Monday, September 30, 2013

Hulk Smash Little Man: Incredible Hulk 181


The Incredible Hulk #181 (November 1974)
"And Now... the Wolverine!"
Writer:  Len Wein
Pencils:  Herb Trimpe
Inker:  Jack Abel

Karen: Ah ha, here we go, finally reviewing one of the biggies of the Bronze Age: the first full appearance of Wolverine! At this point we knew so little about him that we wouldn't have been able to label him an "anti-hero" (to fit into this month's theme), although that would come soon enough, in the pages of the revived X-Men. Here, he was just another adversary for the Hulk. In this tale, we would actually have two: Wolverine, and that hairy brute known as the Wendigo (or as he seemed to prefer, Wen-Di-Go!).  Oddly enough, we'll be looking at Wendigo's first appearance next week, when we kick off "Heroes and Horrors" month. So we're going a bit out of order, but I think most of you are relatively familiar with him. So let's get on with the story!

Doug:  I have distinct memories of the kids next door having either this issue or the one prior to it -- I vividly remember Wolverine.  However, as I was not much of a Hulk fan I'm sure I dismissed it with a hint of disdain.  No 1990s fanboy was I, back in the '70s!

Karen: In the previous issue, Hulk felt compelled to return to Canada. It turns out it was due to the sorcerous work of one Marie Cartier, sister to the man who is now trapped in the form of the Wendigo. With the very reluctant help of Georges Baptiste, friend of her brother, they lured the Hulk north in order to perform a ritual that would allow Marie to transfer the curse of the Wendigo from her brother Paul to old Jade-jaws. However, they were unable to pull it off before a slumbering Hulk awoke and discovered the Wendigo nearby and of course fisticuffs ensued. And right in the middle of that, who should appear but a Canadian super-agent sent by his government to stop the Hulk. Yes, they honestly think Wolverine can take down the Hulk.

Doug:  Going solely off that battle that Todd McFarlane drew in Incredible Hulk #340, I wouldn't bet against the runt!

Karen: So that's where issue #181 starts -with Wolverine jumping into action against both the Hulk and Wendigo. The first six pages of the book are nothing but a free-for-all between the three of them. Wolverine jumps on the Hulk first, but switches targets when he recognizes that his adamantium claws are ineffective against the Hulk's hide (surprisingly). He has more success against the Wendigo, who, as he notes, is bigger than Greenskin but not as resilient. Hey partner, I found it interesting that the Wolverine (as he was called here) actually used his claws to cause the Wendigo to bleed. We've commented before about how heroes with swords were always having to use "the flats of their blades" against their foes. None of that here for the Wolverine! 

Doug:  Yeah, the slicing and dicing isn't bloody by any stretch of the imagination, but we are told several times that the claws have pierced and raked the Wendigo.  The script even tells us that ol' Whitey is "startled by the savage slashing".  So at least Wein got that aspect of the character (or what we'll later come to know as Wolverine's character) right.  The voice, though?  Not even close!  He's a wise-cracker here, and now seeing this in two books Len Wein wrote (Amazing Spider-Man #161 was the other) I have to wonder if Wein envisioned Wolverine as being a guy like this and was determined to write him that way.  But even though this is his first appearance, it still doesn't feel "right" to me.

Karen: When the Hulk sees Wolverine fighting Wendigo, poor old Greenskin is confused.  He quickly -incorrectly -reasons that if the Wendigo is "little man's" enemy, Wolverine must be his friend, so he decides to help him. He slams into Wendigo, announcing that he has come to help his little friend. And little is right -a caption tells us that Wolverine is only five foot five inches tall (I think the Marvel guide books would later say he was five foot three). Wolverine decides to take advantage of this, and jumps on Wendigo's back, urging his "friend" the Hulk to smack Wendy around while he's got him distracted. Hulk does even better than that: he grabs Wendigo and tosses him into some trees, completely uprooting them. Wolverine is shocked by the sheer power and violence of Hulk's attack, but only a moment; he leaps upon the stunned Wendigo and uses his claws on him. We're not shown anything but told they make a "sickening thwuck" as they strike, the implication being that Wolverine has stabbed the prone Wendigo in the throat or chest. Hulk congratulates Wolverine in his primitive way for killing Wendigo, but Wolverine says that although he should be dead, the Wendigo must be immortal. "My talons only rendered him unconscious." Talons?? Aren't those usually found on birds? With one monster down, Wolverine decides it's time to go after number two, and turns on the Hulk, which really steams the Jade Giant. Not a good idea!

