Herb Trimpe, we love you!

This is a 25 minute documentary film about the Marvel Comic book artist Herb Trimpe. This was a film project produced at New York University’s Graduate Institute of film & TV in 1970-71 and was directed by Jon Michael Riley and Doro Bachrach. Sound was by Don Cirillo and cinematography by Eric Reiner. Polly Hacker was production assistant. Herb Trimpe was a young star among comic book artists in the late 60’s (he began at Marvel in April of 1968) and early 1970s. Herb was one of the first, perhaps the first to do the Incredible Hulk comic, as well as a host of other titles for Stan Lee and Marvel. This film highlights Herb’s attitudes about life and work as a comic book artist and is shown with his Peekskill, NY friend, Bob Barthelmes with whom he attended school since kindergarten.

I’m a huge fan of Herb Trimpe and think of him as one of, if not the most iconic Hulk artist. This short film gives a glimpse at the man behind the art along with the adoration that he had earned early on in his career. It’s a delight to watch.


Incredible Herb Trimpe
Essential Incredible Hulk, Vol. 3
Omega: The Unknown Classic TPB
Essential Hulk Volume 2

The Marvel Studios Hulk movie finally on the way

After years of legal wranglings, it appears that Marvel Studios is finally set to release a Hulk solo film. Previously, the problem was that Universal held the rights of first refusal for any solo Hulk film and could decide on whether they wanted to distribute the film. However, all that is in the past as Universal and Disney have entered an agreement similar to the Sony/Disney Spider-Man handshake.

The movie will be set after the events of Avengers: Endgame and center on “Professor Hulk” as he attempts to carve out a life for himself in the new world. He encounters a series of attacks from strange synthetic humanoid creatures. Soon he discovers that he is being attacked by another gamma irradiated being called The Leader.

Played by Woody Harrelson, The Leader will be an intellectual and cunning villain rather than the traditional foe of brawn and muscle. The film will be set on Earth and in The Leader’s satellite base orbiting the Earth.

Rumor is that we will see the Hulk mutate once again into the grey ‘Mr. Fixit’ Hulk as he requires a more devious thought process to defeat his enemy. The movie will also see the return of Liv Tyler as Betsy Ross and William Hurt as General Ross who tries his best to contain the Hulk, a creature he never trusted despite his more passive demeanor.

More as it comes but it seems that fans have finally gotten their wish and we will really see the definitive Marvel Studios Hulk on the big screen.

Oh… and April Fools.

The Return of the Literary Hulk

The Hulk and Spider-Man in 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).


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

The Incredible Hulk in Museum Piece

The Literary Hulk part 3

Marvel Super Heroes Novel No. 9

By Mark Ricard

MarvelSuperheroes9This review is a bit different from the last two. First,the Hulk only appears in a single novella. This is a story collection and a full length novel. Second,this is a adaption of a two part story written by a one time regular Hulk writer Len Wein. The story “Museum Piece” is based on Incredible Hulk issues 197-198. This is was during the early part of Sal Bucesma’s long run as artist on title. As a Hulk it is interesting because it involved a team up with The Man Thing. This was one of if not the very first time these heroes had ever met it also involved the villain known as the Collector. In it the Hulk and Man-Thing are taken to the Collector’s ship as prisoner’s for his collection. To tell more would spoil the story. There are small changes. Any reference to continuity are taken out. The connections to the Gerber Man-Thing story are understandably removed and the Glob becomes the Golem of European folklore. At it’s basic level it is the same story. There are even appearances of other races including a Skrull and a Badoon.

Why Len Wein chose this story is hard to understand. While it is certainly not overly action oriented it is not one of his more introspective works. It is a decent story but if it was going to be translated into prose you would expect Wein to take the opportunity to go farther into depth with the characters or the situation. But he never does this. We get the same dialogue and characters as before. This is disappointing. He could have taken the opportunity to develop the characters of the human prisoners to a greater degree than the comic. The story’s early pages involving a fight between the Hulk and could have eliminated to spend more time for us to learn about the Collector his motivations.

There are other stories may have made a better fit to prose. Unlike few other writers on the title Len Wein understand the child like nature of the “Savage” Hulk. If he could have translated that some of those stories that showed that side of the character we could have had a great instead of okay story. Still I recommend this to Hulk fans. It is entertaining and is still the first non novel length prose for the character. Perhaps it is just a matter of the reviewer’s expectations.

The other Stories

Here is a brief review of the other stories.

Children of the Atom By Mary Jo Duffy.

This is another story written by a then current Marvel Comic book writer. Mary Jo Duffy does a good job of showing the personalities of each of the X-men. Though this was written in the Claremont/Byrne era some of the regular cast is missing. Wolverine getting into a bar fight is the most entertaining part of the story.

