Once I shied away from superhero titles, but now I’m on a quest to stretch my comic book budget further… (for a summary of that journey see this post.)
I won two auctions from the same seller that had split up their collection. In total it was 18 issues ranging from 409 to 428 at about 50 cents a piece (including shipping). I honestly did not think I was going to win the two auctions. It was a happy surprise though.
Later on I picked up an earlier issue from 1990 (#373), at a used book store for $2.50.
My Familiarity With the Title
Up until recently, one of the few Marvel titles I’ve read was a hardcover collection called “Heart of the Atom” which covered the sparse appearances of Jarella, one of Hulk’s love interests. In reading the early issues in that collection it really struck me how the narrator was an independent character, often times mocking the Hulk. This later fell away, but it did stir a feeling of sympathy from me. I mean, the Hulk was unwanted by everyone, even his own narrator.
How were the Issues?
It was nice that most of the issues were sequential because there was a lot I was unfamiliar with, and skipping ahead 10 issues might have been a struggle.
In the issues I read Hulk was essentially Bruce Banner, and it was explained that the Gamma Radiation accident had not initiated a second more violent personality. Bruce had always expressed that extreme side of himself. The Gamma Radiation gave that personality a vehicle to take over… and turn himself into green monster.
So that was the first thing I had to adapt to, that it was Hulk’s body but Bruce’s brain. Bruce still labored to keep his temper for fear that the Hulk’s personality would take hold again.
The other thing that I needed to adapt to was that Hulk… er Bruce was now the leader of his own team of secret super powered people. He had basically fallen into the role of Professor X. But these weren’t mutants. This was the Pantheon, which I didn’t understand altogether other than it was like a really devoted and dysfunctional family.
All in all the stories were pretty great stuff. The art became less appealing for me. And it didn’t start out all that great either. Especially the way women were drawn.This is not just a criticism I have of these issues. It’s alot of what was published in the 90’s
For various reasons (many of which I don’t know) artists started pushing boundaries. Some were good and others were not good. The DC series for Robin is among the worst for me. It is an attempt at incorporating many of the attributes found in Japanese Manga, but falls short of Manga’s appeal.
As I mentioned, I didn’t like how the women were drawn. When it was at its best, it looked like the artist had used a Barbie doll as model. This did those characters a disservice. As the 90’s moved on the women were drawn in increasingly impossible positions. I think there was one where I thought it looked like a twisted hieroglyphic.
Artists are smart. Maybe these were calls from editors. Maybe it was some elaborate symbolism that isn’t intuitive to me. The point is, it became harder to read.
Overall, I liked these issues. I thought they were written better than some of the current titles I’ve read. But when I buy other issues they will be earlier issues.
Will I read it to my children?
Maybe, but they don’t seem interested in Hulk.
My oldest reads on his own now, but I wouldn’t recommend every issue to a 9 year old. One panel sticks out in particular. A college girlfriend of Bruce Banner’s says something like “What’s wrong, you don’t touch me any more.” To be clear, I’m concerned about the broader context which was that in order for a romantic relationship to be healthy the only concern/requirement is that a couple is kissy face all the time and that the way to fix a troubled relationship is more smooching. (In case you were wondering that is exactly how I would phrase it to my children).
Additionally, there’s the issue about how the women were drawn. If I read it with them I’d point out the impossible dimensions and positions. Knowing my luck at least one of them would think its cool.
But in all honesty, it wouldn’t be the end of the world if my children read these issues at a young age.