Tag Archives: hulk

[January 25, 1963] Astonishing!  Amazing!  Fantastic!  Strange!  (March 1963 Marvel Comics Roundup)

[if you’re new to the Journey, read this to see what we’re all about!]


by Gideon Marcus

The Journey tries to cover as many media as possible to be a complete one-stop shop for science fiction and fantasy fans.  Thus, we’ve long since branched out from sf magazines to cover books, movies, television shows, and comic books.

Interestingly, my journey with comic books mirrors my experience a decade ago with science fiction digests.  At first, I just had the one subscription to Galaxy, and I picked up odd issues of other mags as they caught my fancy.  Years passed, and by the time I started this column, I was regularly purchasing F&SF, IF, Astounding, and Satellite.  As of today, the Journey covers every American sf mag and a British one (New Worlds) to boot!

Similarly, a few years back, I purchased random issues of Marvel and National Comics, but in no sort of set schedule.  These last several months, I’ve found the constellation of Marvel’s output very compelling, and my collection has expanded considerably.

This month looks to be the crest of a wave, with Marvel’s superhero introductions reaching a fever pitch, pushing the fare of Girls’ Comics and Westerns to the background.  And what a crop of heroes these are!

First up is the Amazing Spiderman.  Since his first appearance just a few months ago, he’s become popular enough to earn his own mag!

Unfortunately, the fans are the only folks this new hero is popular with.  Everyone else thinks he’s a menace, a phoney, a hoodlum, or some combination of all three.  Leading the lynch mob is J. Jonah Jameson, editor of The Daily Bugle.  Even Spiderman’s death-defying rescue of Jameson’s son (an astronaut) does nothing to rehabilitate his image.

That’s a raw deal by anyone’s standard.  I wouldn’t be surprised if ol’ Spidey knocked over a few banks just for spite! 

Undaunted, Spiderman decides that, if a solo gig won’t work, perhaps he should join a team.

Of course, the Fantastic Four are sort of the glue that holds the Marvel-verse together, so it’s inevitable that Spiderman should run into them.  But it turns out that the F4 aren’t taking applications.

I have to say that I like Spiderman, and a downer superhero is certainly a switch, but I don’t know if I’m masochistic enough to put up with too much of this.  I hope Peter Parker finds his feet soon.

Speaking of crossovers, look who makes an appearance in Fantastic Four #12?  Noneother than the Hulk, now green instead of gray, and able to change into his titanic form and keep the brain of Dr. Bruce Banner (Hulk’s human form) at will with the help of a machine.


Nothing like a bit of shameless self-promotion…

In this particular issue, the Hulk is blamed for a series of attacks on military bases throughout the country.  But Banner is a sharp cookie, and through incredibly sophisticated sleuthing, finds the true culprit.

Fantastic Four continues to be my least favorite comic, in large part thanks to exchanges like this:


Charming as ever, Richards.

In this month’s Hulk, Dr. Banner’s form-changer machine is becoming more erratic.  Will it last much longer?  Also, the villain is the Master of Metal with… mastery over metal.  Interesting power.  I wonder if we’ll see his like again.

Marvel’s anthology mags continue to increasingly become vehicles for new superheroes.  Journey into Mystery is the home of Thor, Asgardian God of Thunder.

Tales to Astonish is Ant-Man’s vehicle.

Strange Tales might as well be titled Fantastic Four #12 and a half.

Tales of Suspense features the exciting debut of Iron Man, a superhero borne of crisis.  Tony Stark, a millionaire playboy engineer, is captured in North Vietnam after an explosion lodges shrapnel near his heart.  Tasked to make weapons by the nefarious Communist Wong-Chu, Stark instead builds himself a metal suit both to keep his heart going and to make an escape.

I don’t know if Iron Man will be a recurring character, but I’d certainly like to see more.

So that’s Marvel Comics for March 1963.  A pretty exciting and momentous twelfth of a year, and reason to keep subscribing.

As for National Comics, well… anyone else want to write an article?

