It’s Secret Origin Saturday, Everybody! This week we stay in the Marvel Universe and we take a look at the beginnings of one of Marvel’s heaviest hitters, the Greenskin Goliath himself, the Incredible Hulk!
This was an especially fun page to draw and for the first time in SOS, the page concludes with not only an image of the main subject but I also included some of that character’s biggest bad guys, but more on that later.
In the interests of full disclosure, growing up, I was not a huge Hulk fan. I watched the late 70’s TV series featuring Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno and I’d seen the minimally animated Marvel cartoons from the 1960’s but that was the extent of my exposure to the Hulk. Monsters didn’t interest me that much… at least then… and the Hulk’s basic premise… as I understood it from the distance I kept from the book… seemed shaky and unsustainable. I was mostly interested in how the Hulk related to the rest of the Marvel Universe as this occasional villain and threat. It wasn’t until the early 80’s that I started sampling the Hulk in his own book. This was when the Hulk gained the intelligence of Bruce Banner and was given a full amnesty for his crimes by the President of the United States. I believe this particular era was being written by Bill Mantlo but I’m not entirely sure how far back he went on that title.
I’d drift away from the Hulk, but I was roped back into it when a favorite creator of mine back in the day, John Byrne, took it over. Byrne’s tenure would be very short lived and within a very few number of issues he was gone and so was I. I walked away from the book but I found myself a regular reader once again after Peter David started writing it. That was when I settled in for what is unquestionably my longest stint as a Hulk reader. This was the late 80’s and I’d follow David’s run on The Incredible Hulk well into the 90’s. I’m not sure when I stopped reading again exactly, but as I’ve often told my classes at the Kubert School, the 90’s are when all of civilization and pop culture collapsed. All comics were transitioning into something that was unreadable and unenjoyable. The industry was hell bent on a slow suicide and The Incredible Hulk like many other books I’d followed for years were no longer holding my interest. The issues were piling up unread and I was becoming less and less motivated to dig into my “to read” pile. Eventually, I’d just stop altogether abandoning the Hulk along with all of my other one-time favorites.
This piece hopefully recaptures the glorious fun of the earlier Hulk! Let’s dig into the Director’s Cut Commentary…
Panel 1 features Dr. Bruce Banner in front of his long time love interest, Betty Ross and the Ahabian General Thunderbolt Ross. They’re against a backdrop of the legendary Gamma Base in the desert. Classicly speaking, General Ross was usually depicted walking around every day in full dress uniform right down to his hat. I chose to modernize him a bit with a buzzed fade haircut and even though we can’t see much of it, he’s wearing a standard khaki uniform. I also have two stars showing on his collar. I can’t remember how many stars the General actually had.
Panel 2 shows the mighty gamma bomb and to reference it, I went all the way back to The Incredible Hulk #1 in 1962. Most of the tiny details are straight off of the original Jack Kirby design.
In Panel 3, Bruce races to save the trespassing Rick Jones seen here driving a 1933 Ford hot rod. I know in present times that’s a very unlikely choice for Rick’s car but I like drawing that model of car and for me, it retains that flavor of the jalopy Rick actually drove in the original story.
In Panel 4, Bruce absorbs doses of gamma radiation as he takes the brunt of the blast after having saved Rick.
Panel 5 is a montage shot showcasing ol’ Greenskin himself against an assortment of his more famous foes. We see the Abomination, the Leader, Zzaxx, the Rhino, and the Gremlin… or if you prefer, the Gargoyle. They’re practically indistinguishable. Other Hulk villains that I’d considered but didn’t make the cut were the U-Foes, Moonstone, the Absorbing Man, M.O.D.O.K. and even the Toad Men! Who else should I have added? Please let me know in the Comments below!
That’s it for this edition of Secret Origin Saturday! Next week… we have another “first” as we take a look at our very first female super hero! It’s going to be a fun one! Any guesses? Please let me know in the Comments below!