Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Incredible Hulk #139. The Leader and just about everybody else the Hulk's ever fought

Incredible Hulk #139, Many foes has the Hulk...
(Cover from May 1971.)

“Many Foes Has The Hulk!”

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


Give them their due. Thunderbolt Ross and Glenn Talbot aren’t men who need a brick wall to fall on them twice.

They’re men who need a brick wall to fall on them a thousand times - and even then they might not get the message. After having seen proof, time after time, of the Leader’s pathological need for treachery, when he approaches them with his latest scheme, guess what? That’s right, they fall for it.

This time he wants to kill the Hulk by making him, in quick succession, fight imaginary recreations of his greatest foes, thus dealing him a fatal heart attack. To do this the Leader needs the military who just happen to have a machine lying around that’ll enable him to do it. Needless to say, having gained their co-operation, he then betrays them, just in time for the normally dim-witted Jim Wilson to show more sense than everyone else put together and sabotage the machine.

Despite the stupidity of Ross and Talbot it’s yet another of those tales I love. Granted its plot’s basically purloined from The Fantastic Four issue #100 in which the FF had to face a whole string of fake versions of their greatest foes but while that story was a bit of a random mess and a sad reminder of how far Jack Kirby’s run had declined since its mid-1960s’ heyday, this tale works beautifully because, unlike that outing, it has a defined endpoint to give it focus. Each of the Hulk’s “fights” brings him inexorably closer to the place where the now glass Betty Ross is, meaning that, when he gets there, the vitrified victim’s likely to be smashed to pieces by the tremors from his fighting.

It also boasts a much stronger and better thought-out climax in which, thanks to Jim Wilson’s tinkering, the Leader’s machine back-fires and leaves him thinking he’s being pursued by a whole bunch of Hulks until his mind snaps and he’s left in a vegetative state of total mental shut-down.

Of course, if the Leader had any sense, he’d have set all the Hulk’s imaginary foes on him at once.

But it seems the Leader has even less of that quality than Thunderbolt Ross and Major Talbot do.

16 comments:

Hoosier X said...

I really love this one, from the moment I first saw it, reprinted in The Hulk Marvel Treaury Edition in the mid-1970s.

And I still have the copy I bought for 2$ later in the 1970s! A few months after I sold my Hulk collection in 2005, I found Hulk #139 and several issues from the #150 to #200 era misfiled in one of my comic-book boxes. I don't recall doing it on purpose, but #139 is definitely an issue I would have kept if I had done it intentionally. Maybe it was a subconscious expression of the id.

I just finished reading it - for about the millionth time - and this story is a blast, all the way through, no matter how many times I've read it. Trimpe's art, inked by Sam Grainger, looks great. And I love seeing one great old Hulk foe after another, even if it's just for one panel.

It was unusual for me to buy an original comic book for any story that I had a reprint for, and I think I may have decided to make an exception for this one because of the cover. It's like: Here we are! The Rhino, The Abomination, The Absorbing Man, The Mandarin, The Glob and the Sandman!

And Hulk is like: Hulk got this covered. Hulk not even break sweat.

What I love:

The splash page: The title is a Leader word ballon. The Hulk wading in the surf in a crystal ball. The Leader looks awesome.

The Leader just drops in on Talbot at home, which must be military housing, and Talbot has fallen asleep in front of the TV.

The smoke from Talbot's cigarette takes the form of Glass Betty.

That page with no dialogue with the Hulk and the timid deer.

An appearance by Tricky Dick, who says: "... I've got faith in you, Ross. You haven't let me down yet." (Yes, indeed. If Nixon wasn't any more perceptive than this, I think we may have an idea about why Vietnam went on for so long, and why expanding the conflict to Cambodia seemed like a good idea. I'm starting to wonder if the whole "Military vs. the Hulk" storyline was intended as a commentary on Vietnam.)

Jim Wilson: "How'd Flip Wilson ever let you get away, Corp?

The half-page art on Pages 12 and 13. And they're both numbered as separate pages to make it look like the story is 20 pages instead of 19.

The page that shows nothing but one instant of each fight with Night-Crawler, the Mandarin, the Sandman, the Glob and Iron Man.

The map that shows the city, the river and the location of each battle.

Jim Wilson to the rescue! On his bicycle!

Too many Hulks!

The last panel: Glass Betty trembling as the Hulk leaps away.

Sell seeds! Make money! Get prizes!

It is, indeed, dumb that Talbot and Ross would work with the Leader again after he betrayed them so blatantly before. (But, see Vietnam reference above for real-life analogy.) And it makes no sense that the military would put so much money into a project like the Brain-Wave Booster without any idea how it would be powered. ("Man, it's a good thing the Leader showed up, or this multi-billion dollar project would all got to waste!")

But I never noticed either of these problems before.

Shiai said...

A great issue! Trimpe's never been a fan favorite artist, but for my money, his Hulk remains definitive (and when his pencils were inked by John Severin, it was astonishing).

Yes, ol' Thunderbolt and Talbot are mind-numbingly naive in this one, but to the credit of Roy Thomas, it wasn't long before he transformed them from the military martinets they had been since 1962, and added real depth to their characters...something which some later writers forgot.

And I have to step up to defend Kirby! By FF #100, Jack had long been fed up with working with Stan Lee on the book (feeling he'd said everything he had to say, but Lee wasn't willing to let his flagship artist leave Marvel's flagship title), and for at least two years, Kirby didn't introduce a single new character...he left that to Stan, and "The Man" wasn't able to come up with anyone new on his own. At the same time, Kirby was doing some of his very best work over on THOR, his "Inhumans" strip was interesting, and of course he was putting together the elements for his Fourth World. And let's face it, even weak Kirby FF is better than quite a few FF's to follow over the decades.

