk had everything that he could wish for including a queen and an unborn child. Heck, it even spawned an animated movie of the same name with a slight major difference, Beta Ray Bill was used in the movie rather than Silver Surfer who played a role in the comic book series. But like all things for the Hulk, they end. The rocket that brought the Hulk to Sakaar explodes killing millions and nearly destroying the planet. With his wife dead, the Hulk demands revenge and his target is the Illuminati.
With artist John Romita Jr in tow, Pak wrote the sequel called World War Hulk which focuses on revenge. The Hulk returns to Earth with his Warbound and Sakaarian allies where they lay siege to Manhattan in order to get the Illuminati. However it was learned that one of his allies allowed the explosion on Sakaar to happen when the Red King planted the bomb. The Hulk reverted back to Bruce Banner and went into SHIELD custody. Both Planet Hulk and World War Hulk is available in HC.
From there, the Incredible Hulk series transformed into the Incredible Hercules and I followed the post-Civil War adventures of the Olympian Prince of Power rather than the Green Goliath. It is a good thing too, the direction of the Hulk became more of a warped amalgamation of “Married with Children” and the campy 1960s “Batman” TV series. It basically made the Hulk less and less unique in my mind and a more disposable character.
I thought my relationship to the Hulk ended with conclusion of World War Hulk but Marvel Comics launched the third volume of the Incredible Hulk in late 2011 written by Jason Aaron, his premise intrigued me along with the art of Marc Silvestri and Whilce Portacio. I plan on doing a separate review on Aaron’s first arc on the new series in the near future.
The Incredible Hulk has been smashing and pounding for 50 years now and thanks to the recent Avengers movie, I figure he will continue to do so for 50 years more.
Now that I finished talking about the Hulk, I’m going to put on my Hulk Smash Fists and get into the ring. Time to fight my first Hulk Smash opponent.
That being said …… all I have to say is …… HULK SMASH!
I’ll smell you later.http://pokupo.com/2012/06/10/hulk-smash-club/ComicsFeature50th Anniversary,Bruce Banner,Civil War,comics,Green Goliath,Hulk,Hulk Smash,Marvel,Peter David,Planet Hulk,Smash Club,The Incredible Hulk,World War Hulk