Sunday, March 23, 2014

Discuss: Retrofitting the Hulk, Plus More Alex Ross Spider-Man

Doug: Today we want your opinion on the recent phenomenon of the Hulk being branded in the Avengers -- films, cartoons, toys (I can't comment on the comics, sadly). What's your opinion that today's consumer is perhaps under the false assumption that the Hulk has always been an Avenger? And, do you think that in our experience, the Hulk should have been in the Avengers all along?


Doug: Below is the latest alternate cover by Alex Ross in Marvel's 75th Anniversary celebration, this time for Amazing Spider-Man #1.2.


Humanbelly said...

Every time I read those first 5 issues of the Avengers (from 1963/64, right?) it just sticks in my craw how badly the Hulk was handled (within the context of the story, mind you-- not necessarily how he was written). It's a great convention-defying move on Stan's part to convey a real world dynamic, where not everyone is just gonna get along, and maybe some folks simply can't play well in a group setting. But, c'mon, the lack of adult behaviour in a group of frighteningly powerful individuals should be a cause for HUGE concern for the rest of us folks, don'tcha think?

No, I'm liking this particular retrofit, and I'm hoping it sticks. In my heart-of-hearts, the too-soon-departed EARTH'S MIGHTIEST HEROES cartoon got it exactly, exactly right. They showed moments where the relationship with the group could have gone either way, and this time around folks ultimately behaved liked grown-ups (Thor making an open and sincere apology to the Hulk was a nearly cathartic moment for me!), and that's all it took to bring Greenskin fully into the fold. And he was quite fun throughout that series-- the relationship w/ Hawkeye being particularly delightful.

Remember issue #100? Why, exactly, were we not able to bring a cooperative Hulk into the fold again after that outing? (Well, partly because even more than Spidey, he's practically the definiteion of a "loner" character, right?)

Nah, I'm totally on board w/ it at this point. It's kind of the realization of the hugest "What If-?" ever for me--


J.A. Morris said...

I'm in favor of the change too.

It might sound funny to say this about a fictional character, but the Hulk deserves to be treated like a "good guy" after years of being a dangerous but misunderstood "rage monster".
I recall more than one Bronze Age tale where Hulk did something heroic, either by himself of as a member of the Defenders. Then right after that, Ross or the police or SHIELD, etc started shooting at him, he got mad and ran away again.

He deserves the peace and stability that being an Avenger can provide.

I should mention that one of my favorite eras of the Hulk was 1982-84, when Hulk kept Banner's intellect and Banner controlled his ability to transform into the Hulk.

And since I mentioned everyone's favorite "non-team", he was an on-off member of the Defenders for years. So to me, it doesn't seem like that big a change to make him an Avenger.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I like the idea of Hulk being a Avenger...especially in his later, Professor Hulk, incarnation. I remember in Infinity Gauntlet when they were recruiting heroes to fight Thanos, Captain America basically said that Hulk would be welcome in the Avengers again; I was disappointed that nothing ever came of it.

Mike W.

mr. oyola said...

I shall be the dissenting voice (so far). I think the Hulk is a better fit as a Defender (non-team) than an Avenger, and I quite like the sometimes animosity between ole green guy and the Avengers.

The Avengers with their government connections, and meetings and by-laws is not the place for the Hulk in any incarnation, I think. It is okay if he were like a reserve member, or they are sometimes forced to work together - but an actual member? I think they got it right the first time.

But as I've said before, my favorite Hulk is the child-like wandering in the wilderness version.

Anonymous said...

Count me in with Mr. Ayola - while the Hulk definitely has a place in Avengers lore, I do think he was actually a better fit in the Defenders. His informal team member status there suited him better than being in the more structured Avengers team. He never did quite get along with them even from the outset.

As I recall, while ol' Hulkie joined the Avengers early on, he left soon after because of his volatile nature. Then, later on he alternates between hero/villain as the team crosses his path on numerous occasions. Personally, I liked these stories better than if he had stayed on the team. I think Stan realized early on the dramatic possibilities of an unstable, destructive Hulk who would cause conflict; Stan knew he could come up with a bunch of stories from this and it would only be possible if he left the team.

Alex Ross ... hmmm, this is an unusual painting, but again quite gorgeous. Not the first thing you'd expect from a Spidey scene.

- Mike 'Hulk smash Avengers membership card!' from Trinidad & Tobago.

Anonymous said...

Of all the retrofits that have come with the new Marvel Universe, the one concerning the Hulk's status is, to me, just another bump on the log.

The fine line that Marvel is walking with the Hulk's character leaves some room to have him go either way. His first movie is recapped as him "breaking Harlem". In the Avengers movie, the fight between an out of control Hulk and Thor on the Heli-carrier ends with the Hulk being pointed in another direction. End of the fight? For a time, only to resurface during the big showdown when, in a moment of calm, the Hulk sucker punches Thor. Are these little kernels of humor being planted or little seeds of discord? Open to interpretation.

The one that sticks in my craw more than the Hulk is Captain as the first Avenger. FIRST Avenger? He's like sixth. He should be labeled the fashionably late Avenger.

The Prowler (splicing and dicing through Marvel's retrofits).

Karen said...

I think including the Hulk works for the Avengers films, which only come out every three years or so. But for the comics I much prefer things the way they originally went down, as it made sense that Hulk just didn't fit in with that group. It gave the Avengers a different feel too, sort of a bumpy start.

It does sort of bother me though that all the casual movie fans now think of Hulk as an Avenger. That just doesn't seem right. And with Marvel announcing plans to do a Defenders group now (for TV), but with a bunch of characters one doesn't immediately connect with the team, it seems a shame not to have Hulk with his natural group.

