Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Incredible Hulk #107. The one with the Mandarin

Incredible Hulk #107, the Mandarin(Cover from September 1968.)

"Ten Rings Hath The Mandarin!"

Written by Gary Friedrich.
Drawn by Herb Trimpe.
Inked by Syd Shores.
Lettering by Artie Simek.

There's only one man in the Marvel universe who loves purple and green more than the Hulk does and, with issue #107, at last our hero gets to meet him. After last issue and his spat with the exploding caveman, this time out the Hulk meets the megalomaniac Manchurian as he finds himself up against Iron Man's old nemesis the Mandarin.

Watching our hero blundering around in Russia, Mandy decides the Hulk's just the pawn he needs for his evil schemes and teleports him to his Chinese castle to inflict a series of tests on him. Luckily for the Hulk, none of them involve Advanced Calculus and most consist of smashing things. As the Hulk does "smashing" better than anyone this side of Jim Bowen, he passes with flying colours before trying to kill the Mandarin who, sadly, has one last trick up his sleeve.

It has to be said the general story-telling's not altogether ambitious in this tale. Basically, once the loose ends from the previous issue are tied up, it's just the Hulk smashing a string of machines, devices and robots before trying to smash the Mandarin. But is that really such a bad thing? What do we read the thing for if it's not an innate love of mindless violence? And it's always good to see the Hulk up against an over-confident self-declared genius. It always works with the Leader and it works here. It's oddly appealing to see Mandy so convinced of his superiority that he at no point grasps just what a clanger it is to bring the Hulk into his castle.

If the art wasn't exactly sensational last time out, this issue it's even worse, as Syd Shores' heavy-handed and unsophisticated inking almost completely swamps Trimpe's pencils. If you try really hard you can still just about see his style showing through but only just. Although she's not credited, I have to wonder if Marie Severin's still got a hand in the mix as there're several panels that look distinctly Marie-esque.

But none of this matters. What really matters is that possibly the greatest revelation of this issue is that the Hulk is quite the linguist as, surrounded by the sort of pitch-fork wielding Eastern Europeans that exist only in comics and 1930s' Frankenstein movies, he can understand their every word. If only the Mandarin had decided to test the Hulk's language skills instead of his hitting skills, who knows what unpleasantness he might have been spared?

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