[P.S. If you registered for WorldCon this year, please consider nominating Galactic Journey for the “Best Fanzine” Hugo.  Check your mail for instructions…]




[Mar. 14, 1962] State of the Art (Marvel Comics: May 1962)


by Gideon Marcus

With just three weeks to go before I attend the comics-themed science fiction convention in the Los Angeles area known as “Wonder Con,” I think it’s high time for an update on what’s going on in the world of Marvel Comics.  As I related earlier, Marvel (formerly Atlas) seems bent on rebuilding a stable of superheroes to complement their line-up of Westerns and Model mags. 

Last year saw the introduction of the Fantastic Four, which is now up to issue #4.  More on them later.  This month, the new superbeing is The Incredible Hulk.  I hesitate to use the word “hero” since The Hulk doesn’t seem to be a good character, at least, not yet.

Dr. Bruce Banner is a brilliant physicist, in charge of development of the “G Bomb.”  This device doesn’t seem to do much expect shoot out a burst of gamma rays.  In the Marvel universe, this appears to cause unpredictable (but non-deadly) instant mutations. 

As the countdown for the first test approaches, a young man drives out onto the test grounds.  Banner, a man of conscience, races out to help him.  The doctor’s treacherous assistant, a Soviet spy, activates the bomb anyway, and Banner takes the full brunt of the blast.

This turns Banner, at least temporarily, into a Mr. Hyde-type character.  He is possessed of incredible strength and an implacable desire to destroy.  The Hulk (so named by a terrified soldier) still retains some human intellect, but he does not know that he was originally a human scientist.

It turns out that Banner’s transformation is tied to the day/night cycle.  As the sun dawns, The Hulk reverts to his original form.  For at least twelve hours a day (more, at the poles!) Banner is himself.

Of course, no supercreature exists in a vacuum.  There is a fundamental corollary of Newton’s 3rd Law in the comics universe.  The Hulk’s nemesis is a deformed Communist supergenius: The Gargoyle!

There’s not much of a fight here.  Gargoyle incapacitates The Hulk and his sidekick (the rescued youth)

But in the flight back to Russia, the gray beast becomes Banner again.  The scientist uses his terrific brain to revert the Gargoyle, who was created with radiation, too, to human form.  This robs him of his superpowers, but lets him die… a man!

I leave it as an exercise for the reader whether it is better to be ugly and gifted or comely and unremarkable.

Inside this issue of The Hulk, there was an ad for two other Marvel mags.  They just happen to ones I’m already inclined to pick up, so I’ll give you a peek in them, too:


“The Magazine that Respects your Intelligence” and “The one that doesn’t!”

Marvel goes in for anthology mags.  Amazing Adult Fantasy is essentially watered-down The Twilight Zone.

For instance, the self-aware vignette about the fellow who gets taken to Mars and ends up in a zoo (like that The Twilight Zone episode with Roddy McDowell, q.v.).

Or jokey bit about how Stan and Steve come up with ideas…

Or the one about the Castro lookalike who is killed by the plague after shooting down the American plane that was coming to (not) Cuba with the cure…

Or the title piece about the fellow who breaks the time barrier and comes back to a frozen Earth…

You decide whether or not these stories respect your intelligence.

Over in Fantastic Four, The Torch has a tiff and leaves the group.  Collateral damage ensues:

That’s just the B plot.  The A plot introduces a new supervillain, though he doesn’t seem all bad.  It is Namor, the Sub-Mariner, who first appeared back in a Marvel predecessor mag back in 1939!  He has lost his memories and is residing in a skid-row rehabilitation house.  But the Forceful Four coax his memories back, and the Lord of Liquid vows revenge for humanity’s ravaging of the seas.

But first, he takes a detour down Lovers’ Lane…


Honestly, I think she’s better off than with Reed, destroyer of motorcycles, diminisher of women.

Can Namor be defeated?  Do we even want him to be?  You’ll just have to read the magazine and find out!  It’s probably worth your time just for all the beefcake (fishcake?) this issue features…

See you in the funny papers!