Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Incredible Hulk #156. The Smart Hulk vs the Stupid Hulk

Incredible Hulk #156(Cover from October 1972.)

“Holocaust At The Heart Of The Atom!”

Written by Archie Goodwin.
Art by Herb Trimpe and Sal Tapani.
Lettering by Artie Simek.

So John Severin vacates the inker's seat, and Sal Trapani moves in. It's a fair old contrast to go from Severin's softer style to Trapani's determinedly angular one. The odd thing is that, despite their differences, both approaches seem to suit Trimpe equally well. Severin's style lending Trimpe's work a subtlety, detail and depth it might otherwise lack, Trapani's giving it a greater boldness and definition.

Back on Jarella’s world, the Hulk - once more with Bruce Banner’s brain - finds her kingdom in ruins, with Jarella captured by the evil Lord Visis. Being the Hulk, he quickly rescues her and then agrees to face Visis’ champion to decide the victor in their war.

But the devious warlord has a trick up his sleeve and a machine in his armoury and uses it to make Banner face his worst fear, a version of the Hulk out of all control.

It’s a perfectly pleasant and readable tale but there’re really no new elements introduced from those seen in previous Jarella tales, plus, as I’ve said before, not being a sword and sorcery fan, I don’t find Jarella’s world and its politics all that interesting. That problem’s not helped by the fact that yet again the bad guy’s the somewhat run-of-the-mill Lord Visis who we’d all have forgotten about long ago were he not in the habit of reappearing every time Jarella does.

Still it’s appropriate that the one thing that can defeat an intelligent Hulk is a stupid Hulk. With other Marvel heroes, it’s their intelligence as much as their powers that make them unbeatable. With the Hulk, not for the first time, we’re left in no doubt it’s his total lack of intelligence that does it.

Inevitably, the Hulk survives his encounter with his stupid self but is once more snatched by cruel fate from the arms of his would-be queen. Poor old Hulkie, will he never find happiness? I don’t like to be negative but I think we all know the answer to that one.

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