This book features, Marvel Z-lister, the Jack of Hearts taking on on the Hulk in a spectacular battle. I really liked this story as a kid because it was a normal-sized guy taking on a wrecking machine like the Hulk.
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.
This was an interesting glimpse into how comics handled the cold war. The Soviet Super Soldiers were not portrayed as bad guys but as heroes (except Dynamo, who’s just a jerk) doing what they think as best for the state. This is probably reflective of the time books featuring communists in the 50s and 60s would be much more judgmental of ‘commies” than we would be in the 80s as the cold war was starting to wind down.
Absolutely, while the story is fun, I’m glad I picked it up for the Frank Giacoia art. It’s absolutely amazing. The moment that I opened the book, the splash page brought back a flood of memories from this book, that I hadn’t read in over 20 years. His Hulk looks like a monster, hunching and as wide as he is tall.
What I Remember: This was one of my favorite comics as a kid. Since it’s from the mid-1970’s it’s from my Uncle Peter’s ample collection of Hulk books from that era and this one was easiy my favorite.
I liked the Hulk a lot because he’s a very easy character for a kid to understand. He’s big green and strong and fueled by anger. The poor guy just wants to be left alone and never is.
The Incredible Hulk #209
Title: “The Absorbing Man is Out For Blood”
Publisher: Marvel Comics Group
Cover Price: 30¢
Re-Collecting Price: $12
Writer: Len Wein
Illustrations: Sal Buscema and Joe Stanton
Colorist: Glynis Wein
Letterer: Joe Rosen
Publication Date: March 1977
Is it any good?
It’s interesting to see how comics have evolved as a storytelling medium in the last 38 years. This story was simple and easy to follow, it was a stand alone with little outside knowledge needed, it’s not written for the trade. It is a super-hero and super-villain smash 'em up. Rather than devote a page to recap the story, as we would today, instead exposition is woven into the story. We get flashbacks into Bruce Banner’s life and we’re brought up to speed quickly. Bruce Banner, on-the-run due to his alter-ego takes a job in a construction site as a laborer.
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What the story does well is make use of the character’s powers and abilities by giving them the proper setting to showcase the Absorbing Man, a villain who can take on the characteristics of whatever is around him by touching it. Setting it in a construction site allows the Absorbing Man to transition multiple times throughout the comic first into brick:
Red Hot Rivets:
And is Eventually done in by accidentally touching glass:
The setting allowed for the Absorbing Man to be a credible threat to the Hulk, hitting him with concrete, steel, burning him and then even absorbing the Green Goliath’s own strength. The Hulk only gets out of it by sheer luck despite his immense power.
Another thing that I really liked is how the Hulk transforms in this issue. I think the best part of the Hulk is the transformation from Banner to Hulk. No other hero has such a stark transformation for most heroes its a change of wardrobe, not the Hulk. The Hulk’s whole body changes, his clothes tear from his body, his skin color changes. It's an essential part of any portrayal of the Hulk.
This issue does it in four very cool panels, as banner falls off a beam and by the time he hits the ground he’s the Hulk.
I enjoyed this book, but I’m sure for a lot of people it will seem dated, its a simple story where nothing really changes and there aren’t a ton of stakes, the villain just decides to take out the Hulk. However the fight it fun and really plays up the two characters strengths, the transformation and absorbing an entire construction site. If you see this book on shelves, and it’s priced well,pick it up for a quick, fun read but by no means is it a must read.
Next Issue: We go back to the world of Batman the first appearance of Anarky in Detective Comics #608! Be There!