Doug:  I've long complained about artists struggling to maintain consistency when drawing the giant characters (Goliath, Black Goliath, Colossal Boy, etc.); we see that here with an extremely short character as well.  I don't ever get the impression in this story that Wolverine is only 5'5" tall.  If the Hulk is a 7-footer, then Wolverine is fluctuating somewhere between 5'10" and 6'2" to my eyes.  And I think that's been an issue with all artists to take on the character.  While it might be (aside from his claws) his most important physical attribute when in a panel with other characters, it seems to be consistently missed (on purpose?) by his various caretakers.

Doug:  These were the days when the Hulk was so gullible, but I just love the speech patterns.  "Little friend", indeed!  And I have to agree with you on the "sickening thwuck" -- I'm not sure Conan was as potentially gory as this hack/slash fest! 

Karen: Hey, what happened to Marie and Georges, the nuts who had started all this trouble? They've been watching the fighting. Seeing the Wendigo -Marie's brother - unconscious, they take the opportunity to go out and drag him (what? he must weigh 1000 lbs!) into the little cave where she has been preparing to transfer his curse to the Hulk. They set up the ritual implements, including vapors that will keep the Wendigo
slumbering. Georges all the while tries to talk Marie out of it. While he was Paul's (her brother's) friend, he can't imagine that Paul would want his curse placed upon another human being. But Marie is determined. She figures the Hulk is already cursed just by being the Hulk -adding on the Wendigo part can't make it much worse. 

Doug:  I'm glad you mentioned these two very average sized people pulling the Wendigo all the way into the cave, as I thought it was a little past what I could accept.  Hasn't Wein told us already a time or two that the Wendigo is a little larger than the Hulk?  And how about those natural herbs and spices?  "Ritual implements", indeed!  I sort of felt for Marie's devotion to her brother, but she does in effect create a choiceless choice for Georges.

Karen: Back outside, Wolverine and Hulk are continuing their own little dance. We get a glimpse inside the Canadian military base that serves as Wolverine's home. There, a group of officers discuss their Weapon X. A couple of officers voice doubts about his ability to handle the Hulk, but the commanding officer remains confident. He says that they've spent a lot of time and money developing his mutant abilities, and "despite a few kinks still remaining in his psychological make-up, I think we've done a pretty good job!" So even at the very beginning of Wolverine's existence, it seems that it was planned that he would be somewhat unstable. There have been mentions of his savagery, and of course the claws lend to that sort of thing. I just wonder, if Len Wein had continued to write the X-Men, would we have seen berserker Wolverine? The commander states that in the case that Wolverine fails, they have a chopper full of commandos ready to take on the Hulk. Really? Commandos? Were the Canadians not paying attention to what had been happening to the U.S. soldiers for years when they encountered the Hulk?

Doug:  As I said above, was a framework being laid here for the future of Wolverine?  Did you ever wonder if the "X" was just used as the most commonly named variable, or was it a harbinger to the All-New X-Men?  After all, it's quite possible that Giant-Size X-Men #1 was in the works as this story was being written.  Does anyone have insight to the timetables discussed here, as far as Wolverine's potential use in the X-Men?  I do like the Barry Windsor-Smith serial Weapon X that showed this Canadian backstory to Wolverine.  Of course, anyone who doesn't like wires might not care for it...  But I think as we all would say, the character was never better than when he still had some mystery to him.

Doug:  Dumb soldiers... 

