Monday, November 10, 2014

Arc of Triumph? Incredible Hulk 176-178

Karen: These three issues were somewhat scandalous back in the day, taking Warlock and putting him in the role of Jesus (with Hulk as an unwitting Judas!). They also had heavy Watergate allusions. When they came out it all pretty much went over my little noggin but reading it today it seems fairly harmless if a bit silly. Any thoughts on this three parter by Gerry Conway and Herb Trimpe?


Humanbelly said...

Daggone it, and I've got an unhappily full day @ the theater today--!! Oh Karen, you are a harsh. . . uh. . . task-mistress (?? Is that even a word??). . .

This was a landmark little arc for me, as it was precisely when I started regularly buying my own comics off the racks. I'm not even 100% sure you could call it objectively "good". . . but boy, it sure was a determined effort to push an envelope or three! An incredibly quirky mash-up of personal philosophy/political commentary that, once again, uses the Hulk's mag to wrap up the story from a different book's cancellation. Using ol' Greenskin in basically a supporting role. The whole thing is trying so darned hard to be profound, but Conway's use of the of-the-moment Watergate/Washington overplot combined with the painfully-obvious (yet coyly denied) Passion Play re-telling combined with Warlock's own under-explained backstory was,well, clumsy at best.

But--ha-- I loved it at the time, make no mistake. The final Bradbury quote- "Are there mangers on other worlds?" has always stuck with me.

A side thing that I always liked? Unlike so many titles, Herb Trimpe did nearly ALL of his own Hulk covers. It's part of what made his long run on the book such a singular, personal, "they're making this just for me", experience, y'know?


Anonymous said...

I remember reading these in Marvel UK's Mighty World Of Marvel comic - the religious stuff went completely over my head and in secular Britain there'd have been nothing controversial anyway (The Beatles bigger than Jesus ? - It passed without comment here). But I was fascinated by the idea of Counter-Earth and at the time it seemed totally plausible that it would be hidden from us by being on the other side of the sun - of course these days I know that Counter-Earth's gravity would affect the other planets and it would be detected instantly :)

david_b said...

Not a bit Hulk fan, I'd love to pick these up. I love early-Bronze Trimpe on ol' Greenskin (especially the covers... I still have ish 121 on my cube wall here inches from my computer monitor), and these look like a nice stretch from the normal storys.

Love Gerry Conway stories and would be great to pick these up.

J.A. Morris said...

Good stuff, I first read this in a Marvel Treasury Edition #24. Trimpe's Warlock art looked great on the tabloid size pages.

Anonymous said...

I'd never heard of any controversy over this, but I was a small spud back then and not up on current events.
I imagine it would cause a stink today. This and SON OF SATAN. The crazies and pundits in this country would be baying at the moon. The outrage!!!
This country just needs to relax.

Karen said...

Another interesting tidbit: Hulk gets to Counter-Earth on a rocket sent there by the Inhumans. They had planned to check out the planet to see if it would be a good place for them to live, but when the Hulk came to visit Attilan and they couldn't control him, they stuck him on the rocket instead and shot him into space -and actually changed the heading, so he would be sent off to drift in space! But of course, Hulk pounded on the insides and it wound up sending the rocket careening into Counter-Earth. So this event preceded the Illuminati sending Hulk into space (the precursor of World War Hulk) by many decades!

david_b said...

Karen, toooo funny, will definitely have to check this story arc out.

Perhaps that Treasury Edition.

Humanbelly said...

IIRC, this arc may have been Conway's last effort on Hulk's book, and I daresay he wanted to go out with a bang. It does have a number of very nice (if sometimes hokey) moments, too. Hulk taking a minute to reflect on things in the Washington Monument. A surprisingly warm (and sort of sweet, and sort of funny) goodbye between Hulk and the Recorder. The easy acceptance of the Hulk in Warlock's group of acolytes. The unexpectedly enjoyable depth of a couple of supporting legal-clerk type characters-- even though we have NO IDEA who they actually are in the scheme of things (clearly integral folks from Warlock's demised book).

The whole arc kind of unintentionally recaptured that intrinsically "Marvel" feeling of just a few years earlier, where the fact that you didn't have a full grasp of what was going on was actually a motivation to get more involved with the book-- rather than being a deterrent. It was just complex enough to pique one's interest-- and still accessible to the first-time reader.

I'm pretty sure Len Wein came on for good with issue #179 (a really nice one-off story featuring the Missing Link), and while his tenure had some tough patches (the whole Glenn Talbot/mind-switch/presidential assassination rigamarole), he then settled in as my favorite of all Hulk scribes, w/ the possible exception of Roy Thomas.

HB (Hmm-- stands for "Hulk Booster"-!)

dbutler16 said...

I'm with David B in that I'm not a big Hulk fan, but I'd love to pick these up. They do look interesting, I generally do like Gerry Conway's work, and what is a 70's comic without some political and social commentary?

Fred W. Hill said...

I'd only gotten one issue of the first run of Warlock, the one featuring the Brute, but I got this entire trilogy and to be honest I don't think I gave much thought at the time that it was some sort of scandalous mockery of the Christ story -- of course, I did get the gist of that a bit later when reading Starlin's classic run. Given that I was and am quite irreligious, it didn't bother me at all. Anyhow, I did enjoy this story and would consider at least a near classic even if it isn't nearly the knock out that would be coming up when Starlin showed us what was next in Warlock's life.

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