November 9, 2008

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Quick Hits: Essential Incredible Hulk Volume 1

Written by Stan Lee
Illustrated by Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, and others
Marvel Comics

I really love the Hulk as a character, and I think Lee did a great job with the plots that are contained herein. In fact, the only real problem is that no one could nail down what old greenskin was supposed to look like. Kirby made him Frankenstein, Ditko (my favorite) refined the look a bit, but kept the Karloff nod in places, and then various other people made him look a bit more ape-like. Of course, I'm so far out of touch with modern Marvel that I have no idea how they're drawing him now.

Meet Rick, Betty, Thunderbolt Ross, the Leader, Tyrannus, and even the Abomination as they weave their way into Marvel's world. The Hulk also morphs from a talker, a savage, and back again, depending on Stan's mood. He's a creature evolving into the first(?) anti-hero. As with the Fantastic Four, the Hulk and Bruce Banner just aren't well-formed in Stan's mind, and because the artist changes as well, there's a bit less cohesion. Looking back, it seems like Spider-Man is the only one they had a firm grip on of the big names.

Fans of seeing how characters evolve and grow will enjoy this. Those who hate Stan's somewhat overblown writing style should probably look elsewhere.