Karen: As Hulk and Wolverine battle, Marie and Georges come out of their cave and Marie starts to cast a spell. Georges tries again to convince her to stop, but she now rips into him, blaming him for the incident that caused her brother to become the Wendigo (and you can read all about it here next week). Her spell causes both Wolverine and Hulk to pass out, and when the Hulk does, he becomes Bruce Banner again. Seeing the human Banner causes Georges to become even more certain that they should not proceed with Marie's plan. He refuses to help her. She tries to guilt him into helping, saying he owes her a debt.  He storms off, but as he sits in the woods, contemplating everything, he thinks of Marie and how she will never rest until her brother is restored. He makes a decision. Unknown to Marie, he goes back into the cave where the Wendigo lies dormant.

Doug:  Georges is a noble man, but a man influenced by the pangs of love.  Say, did it strike you that Marie sort of gave off a Max vibe, a la Where the Wild Things Are?  

Karen: Unfortunately  I've never read that book! The industrious Marie has wrapped Wolverine in chains, and goes to Banner and tries to drag him back towards the cave. She strains to pull him and then realizes he's transforming back to the  Hulk. Hulk becomes upset because he feels betrayed by Marie ("animal girl").
He spends a minute yelling at her, then grabs the bound Wolverine and throws him against the ground, which only breaks his chains. Ever-ready for a fight, Wolverine jumps right back in and starts hacking at Hulk. Marie uses their battle as a chance to race off to the cave, but is surprised when she runs into a now-awake Wendigo. The battling Wolverine and Hulk are startled when they hear Marie scream. That momentary distraction is just enough time for Hulk to lay a haymaker on Wolverine's skull -and remember, we didn't know that the runt had adamantium bones back then - and only by virtue of his quick reflexes does Wolverine avoid getting killed. He is knocked unconscious though.  Back in the cave, we see that the Wendigo is trying to communicate with Marie. She is puzzled. He points to the chamber beyond and we see now that lying on the slab inside is her brother, Paul! Which means that the Wendigo is not her brother but Georges! Marie, seemingly remorseful, asks why he would do such a thing. Georges, now the Wendigo, uses the last of his intelligence to communicate -telepathically? - and tells her that he didn't take on the curse because he felt he owed her a debt, but because he loved her. The last bit of his intellect now gone, he knocks out the back of the cave wall and disappears, leaving Marie sobbing hysterically. The Hulk comes on the scene, not necessarily understanding everything that has happened, but understanding the simple human emotion of grief. He puts his hand on Marie's shoulder to comfort her.

Doug:  So you also found it funny that Marie was struggling to drag Banner even before he started to increase his mass.  Georges must have been doing some serious heavy lifting when they moved the Wendigo!  And "Animal girl" -- gotta love it!  Parts of this plot were a little too conveniently arrived at, such as the chains.  You took the words right out of my mouth (or off my fingers, I guess), because Wolverine takes a serious jolt when the Hulk slams him to the ground and pops right back up from it. No healing factor has been mentioned yet, right?  I thought the panel where he immediately engages the Hulk and showed him with his right arm bent, rather than with claws extended was for Comics Code approval.  Note that we never saw the title character slashed, as was the Wendigo.  Another curious aspect of this issue is the fact that the claws are always extended -- I read once that (I think it was) John Romita envisioned the claws as being part of the gauntlets.

Doug:  And good old child-like Hulk.  He's taken a whoopin', but he's truly a gentle giant.  I always appreciated that about him and the way he was written in the Bronze Age.

Karen: We came in on the second half of this tale, and you can feel it. But even so, it's a solid story. Not
much in the way of characterization. Wolverine is not the star here, just another threat for the Hulk to have to deal with. But the story is well-paced and the writing is solid. It's a good read, nothing spectacular but not bad at all. I'm not a fan of Trimpe's work but I've always accepted it on Hulk, as he was the artist on the book when I started reading it. He manages to convey the Hulk's raw power, and does a nice job in the quiet scene at the end. This was a fairly low-key first appearance -we certainly wouldn't have known that Wolverine would blossom into a superstar based on this.

Doug:  I agree with your assessment of Trimpe's art.  A long time ago we reviewed a few issues of Super-Villain Team-Up and I didn't care for his work there.  Granted, it looked the same as it does here, but just as you stated I accept it here.  As we, and many Trimpe apologists have stated before, Herb never looked better than when John Severin inked him.  But by now those days had passed.  I'm not sure what I thought of Wolverine as a kid, but I can guarantee you that he would get a lot more interesting and a lot cooler in just a few short months!