The Cryptic Critic said...

Hello, Hoosier and Shiai.

It's good to see I'm not the only one who loves this tale.

I have to admit I've never known who Flip Wilson is/was and still don't. Looks like I'm going to have to remember to Google him at some point.

I wonder if anyone ever did sell seeds, make money and get prizes?

Hoosier X said...

Flip Wilson was a black comic of the '60s and '70s. He was mostly famous for dressing up in drag as a rather sassy woman named Geraldine. I believe his catchphrase was "What you see is what you get." He was on TV a lot - stuff like Laugh-In and Johnny Carson, I think - and he even had his own TV variety show for a few seasons.

How old are you, Cryp?

P.S. I never did sell seeds but I DID send away for the life-size monster of Frankenstein. I was so upset that it was only a big poster! (At least his eyes glowed.)

The Cryptic Critic said...

As a critic of crypticity, I of course like to keep myself shrouded in mystery but if you were to guess at somewhere around the age of thirty you might not be too far off, Hoosier.

J.A. Morris said...

Hi,been reading this blog few a weeks,love it!

I first read this in a 1980 reprint issue of 'Marvel Super-Heroes'. As a kid,I always got excited when a gang of villains teamed up,even if they turned out to be robots or illusions. The Leader was the villain in the first Hulk story I ever read(MSH#78),he's a great counterpoint to the Hulk(intelligence vs savagery)but he's such a weasel.

Sal Buscema was the regular artist on 'The Incredible Hulk' when I began collecting,but the first back issues featured Trimpe's art. Sal's one of my favorites,but Trimpe will always be the definitive Hulk penciler in my book,thanks for setting up this blog!

The Cryptic Critic said...

Hello, J.A. Thanks for your kind words. If you like Sal's work then you should be more than pleased with the very next post I do. :)

Hoosier X said...

I'm a little older than 30. Maybe more than a little older than 30, depending on how you look at it.

I do remember Flip Wilson on television. I remember Geraldine. Just barely, I must add.

Heck, I remember stuff like Hogan's Heroes and Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp. I remember the later seasons of Red Skelton and Jack Benny!

Actually, Cryp, I was trying to figure out whether you didn't know about Flip Wilson because you were too young or because you're British or Australian or something.

Flip Wilson was very popular in his day. You want proof? He was referenced in a Hulk comic book.

The Cryptic Critic said...

I think my ignorance is probably down to both my age and being British. I could be wrong however. It may just be down to ignorance.

Hoosier X said...

If you're around 30 AND British, there is no reason at all why you would know who Flip Wilson is.

Please feel free to mention any cultural references in Hulk comics that are unfamiliar to you. I will be happy to help.

And, in return, you can help me with similar references from British television. I am a big fan of "Monty Python," "The Young Ones," "Black Adder" and "Absolutely Fabulous" and I frequently wonder if I missed part of the gag by not knowing what they are talking about.

For example, from the song "Eric the Half-Bee," who is Cyril Connelly?

Anonymous said...

Hey, I'm well on the far side of thirty, and Flip Wilson was a big hit on Australian TV (or as big as anything else anyway).

Have been following this blog with great interest - like most of my vintage, Herb Trimpe's was "my" Hulk; funny thing is, I recall Roy Thomas in more than one interview saying that he used to knock off Hulk scripts really quickly, and was surprised at how fondly they're remembered. This could account for the little absurdities, glitches in logic or flatout inconsistencies...by this time Roy was probably giving most of his concentration to the upcoming Kree/Skrull War over in "The Avengers."

And according to Wikipedia...

"Cyril Vernon Connolly (10 September 1903 – 26 November 1974) was an English intellectual, literary critic and writer. He was the editor of the influential literary magazine Horizon (1940–1949) and wrote Enemies of Promise (1938), which combined literary criticism with an autobiographical exploration of why he failed to become the successful author of fiction that he had aspired to be in his youth."


cheers
B Smith

The Cryptic Critic said...

Hello, B. It's nice to hear from you too. I have to admit that up until your comment I'd never heard of Cyril Connolly. I think I can safely say my ignorance knows no bounds.

John Lindwall said...

I too love this story! Never read it in its original form, but instead I read it recently in the Essentials edition. If I had read this as a kid I would surely have flipped out. I bought the Essentials specifically to get a big helping of Trimpe Hulk Goodness.

I did not buy the giant lifesize Frenkenstein as a kid but got similarly fooled by the giant lifesize skeleton! I saved my money for that and sent away for it with my Dad's help. It had little circular glowing stickers that you put on its eyes. I still remember my Dad asking me if it was what I expected; I'm sure he could see the veiled disappointment on my face. But I was embarrassed to admit it was not what I expected at all. Still, we would tape it onto our door every halloween so I guess we got some fun out of it.

The Cryptic Critic said...

I'm always amazed me what advertisers could get away with in US comic books. It's a wonder they didn't all end up jailed for fraud.

Then again, maybe they did.

Anonymous said...

This looks like the first Hulk comic I purchased. I remember being in grade school. The issue looks familiar but I do recall the whole battle was an illusion on Hulk's part. He nver actually fought all those villians. It was part of an illusion the Leader set up.

I wish there was a Trimpe Omnibus. That is unlikely seeing that Marvel unjustly fired him after 29 years of work.

Seeing the whole Kirby family lawsuit not working out tells you one thing. If you have the next Spiderman, publish it independently.

The Cryptic Critic said...

In fairness, comic companies have a more enlightened attitude to current creators' rights than they once did, but it's true that their attitude towards past creators hasn't always covered them in glory.

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