Monday, August 18, 2008


I've been reading Marvel's massive Hulk Omnibus, which reprints all the Hulk stories published between 1962 and 1968. (It's pretty big.) During most this period Hulk was popular enough to keep publishing but not popular enough to justify his own book during a period when Marvel could only publish a limited number titles in any given month thanks to a fairly crappy distribution deal. Thus, once his own title bit the first after six issues, Hulk ended up sharing space in Tales To Astonish first with Giant Man then with Sub-Mariner.

The stories are entertaining and filled with the Jack Kirby/Stan Lee spirit—and for a few strange issues, the Steve Ditko/Jack Kirby spirit—even if the plotting seems a little seat-of-their pants than over in, say, Fantastic Four. After a while it just becomes a question of who's kidnapping Hulk in any given month. Late in the run, Kirby starts sharing art duties with Bill Everett that includes one of the weirdest two-panel stretches I've ever read in a comic book:

"Even his sleep is too powerful to shatter!" Are we to be impressed by Hulk's superhuman sleeping abilities or is this an example of Lee's spirited prose overcompensating for a lull in the action? And could this particular gamma bomb side effect be marketed as a sleep aid? As far as I know, Hulk's super-sleep remained unexplored in subsequent issues.

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