Friday, 10 September 2010

Incredible Hulk #163. The Gremlin

Incredible Hulk #163, the first ever Gremlin(Cover from May 1973.)


Written by Steve Englehart.
Drawn by Herb Trimpe.
Inked by Sal Trapani.
Lettered by John Costanza.
Colours by Andrea Hunt.

Christmas, it only comes once a year.

Unfortunately it's not in May, which means no one's in danger of buying the Hulk a compass as a present any time soon.

That's a bit of a shame because he's still blundering around lost in the frozen north, looking for Glenn and Betty Ross-Talbot.

Not for long he isn't because no sooner has Betty's father found him than our hero's captured by the Gremlin, Soviet agent and son of his first ever foe the Gargoyle.

Like father like son. Not only does the Gremlin look like the Gargoyle but he has his genius too.

What he doesn't share is his father's reservations about serving the Soviet State. By the end of the tale, the Hulk's escaped but not before the Gremlin's captured Thunderbolt Ross and locked him in one of his cells as a present for Mother Russia. With no means of escape, is this (iron) curtains for the old warhorse?

It's all good fun stuff - even if the Gremlin's blatantly just Steve Englehart's excuse to bring back the Gargoyle without the inconvenience of having to explain how he returned from the dead - and there is a certain neatness in a servant of the Kremlin being called the Gremlin. I suppose that means we're now due to be introduced to a servant of the White House who's called the...


Herb Trimpe seems to be enjoying himself. In fact I'd say it's the best job he's done on the strip in quite a few months. Clearly the chance to pack virtually every panel with technology got his creative juices flowing.

But, whatever the Hulk's troubles, the focus is on Thunderbolt Ross and his kidnap. This seems to have been a policy of Steve Englehart since he took over the writing. While his stories don't appear to be as imaginative or odd as those of his immediate predecessors, he's clearly decided the dramatic focus should be on the supporting cast and not the Hulk, whether it be Glenn and Betty, the Beast and the Mimic, Paul Cartier or, in this issue, Thunderbolt Ross. It's a wise decision as it adds an extra dimension to what would, if only concentrating on the Hulk, be overly straightforward tales with few twists or turns.

However, you'd think someone would've told Betty her father's been kidnapped. She only finds out by reading about it in a newspaper, which means the entire world knew about it before she did. I know Glenn Talbot was trying to keep her away from all sources of information but you'd think that, under the circumstances, someone in the military would've made an effort to get in touch with them.


Sean Strange said...

I enjoyed this issue after a few forgettable ones. I really like the Gremlin, the mutant Soviet boy genius son of the Hulk’s first foe, with his super-troopers and secret arctic bases. It sets up his next appearance in the series two years later, which is even better. My favorite panel in this issue is the one where the Gremlin asks Hulk about his political beliefs and Hulk answers: “Politics? Hulk doesn’t know what word means. Hulk doesn’t care about Americans – or anybody. He only hates humans who bother him – like you!” This pretty much sums up ol’ greenskin’s philosophy, and who can argue with it?

You’re right that Englehart's stories don’t seem as wildly creative as previous writers, but that will change in the next few issues, as we get back to the kind of comic book weirdness that only Herb Trimpe’s Hulk can deliver!

The Cryptic Critic said...

Yeah, I liked the Hulk's political debate too.

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