'HULK: THE FIRST 60 YEARS' - Grey Hulk Gets His Due
An exclusive excerpt going in-depth on Peter David's legendary run from Titan Books, on sale June 27, 2023!
Who is the Hulk? A monster who destroys everything in his path? A hero as strong as the gods? A tragic figure haunted by his own trauma? Or a courageous Avenger with the heart of a child? Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby at the dawn of a new age of Super Heroes, the Hulk was born from the combination of the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with the ever-present nuclear threat of the 1960s. Releasing tomorrow, June 27, 2023, Titan is proud to present HULK: THE FIRST 60 YEARS, available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Bookshop and wherever books are sold.
Over the first 60 years of the Hulk’s publishing history, some of the greatest comics creators in the world have joined hundreds of thousands of fans in asking the same questions. Each creator has given a different interpretation, often building on ideas from those who came before. The combination and conflict between the Hulk and his alter ego Bruce Banner has made for one of the most popular and complex Super Heroes of all time.
Created by writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby, the Hulk has been thrilling readers since he made his comic book debut in The Incredible Hulk #1, first published in May 1962. He has journeyed from being an outcast, shunned by society, to a hero with powerful enemies and has even fought alongside the Avengers. And this is his incredible story…
The fine folks at Titan were kind enough to provide an excerpt from HULK: THE FIRST 60 YEARS for you to enjoy here on Marvel.com exploring the legendary comics run by writer Peter David and some of the greatest artists from Walter Simonson to Todd MacFarlane.
PETER DAVID TAKES ON THE HULK
David’s story is a unique one. In the early ‘80s he worked in Marvel’s administration, and he was in charge of the sales sector. Still, numbers weren’t his real passion. One day he suggested a plot for a Spider-Man story – “The Death of Jean DeWolff” – which immediately became a series classic issue, bringing David from employee to Marvel author. Bob Harras, the editor of The Incredible Hulk, asked him to give the comic a new edge, never guessing the incredible consequences of that decision. David started out accompanied by rising star Todd McFarlane on pencils. He reintroduced the iconic villain the Leader, who now looked totally repulsive. Most importantly, readers were presented with a gray Hulk with his original language skills – basically Al Milgrom’s Hulk, but with an introspection of which only David was capable.
The Incredible Hulk soon became a brilliant series that was engaging, sophisticated, and different from all the others. At McFarlane’s request, David also brought back Wolverine, who had started out on those pages: the commemorative cover of issue #340 (February 1988), which depicted the clawed mutant, is iconic. Most importantly, David focused on the internal conflict between the Hulk and Banner, which he had already hinted at when he filled in during Milgrom’s run. And he didn’t just dig deep into the protagonist’s soul: he also did some important writing on Betty, now fully free of her image as the damsel in distress and the obedient daughter of an authoritarian father. Les Wein and Roger Stern had kick-started the character’s growth, but David had something else in mind. Betty got pregnant and, at least according to the writers’ plans, she would bear the Hulk a son. However, this narrative was not well-received by editor Bob Harras, who convinced David to drop the plot, so that Betty lost the child in issue #360 (October 1989). This new path to maturity was also achieved by Jeff Purves, who took McFarlane’s place in issue #347 (September 1988), when Bobbie Chase replaced Bob Harras as editor.
The series was continually evolving. Every issue was a surprise. David revealed the secret project of the government, which had continued to work with gamma rays after Banner’s failed experiment. Both the Hulk and Banner were against it and tried to stop the bomb’s production. A terrible explosion in issue #345 (July 1988) seemed to have killed the Hulk, but in issue #347 a new character turned up in a jacket and tie: he was actually the Gray Hulk, who had evaded death and now worked as a bouncer at Mike Berengetti’s casino in Las Vegas, the new setting for the Hulk’s stories.
As Eduardo de Salazar wrote, “the Hulk and Banner seem like different people, but they are actually aspects of the same person.” This rebellious, intimidating Gray Hulk would later be known as Joe Fixit.
Sly and cynical, Fixit was a metaphor for the corrupting effects of power: just one reflection of Banner’s complex character. Bruce by day and Joe by night, the two personalities constantly struggled to assert themselves. But most importantly the theme of the Hulk’s multiple personality disorder was starting to emerge, something that would be at the heart of the new decade’s events.
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