19 comments:

Edo Bosnar said...

...never read Where the Wild Things Are? Isn't that part of the Western literary canon? (If it's not, it should be.) Next thing you'll tell us you never read The Cat in the Hat or Green Eggs and Ham...

Comicsfan said...

I can't help but draw comparisons between stories like this and more contemporary stories that more graphically show (as phrased here) the "slicing and dicing" that's being done. The only time I really object to bloodshed in comics is when its hand is overplayed--when there's more of it playing out in the panels than can be justified by the story. Yet there's a flip side in these '70s stories, where the artist's hands are virtually tied from representing the writer's graphic intent.

Even when I originally read this story off the rack--a story featuring a cannibalistic creature being taken on by a killer armed with claws who uses them savagely--I remember being frustrated at seeing slash-swipes that did not land, of reading descriptions of "sickening thwucks" that left no visible wounds in the slightest. It made it difficult to take seriously the merciless characteristics that Wein was trying to apply to Wolverine, and trying to have us believe were part of his nature. I don't suppose it was easy for a writer at that time to introduce and push a remorseless killer as a new fan favorite--I remember the same road being walked when the Punisher was introduced. But I think a no-holds-barred story with three such powerful characters--one of whom sports deadly, sharp "claws" as weapons and leaves no doubt of his intention to use them with extreme prejudice--needs more than a writer's descriptions and an artist's coy technique to support it.

Colin Jones said...

Doug, you say it's curious that Wolverine's claws are always extended, it's because (as you mention) that his claws weren't part of his body at this time - that was invented later as was everything else about Wolvie - the healing factor, him being 100 years old and so on.

david_b said...

In terms of, well, slicing/dicing, I don't recall being too shocked at the time about that scene in DD 113 where Gladiator slices right into the guy's gut, but it certainly a bit more gruesome than this story..:

http://www.supermegamonkey.net/chronocomic/entries/scans2/DD113_Gladiator.JPG

All in all, 'cutting edge' depiction of violence for our beloved Comics Code, circa 1974.

.
.
.


("Oh, like any of YOU could resist a pun like that...")

Great review, folks.

Humanbelly said...

I loved this issue. Unabashedly so. Unashamed to loudly proclaim it. Loved the art, loved the characterizations, loved the story and the storytelling. Each different element certainly has its flaws and shortcomings, but as with much of the Hulk's run w/ Trimpe and a surprising string of A-list Marvel scribes, the resulting gestalt always vastly overcame those deficiencies to create a quirkily great, long-running book (IMO).

Now, this issue came during a period which has a HUGE sentimental appeal to me, coming right during those junior high years when I was scrabbling to actually use my own money to feed my comic book hunger. I’d started buying regularly w/ issue #176, and every month between issues was an ETERNITY, where you’d look at the spinner racks every week in hopes that the next issue had arrived. I distinctly remember that the issue after this one (number flippin’ 182, w/ Crackajack Jackson) was, like, two weeks late being released. Every day was like living under the yoke of an oppressive dictator. . . or so it seemed (heh).

And I think it’s very important to view the book in general and Wolverine in particular through the lens of the (likely) kid in the early 70’s that they were written for, and not at all from the perspective of what comics, Wolverine, and ourselves have since become. I thought Wolvie was great here, and was certainly paradoxical in that he was clearly intelligent, extremely articulate (and presumably well-educated), and fearless—but that he was also disturbingly cold and calculating under fire. . . and obviously absolutely ruthless and happy to rely on savagery in a fight. The way he spoke and expressed himself didn’t jibe comfortably with what his nature seemed to be. . . which I didn’t see as a mistake, but rather as an intriguing trait. Down the road, when we got all the “Yer in for a load o’ trouble, Bub!” –type of stuff, as he became more central to the X-Men? To me, THAT wasn’t the “real” Wolverine that we’d first seen in the Hulk. He grew on me, of course, but was never “original” Wolvie, in my eyes.

