Incredible Hulk (Vol. 1) #1

Credits:

Cover Date: May 1962

Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, George Roussos

“The Hulk”

Writer: Stan Lee

Penciller: Jack Kirby

Inker: Paul Reinman

What’s Going On?

Dr. Bruce Banner is the foremost expert in gamma radiation, and he has used this knowledge to create the G-Bomb. Local teenager Rick Jones wanders onto the bomb testing range mere moments before the bomb is due to be detonated. Banner rushes to save the boy; Bruce manages to save Rick, but Bruce is exposed to the gamma radiation in the process. Miraculously, Bruce survives. However, when night falls, Banner mutates into a muscle-bound monster — the Hulk! When the sun rises, he reverts back to Dr. Banner.

Is It Good?

Well, there is a LOT going on in this issue. I think this is a pretty good first issue. The Hulk isn’t quite “classic Hulk” yet — he is grey-skinned and too intelligent — but a lot of the character’s defining traits are present. The throwaway Soviet villain made this issue a little too busy, but the origin story is solid. Jack Kirby turns in some very cool pencils, too. I especially liked his panels with the gamma bomb going off:

Sub-Plots:

  • Bruce Banner turns into the Hulk when night falls, and reverts to his human form when the sun rises.
  • Banner was exposed to the gamma radiation because his assistant, Igor, allowed the bomb test to commence while Banner was in harm’s way. Igor is a Soviet spy that wanted Banner out of the way so he could steal Banner’s secret files on gamma radiation.
  • After the Hulk frightens (but does not harm) Betty, General Ross vows to hunt the Hulk down and destroy him.
  • Rick Jones latches on to Bruce Banner because Bruce is the only person to have ever helped him.

  • The Hulk seriously messes up some Army guys
  • Hulk and Rick are kidnapped by the deformed Soviet genius, the Gargoyle. They are secretly transported to the USSR, where the Hulk transforms back into Banner, cures the Gargoyle’s deformity with radiation, and are then secretly transported back to America — all in the same day!

Continuity:

  • This is the first appearance of the Hulk/Bruce Banner. Hulk has grey skin and appears reasonably intelligent.
  • This is also the first appearance of Betty Ross, General Thunderbolt Ross, Rick Jones, and Igor.
  • Despite having a decent vocabulary, the first mention of “puny humans” and Hulk’s disdain for normal humans is made here:
  • We also see the first time Hulk expresses a hatred of Banner

Comics Are Goofy:

  • General Ross is clearly a “measure once, cut twice” kind of guy.

  • Rick makes the fantastically poor choice to sneak onto a secure military base and park in a bomb testing zone. Why? He did it on a dare.

  • This top-secret military facility allowed an idiot teenager to drive his obviously civilian vehicle onto the bomb testing grounds. Those guards should be fired.
  • Should anybody be concerned that Rick is hanging around an irradiated monster?
  • Igor has a…transistor radio thumbnail?

Well, That Aged Poorly:

  • In the words of James Bond, “Man talk, baby”

  • The Gargoyle talks trash to Nikita Khrushchev’s portrait before helping Banner and Rick escape. Clearly, Banner curing his deformity proves the superiority of capitalism!

>>>Incredible Hulk #2

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