Sunday, 25 July 2010

Incredible Hulk #126. Night-Crawler, Dr Strange and the Undying Ones

Incredible Hulk #126, the Night-Crawler(Cover from April 1970.)

"...Where Stalks The Night-Crawler!"

Written by Roy Thomas.
Drawn by Herb Trimpe.
Inked by Herb Trimpe.
Lettering by Artie Simek.

For some reason, the Hulk and magic have always mixed well, possibly because of his thinly disguised roots in horror tales like Frankenstein, The Wolfman and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and here he gets flung well and truly into the world of sorcery as he gets to meet Dr Strange for what appears to be the first time (though don't quote me on that).

But before he can do that he has to be kidnapped, in his Bruce Banner guise, and sent spiralling by some HP Lovecraft types into a dread dimension where he has to fight the dread Night-Crawler. No, not the X-Man, who no one would call "dread". This one's a demon with attitude who's the only thing keeping the evil Undying Ones from invading our world.

The main joy of the issue is it gives Herb Trimpe the chance to show he's equally at home drawing arcane horror as modern technology. The early scenes at the occultists' mansion are wonderfully melodramatic and, when he arrives, the Night-Crawler's great, a huge big demon with a bunch of tricks up his sleeves and an ego of galactic proportions. When the Hulk destroys his dimension, the Night-Crawler doesn't sit and sulk like the rest of us would, he just decides to help himself to the Undying Ones' dimension instead, blithely setting himself the task of taking on their entire world to get it. He might be a villain and I'm not too sure how many times he ever appeared after this but there's no getting away from it, while he lasted, he was a cool character.

A pre-Valkyrie Barbara Norris, meanwhile frees Dr Strange from the prison he's been in throughout the story, and Strange and the Hulk return to Earth.

I assume this tale was designed to tie-up loose ends from the cancellation of Dr Strange's own mag and it could explain his somewhat ungallant actions in happily leaving Barbara Norris in the Undying Ones' trap. Surely, being a hero, he'd make some attempt to free her but, instead, upon returning to Earth, he decides the world no longer needs Dr Strange and promptly retires, leaving poor old Babs trapped by the Undying Ones forever. There's gratitude for you. I wonder if her future incarnation The Valkyrie ever brought that decision up at any of their Defenders get-togethers?


cerebus660 said...

Hi C.C. ! I remember this one being a fun little story with a suitably weird backdrop. Wasn't Doc Strange in his short-lived "superhero" phase, mask and all?

And I've got to say, what a great cover! Trimpe was on a roll at this time, with some strong, dynamic cover images, heavily in debt to Jack Kirby. Lovely stuff!

Hoosier X said...

I've never read this one, but I have marveled at the tiny cover image in George Olshevsky's Marvel Comics Index, Volume 7A: The Incredible Hulk.

Thanks for the summary and analysis.

I always forget how far back Barbara Norris appeared in the Marvel Universe.


The Cryptic Critic said...

Hello, cerebus. Dr Strange was indeed in his "super-hero" gear. I don't like to be critical but, especially in this tale, it really did him no favours. Hello to you too, Hoosier. :)

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