The same sense of perspective should inform the level of violence portrayed, as well. I have to disagree w/ ComicsFan about the story being weakened by the “sanitization” (as it were) of the obvious mayhem that Wolvie’s claws were wreaking. Honestly, as a thirteen year old, I got it. I understood it. The words and the sound effects conveyed it amply. I still remember feeling quite chilled by the savageness of Wolvie’s attack on the Wendigo. I know it’s the oldest cliche’ in the world, but even in a visual medium, what the imagination supplies can still carry far more impact than in-your-face graphic realism. It involves the reader/viewer, rather than making him a spectator. . . and makes for more interesting storytelling. I expect to touch upon a terrific example of this when the discussion of issue #162 comes around.

And speaking of #162, this two-parter really was a fine, fine sequel to that earlier story, expanding on it and resolving it (more or less) much more satisfactorily than you usually see in comics. The balance of storylines is handled very well, with events in one sub-plot having consequences on- or at least affording opportunities to- the other. It is indeed more of an up-woods horror story than a super-hero story, which brings so much more identifiable human angst and passion and failing to the table. The innate humanity is on display far more than the super-humanity.

Humanbelly said...

I’m sure I’ve said it before—but Len Wein is my favorite Hulk writer (or at least tied w/ Roy Thomas). Sure, he could sometimes get a little too in love with his own writer-ly “depth”, and he could certainly be chatty for an omniscient narrator, but his ability to capture the Hulk’s man-child nature, surprising depth of character and unique voice have since, to me, been a benchmark which no other writer has equaled. Rather, they systematically and routinely changed the character himself. But clearly Len viewed ol’ Greenskin as fundamentally a Good Guy—albeit one that had many, many disclaimers attached—and made it a point to emphasize the “Misunderstood” whilst playing down the “Monster”.

And I’m forever on-board as a major Herb Trimpe fan. His flaws as an artist are sometimes almost jarringly fundamental—look at the panel above, after Wolvie has rolled w/ the punch to his head? Apparently a kewpie-doll noggin has been suddenly & mysteriously transplanted onto the Hulk’s torso. Herb could sometimes struggle mightily w/ both proportion and symmetry (and later on perspective became a bit of a bugaboo for him, too). But the man could tell a crystal clear visual story that was gripping, dramatic, original and surprisingly nuanced. He was experimenting w/ wildly unconventional panel layouts at Marvel well before either Neal Adams or Jim Steranko made their name with them. He also had a knack for capturing a figure at just the right expressive moment. Again, the panel above where Hulk’s rising while pointing an accusatory finger at Wolverine—it’s so cinematic that you can almost hear the words out loud. He also had a great knack for drawing landscapes and really anchoring a story in them. Georges’ moment in his Canadian Gethsemane, there? I think that’s simply a lovely 2-panel sequence, and it’s a perfect synthesis of Len’s words and Herb’s pictures. I mean, it successfully reveals that this has actually been Georges’ story all along, in spite of the fact that he’s been hovering in the background the whole time. He’s Sam Gangee, in a way.

Ahhhhh- it’s just good, good stuff. I know I probably love it more than 98% of the folks in our hobby-world. . . but I’m willing to stand up and be counted for it, regardless!

HB the Wordy

Anonymous said...

Great review! Karen and Doug, have I mentioned lately that the two of you really work well together? Your reviews always seem to me to be better than the sum of your parts.

And so many great sub-topics - slicing and dicing, Hulk characterization, the original Wolverine character vs. what he became, Trimpe, etc. I don't know what to say except "HB the Wordy" is a tough act to follow.

Humanbelly, my friend, you and I are roughly the same age. I was 12 and a half when this came out. It's in a plastic bag somewhere.

And I couldn't agree more.

Tom

themiddlespaces said...

Classic issue.

Like Karen, I too love the "child-like" nature of the Hulk and wrote about it in part on my own blog in a post called "Snot-Nosed Hulk," which also touches on one of Hulk's adventures in Canada vs. a Canadian Super-Hero (Sasquatch).

It recently came up when I was commenting on People Who Make Art…Shouldn’t Appropriate Hulk! over at the Hooded Utilitarian.

Wolverine is best when he doing as little talking or thinking as possible without being in "berserker" mode.

