Saturday, 11 September 2010

Incredible Hulk #164. Captain Omen

Incredible Hulk #164, Captain Omen(Cover from June 1973.)

"Phantom From 5,000 Fathoms!"

Written by Steve Englehart.
Drawn by Herb Trimpe.
Inked by Sal Trapani.
Lettering by John Costanza.
Colours by David Hunt.

The romance of the sea may be lost on the Hulk but it's not lost on Steve Englehart who kicks the tale off with a quick bout of John Masefield's Sea Fever. He's not the first writer to quote poetry in the strip and I do wonder if The Incredible Hulk has at this stage featured more poetry than any other super-hero comic.

Sadly such dreaminess can't last and, deciding the best way to get home from the frozen Arctic wasteland he's found himself in is to go for a swim, the Hulk promptly finds himself captured by the mysterious Captain Omen, master of a gigantic submarine that doubles up as a citadel. Not short of ambition, Omen wants to claim all the sea floor as his territory.

Quite what the Sub-Mariner and Attuma would make of that isn't touched on but we do know the Hulk's not impressed and goes into Hulk Smash Mode, only to find himself stood on the sea bed and having to obey Captain Omen's orders if he wants to keep the air supply that's the only thing keeping him alive.

It's nice to see comic books honouring their tradition of total originality as the Hulk comes up against an antagonist who in no way resembles Jules Verne's Captain Nemo and has a name that's in no way an anagram of it. But, despite his lack of originality, Omen's an intriguing character. It's hard to make out if he's a bad guy or just lacks man-management skills and, as with last issue, Trimpe seems to be enjoying himself, in his depiction of the huge sub, with its strange-looking crew, mechanical birds and and giant Toad Whales.

Again the main intrigue comes from the capture of Thunderbolt Ross, with a new character - Colonel John D Armbruster - introduced. Armbruster's been engaged by Washington to lead the mission to rescue Ross from the Russians and even though I don't like to make snap judgements about someone, with his background in Vietnam and overly-brisk manner, I can't help feeling he's going to turn out to be trouble.


Hoosier X said...

This is one crazy comic. I love it!

As it's one of the Hulks I saved when I sold so much of my collection, I read it before commenting. I'm glad I kept this one. For the Toad-Whales - "those awesome, half-mythological creatures" - alone, this is a great comic!

I'd forgotten this was Armbeuster's first appearance! And I love the way they tell Nick Fury to go stuff himself because they want the Ross rescue mission to be an Air Force operation. "Thanks for the plan, Colonel. Now go an be a Howler elsewhere. We got Armbruster."

I'd forgotten that my copy is in such great condition! It's technically marked VG because the corner is bent and a few of the pages have the corners chipped off, but the cover is really bright and the pages are white.

Coming up next: The inexplicable Aquon! Hooray!

The Cryptic Critic said...

It's certainly one of the first stories I think of when I think of Hulk stories from the Sal Trapani inked era.

cerebus660 said...

I love that splash-page ( get it? "splash"? ) of Omen's sub grabbing the smaller vessel in its tentacles. It reminds me of a similar scene in the BBC's recent "The Deep". Only that was crap...

The Cryptic Critic said...

I didn't see "The Deep". I seem to miss everything. :(

Was it as good as "Bonekickers"?

cerebus660 said...

Almost as ( unintentionally ) funny as Bonekickers :-)


This is one crazy comic. I love it.too!Ok,so rips off Captain Nemo-Captain Omen-duh.Even the doppey Hulk could have got that one.But whole thing of this Captain Nemo type,with huge sub,Toad Whales and these underwater Hulk crewmen types,just got me.Years later,I'd cook this interstellar Hulk type,who was apart of a crew of Hulks,called Jovian Primatives aboard a mining ship,as a slave labor class and can be traced back to stories like this one.I liked this so much I stold bits of it,was my own creations.Talk about imatation being the insincerest form of flattery

Anonymous said...

I was just updating my bags and got to this book. Beautiful cover art. I opened it just to peak at the pages and discovered a SECOND cover! No kidding. This book has TWO covers. Actually the one inside is nicer than the one outside. I buy many books and like most I don't open them much. I never would have known had I not been replacing some bags. Pretty cool and rare I bet.

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