Stephen said...

My problem isn't so much with the Hulk's inclusion in the Avengers but, specifically, how inconsistent they portrayed the Hulk's nature in the Avengers movie. Is he an out-of-control rage monster who battles the other Avengers and nearly brings the entire SHIELD Helicarrier down - or is he just an "always-angry" guy who can focus and direct his rage against Loki and the Chitauri and work cooperatively with the other Avengers towards a common goal?

I guess it depends on the needs of the plot!

mr. Oyola said...

But Stephen aren't the comics just as inconsistent?

MattComix said...

I to really prefer the childlike Hulk.

But for the Avengers I enjoy the idea that movies put forth that rather than Banner being in the drivers seat (which is a premise killing idea the comics are still going to the well on) he can aim or come to some sort of fragile accord with the other guy. Earth's Mightiest Heroes does this to.

It's a good way to reconcile the idea of having him as part of a hero team even though rationality and control are not what the character is known for. Even the childlike Hulk could be made to understand that he had friends.

That Alex Ross cover is absolutely sweet! (gonna get that in before the hating starts.) I'd be more enthusiastic about it if not for the fact that the same guy who gave us "superior" Spider-Man is still on it. Also I can't help but think how long it will be until the next stupid event storyline that writes Peter out of the book, gives him a stupid costume, or otherwise mucks with the character in some needless and asinine fashion.

mr. oyola said...

Looks like a young David Byrne was the model for that Peter Parker.

Edo Bosnar said...

I started reading comics in the '70s, so like Osvaldo, I prefer the child-like wandering Hulk who hangs out with "dumb magician" and the rest of the Defenders occasionally.
However, I don't mind him as an Avenger in the movie(s). As Karen points out, it seems to work there.

Humanbelly said...

Yep, to support the response to Stephen's question, it may sound kind of irritatingly glib, but the Hulk's always been sort of consistently inconsistent in temperment-- even in his earliest incarnations. He's. . . like a lot of folks that way, I suppose. I totally buy the way he was portrayed in the Avengers movie-- when thrown into an unfocused, chaotic environment upon changing, the raging monster response is the go-to survival mechanism. If it's a controlled, chosen change, he becomes focused and much more level-headed from the outset.

And really, for the entirety of the Trimpe & then Buscema runs, he had that kind of unpredictable volatility. The two known things to absolutely set him off? Shooting at him with clearly insignificant, ineffective weapons. . . and simply referring to him as a "monster". The "Monster" trigger was remarkable, because just about EVERY writer used it at some point-- and when you think about it, the one thing he was most vulnerable to was getting his feelings hurt. That kind of vulnerability, though, is what I don't think we'll be able to see in the cinematic version, which is too bad. But I'm liking Doc Banner so much that it more than makes up for it.


Garett said...

I like Hulk in the movie. The rest of the time--nah!

The painting by Ross has a good first impression. Nice light, colors, Spidey emerging from the wall. Something is funny on second look with the perspective though-- I think Pete would have to be standing on a box or ledge for this to make sense.

MattComix said...

In the movies, I think it depends on how the change is activated and if or not Banner and "the other guy" are in agreement. The stress of the attack on the SHIELD Hellicarrier was extremely sudden and coming right on the heels of the team arguing with each other under the influence of Loki's staff.

When Banner returns to the group it was after he realized as the others did how Loki had played them all. His transformation then is when he's deciding that he will stand with his friends and that doing so will let him stop Loki and smash his plans, which "the other guy" is clearly ok with.

My sense of it is that Banner being "always angry" is his way of saying he's accepted that he is what he is so he's no longer trying to destroy the Hulk by searching for a cure and that's how the two entities have found a way to co-exist even if it is at times a fragile peace.

Fred W. Hill said...

My impression is that the comics scene regarding the classic Silver & Bronze age characters has gotten so out of whack over the last two decades with so many variations of the same characters in comics and other media that it'd be difficult for young fans of the more recent material to have any idea (or even care about) how things went down in the original stories of 40 to 50 or more years ago.
Having read those first several issues of the Avengers, as well as that big fight fest of FF 25 & 26, or at least the reprint in the Treasury edition, I wonder how much Lee and/or Kirby really planned things out. I've read that the first issue of the Avengers was produced as an emergency feed the printers overnight special due to Bill Everett being extremely late with the first issue of Daredevil (DD & the X-Men both being Goodman-ordered knock-offs of mega-hits FF & Spidey). So basically Stan & Jack threw together whatever characters seemed to fit the bill (I'm soooo glad Stan resisted any urge to add Spider-Man and/or Dr. Strange to the team!) Although in the short term, the Hulk worked to tell some provocative stories in the Avengers, I'll have to agree with those who've opined he wouldn't really fit longterm in a team like the Avengers. Lee hadn't really figured out how to properly write the Hulk yet, but I'd imagine he quickly saw a problem with leaving the Hulk in the Avengers -- mainly for the Hulk to become a good team member, he'd wind up becoming too much like the Thing in the FF. Stan also noted the same problem with Hank McCoy in the X-Men as characterized in the first couple of issues -- too much like Ben Grimm. Of course, after less than two years, Stan revamped the entire Avengers, maybe because they were beginning to seem too much like the JLA!
The Defenders, although superficially similar to the Avengers, were conceived as a very different type of team, without the strict rules that the Avengers took such pride in that they took Iron Man to task early on when he dared miss a meeting! Hell, early on ionn the Defenders, the Hulk walked out of a fight because he didn't want to go into the water, but Dr. Strange didn't read Greenskin the riot act for dereliction of duty. And can you imagine the Hulk on monitor duty?

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