The Return of the Literary Hulk

The Hulk and Spider-Man in Murdermoon

 murdermoon
Review by Mark Ricard
After more than a year’s absence I am continuing the Literary Hulk series. To the threeor four people who read the series, I hope you enjoy the new review. So without further ado here is the review.
This book has several important ‘last things’ behind it. First off, it is was the last book in the Marvel Novel Series that ran between 1978 and 1979. This book would also be the last appearance of the Incredible Hulk in prose fiction in until the Peter David’s novel What Savage Beast came out in 1995. There is nearly a 16 gap between them. It is the eleventh book for the series. There was going to a twelfth book featuring the Silver Surfer but allegedly Stan Lee did not want anyone else to write the character. Not sure if this has been confirmed. Finally it was Paul Kupperberg’s last novel for Marvel. He had previously done one Spider-Man book for the series called Crime Campaign. Not having read that book there is no not much I can say about it. It was also a first. This book was the first Hulk and Spider-Man team up novel. There would be a second one in 1996, Spider-Man and Incredible Hulk Rampage (Doom’s Day Book One).
spidey-hulk-featured-1050x453

Spider-Man and The Incredible Hulk as they appeared on  the TV screen in 1979

What about the book itself? Well… the book is uneven. Kupperberg himself has basically disowned it as a hack work that he wrote under a two week deadline. And there are a number of plot holes and inconsistencies that will be mentioned above. This was written in haste and in places, it shows. Starting with the first chapter we see one of these problems. The first chapter is the Hulk being attacked in the desert. This chapter, like the second with Spider-Man, introduces the character and his abilities for those unfamiliar with him. The problem is we are never given any reason why the military are attacking him. It is written merely to show off the Hulk’s amazing physical abilities. Even more confusing, Dr. Banner is not treated like a criminal but gives his name freely to many people throughout the story. The second chapter introduces us to Spider-Man. It is more relevant to the main story and gets the ball rolling. Spidey discovers a break in that is connected with NASA rocket research. This is what the plot of the story is about. It also gives a good profile of his sarcastic quipping but compassionate personality. Decent enough.

After that we get to the sections of the book that show the lives of the heroes’ alter
egos. Here Kupperberg seems a bit off with Peter Parker. He is acting more like his Spider-Man persona in his everyday identity. These scenes are at the Daily Bugle with J. Jonah Jameson and Robbie Robertson and the rest of the staff.
After that we are given a few chapters of Dr. Banner trying to start a new life in a small town. What does not make sense is that he gives his real name but nobody knows who he his. This is odd given that; 1. The Hulk would be well known by this point and 2. If he was important enough to merit the military coming after him he must have done something attention worthy. When he sees an ad in the paper offering a cure for gamma radiation in Chicago, he jumps at the chance. It will probably not surprise the reader that this does not work out. Meanwhile Peter is hired as a photographer on the story of a used space station that is reentering the Earth’s atmosphere and supposed to be retrieved by NASA. As some of you guessed this is related to the main mad scientist style plot. It will also intersect with the Hulk plot later on. Peter is teamed up with a science writer though why he could not be the science writer for the Bugle with his credentials is never brought up.
Without giving away spoilers this reviewer will say this a long and not entirely convincing plot involving scientists working for a rich patron with plans for world domination. Far too convoluted to be convincing. I will not go into the details for those who want to read the book. There are some interesting points of note however, first the space station’s name is similar to Skylab, the premier United States space station (in fact pieces had started starting falling just a few months prior to the release of the book, so that was probably a inspiration for Kupperberg).
reaganmissilesSecond it deals with the concept of a laser beam weapon orbiting space. This is before former president Ronald Reagan’s Star Wars Defense Initiative -in fact it is before his presidency. It would be interesting to ask Kupperberg if he had read about the concept somewhere. The other original thing in this book was using the laser weapon in space to target human beings on earth for murder. This was used in the 1985 movie Real Genius. Once again it is hard to say whatever these ideas have a common source or the writer’s of the movie were copying the book or maybe came up with the idea independently themselves. I am assuming since a moon is called a satellite and we have a laser-killer orbiting satellite in this book, that was why it was called MurderMoon.
Mr. Kupperberg if you are reading this would you mind taking the time to answer these few questions for us?
There is more to the story. A murder attempt of the superheroes by tying them to a rocket ship. Personally I cannot fault Kupperberg for this since so much popular fiction involves silly death traps, but why is it that nobody ever tries a bullet to the head? Nor do they try to unmask Spider-Man to find out who he is. Would they not be at least a little
curious? And finally despite my harping on his plot there was a interesting scene near the end between Spider-Man and Dr. Banner. It is interesting because it is true to the characters and it also shows the different approaches to life they have. Spider-Man is more optimistic while Bruce has a outlook that nothing can go right for him and his situation is hopeless. Him telling Bruce he should not give into despair is probably the best written part of the book.
Does this review recommend the book? Well I give it a cautionary yes. Accept it to for a simple action adventure novel. One that could have been a bit more carefully plotted but a quick read that will hold your interest.
Mark Ricard
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