Ahhh yes I can still remember how stoked I was as a kid waaaay back in 1985 when John Byrne took over writing and drawing The Incredible Hulk for a far too short of a run. I was only 11 years old, but I seriously adored John Byrne, he was hands down my favorite comic book artist and The Hulk was my favorite comic book character. Byrne had been writing and drawing Alpha Flight, which of course I was a die hard fan of too, when he switched to full on Hulk mode with issue #314. I was thrilled!
I must have read that issue a hundred times and the cover itself couldn’t have been more awesome as it featured the Jade Giant in all of his Byrne-esque glory along with a gang of his deadliest villains behind him ready to start some shit. The Leader, Modok, The Rhino, Abomination & The Juggernaut! Byrne’s highly detailed artwork pushed The Hulk to new levels of awesomeness, the character was more massive than he’d ever been too. Though the villains on the cover end up being just part of Hulk’s over active imagination, the Byrne run fully made up for that with making Hulk-centric character Doc Samson one of, if not the main character of his short run. From that point in in Hulk history Doc Samson quickly became one of my favorite Marvel characters, the series also improved upon Doc’s costume, giving him a new one, ditching his classic but sorta awful lightning bolt suit he’d worn previously.
In the past we’d seen Samson tangle with the Hulk but never quite like this. I absolutely love how Byrne’s Hulk completely dwarf’s Samson in size like never before, yet he proves just how much of a bad ass the character really is with not only his brawn but also his brains. This issue is essentially one big fight between the two and begins with a more mindless version of the Hulk who’d been missing in another dimension called The Crossroads, exiled by Doctor Strange for over a year (those were great issues too!). Samson cleverly defeats The Hulk and makes Hulk history using his genius scientific intellect to actually separate Bruce Banner from The Hulk as two living breathing entities.
This was a great era of Hulk history and let’s face it John Byrne was easily one of the best comic book writers and artists of the 70’s & 80’s if not of all time. During this run he pumped out 8 issues, one being an awesome Marvel Fanfare where’s Byrne’s stunning artwork proved he was easily one of the best of all time when it came to drawing the jade giant. Another was The Hulk annual #14 which he wrote but master Hulk artist Sal Buscema drew. I love the Byrne era Hulk and apparently he’d had big plans for the series but was thwarted, there’s actually a great story about what went down here with the Byrne Hulk run for all of you Hulk-a-maniancs. Also check out ‘Incredible Hulk: Visionaries #1‘ Trade Paperback which features the whole output of Byrne 80’s Hulk. Ahhh those were the good ol’ days….
John Byrne had an amazing yet short run on The Incredible Hulk in 1985 and back then I was more than thrilled that he’d taken over the title as write AND artist! Byrne’s my favorite comic artist of all time and The Hulk my favorite superhero so this was to me a match made in heaven. Issue #314 was a great start and had great simplistic cover of the Jade Giant front & center along with some of his most devious villains! Yeah Modok too by Byrne is also a treat! Covers like this one prove that keeping it simple can be incredibly effective sometimes. I totally miss these awesome old school style Hulk stories. Today we have the Hulk killed off and replaced with the Totally awesome Hulk who’s alter ego is Amadeus Cho. Not a fan. I’m hoping someday Marvel can get back to what really worked for the Hulk and worry less about pandering to the mainstream narratives by changing their superheroes into other people. Ahhh…well at least I’ve got the classics to revisit!
Incredible Hulk #314 not only is one of my favorite comic book covers but it was also the start of one of my favorite Hulk runs by John Byrne. Nobody draws the Hulk as epic as Byrne. Plus adding in some of his best bad guys (yeah I LOVE Modok) is even better. You can check out this run in the Marvel’s Hulk Visonaries Trade Paperback and read Byrne’s all too short run on the book jam packed as well with lots of Doc Samson-they just don’t make ’em like this anymore!!