The Literary Hulk Part 1
by Mark Ricard
Introduction. This is a new series of articles about the Hulk’s prose adventures. Considering the fact that the Hulk the is one of Marvel’s most recognized characters it may not be surprising to find out the he has appeared in eight prose novels and one short story collection by Marvel Comics. This series of articles is only covering the prose novels that are original stories or based on those of comic books. The novel adaptations of Marve’sl movies are not included on this list.
The first group of prose appearances for the Hulk were in the late 70s for the Marvel Novel Series.This series was edited by Len Wein and Marv Wolfman. The books were published between 1978 and 1979. The Hulk appeared in the novels 2,3,9,and 11. Books two and three are full length solo tales of the Hulk,nine contains a novella writer by Len Wein,and eleven is a Spider-Man Hulk team up that was written by comic book writer and artist Paul Kupperburg. That book was the last book in the series. The Hulk would appear in a series of books in the 1990s when Marvel once again ventured into publishing prose fiction. Those will be covered in future reviews. For more information on the making of the series please follow this link Bookgasm
The first novel is Stalker From The Stars it is credited to Len Wein, Marv Wolfman,and Joseph Silva. Silva was a pen name of science fiction writer Ron Goulart. Why he chose not to you is real name is uncertain. How the writing was divided is also something that is unclear. What they did produce however is something best described as the Hulk meets H.P. Lovecraft. The story involves a ancient alien who has lied dormant in a small town and the eventual fight between the Hulk and the creature.
The story takes place in outside of continuity. The only regular supporting cast members are Rick Jones,Clay Quartermain,and General Ross. Betty Ross,Glen Talbolt,and Doc Samson are not in the story. Nor is Jim Wilson who was a more recent companion for Banner and the Hulk. For the characters who are used Jones and Quartenmain are in character but Ross is slightly off. Ross was never this unsympathetic towards others as he is this book. In particular,at this time in the comics Ross had mellowed out in his views about Dr Banner if not the Hulk himself. Here is he at most ruthless. This makes me wonder how much a part Len Wein had in writing this book. Wein had ended his run on the Hulk only within the last year of the time it is was written. Since this takes place out of continuity these issues may not bother some readers but long term fans of the comic are certain to notice these points. This uses the child like version of the Hulk called the Savage Hulk. This was the version of the character being used at the time the comics were written.
The plot itself starts out interesting enough. Rick Jones,who still feels guilty for Doctor Banner becoming the Hulk is searching for a scientist who might be able to cure him. That scientist’s name is Rudolf Stern. This was probably meant as in- reference. At the time Roger Stern had taken over from Len Wein as the writer on the Hulk’s comic. Little does he know that Dr Stern and the town itself are in the power of ancient alien who crashed underground long before. After the early chapters we are given a modified version of the comic book character’s origin. From there the story goes toward the eventual confrontation we know it is coming. That does not make it a dull novel. This is a fast paced if simple story. The ending may not be totally satisfying but it is brief and enjoyable read at less than 180 pages. Recommended as long your expectations are not too high.
Here are a list of references that the authors put in the text explaining who they refer to.
Rudolf Stern-Writer Roger Stern
Busecma’s Cafe- artist Sal Busecma
Harlansville,Missouri-Writer Harlan Ellison who wrote the Incredible Hulk 140.
Lee’s Airfield-Hulk co-creator Stan Lee.
Lieber’s store- Stan Lee’s real name and his brother Larry Lieber.
(many thanks to Mark Ricard for this excellent guest post)