Written By Desi LaSalle
When I think of Marvel Comics I immediately think of Spider-Man, The Fantastic Four and The Hulk. The character of The Hulk was created by artist Jack Kirby and writer Stan “The Man” Lee and first appeared in “The Incredible Hulk #1” (May 1962). In many interviews Stan Lee has said that his inspiration for the character was a mix between Frankenstein and Dr. Jekyll/Mr.Hyde. Over the years this mainstay Marvel title has had many great writers such as Bill Mantlo, Peter David, and Greg Pak. it has also been graced by great artists such as Herb Trimpe, Sal Buscema, John Byrne, Todd Mcfarlane, Dale Kweon, Gary Frank Adam Kubert, Mike Deodato and John Romita Jr. The incredible Hulk comic was always about the struggle for control, for acceptance, to find love reciprocated and to find peace. The Hulk was one of the most consistent books that Marvel had, that is why it is so surprising to see Marvel go in a new direction with this figure in December of 2015 with “The Totally Awesome Hulk” #1. In this new title, young Amadeus Cho is now ‘The Hulk’, fully in control of ‘The Hulk’ persona. The book is now a fun filled comedy orientated title for a younger audience. This is the total opposite of what the book used to be.
After doing some research, the new direction seems to have failed with the comic book audience and is reflected by the comic’s sales figures. Call me old fashioned, but a new book with no Bruce Banner as The Hulk basically kills the essence of the book completely. Give me back Bruce Banner with his struggle. Give me Savage Hulk, mindless Hulk, intelligent Hulk or even The Gray Hulk. I remember the great Peter David stories that delved into the psychological aspects of The Hulk and also looked at the many complicated layers of the Bruce Banner/Hulk persona. As a comic book collector I believe that there is always one issue that is a hidden gem, that encapsulates what the series and character is all about. In this particular case my sincere recommendation is The Incredible Hulk, issue #312, titled “Monster”. This issue is a perfect starting point and presents us with a great backstory of Bruce Banner. It portrays the traumatic childhood of Banner, the madness of his alcoholic father Brian, the murder of his mother Rebecca by his father, how he met Betty Ross and her father and most importantly, the bomb and the birth of the monster known as ‘The Hulk’. A classic issue! Beautifully written by Bill Mantlo and drawn by Mike Mignola. As you read this issue you can feel the sadness; the struggle of the co-existence of Bruce Banner and The Hulk. A must read in my opinion. This is The Hulk that I grew up with and love. This is the formula that Stan Lee gave us and it worked so well in the past. So why Marvel would change things up and try to make The Hulk “Totally Awesome” with a dose of comedy is beyond me. It does not do such a mainstay Marvel character justice. Maybe it is time for someone over there to realize that The Hulk that we are getting today is just not so incredible.