Edo Bosnar said...

Hmmm, now I'm not sure whose review is better: Karen & Doug's, or Humanbelly's. You make a very passionate case, HB, and although I don't necessarily agree with you about Trimpe or Wein, I thoroughly enjoyed reading your comments.
Personally, although I had and remember reading a smattering of the Wein-written Hulk issues (from #200 onward - which I liked well enough), my favorite Hulk scribes are Stern and esp. Mantlo. And my favorite Hulk artist by far is Sal Buscema. And HB, you'll be happy to know that Sal shares your admiration for Wein as Hulk writer: just yesterday I discovered an interview with him (posted last July) in which he talks about his tenure as penciler on the Hulk, and underscores how much he enjoyed working with Wein: http://thejadegiant.wordpress.com/2013/07/24/sal-buscema-hulk-interview-podcast-and-a-great-commission-opportunity/
The whole interview is really well worth listening to; Sal is such a classy guy and it really comes out as you listen to him talk about his experiences and the people he worked with.

Doug said...

Tom, thanks for the compliment! Someone once said of the BAB that our tandem reviews are like morning drive radio. And I'd agree with you about us working together -- I always feel like our tandem reviews are better than when we fly solo. No matter how much I try to hit all of the points that are obvious, as well as a few that pop into my head, Karen always comes up with an angle I did not consider. This would be the main reason why we get frustrated when the comments are low on comic reviews -- I know you people (assuming you've read the day's comic) have takes that would really enhance the review.

That being said, I really appreciate the passion with which HB wrote. This is a discussion we've had between the two of us (Karen and I) -- where's the balance between writing a review that is more plot summary or more commentary. We've decided to focus on plot summary so that any reader can come by and understand what is going on. But I again admit that there is a whole lot of merit to a review like HB's. Thanks!

Doug

themiddlespaces said...

For the record, I agree with HB's take on the depiction of violence.

Part of what makes comics so great as a medium is the reader-provided closure required to make it work. As a kid there was enough suggestion of the violence without gory details that I could still feel the shock of someone like Wolverine going at it tooth and claw, and I still basically feel the same way.

I am not against explicit depictions of violence altogether, but they are a lot more effective in small powerful doses.

themiddlespaces said...

BTW, this story is continued in X-Men 139, 140. . . for those who don't know.

In the end though, Georges goes to jail for his crimes committed as Wendigo.

Karen said...

Thanks for the comments people. Lots to talk about today. HB, I especially enjoyed your take on this issue. I had a feeling we'd hear from you on this one!

As we put together this review, and next week's review of Hulk 162 (the first appearance of Wendigo), I came to realize a couple of things. One, I've been way too dismissive of 70s Hulk stories. For some reason, I had little interest in revisiting them. After reading these and looking at a few other issues, that's beginning to change. As a kid, I loved the Hulk. i think reviewing these issues has helped put me back in touch with that feeling, to some degree. The gullible, generally good but loose cannonball version of Hulk is still my Hulk. It was fun to see him again.

The second thing is, I've been fairly harsh in my assessment of Herb Trimpe, particularly when he is not inked by John Severin. While I still think his art is lacking refinement, there's no denying the man is a true story-teller. I found myself noticing the angles he chose when framing a scene, the way he was able to portray expressions, his pacing, etc. He will never be one of my favorites, but the guy is talented, and his take on the Hulk is obviously iconic.

Humanbelly said...

Ha! Karen, sometimes I think you and Doug get together every once in awhile and say, “Hey, I know—let’s mention the Hulk, and then watch HB abandon his work day yet again! That NEVER gets old!” Ooooo, you guys are insidious. . . !

But hey, thanks much for your kind indulgence, guys & gal. Believe me, NO intention whatsoever on my part to hijack the post or review. And heck, your highly enjoyable review is what got me churning away in the first place. I hadn’t read that issue in many, many years—although it was quite reader-worn long before it became a collector’s item. I’m sure there’s spaghetti sauce and/or chocolate chip stains on more than a couple of pages. Revisiting it after a long interim had the hoped-for effect of reminding me what I love about it, rather than leaving me wondering what the appeal was in the first place. It really improved an already pretty-good day.

