Thursday, 21 October 2010

Incredible Hulk #192. The Loch Fear Monster

(Cover from October 1975.)

"The Lurker Beneath Loch Fear!"

Written by Len Wein.
Drawn by Herb Trimpe and Joe Staton.
Lettering by Ray Holloway.
Colours by Glynis Wein.


I think we've all at some point wondered just what'd happen if the Incredible Hulk met the Loch Ness Monster.

Well, OK, I never have but Len Wein clearly had, as at last we get that titanic tussle. Of course, as we all know, the Loch Ness Monster has very good lawyers, and so names have had to be changed. Thus it is that the Loch Ness Monster becomes the Loch Fear Monster and the Incredible Hulk becomes... ...well, the Incredible Hulk.

Sent back to Earth by the Shaper, the green grappler finds himself in a version of Scotland that only exists in comic books, where everyone talks like Groundskeeper Willie and hangs around in castles. It seems that local fisherman Angus Mactavish is on a mission to kill the dreaded Loch Fear Monster but evil laird of the manor Black Jaimie Macawber (who's white) is out to stop him, fearing the deed would destroy a local economy that relies on the tourism the monster brings in. Needless to say the Hulk can't stand for such appalling behaviour as protecting the local tourist industry and is soon slugging it out with the chaotic kelpie while Mactavish tries to stick an explosive harpoon in it.

It has to be said there are two obvious problems with this tale. The first is its stereotypical portrayal of the Scots. The second is it has its ethics in a twist, as the man we're meant to see as the bad guy is clearly the good guy and the man we're meant to see as the good guy is a raving lunatic. Black Jaimie wants to keep the monster alive in order to save the village and its inhabitants from poverty, while Angus Mactavish wants to kill it because...

Well that's the problem. He doesn't seem to have any reason at all to kill the thing. Is it a threat to him? It doesn't appear to be. Has it killed anyone? If it has it's never mentioned. Because of this, it's hard to see why Len Wein seems to think we should be on his side. At least Captain Cybor, way back in issue #137, had some sort of reason for wanting to kill Klaatu, however demented.

There's also the problem that, for a modern reader, it's hard to read the tale without being reminded of the Simpsons episode where Groundskeeper Willie and Monty Burns try to capture the Loch Ness Monster. Obviously Len Wein can't be held responsible for that - The Simpsons wasn't even a gleam in Matt Groening's eye when this tale was written - but the ludicrous stereotyping of the characters and the OTT melodrama of its climax make it a difficult tale to take seriously. It should also be pointed out that loch monsters are a protected species under Scottish law, so Messrs Mactavish and Banner should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves.

2 comments:

NINE9INCHE STUD said...

I must say,_I know I sound like Ed Grimley-I Must say I hated this one.The story was ok,but I hated the fact that Marvel had the nerve to not have the Lock Ness Monster,instead of this Lock Fear poser.I mean,what did they think,the Lock Ness Monster was going to sue them or something?

The Cryptic Critic said...

I suspect it's probably the fact that the monster got killed at the end that made them change the name. They probably didn't want to be seen killing Nessie.

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