Incredible Hulk (Vol. 1) 1963 Year In Review

Original artwork from Incredible Hulk #6 found here.

How Many Issues?

Just two: Incredible Hulk 5-6, published bimonthly. The series was then cancelled. #6 was the only full-length story in this run.

Creators:

Plotters: Stan Lee, Jack Kirby (#5), Steve Ditko (#6)

Scripter: Stan Lee

Penciller: Jack Kirby (#5), Steve Ditko (#6)

Inker: Dick Ayers (#5), Steve Ditko (#6)

Was It Good?

It wasn’t great, but it was improving before getting cancelled. I enjoyed Ditko’s take on the Hulk —- proud and antisocial, but also insecure —- and I think the increased focus on Rick Jones and Betty Ross helped flesh out the stories. I really like the idea that the Hulk has an active dislike for humanity, and puts serious thought into conquering the planet. It’s such a dark impulse for an character that you expect to act heroically, and it provides a welcome contrast between this and the rest of Marvel’s titles.

What About the Sub-Plots and Continuity?

It can be fun to track the minor story points throughout a year’s worth of comics to see what ideas were developed, which were quietly dropped, and what weird trends emerged.

  • It is worth noting that Stan Lee didn’t give up on the Hulk with the cancellation of this title. The Hulk also guest-starred in Fantastic Four #12 and co-started in the first two Avengers issues.
  • The villains in these issues (General Fang, the Metal Master, and Tyrannus) aren’t great. We have yet to see an enemy that really challenges the Hulk.
  • The Hulk not only dislikes normal humans, but he considers conquering them, as well. When the Metal Master offered to team up and conquer the planet, the Hulk declined because he didn’t want to share.
  • The Hulk’s transformations are, at this point, controlled by a gamma ray machine. Banner’s emotional state has yet to explicitly trigger the transformation (although it appears to play a factor in issue #6.
  • The Hulk continues to be intelligent. He isn’t as smart as Banner, but he retains some of Banner’s scientific knowledge.
  • Betty Ross and Bruce Banner have developed romantic feelings for each other, despite barely seeing each other.
  • We get our first look at the Hulk in a gladiator arena, thanks to Tyrannus. This will be a concept that Marvel will revisit.
  • Rick Jones creates the Teen Brigade (a group of teenage ham radio operators) to assist the Hulk. The Teen Brigade quickly branches out to help other heroes soon after.

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