Sunday, 10 October 2010

Incredible Hulk #184. Shadow boxing.

(Cover from February 1975.)

"Shadow On The Land!"

Written by Len Wein.
Art by Herb Trimpe.
Lettering by Artie Simek.
Colours by Glynis Wein.

Some might argue a strip's scraping the bottom of the barrel when its hero starts having to fight his own shadow, but it's The Incredible Hulk and, as I've said before, the less likely things get the more enjoyable it seems to become.

Here, Kaa, an alien would-be ruler of Earth, takes possession of the Hulk's shadow in order to further his evil plans. Sadly that's as far as his plot for world domination gets as, instead of setting off to conquer the Earth, he just spends all day long fighting the Hulk. As plans go it doesn't seem altogether thought through and I'm not sure from the story whether Kaa's even able to physically separate himself completely from the Hulk, meaning his plan always seemed to be on rocky ground.

In the end, the fiendish shadow's defeated when someone switches on some floodlights and he disintegrates in the multi-directional glare. It's the second issue running a villain from the days of Marvel's monster mags has been revived, and the second issue running said villain's been defeated by an agency other than the Hulk, so repetition could be said to be setting in. Still, the sight of the Hulk fighting his own shadow's fun and, even if there's really not much point to the story beyond that gimmick, it passes the time engagingly enough.

Letterers don't tend to get noticed too much - at least not by me - but credit has to be given to Artie Simek who expands on the theme by giving the Hulk's shadow black speech balloons with white dialogue. I don't know if this was his idea or if it was also used in Kaa's first appearance way back when but, either way, it's effective.

But the real drama this issue comes not from the Hulk's scrap but from the tale's coda, as Bruce Banner shows up at Hulkbuster Base only to be shot, in the second-last panel, by Colonel Armbruster.

I always said he was up to no good.


Hoosier X said...

I love this one!

The last two years or so of Trimpe's Hulk are, uh, - not bad, really, but the great issues were very few and far between after #170. Kinda repetitive, really. Been done. (I really understand why Trimpe jumped ship when he did.)

But I DO like this one. And #186-#188, to tell the truth.) I wish I still had this one.

As for Kaa's word balloons ... He first appeared in Tales of Suspense #7 (I think) and I used to have it. I think they did something with his word balloons, but I can't remember exactly what. I may still have a reprint of the first Kaa story. If I can dig it up, I'll let you know what's the haps.

Hoosier X said...

I dug around a little and found my beat-up copy of the Big Strange Tales Annual #1. (It's pretty banged-up. I bought it for $20 about 1995 or so. It's all there, but the spine is taped along the whole length. When I sold my comics, I kept this one because it's one of my favorites and it just wouldn't have brought enough scratch to make it worth selling.)

And there it is: "I Come from the Shadow World!" Great story. Great Ditko art.

But his word balloons are just like anybody else.

I looked at my Hulk index to make sure I got Kaa's first appearance right ... and it says Strange Tales #79, which can't be right because I know I never had no Strange Tales #79.

A little Internet research reveals that the Shadow Man in TOS #7 is not the same as Warlord Kaa from ST #79! Oops! I don't know how long I've been living with this misunderstanding.

The first Warlord Kaa story is apparently a Kirby/Ayers saga. There is some speculation on the Web that there is some relation between the Shadow Man and Kaa, but this has never been confirmed.

I've never read ST #79. So I can't answer your question about Kaa's word balloons.

I'm going to drown my humiliation with all these classic early Marvel monster stories in the Big Strange Tales Annual #1!

Hoosier X said...

Tell me this guy don't look like Warlord Kaa!

The Cryptic Critic said...

Hi, Hoosier. I feel I now know more about shadow people than I ever thought possible.

But I'm glad to know I'm not the only one not as gripped by the later Trimpe stories as the earlier ones. I wasn't sure if the stories really weren't as fresh as they had been or whther it's just that I've got jaded (no pun intended) from having reviewed so many.

Anonymous said...

I think I read a "Tales From The Crypt"comic that was about a murderous shadow once.Is it me or did Herb Trimpe intentially make Bruce Banner start to resemble "Kung Fu" star,David Carradine?Kinda makes you think "What If?"I've often noticed that Bill Bixby's portrayal of Banner tearing out of more plaid or lumberjack shirts when he changes.More coincidence?Budd


I had a freind back in high school,who so hated this story,he took the comic out back and set on fire,with matches.I don't know,if he really did this,but thats what told months after this Hulk comic came out.Me I figured,it was a bit weird,but no weirder than Zzaxx and some of the other monsters featured in the comic.I wasn't about to start a an club around these Shadow guys,but when you read a comic,you take what you get.You either love or hate.Then move on and hope next month,it gets better.

The Cryptic Critic said...

I've always had a soft spot for it.

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