Hulk’s 50… and no one cares

As pointed out both at Ratchet’s Hulk site and Bleeding Cool, the Incredible Hulk celebrates his 50th year in print this March… and there has been little to no ballyhoo from Marvel.

Currently, the character is being published in two ongoing monthly books, but they strangely have nothing to do with each other.

Back when Pak was writing Incredible Hulk and Loeb was scripting Hulk, there was overlap that led to the massive crossovers that rocked the green Goliath’s world, even drafting in the other Marvel heroes. Say what you will about World War Hulks, but it was a major event and made the Hulk a high-profile hero again.

The newly minted Incredible Hulk has received dire reviews and a rotating regular artist post that has prevented the comic from maintaining any real identity. Meanwhile the (Red) Hulk has gone from strength to strength thanks to the stellar skills of Jeff Parker, Gabriel Hardman and Patrick Zircher. A new rogue’s gallery, a strong ongoing story line and well developed characters make this series a stand out hit… but it’s not the ‘real’ Hulk.

You can praise the (Red) Hulk comic all you like, but that doesn’t change the fact that it is not the Banner Hulk and for many readers that’s all that matters.

Meanwhile the new Incredible Hulk series seems to be floundering despite the obvious talents of Jason Aaron. So… what can be done? The character is turning 50 and is more or less separated from the Marvel Universe at large, replaced by a ruby-skinned pretender. Reviews have been harsh and there is a major ‘change’ coming in issue 7, but will it be enough to save the readership?

The Avengers feature film prominently features the Hulk in many of its previews and sure it’s the third actor to take on the part of Banner since 2003, but maybe it’ll stick this time and we’ll get a Hulk for a new generation. Even so, what happens when anyone drawn in with this new Hulk decides to stop by a comic shop and finds that the Hulk is red, not green?

It seems obvious to me that the (Red) Hulk should be retired (despite how great it is) and Parker should be given the direction of the proper Incredible Hulk comic.

What do you think?


8 thoughts on “Hulk’s 50… and no one cares

  1. Interesting article. I don’t really understand Marvel’s thinking, the 50th Anniversary of one of their most famous characters and…nothing? Maybe they have something planned but I wouldn’t bet on it after all they got the A Versus X debacle to promote which will likely give them a big sales bump for months from readers conned into thinking it “means something” (when the only thing that means something is good stories *not* how claustrophobically inter-related every comic book is-end of lecture). While the Red Hulk has gone from a terrible idea to something that works in its own way (but is very inferior to the original Hulk concept as the formerly dead Thunderbolt always was a rampaging ass so there’s not much different when he becomes the Crimson Crusher as opposed to benign repressed Bruce and many of his Hulks not to mention that Ross is not really written as a believable older man now tho’ the character *is* written in an interesting way) yet it isn’t THE Hulk unlike the Dick Grayson Batman who though different still worked as a new yet authentic Dark Knight in my odd opinion.
    I don’t think Aaron’s take on The Incredible Hulk works he simply isn’t suited to it, he’s desperately trying to be iconoclastic but unlike John Byrne and -obviously- Peter David he isn’t able to do so in a convincing and satisfactory way that feels like the character. That said there’ve been so many Hulk stories that it’s very hard to bring anything new with David and others doing just about everything you could do with the concept.
    The ironic thing is that many of the best Hulk stories weren’t with the conventional Hulk Smash! Hulk many of them were told when he was grey or when he was the integrated Banner-Hulk so I’m not sure that just giving the public the green Hulk dumb or rampaging would work either. So, what should they do? What do YOU think?! I came to the Batman books knowing of the 60s tv series and not much else in the late 80s but enjoyed the different versions I found in modern and reprint comics. Good stories matter.


    • Hal, I agree with most of what you said. WIth the exception of the last paragraph. A lot of the best Hulk stories were with the simple child like Hulk. However he is so rarely used in the last few decades that people forgot them. Roy Thomas,Len Wein,Bill Mantlo, Dough Moench,Archie Goodwin, and even Steve Gerber in the pages of the Defenders did excellent stories with the “Savage Hulk”.

      In recent years that there has one story by Christopher Priest and another by Sean Mceeaver that got the character down very well.


  2. Um, that was looonng. I meant to say that making the Hulk a copy of the film version would be a mistake because it’s a copy of earlier comic book Hulks. They need to be imaginative but stay true to the character in a way that Aaron has failed at (I hate, hate, hate the idea of insane Mengele/Moreau Banner and noble Fabio Hulk, did I mention I hate it? 😉 they may have changed it already but I loathed it so I don’t know) but I don’t know what’d be a good direction after all this time. A Blue Kree-Hybrid-Hulk? Hulk-Detective? A Hulk trying to stop Bruce from dying? The Littlest Hobo-Hulk? Hulk searching for a missing(again) Bruce? Any suggestions? I think imaginative readers would go for any kind of good story with the Banner-Hulk green or not. I’d hope so at least.
    Sorry for prolix posts.


  3. “Maybe tomorrow I’ll want to settle down,
    Until tomorrow I’ll keep on turning green – AAARRGHH! HULK SMASH PUNY HUMANS!”
    The Littlest Hobo-Hulk Theme Song available now on hulk-tunes.
    The Incredible Hulk tv series was like The Littlest Hobo but with a better theme tune and more green bodypaint. Yes, I liked that series.


  4. @zeno, long time no hear. Hey, I’ve nothing against ol’ Green Genes in his dumber form, I like certain stories by Steve Gerber, John Byrne and others, I was just commenting that plenty of the excellent Hulk stories were with other Hulks not that there weren’t a number with the old “Leave Hulk Alone” Green Goliath, he was around for a long time after all. Maybe a new spin on him could work.


  5. I still like my idea… I haven’t read any print comics in years, so some of my ideas could have been borrowed by now…


    I wanted to turn the comic on its head. I wanted to bring back the savage/childlike hulk… but then I wanted to make Banner the bad guy.

    We had stories where the Hulk gets into trouble, changes back into Banner, and then Banner is stuck to clean things up.

    In my version… Banner is a mad scientist type (and face it, he has this in his persona… he was working on the Gamma bomb and has done other things that led to bad uses of his technology)… so say Banner blows up a laboratory to cover his tracks, then allows a change to the Hulk who gets the blame… everyone chases the Hulk but gives Banner a pass… so Banner gets access to all kinds of stuff and does real damage with his brain.

    You could essentially tell a lot of classic stories all over again with a slight twist in who is Dr Jekyll and who is Mr Hyde… The classic question from Hulk #1 on the cover “Is he man… is he monster… or is he both?” gets turned on its head and given new meaning.

    I would build my story out of a lot of the Bill Mantlo era stuff where they explored the psychology of Banner and how that led to the persona of the Hulk every bit as much as the exposure to Gamma rays. The rational Banner has been put in control of the Hulk before… but the irrational “monster” has not been put in control of Banner.


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