The Evil Undying By Jim Shooter

This is an Avengers verses Ultron story. I found this the weakest of the stories. Jim Shooter tried to push the envelope in making things more “adult” with some parts. It does not really come off. Iron Man seems just slightly off in this story. Mostly in the parts that are try to be more mature. Still it was thought of highly be David Michellene to become translated into a Avengers comic book two part story in Avengers 201 and 202. The reverse situation of the books Hulk story.

Blind Justice By Kyle Christropher

This is arguably the best story in the book. Kyle Christopher is pseudonym of Comic book writer Martin Pasko. Unlike the other writers in this collection Pasko was working mostly for DC Comics at the time this was written. What Pasko did that the other writers did not was to use prose effectively. He describes how Daredevil experiences his powers and what it feels like to be inside his head. Some of the background about the origin is slightly different. But this is not a big deal. We get a Pre-Miller Daredevil story that involves Organized Crime and one of his then current comic book villains. Pasko story is one of the main influences on Mark Waid’s current Daredevil run. Waid himself lists it in this article. The Five Most Underrated DAREDEVIL Stories You Must Read, by MARK WAID | 13th Dimension, Comics, Creators, Culture

Though it is not perfect I can easily recommend this collection to any Marvel Comics fan.



by Mark Ricard

Cry of the Beast

Before a discussion of the novel let me share something I noticed about the late 70s Marvel Novels. The tv show must have made the Hulk a very popular character for Marvel. After book 2 in the Marvel Novel Series the very next novel was another Hulk adventure.

Including the last marvel novel Mudermoon, where he teams up with Spider-Man,he also appeared in one of the four series in book 9 Marvel Superheroes. That makes 3 1/4 appearances over 11 novels. More than 25 percent of the output. Even Spider-Man,who has always been Marvel’s flagship character only made it to the 3 novels. Hence thanks to Len Wein’s short novella he appeared in novel 9. And no other character had two full novels released in a row.


Cry of the Beast in many ways owes more to the Bill Bixby tv series than it does the comic book being written at the time. One only has to look at the acknowledgment page. The second person on the list Kenneth Johnson who developed and produced the Hulk tv show. Nick Corea is also mentioned. Corea wrote many scripts for the show and and would go on to write and produce the first tv movie, The Incredible Hulk Returns.

What we get is a strange blend of continuity. This is Bruce Banner but many places he is mentioned as a physician not a physicist. Also the Hulk is non verbal,much like his tv counterpart. He does however speak one word. Hulk. if you are able to get these idiosyncrasies you might enjoy the book.
The story itself bears once again revolves around the attempt to find another scientist who might be able cure Dr Banner of the curse that is the Incredible Hulk. However in sync with the television this i a slightly more realistic story. Instead of science fiction/horror of the H.P. Lovecraft what we have is a plot about small African dictation who plans to use the power of gamma radiation to create super army soldiers to take over the world. It is more of a Mission Impossible style story.

We have Banner searching New York City for Dr Max Wittenborn. Of course things are far more complicated than that. Wittenborn is kidnapped and Banner meets the daughter and son of Wittenborn and that becomes the focus of the story. The daughter serves as a possible romantic interest. Much of the story revolves around the attempts of capture and escape. These usually lead to action sequences with Banner transforming into the Hulk.Since nearly half of the book involves trekking through the jungles more should be said. Meyers sometimes makes it work but other times however the actions sequences are lacking a certain smoothness. Fight scenes are hard to work.One of the best scences in the book is the Hulk fighting a herd of Rhinos. We also get a added subplot about Curtis a CIA agent This is a interesting subplot that should have payed off more.

This of course eventually leads to a confrontation with the mad dictator.At this part the plot threads merge. Perhaps it is the end where the decent story starts falling apart. We have yet another climatic scene on a airplane like the last book And then the story just ends. The problem everything is wrapped very quickly with the plot threads left dangling. What happened to the Slaves? Where is Banner going after this? One gets the impression Mr Meyers wanted to go farther with the story but the editors and publishers limited the pages space he could write. A extra 20 pages may have helped make this story better. Still it is a decent enough story until it nears the end.

Richard S. Meyers is the author of a number of books. Most of which are about film and television. He does have a small resume of comic book writing under the name Ric Meyers according to comic book database.

The Incredible Hulk in Stalker from the Stars

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

Stalker From The StarsHulk_stalker

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)

Hulk 3 movie rumors

hulk-lancer1According to LatinoReview (an excellent source for comic book news), there is a grand scheme to capitalize and harness the magic that the Hulk enjoyed in the Avengers movie. The modern Jekyll and Hyde story of a mild-mannered scientist’s id obtaining physical form as a raging green behemoth, the Hulk is one of Marvel Comics’ most recognizable characters (and one of my personal faves). The Hulk has had a monumental TV series and two rather lackluster motion pictures (I enjoyed both, personally, but Marvel Studios was unconvinced by the returns on Incredible Hulk).

