Monday, November 8, 2010
I was at the book store and looking at perhaps buying something, maybe Superman: Earth One, which, despite some trepidation about potentially ephemeral revisionist versions of characters ("fresh and exciting" one week, expensive bird cage liner the next), I thought might be important for me to read as a lifelong Superman fan. But suddenly, I saw the Hulk book and realized that's what my mood was. It could be that I've been enjoying reading Herb Trimpe's Hulk, the blog, which has reawakened my senses to the appeal of seventies Hulk. I believe this particular volume is slightly past the more significant part of Trimpe's contribution, although he is a contributor on two of the issues - inked by Joe Staton in one case, which certainly interested me. And of course there are other notable artists. Sal Buscema's style, for instance, I recognize instantly, and something about it just says "seventies Marvel".
This is the first Hulk Essentials Volume I've bought. I have a tendency to read series and characters from whatever point interests me, and then put together the saga in my head, perhaps rereading it in order later. I have some eighties and nineties Hulk, and I've read the original 6 issue Silver Age series in the form of a digest I own (which recoloured the originally grey Hulk green). I of course have a fondness for the Jade Giant from the Bixby/Ferrigno show. As I've mentioned before, from a certain age I've been stronger for DC, but I have a fondness for Marvel at its best. I do love Marvel in the seventies. The first reason might be nostalgia, sure, I was a little kid at the time. But my more analytical side says that it appeals to me because the ideas were still fresh, but were now being worked on by a second generation of creators able to unearth some of the potential hinted at in the original work by Stan and the gang, expand on it, broaden it. I will read and enjoy Silver Age Marvel, but also find it tends to blend after a while with a sameness to the histrionics, almost unavoidable due to the scripting and direction of a single brilliant, strong creative personality, aided and abetted by a small group of brilliant, strong talents. So in my mind DC owns the Silver Age partly because of greater variety - having had the advantage of more creators and editors. Sixties DC covers I find endlessly entertaining, Marvel covers of the time are usually not my style and some I find downright bland. Okay, I have to be honest, I like covers that have dilemmas, captions, and exclamation points. I like covers that make it seem absolutely vital I read the comic to find the important information located therein. For me, Marvel did their best at that in the age of the Osmonds.
But though the companies tend to get compared a lot, I sometimes feel with the early days of Marvel it's like comparing The Honeymooners to The Simpsons. Or Gilligan's Island to Lost. Surface similarities but a whole host of reasons why it's not really apt. And in the seventies, of course, the two houses were exchanging talent so much it seems a bit odd to be totally loyal to one. Who would only watch their favourite actor's movies with one studio?
Okay, but about this volume. This era of Hulk I find I am enjoying a lot, as I thought I would. I tend to like comics that are the adventures of an itinerant character who keeps travelling and running into weird stuff. I love Kamandi for that reason, and this is entertaining in the same way, with the added feature of Hulk's incredible strength coupled with his often confused grasp of situations being a great combination to create problems but also provide a visceral, gratifying solution. When the young man at the store was ringing up my purchase, he said, "Essential Hulk Smash!" Exactly!