Thursday, September 16, 2021

The Golden Bookshelf:

This Fireside book was published as a sort-of companion to The Incredible Hulk TV series, introducing new audiences to the adventures of the small screen green brute from comic book guest appearances in The Fantastic Four to reprinting the Hulk’s long mid-60s run in Tales to Astonish.

The Incredible Hulk (Fireside)

Marvel, 1978

Back in the 1970s, the appearance of comic book characters in mainstream media was still uncommon enough to cause excitement. Publishers also had this neat idea—since forgotten, apparently—of issuing reprints of material featuring their newly-famous characters, so that the non-comic buying public could get a taste of the good stuff after seeing the (inevitably) watered-down version on TV or movies.

And so it was with the Incredible Hulk, who made cameo appearances in a weekly prime-time melodrama starring Bill Bixby, called, strangely enough, The Incredible Hulk. Not only was it not necessary to like the comic book to like the show, it was only the occasional appearance of Lou Ferigno in green body paint that provided any commonalities between the two. There were no battles with The Leader, no slugfests with the Abomination, no “misunderstandings” between the Hulk and other heroic members of the Marvel Universe, not even the dramatic triangle between Bruce Banner, Betty Ross, and her father, General “Thunderbolt” Ross, out to destroy the big green fella.

Partly to close this regrettable gap in the public’s understanding of the Hulk (and cash in on interest in same), Marvel issued The Incredible Hulk in 1978 as a deluxe trade paperback in a larger, more distinctive format than its previous trade editions such as Origins of Marvel Comics, Silver Surfer, etc. Featuring key appearances of the Hulk from his short-lived self-titled series in 1962, guest shots in The Fantastic Four and The Avengers, and a long storyline from the Hulk’s mid-60s residency in Tales to Astonish, The Incredible Hulk covers all the classic bases of the character. It also presents art by signature Marvel talents Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko and Gil Kane, all of whom did memorable work on the fun-to-draw series.

The Incredible Hulk trade edition remains relatively common with both comic and used book dealers and can often be had close to its original price of $7.95. As both an introduction to the character and a nice way to enjoy of some of the finest examples of the Marvel super-hero style of the 1960s, it’s a great buy and a great addition to any comic library.

 

The Incredible Hulk

Fireside/Simon and Shuster, 1978

Writer/Editor: Stan Lee

Art: Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Gil Kane, others

TPB, 260 pages, color, $7.95

Rob Salkowitz is a Seattle-based writer and authority on all manner of aging newsprint. You can e-mail your comments and queries to Rob at rob_comics@yahoo.com. Use "ComicBase" as the subject line.

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