Since he appeared in the Avengers, however, the story has changed and fans want more of the green Goliath. Actor Mark Ruffalo signed a multi-picture deal, but there are as of yet no official stand-alone Hulk pictures into 2015.

That may change…

(Select the text below to reveal the secret rumor)

Story goes that the Avengers 2 film will see the Hulk declared a threat so great that he gets tricked into a rocket and flown off-planet… which will spin off into a stand alone Planet Hulk movie leading to World War Hulk in Avengers 3 when he returns… 


Marvel Now! Indestructible Hulk #1

Indestructible Hulk #1

By Mark Waid and Leinil Francis Yu

A frustrated gifted scientist, Bruce Banner brain-stormed a new way to harness gamma radiation at the cost of his own humanity. His gamma bomb brought out a dark side of his psyche, an indestructible monster of rage called the Hulk by the military who hunted him. The Hulk has been going through a very hard time creatively. The only really strong period that the Hulk has enjoyed in recent years has been thanks to Greg Pak starting with his ‘Planet Hulk’ story and into the explosive conclusion. Even within that run there were moments when the series lagged or faltered in its search for an identity.

However, the thankfully brief Incredible Hulk series by Jason Aaron and a cadre of guest artists marked a new low for the Hulk. The weird black humor and garishly broad out of character distortions of the Hulk and Banner were not helped by an overly convoluted plot and a wildly different array of art styles.

You’d think that since Hulk is one of Marvel’s most high profile heroes and one that any adult who saw the Avengers or child who owns a pair of Hulk hands can easily identify him he would have a kick ass monthly comic book but in truth it has been a mess. Despite promising preview images and the proven high quality Mark Waid’s scripts, the Marvel Now! relaunch did not fill me with high hopes. Boy was I wrong.

This is finally the great Hulk book that fans have been waiting for.

Finally accepting that he and the Hulk must work together, Bruce Banner approaches Director Maria Hill for a job as an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. His logic is simple. The Hulk has traditionally been thought of as a bomb when he could be a cannon instead, aimed at a target defined by S.H.I.E.L.D. The trade off is that Banner could develop new technological marvels for the world while giving his alter ego an outlet for its anger.

It’s so simple that I wonder why this was never thought of before, unless I am missing something. In his trial outing, Hulk faces the Mad Thinker who has constructed a killer robot using discarded Ultron maintenance tools designed to manipulate adamantium. The Mad Thinker believes that any problem is made up of quantifiable data, information that can be processed. That theory proves false when he points a laser capable of slicing the most durable material in existence at the Hulk… and the monster keeps coming.

Mark Waid is known for his gift at grasping characters and clever plots (among many other noteworthy qualities). His version of the Hulk is inspired and smart but also very dynamic. The edgy line work of Leinil Francis Yu adds a suitable amount of character and energy to the series that makes it stand out. The Hulk deserves to have a high profile knock-out comic that readers and critics talk up on line and in the shops. The Indestructible Hulk could very well be that series.

Hulk returns in indestructible new series

Any fan of the not-so jolly green Goliath will tell you that being a fan of the Hulk entails disappointment and frustration as Marvel editorial struggles to discern just what they want to do with him. The pasty few years have been rife with good and bad attempts to find a new direction for the character with the most recent series receiving somer damning criticism (and rightly so).

But it seems that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel now that Marvel has revealed their master plan for the Hulk in their relaunched universe. The incomparable Mark Waid and the stunning Leinil Francis Yu have been announced as the creative team behind The Indestructible Hulk, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. and I could not be happier. Waid has a lifetime of accomplishments behind him from both Marvel and DC Comics with his most recent run on Daredevil being one of my all-time favorite comics today. Yu has embellished every hero from Superman to Wolverine with remarkable skill. Together, they are sure to make the Hulk shine.

Click your heels and get happy because this could be a sign that Hulk will finally be stepping into the limelight once again as one of Marvel’s superstars.

Writer Mark Waid and artist Leinil Yu are the announced creative team for “Indestructible Hulk,” which kicks off in November as part of the “Marvel NOW!” initiative.

Here’s how Marvel describes the series:

Through his entire history, the Hulk has always been an indomitable force, more weapon than man. His alter ego, Dr. Bruce Banner, is one of the most intelligent men on the planet. NOW! combined, they have become the strongest, smartest weapon alive – INDESTRUCTIBLE HULK, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.!

“Banner’s a changed man. No more stooping under the weight of ‘woe is me,’ no longer bespectacled, no longer a fashion victim in purple,” said Mark Waid in an interview with Marvel.com. “For decades, Banner’s felt like he’s no more than the Hulk’s helpless puppet. Now Banner’s USING Hulk to his own mysterious ends”

Marvel describes “Indestructible” as a new perspective on the character of the Hulk.

