Incredible Hulk (Vol. 1) #5

Credits:

“Beauty and the Beast!” and “The Hordes of General Fang!”

Cover Date: January 1963

Writer: Stan Lee

Penciller: Jack Kirby

Inker: Dick Ayers

Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Dick Ayers

What’s Going On?

In “Beauty and the Beast,” Betty Ross is kidnapped by Tyrannus, an immortal living miles beneath the Earth’s surface. Tyrannus wants to use Betty as leverage against General Ross; Tyrannus claims that he will harm Betty if Ross’ troops try to stop an impending invasion by Tyrannus’ army of subterranean dwellers. It’s is up to the Hulk to save Betty from Tyrannus and prevent the invasion.

In “The Hordes of General Fang,” Bruce Banner hears about the impending invasion of the peaceful Asian principality Llhasa (an obvious stand-in for Tibet) by the presumably Communist forces of General Fang.

Banner believes that, left unchecked, General Fang May instigate World War III, so he transforms into the Hulk and travels to Asia to defeat the General’s forces.

Is It Good?

It’s a little better than the past few issues. We are starting to see some consistency from issue to issue, and that marks an improvement. Still, neither story really provides Hulk with much of a challenge, so these aren’t very interesting. Maybe Stan Lee sensed that, and that is why there are two short stories in one issue. One thing that is welcome is the return of the Hulk’s acrimony toward the human race; casting the Hulk as an antagonist helps give this title a distinct (and welcome) identity.

Sub-Plots:

  • Betty Ross claims to love Bruce Banner, but seems to think he is indifferent to her.

  • Betty tries to make Bruce jealous, and it appears to work.

  • General Ross’ “iceberg rocket” —- last seen in Incredible Hulk #4 —- is unsuccessful against the Hulk.

Continuity:

  • This is the first appearance of Tyrannus and the subterranean creatures he rules, the Tyrranoids (although they are not named here).
  • Tyrannus maintains his immortality by drinking from the Fountain of Youth.

  • Tyrannus was banished underground by Merlin. This is the first mention of Merlin in Marvel Comics, and the first indication that he is considered a historical figure, rather than a fictional character.
  • This is the first time someone has tried to make the Hulk into a gladiator.

  • The Hulk radiates heat. That actually makes some sense, although I doubt that is mentioned again.

  • The Hulk has super-breath now.

Comics Are Goofy:

  • Those are some severe bangs, Betty.

  • What is more suspicious here: that idiot, Rick Jones, being assigned to assist the scientist tasked with helping bring down the Hulk —- mind you, this kid has a known connection with the Hulk —- or Banner wearing a purple suit that is suspiciously the same shade as the Hulk’s clothes?

  • People who can wear a bright purple suit and not draw attention to themselves: Prince, the Joker, and a cartoonish villain from a 70’s Blaxploitation movie. Not on that list: mild -mannered Bruce Banner.
  • That is some impressively fictional technology Tyrannus is showing off!

  • Somehow, Rick knows that Betty will suffer amnesia after their underground adventure with Tyrannus. Yes, Rick, the idiot teenager, makes that diagnosis instead of Doctor Bruce Banner.

  • The Hulk boarded a commercial flight to Asia and flew coach?

  • I have questions about this scene. Where did Hulk find a furry onesie in his size? Why did he think the Abominable Snowman is scarier that the Incredible Hulk? Why did he need a “book of legends” when he doesn’t even try to imitate the Abominable Snowman, aside from his silly suit?

  • The second story in the same issue ends with floating heads in a panel, and the Hulk talking tough.

Well, That Aged Poorly:

  • Stop using 60’s slang, Rick! You’re making my eyes roll too hard!

  • Is Rick referencing Chubby Checker because he thinks the singer is cool, or because he’s ubiquitous, or what?

  • There are several references made to “Red China.”
  • Let’s play “How Racist Is It?” and look at the soldiers that are presumably an analogue for the Communist Chinese. Wow! That’s pretty racist!

  • In Round Two of “How Racist Is It?” let’s look at Hulk’s use of the term “yella.” In context, I’m going to say that this is referring to cowardice, and it isn’t a racial slur. It is definitely a poor choice of words, though!

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