What I Remember:
I decided to change this week's blog and not do the book I previewed in last week’s edition of the Re-Collector in order to pay tribute to a great artist that we lost this past week, Berni Wrightson. Wrightson’s worked for both DC and Marvel, creating Swamp Thing, as well as illustrating The Stand and The Dark Tower for Stephen King.
Today, I’m going to look at one of the earliest Marvel graphic novels that I have in my collection, The Incredible Hulk and the Thing from 1987 as a tribute to the great artist we lost.
The Incredible Hulk and the Thing “The Big Change”
Story by: Jim Starlin
Art by Berni Wrightson
Letterer: Jim Novak
Titles Designer: Carl Potts
Editor: Allen Milgrom
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Publication Date: 1987
Cover Price: $5.95
Re-Collection Price: well-read original
The Hulk and Thing are transported to the planet Matriculon. The heroes learn that they are summoned by Stamben Malelet, a local government official and are tasked with helping them find Mall Addy, a food scientist that has a breakthrough food supplement but has been kidnapped by local gangsters. They are to bring him and his invention back.
The prize for their task is that they will be granted two wishes. Malelet shows them that they are serious by reverting them back momentarily to Ben Grimm and Bruce Banner. He also assures the Thing that the Hulk is subdued while on the planet and cannot get too angry and uncontrollable.
The heroes disguise themselves as locals and begin their quest. In the course of their quest they are thrown out of a spaceship...
land in a sewer...
take out a giant robot...
and even take on a gang of aliens...
before arriving at Banger McCrusher’s hideaway.
Before they can take Addy back home, they have to go through McCrusher, who’s modeled himself after both the Hulk and Thing, after idolizing them from watching earth’s Television.
Our heroes prove no match for McCrusher’s massive size, since the Hulk cannot get angrier. Thing has the idea to tell Hulk that McCrusher is talking about Hulk’s mother and that the Hulk is a commie. This finally gets Hulk furious. Hulk takes him out.
They return with the mysterious food additive that was the subject of the quest...
Thing mulls over his wishes, considering how he can alter life on Earth, so Hulk takes over and makes the wishes for Ben...
Hulk is having a good time and his hamburgers is happy but not if the Thing has something to do with it...
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I can see why I liked this book a lot as a kid. As a fan of the WWF, I loved a good slugfest. I loved the idea of the two biggest and strongest heroes in the Marvel Universe teaming up to take on an even bigger alien. There was a lot of smash mouth-action in this book.
There’s also a lot of silly imagery like the Hulk wearing a squid on his head as a hat to blend in, Thing getting pelted with tomatoes and Hulk sitting next to what looks like the world’s largest White Castle run. It’s a fun book for a little kid.
Starlin also writes a subdued Hulk as a child-like monster, who doesn’t quite understand what’s going on and has to follow Thing’s lead, which probably made the Hulk easier for a little kid to identify with. This was a fun hero’s journey story but the real star is Berni Wrightson’s art.
The art really benefitted from the improved paper quality and coloring that could be afforded when dealing with a trade paperback as opposed to a comic from the 1980s. You could tell that Wrightson had a lot of fun drawing all the various monsters and alien gangsters. In one panel the Hulk could look ridiculous and then in the other a vicious monster. You don’t even need to read through this book to appreciate it, just flip through it looking at the art from one of the industry's greats.
We try once again to take a look at the Hulk battling it out with the Jack of Hearts in the Incredible Hulk #214 ! See you next week!