Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Incredible Hulk #161. The Beast and the Mimic

Incredible Hulk #161, the Beast and the Mimic(Cover from March 1973.)

"Beyond the Border Lurks Death!"

Written by Steve Englehart.
Drawn by Herb Trimpe.
Inked by Sal Tapani.
Lettering by Artie Simek.
Colours by G Roussos.

If life imitates art, it seems art can do a pretty nifty take-off of life as, according to this month’s credits, Happy Herb Trimpe got married while doing this issue. I think we can call that appropriate, seeing as, within it, Glenn Talbot and Betty Ross are on honeymoon in Canada.

Someone not on honeymoon is the incredible Hulk. Out to find the Talbot/Rosses, our hero merely finds himself growing weaker.

It turns out his strength’s being unknowingly drained by the Mimic - once of the X-Men comics - and if the Mimic’s power’s not checked, the Hulk won’t be the only one. Eventually the Mimic’s influence will expand until he drains the strength from every living creature on Earth, killing the lot of us!

Fortunately, the Beast and his friend Vera are out to cure the Mimic.

Unfortunately, they hadn’t counted on the intrusion of the Hulk, out to smash the source of his discomfiture.

It may say The Incredible Hulk on the cover but really, just as issue #150 was about Havok and Polaris, this one’s about the Beast. That’s no bad thing for some of us as I’ve always had a soft spot for the big blue fur ball, and there is something oddly appealing about the sight of him battling the Hulk - especially the Hulk’s belief that he’s up against some sort of monkey.

My knowledge of the Mimic’s far more limited and comes entirely from this comic. I suppose the fact he only made a couple of appearances in the X-Men before being brought back here purely to die suggests he wasn’t one of the most popular characters of all time and, from what we see here, he doesn't seem an overly interesting individual.

There is one thing that baffles me though. If the Mimic kills himself by draining the Hulk’s Gamma radiation into himself, shouldn’t that have turned the Hulk back into Bruce Banner and cured him?


Sean Strange said...

Well I've decided to re-read these comics along with you, having been a Hulk fanatic as a kid and proud owner of the entire Herb Trimpe run. This story was pretty forgettable and wasn't one I even remembered, but I will say that I'm not sorry to see that goofball with a giant M on his chest and ridiculous goggles get killed off. The Mimic must be one of the silliest-looking creations of the Silver Age, and that's saying something!

As a general observation, has there ever been a comic with a weirder variety of characters and adventures than the Incredible Hulk? From a cosmic Captain Ahab to a World War I flying ace to subterranean tyrants to super-Nazis, world-shapers and a beautiful green woman in an atom, this series is just one crazy surprise after another. And through all the madness we have the continuing drama of General Thunderbolt Ross and his Hulkbusters trying to capture the green goliath and keep his fickle daughter safe from harm. I’ve always loved the fact that the Hulk is almost in his own universe, neither hero nor villain, with little contact with the costumed do-gooders of the Marvel Universe. It seems like this freed the writers to create some really offbeat stories that wouldn’t have worked in any other title. The only other series I can think of that compare are Swamp Thing and Godzilla, which I also love. They certainly aren’t masterpieces, but somehow for me they’re as good as it gets in comics.

The Cryptic Critic said...

Hi Sean, I love the idea of people reading along with the blog.

I think part of the strip's ingenuity has to be down to the fact it's such a problematical concept. Because it stars an anti-social menace who can't win fights with his wits, it forced writers to work ways around that limitation, and so it never really settled on a particular format or feel. It happens right from issue #2 onwards, where Stan Lee was changing the format from month to month, clearly struggling to figure out just how to do the strip. In the end, what'd seemed a limitation in its earlier days, ended up giving the strip an unusual level of freedom.

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