Thursday, 8 July 2010

Incredible Hulk #109. The one with Ka-Zar and Zabu

Incredible Hulk #109, Ka-Zar and Zabu in the Savage Land(Cover from November 1968.)

"The Monster And The Man-Beast!"

Written by Stan Lee.
Layouts by Frank Giacoia.
Pencils by Herb Trimpe.
Inked by John Severin.
Lettered by Artie Simek.

Rain, gales, sleet. It might sound like a typical Wimbledon fortnight but it's even worse than that. It's the worst threat the world has ever faced, as the Hulk finds himself in the Hidden Land.

In order to escape China, which is being less than friendly to him, our hero's hitched a ride on a rocket which, thanks to his weight, has crashed in Ka-Zar's homeland. No sooner has the Hulk arrived than he's back in his Bruce Banner guise and being shown a machine in a cave. Because he's the sort of genius who could only exist in a comic book, it takes Banner mere moments to realise the machine's affecting the Earth's rotation and'll destroy us all by messing up our weather. Unfortunately, before Brucie can do anything about it, he turns into the Hulk and now, with no one around to do anything about the machine, we're all in trouble.

This is one of my favourite Hulk stories from this era. Not only is virtually every panel a masterclass in how to do the Hulk but it starts a multi-part tale that encapsulates the strip's brand new era perfectly, with strange lands, strange machines, strange beings, alien planets, cosmic menaces, alien races, giant robots, an oppressed people in need of liberation, and more spaceships than you can shake a stick at. It also doesn't hurt that every panel's packed with drama either.

It has to be said this particular issue relies an awful lot on coincidence. The Hulk just happens to blunder across a rocket launch. The rocket just happens to deliver the Hulk to the Savage Land. Bruce Banner just happens to bump into Ka-Zar. At the time Bruce Banner, one of the world's greatest scientists, arrives in the Savage Land, there just happens to be a machine in a cave that's about to destroy the world - a machine Ka-Zar just happens to have stumbled across.

Somehow it doesn't matter.

As I've said before, if you're looking for a likely series of events, then comic books probably aren't the place to look, and the sheer vigour of it all carries you along regardless of all stretches of credulity.

An over-reliance on coincidence aside, for me the one failing of this issue is General Thunderbolt Ross whose characterisation is plain monomaniacal. Confronted by dangerously changing weather patterns, he promptly starts going on about how Bruce Banner must be behind it.


Why would Bruce Banner want to change the world's weather? Even if he had the ability, since when has he been the madman Ross describes him as here? Ross might have it in for the Hulk but since when has he viewed Banner as a major threat to the humanity?


cerebus660 said...

That Trimpe/Severin cover is beautiful! Incorporating the logo into the background is a trick that Will Eisner used in The Spirit, and this version of that style is a lovely touch.

The Cryptic Critic said...

I've always loved it too. I think that, along with issue #142's Valkyrie about to throw the Hulk off the Empire State Building, it's my favourite Hulk cover from the period in question.

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