“Mark and Leinil’s spin on the Hulk mythos will have fans — new and old – exclaiming, ‘Why didn’t I think of that!?’” said Marvel Editor In Chief Axel Alonso in a news release. “It’s the brute force of the Hulk and the brainpower of Bruce Banner, together at last — but not the way you think. And with S.H.I.E.L.D. in the wings, readers can expect a globe-hopping adventure with an unlimited special effects budget.”

Each issue of Indestructible Hulk will include a code for a free digital copy; additionally each issue will feature additional content through the Marvel AR app.

Via Nerdage

Quick review: Incredible Hulk #8 – ‘Stay Angry’

The Incredible Hulk- ‘Stay Angry’

Story by Jason Aaron, Art by Steve Dillon

Marvel is proud to present your first look at, Incredible Hulk #8, from the fan-favorite team of Jason Aaron and Steve Dillon! Dive right into the Green Goliath’s next epic as Stay Angry erupts pushing the Incredible Hulk and his raged-induced fury to its limits! The criminally insane Bruce Banner has thrown Hulk into the middle of a murderous drug war and Hulk is forced into action; but with villainous mob of this stature- Frank Castle is never far behind! Its all-out war, as the Jade Giant faces off against The Punisher who faces off against a cartel in a brawl that no fan will forget!

-that’s the description from Marvel and it reads pretty much as a spot on description of the actual end product… except that it omits the dog people and their human dog drug lord.

The Jason Aaron run on the Incredible Hulk has been a massive shock to the system for long time Hulk readers. After the cerebral Greg Pak run and the dubious run by Jeph Loeb, it was nearly impossible to figure out just how Marvel was viewing the character. Was the Hulk a light-hearted/goofy action comic? Was it an emotionally charged tragic monthly series about human monsters? Who knows?

I have deeply enjoyed Aaron’s Wolverine and The X-Men for all of its wackiness and his Ghost Rider run was superb… but both have one thing in common and that is humor. Aaron is a great writer of absurd comical action that is extreme in its explosive ‘grindhouse-style’ story lines.. and that is apparently the new direction of the Incredible Hulk. Finally separated from Banner, Hulk has attempted to find a life of his own only to discover that he and his alter ego are inevitably linked.

Left to his own devices and without the outlet of the Hulk’s rage, Banner is apparently a mad scientist of Frankenstein proportions while the Hulk is kinda dull, to be honest. On a deserted radioactive island, Banner experimented with the local animal life in standard Dr. Moreau style only to be hunted down by the mad scientist hunter (yes, that’s a ‘thing) Amanda Von Doom and her hunchback assistant. The artwork for the series, along with the story, has been awkward and clunky. Starting rather strongly with Mark Silvestri, it took a fast downward turn as a mob of fill-in inkers were thrown at the book until finally Wilce Portacio stepped in and the book careened headfirst into a morass of scratchy ink.

Even after destroying Banner in a gamma explosion, Hulk hoped he was free, but somehow the two have become merged again. Merged, but separate as Banner has retained his mad scientist schtick. It’s actually a decent idea and allows Aaron to play a new trick with the Hulk that I don’t think anyone had tried before. Previously Banner dreaded a transformation into the Hulk because it would mean that he would lose control and cause untold amounts of damage. Now, however, the Hulk dreads relaxing because it will mean that Banner takes over and pits the Hulk into one horrible situation after another.

The joke is very lurid and opens with the Hulk waking up in shackles only to battle dog men and finally encounter the Punisher… who just happens to be hunting the dog men (for some reason). The two team up and track the trail of drugs and death to the big boss, a humanized dog in a vintage car. The crime boss had apparently made a deal with Banner in the past, one which interests Hulk very much.

Unfortunately, the Hulk gets pumped full of drugs and eventually passes out only to awaken in yet another terrible situation… and an operation scar on his chest.

Art-wise, the latest issue is a step in a different direction as Steve Dillon takes the reigns and the humorous angle that Aaron has been shooting for finally finds its voice. Aaron and Dillon had of course collaborated on the Punisher MAX series where characters had their eyes yanked out of their sockets and wandered around as if they had escaped from a Three Stooges routine from Hell. It’s not to everyone’s taste and Dillon’s Hulk is very flimsy, but at least it’s more fitting to Aaron’s writing style thank Silvestri or Portacio.

The Incredible Hulk is one of the most awkward comic books I have ever read. For its campy silliness and over the top violence, it kinda works… but it’s like turning a work of classic literature into a parody of itself. If there’s one thing the past ten years have taught us it’s that there’s so much untapped potential in the Hulk. Transforming the series into a kind of Garth Ennis-like comic may be a bit of fun, but it is also selling it short.