Thursday, 12 August 2010

Incredible Hulk #140. Jarella makes her debut

Incredible Hulk #140, Jarella's first appearance
(Cover from June 1971.)

“The Brute That Shouted Love At The Heart Of The Atom!”

Plot by Harlan Ellison.
Script by Roy Thomas.
Layouts by Herb Trimpe.
Art by Sam Grainger.
Lettering by Artie Simek.


After the Hulk’s descent into Lovecraftian horror last time out, it’s now time for him to get stuck into the battling realms of Sword and Sorcery.

Not that a man of his strength needs a sword of course as he finds himself in the sub-atomic land of the beautiful Queen Jarella where, thanks to her sorcerers, he now has the mind of Bruce Banner.

I complained about how the last time the Hulk had the mind of Bruce Banner he didn’t retain it long enough for the idea to be fully explored, cheating us of what could have been an intriguing and refreshing set of stories, so it’s good to see him getting another crack at that whip and, though his lucidity, again, lasts for just one issue, we see enough to know it was an idea that could have worked, as he gets betrothed to the green-skinned Jarella and becomes protector of her equally emerald subjects. Needless to say, such happiness doesn’t last and by the end of the issue he’s back to normal size and normal “intelligence”.

For some reason, all through this cross-over, Roy Thomas keeps doing in-jokes about the original Captain Marvel. In the tale’s first half - The Avengers #88 - he has Iron Man crack a joke about seeing a line of weird statues in an abandoned subway tunnel. In this, two of Jarella’s sorcerers are called Holi and Moli, not to mention the out-and-out reference to Billy Batson he throws in. My knowledge of the original Captain Marvel’s somewhat incomplete but, from what I’ve read of it, the feel of it didn’t seem to tie in at all with the style of these stories, so I can only assume Thomas must just have had some sort of bet going on as to how many references he could cram into one story.

But despite such affectations, it’s a great, if truncated, tale that at last introduces a bit of romance into the Hulk’s life - and a potential love rival to the rarely interesting Betty Ross. I’m not sure I’d have wanted to see more than one consecutive issue set in Jarella’s fairy tale style kingdom. It’s just too far away from the Hulk’s normal milieu but, as a one-off, it works, and highlight of the issue has to be Psyklop’s giant hand smashing through the domed ceiling to reclaim the Hulk, as the locals flee in panic.

My one worry is Bruce Banner takes a little too easily to the idea of being a king, not seeming to question for one second his right to be what’s basically a dictator of a land he’s only just arrived in. You’d think a man used to living in a democracy would have at least some concerns over the political system of Jarella’s land. It is, after all, a place where a man might rise to power through assassination and the accused can be found guilty and sentenced with recourse to neither judge nor a jury.

Then again Bruce Banner was a man who once made a living out of blowing up atom bombs. Maybe social responsibility never was his strong point.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

This story started a new kind of adventure for the Hulk,sending him to another dimension,world,or wherever he may end up in.A little earlier in Tales To Astonish might have been the actual beginning of such a story.But I recall that he might have been just in space,flying in a spacecraft manned by the High Revolutionary.But With stories like Planet Hulk,it showed that the Hulk was more than just a monster on a rampage,fighting tha army or navy.That the Hulk could be taken more seriously like a hero and warrior.Liam

The Cryptic Critic said...

Hello, Liam. Welcome to the site. There's no denying it shows the versatility of the Hulk as a character and a concept that it seems to be possible to plant him in pretty much any kind of genre going and it'll still work.

Kirk G said...

As I recall, this issue is also notable not only because it was allegedly plotted by Harlan, but because there were an absurd number of titles of Harlan's ther works shoe-horned into the dialog. Most of them are obvious, but not so obnoxious as "Tick, Tock said the Harlequen". It was annoying as hell. But notable, I'm sure. So, why not noted here?

The Cryptic Critic said...

Hi, Kirk. It's not noted here because I didn't know about it. It seems I learn something new every day.

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