Saturday, 10 July 2010

Incredible Hulk #112. More of the Galaxy Master

Incredible Hulk #122, the Galaxy Master(Cover from February 1969.)

"The Brute Battles On!"

Written by Stan Lee.
Drawn by Herb Trimpe.
Inked by Dan Adkins.
Lettered by Artie Simek.

The Pointingometer goes into overdrive as, on an alien world, the Hulk takes on the nefarious Galaxy Master, as absurd and as inspired a foe as has ever stalked the world of comicdom. As I said last time out, he's basically a giant mouth in space, created by a race of evil in order to do evil. Now he's out to destroy every planet that might pose a threat to him.

Well, the Hulk's not a planet but he poses more threat to the mouth almighty than any who've ever lived. And that means it's punch-up time. Happily for the Hulk, he has allies in the locals, who take the jade behemoth's arrival as their cue to rebel against their all-powerful master. Unhappily for the Hulk, they're about as much use as a chocolate parasol. Still, not to worry. As everyone knows, there's not a foe yet that can't be beaten with a big enough smack in the kisser.

Something that strikes me is that no one in this comic, apart from the Hulk and the Galaxy Master, is ever named. There's a princess and her uncle and a messenger and various other minor characters, not to mention an entire air force but, at the end of it all, I don't have a clue what any of them are called. I also don't know what their planet's called. I don't know what the original home world of the Galaxy Master is or what the name of the race that created him is.

The fact that it doesn't matter is a reminder that comics really do work differently from other forms of story telling. If someone tried it in a novel, you'd fling it at the wall in frustration at the pretension of its author. In a movie you'd feel you were watching an exercise of style over substance.

But comics are different.

Unlike novels, comics work in the visual rather than the verbal realm. Unlike movies, we can get directly into the characters' heads, and so their names become superfluous, as far truer identities are revealed by their thoughts. It's also a reminder that the story simply has no time for such niceties as details, as what's basically a tale of epic proportions is crammed into just twenty pages.

When we get to see it, the core of the Galaxy Master is both pathetic and bathetic. It looks like like some old stair rods around a car engine. It could be Herb Trimpe's imagination ran out just at the most vital moment or it could be that he liked the irony that a creature that, from the outside, could pass for an evil version of God is in reality so feeble and flimsy. Given that the Galaxy Master's so totally helpless to defend himself once the Hulk gets past what's at heart a Wizard of Oz style facade, I prefer to believe the latter.

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