Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Incredible Hulk: Man or monster or both?

"Within all of us, oftimes, there dwells a mighty, raging fury."

Issue #1 released in May 1962
The Incredible Hulk, the strangest man of all time, is also the most misunderstood of all the superheroes. One moment he is the reclusive physicist Dr. Bruce Banner and the next the raging monster Hulk with no particular agenda. And yet the Hulk's existence is not so strange. There is, after all, a Hulk inside all of us. A terrifying alter ego that gets out of our true character every once in a while. Perhaps, not in the angry, impulsive and destructive manner as the green monster. But who doesn't want to be like the Hulk and take on the world? Imagine the boost to your self-esteem.

This week I reread Marvel's Special 30th Anniversary Issue of The Incredible Hulk [Vol.1 #393, May 1991] which commemorates the first issue of the "man or monster" released in May 1962. The covers of both editions are identical in every way except for the Hulk who looks meaner, greener and more menacing in the reissue. In contrast, he looks like a knucklehead in the original.

The Special 30th Anniversary Issue
Dr. Banner, predictably, looks out of sorts in both. Like he would rather be some other place even as he is metamorphosing into the Hulk. Either way, there is no escape for poor Banner, is there?

I read the original issue more than three decades ago though I don't have it in my collection. I do, however, own the commemorative issue.

I liked several things about the reissue, including the stories, but most of all the full-length posters of "Classic Hulk Battles" as they appeared in the original comics.

To begin with, you have the green monster battling Wolverine in Canada. "In his wanderings through Canada, the Hulk came across the most unlikely of foes—a short, feisty government agent who could not even begin to approach the Hulk's immense strength," the caption says. "But Canada's Weapon X proved to be the mutant we know as Wolverine, in his first recorded adventure. And Wolverine's agility and unbreakable adamantium claws make him a match even for a monster who could level mountains."

The battle with Wolverine is followed by posters of other epic battles with superheroes like Thor, Silver Surfer, The Avengers and The Thing, to name the more famous.

The bonus in this special issue is an eight-page section titled Psychological Ramifications of Gamma Radiation, a case history of the Incredible Hulk submitted to the American Psychological Association by Leonard Samson, Ph.D. The text and pictures chart the life and times of the green monster—a fascinating tale of one who asserts loudly "Hulk is the strongest there is."


  1. I recently saw a Hulk #1 at a show. He told me it did not have as much value as I thought it might, but it was his most prized book and he was not letting it go. It was cool to see that kind of Comic history in the hands of a regular joe.

  2. Many thanks.