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….
A monumental time for me as a huge fan of The Incredible Hulk (R.I.P.) was back in 2001 when the ‘Banner’ limited series was released and the artwork was handled by the legend Richard Corben! I most remember him in my youth as being an artist on badass comic magazines like Eerie & Heavy Metal but really he’s been around forever producing some of the most unique artwork around. Well the ‘Banner’ limited series was a knockout made especially for die hard Hulk fans. This is a perfect example of the the kind of classic Hulk stories I’d like to read in 2016. It’s a full on battle between Banner and his alter ego as we finally explore the damage an enraged Hulk puts on the population of innocent civilians. It also featured Doc Samson, one of my favorite characters in the Hulk’s world getting serious about taking out the Jade Giant one and for all. It’s a gritty no B.S. story by Brian Azzarello and Corben’s artwork is absolutely perfect. Put down your ‘Totally Awesome Hulk’ for a moment and see what a real Hulk story looks like!
I had to share this rad little clip from College Humor being a huge Hulk fan i totally dug this one-Great little comedy on Bruce Banner’s frustrating sex life!! Check it out!!!
It seems that Mark Ruffalo has revealed that a new stand alone Hulk movie may in fact be coming sooner than we’ve all expected. It’s been a fact that Marvel hasn’t been confident that The Hulk has what it takes to be a smash hit on the same levels as Iron Man, Cap or Thor. They’ve already given the green guy two attempts and they’ve left viewers underwhelmed at the results. Personally I can’t say I’m a fan of the first one and the second one was passable, but as the full on Hulk fanatic that I am it didn’t quench my gamma thirst. His third appearance in The Avengers was by far the best, Ruffalo did an excellent job as Banner and finally Hulk looked real enough for me to not talk a bunch of shit here about him.
So what the hell is the problem here? It seems to me The Incredible Hulk should be an easy sell! I’ve been reading the hulk comic books since I was a little kid and it doesn’t seem like rocket science is involved to craft an awesome Hulk storyline! Seriously folks the Hulk and his stories should be simple and fun. There’s really no need to over think things. Perhaps that’s what the problem has been on each outing thus far? I think a great Hulk film should be jam packed with action, some cool villains and a somewhat simplistic plot. There should be equal Banner time/ Hulk time, you can’t really have too much of either or you’ll bore people with too much mindless action or too much screen time for the actor portraying Banner who thinks he deserves more face time.
Another thing that they should stop is trying to string the old 70’s series into the plot. That worked well back in the day because it was an ongoing television series and having Banner on the run was always quite intriguing. Plus Bill Bixby was a pitch perfect Banner and they need to stop trying to recreate his magic. Now if they were going to continue on with the rumored Guillermo Del Toro Hulk tv series that may be a different story altogether. However in a stand alone movie lets bring on a solid adventure for the green guy that’s fresh and not trying to rehash his Ferrigno days.
Another problem I believe with the movies, and I know many will disagree, is that it’s a hard thing for a live action movie to be driven by an entirely computer generated character who merely roars and grunts. Lou Ferrigno’s Hulk worked so well because he was REALLY there on screen acting and interacting with other people in all of his green paint and glory. He was real and you could feel real emotion there. So today trying to get the same results is very difficult with a CG lead character. Even in the Iron Man movies, much of the actual imagery of Iron Man was fully CG, however we always got those close ups of Tony Stark’s face in the armor, reminding us that yes, Iron Man is a real person. No matter how much you love modern CG it’s still poses problems for generating real characters with real emotion.
One solution to some of the Hulk’s big screen problems could be solved with giving the Hulk more intelligence, like he has often times in the comic books. Rather than just having him growl and roar, let Banner gain some control and let The Hulk speak. He can still in the heat of battle lose his cool and go into full on “Hulk Smash” angry toddler tantrum mode. But once a fully raging computer generated Hulk who can’t speak dominates the majority of screen time things the viewer is bound to disconnect a bit . So hopefully the next Hulk will have more going on in the noggin.
Finally pick some good supporting characters from the Hulk’s rich comic history. Let’s see Doc Samson with his green locks, let’s explore She-Hulk and add some Rick Jones into the mix! Most important let’s get some good villains into the mix. The Leader would be amazing and he’d also be a big enough baddie to cross over into an Avengers movie. Or how about The Absorbing Man, The Wrecking Crew, The Gremlin, The U-Foes or better yet Modok!? I’ve been itchin’ to see a big screen Modok for years and this would be the perfect platform to do so! I’m thinking the “Ms. Modok” storyline from the 80’s Incredible Hulk #286-290 would be terrifying on the big screen!
I’m also open to some classic Hulk stories, “Planet Hulk/World War Hulk” has been talked about quite a bit but might require too much set up, “Dogs of War” from 2001 would be a good one, but a good classic storyline could be from The Incredible Hulk mid 1980’s where Banner seemingly controls the Hulk. He even dresses like him for the first time (which was pretty funny) but later loses control and is cast off to a different dimension by Doctor Strange, these issues served as the actual inspiration for the Planet Hulk story many years later.
So my final thoughts are, though it might be difficult to pull of a simple, awesome Hulk adventure on the big screen I’m more than excited for them to give it another go. I felt Ruffalo did such a great job in the Avengers that I think the next Hulk movie is bound to be a hit. People clearly want it and if they don’t over think it, it’ll be the Hulk flick we’ve always dreamed of..