Thursday, 15 July 2010

Incredible Hulk #117. The Leader's still back

Incredible Hulk #117, the Leader and his giant android(Cover from July 1969.)

"World's End?"

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

After a couple of sedate issues, our tale finally goes into overdrive as the Leader goes nuclear.

That's right, the only man you'll ever meet who daren't paint his face red, in case people mistake his head for a post box, finally gets round to launching the atomic missiles whose firing he spent the whole of last issue talking about.

Of course, being a master-villain, he can't do it quickly. He has to spend as long as possible talking about it some more, with every second increasing his chances of failure. It's times like this that make you realise the Leader really is a fool. "Blather blather blather," that's all you get from him for pages, "No one can stop me," this and, "When I rule the world," that. Just shut up and press the button, you buffoon!

Then again, Betty Ross isn't much better. She just stands there going, "Oh no, someone has to stop him," when, as far as I can make out, all she has to do is grab a spanner and bash him over the back of the head with it.

Happily, if there's one person in the comic who doesn't waste time standing around, it's the Hulk who finally breaks free of his rubbery prison, has a short but epic battle with the Leader's Super Humanoid and then destroys the Leader's missiles before they can impact.

I'm not sure there's a lot of logic to this tale. How does the Hulk leap from an island in the middle of nowhere, to the mainland missile base, in the matter of mere moments? How does he even know in which direction the missile base is? How does the Hulk dramatically change the flight of a nuclear missile by tugging at it while sat on it? Surely he'd succeed only in pulling it to pieces, not sending it flying off at a sudden right angle? At times the events we're watching don't seem real. It's almost like we're watching some sort of nightmare the Leader's having where a monster called the Hulk keeps doing impossible things to thwart him.

In truth, this three-part tale hasn't been the best advert for the strip. The Hulk's pretty much been an irrelevance till its concluding part and there's been endless repetition, with the Hulk captured then escaping then being recaptured then escaping then being recaptured then escaping. Nor does it have the noticeably warped imagination of other tales of the era, and its plot, revolving around the Leader trying to start a war between the major powers so he can emerge at the end of it as ruler of the world, is lifted straight from You Only Live Twice.

Still, when it finally comes, the fight between the Hulk and the Leader's Super Humanoid is gloriously enjoyable, especially its use of that strategically placed volcano. I do wonder if it's the one the FF trapped the Super Skrull in? If so it deserves some sort of medal for services to mankind.

For the first time, we get to see Herb Trimpe inking himself - and doing a great job of it. There's a theory that artists are always their own best inkers. Having seen some examples of artists inking themselves, I'm not totally convinced about that but Trimpe certainly does nothing here to wreck the claim.

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