Boy, and I never even touched on themes and tropes present in this issue that have exemplified the title over many years. Like the fact that the initial foe the Hulk is facing is also, like the Hulk, not exactly a cut-&-dried, evil “monster”. (Off the top of my head? The original Glob; the Missing Link; Mogol; the Inheritor—and I’m sure any number of less-memorable foes). Also the fact that the Hulk- Mr. “Leave Me Alone”- is UNFAILINGLY ready to declare someone his friend under the flimsiest of circumstances—he is ALWAYS taken in by this, and yet for about 20 years he would still fight off his understandable suspicions and cynicism, and get taken in time after time. One could make a case that he is one of the most unconsciously optimistic souls out there. . .

Ooop—HBGirl’s done w/ dance--- gotta run!

HB

Fred W. Hill said...

Back in this era, I regularly collected the Incredible Hulk and while I missed the first Wendigo story, I did latch onto issues 180 & 181. To be honest, the horror aspects relating to the Wendigo and Georges' nobel but horrid sacrifice made more of an impact on me than the Wolverine's first full story. Not that Wolvie didn't come off as an intriguing character by any means! In retrospect, it does appear many of the writers/artists of this era wee upping the ante on the violence, playing up what these sort of fights would really be like, even if still restrained by the CCA. Miller took it to another level in Daredevil, but he was putting in overdrive a trend that was already one of the distinguishing aspects of the Bronze Age.
I've never read anywhere that Wein planned to make the Wolverine part of the X-Men from the start, but if he made reference to him being a mutant in this very issue, it would fit. His inclusion by itself would make the new X-Men markedly different in tone from the Silver Age team.
Back to the story at hand, despite the typical goofy aspects, overall a good story. And I agree -- Trimpe's style seemed a perfect fit for the Hulk, even if I usually didn't like him on more standard superhero fare.

Fred W. Hill said...

Ya know, HB, that aspect of the Hulk -- his barely concealed eagerness for friends -- was something that I may not have consciously noticed when reading those mags as a kid but it's certainly something that would have made me empathize with the big lug! And maybe a big part of the appeal of the series for me. At least in the Silver & Bronze ages, it was a more successful formula than the initial Mr. Hyde persona of Lee & Kirby's earliest Hulk stories.

MattComix said...

The childlike Hulk is the one that always feels the most like the "real" one to me. I think having Hulk be massive power but with a recessed intellect is actually more interesting than the whole Jekyl/Hyde thing. I liked that as Banner he has the brain, as Hulk he has the brawn but he can't have both and the main tether between the two is basically Banner's conscience.

Wolverine is hard character for me to enjoy even looking back to the BA stuff because not only has he himself been blown so completely out of proportion since then but so much wrong with modern comics kind of comes from the thinking that every super powered character should be all sharp edges and attitude problems.

NINE9INCHE STUD said...

i hated Wolverine here.Although the claws were interesting,he seemed annoying.He grew on me,once he appeared in the x-men.he came clint eastwood with claws
Wolverine's claws are always extended, it's because (as you mention) that his claws weren't part of his body at this time.I thought maybe they were just gloves.when he popped one,was surprise later on in the x-men

Anonymous said...

OK HB just about summed up all the salient points here ......

While issues 180-181 are historically significant in the comics industry for being the first time we see the Wolverine, he wasn't the best part of this story in my opinion. I felt that Georges' tragic transformation into the Wendigo and also the Hulk's empathy with Marie were the best parts here. I've always felt that the best Hulk stories highlighted the tragic nature of this character. Here, Len Wein gives us a tale of not one but two tragic beasts. Like Matt and Karen, I prefer the childlike, savage Hulk persona.

As for Wolverine himself, this issue served as a springboard to introduce the character to the readers, although Wolvie's creators probably never in their wildest dreams foresaw just how popular he would become later on. I think at this point especially Wolverine was a work in progress. No claws as part of his anatomy, no healing factor, no adamantium skeleton, just a Canadian superhero agent. All that stuff was added on later.


- Mike 'Trimpe rules!' from Trinidad & Tobago.

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