Monday, 5 July 2010

The Incredible Hulk #106. The Missing Link

Incredible Hulk #106, the Missing Link
(Cover from August 1968.)

"Above The Earth.. A Titan Rages!"

Written by Archie Goodwin/Roy Thomas.
Layouts by Marie Severin.
Drawn by Herb Trimpe.
Inked by George Tuska.
Lettering by Artie Simek.

Pinpointing exactly when the Herb Trimpe era began is a bit like settling on which day of the week the age of the mammals started. The vagueness is because Trimpe was eased into the title, initially merely inking Marie Severin's pencils for a few issues before disappearing completely from the strip.

Bearing in mind how bad his inks looked over Severin's work, readers might've been forgiven for thinking his name would never again grace the credits box but, by issue #106, it was back and, this time, he was pencilling. However, the fact that he was pencilling over Severin's layouts, suggest he was still not quite trusted by the Powers-That-Be to do it all on his own.

Were those Powers-That-Be right to not trust him?

On the strength of this tale, yes. It's the conclusion of the Hulk's first meeting with the Missing Link. For those who don't know, the Missing Link was a neanderthal revived from being frozen in a block of ice, by a Chinese atomic test which promptly turned him into a bright pink equivalent of the Hulk. To say the tale takes off at a tangent in this issue'd be no exaggeration as, just as the Hulk and the Link are getting stuck into each other, Russia's answer to Nick Fury kidnaps them, in Russia's answer to SHIELD's heli-carrier. Somewhere along the way, The Missing Link explodes and we get the Hulk ending the tale as so many times since, by re-enacting the Frankenstein's-monster-with-the-child routine.

It has to be said it's not a great start to Trimpe's pencilling career on the strip. The combination of Marie Severin's layouts and his work, under George Tuska's inks, isn't a happy one and, for the most part, it looks like something culled from a fanzine, there're signs though, even here, of the later Trimpe style showing through, especially in the second part of the issue but, for now it all seems somewhat amateurish and the artwork isn't a patch on the issue before, which some of us would see as Severin's best work on the title.

Apart from the Missing Link, by far the best thing about this tale is Colonel Yuri Brevlov who, as well as being Russia's answer to Nick Fury, is torn between his sense of duty to his nation and his desire to do the right thing, making him a far cry from all those one-dimensional commies of Marvel's early years.

The other highlights have to be a wonderfully comical moment when the newly-transformed Hulk punches the Missing Link square in the kisser, and an earlier moment when Betty Ross saves Bruce Banner, Major Talbot and a strangely redundant Rick Jones by driving her car straight into the Missing Link. After years of vapid and useless Stan Lee created women, it's great to see one finally showing cojones in a crisis. Cojones in a Crisis, there's a title for a blog.

To be Hulk-inued.


cerebus660 said...

I'll have to use that phrase at least once a day:
"Don't get yer cojones in a crisis!"

The Cryptic Critic said...

I like to think that, once people start saying it, they won't be able to stop.

Anonymous said...

Love those old logoes!The corner box with a Kirby illustration of 'Ol Greenskin himself is enough to get thrilled for.I originally bought this while I was in summer camp.It was a Marvel Super Heroes reprint,and I did enjoy the team-up of either the Severin siblings or their brief associations with Mr. Herbie Trimpe.These comics were like boxing or wrestling matches for kids.Budd

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