Friday, 17 September 2010

Incredible Hulk #168. Modok & the Harpy

Incredible Hulk #168, the Harpy(Cover from October 1973.)

"The Hate Of The Harpy!"

Written by Steve Englehart.
Drawn by Herb Trimpe.
Inked by Jack Abel.
Lettering by Artie Simek.
Colours by S Goldberg.

Jim Wilson should be grateful. He only has to put up with his girlfriend not letting him him keep a monster in her dad's basement. The Hulk has to put up with his "ex" wanting to kill him with nuclear blasts.

That's right, it's the issue where women prove what a pain they can be as Betty Talbot becomes the Harpy and Jim's Talia becomes a would-be fiancee.

It's also the issue where Betty Talbot spends virtually the whole story naked. I can't say this excites me much but, from my roamings around the Internet, I've learned it seems to have made a lasting impression on surprisingly many people.

With the Hulk at last having left the hospital, Modok finally gets his hands on Betty Talbot and, by blasting her with large doses of Gamma radiation, turns her into the Harpy, half woman, half eagle, all green. Driven by a desire for revenge against the monster she blames for everything that's gone wrong in her life - which is plenty - she attacks the Hulk and, with the aid of a bit of trickery, knocks him out, ready for the kill.

It has to be said the Harpy's a somewhat unwieldy design with ludicrously big feet and a very odd thing happening with her chest feathers to preserve the modesty that's no doubt all important when you're a giant bird woman. She also doesn't live up to Modok's boast that she's stronger than the Hulk but at least she's got deviousness on her side and, from the reader's point of view, she's so over the top both visually and spiritually that all logical objections to her tend to be swept away by the sheer ridiculousness of it all.

This is probably a good thing. I suspect that, logically, Harpy Betty is as bad an idea as six-armed Spider-Man was. But there's something wrong with me. Despite all the criticism it got, I happened to like six-armed Spider-Man and, for the same reason, I don't have a problem with the Harpy. She's laughable and silly and no doubt a disastrous misstep by Steve Englehart but it's a comic book, and often ludicrousness is its own reward in such a medium. With her ranting and raving, she also makes the Enchantress' version of the Valkyrie look like easy-going, so how could you ever fail to warm to her?

But if I'm happy and the Harpy's happy, her father certainly isn't because Thunderbolt Ross has had command of the Hulkbusters taken off him and given to Colonel Armbruster.

You see? It turns out it's not only women you can't trust.


Hoosier X said...

So how old were you the first time you saw Betty frolicking in the buff in the woods on her way to her date with destiny?

I was 12 or 13. (I read in 1976 or 1977.) It's stuck in my memory.

That Betty Ross is one crazy chick!

The Cryptic Critic said...

I was twenty eight. I first read it in Essential Hulk Vol4. To be honest, I didn't even notice she had no clothes on. I was too busy worrying about the size of the Harpy's feet.

Hoosier X said...

Adding to my fascination with this whole storyline: 1) The Bi-Beast; 2) Whatever the Hell is going on in Hulk #170; and 3) Betty's newfound power that enables her to materialize a burlap bag with which to cover her nakedness when she is no longer the Harpy.

The Cryptic Critic said...

The next couple of issues are indeed a bit of an experience, and I couldn't tell you what's going on in #170. It seems you found it as odd as I did when I first read it.

Hoosier X said...

Good news, Cryp! #170 is one of the issues I have still have! (I have #159, #162, #163, #164 and #170, so this is a pretty good time-frame for me. The next issue I have is #195, unless you count the reprint I have for #181.)

So I'll be able to read along and go into great detail about WTF is going on in #170.

You Might Also Like

Related Posts with Thumbnails