Monday, July 18, 2016

Real Name: Dr. Robert Bruce Banner
First Appearance: Incredible Hulk #1 (May, 1962)
Fight Club Ranking: #5

Featured Fights:
- vs HERCULES: Tales to Astonish #79 (May 1966)
- vs CRYPTO-MAN: Incredible Hulk #205 (Nov 1976)
- vs EGGHEAD: Defenders #43 (Jan 1977)
- vs DAREDEVIL: Daredevil #163 (Mar 1980)
- vs SPIDER-MAN: Marvel Treasury Edition #25 (1980)
- vs THE STALKER: Incredible Hulk #335 (Sep 1987)
- vs SUPER-SKRULL: Incredible Hulk #374 (Oct 1990)
- vs METALLO: Marvel versus DC #3 (Apr 1996)
- vs SUPERMAN: Marvel versus DC #3 (Apr 1996)
- vs MOLEMAN: DC versus Marvel #4 (Apr 1996)
- vs IRON MAN: Iron Man #2 (Dec 1996)
- vs THUNDERBOLTS: Incredible Hulk #449 (Jan 1997)
- vs AVENGERS: Avengers #4 (Feb 1997)
- vs THOR: Avengers #5 (Mar 1997)
- vs DEADPOOL: Deadpool #4 (Apr 1997)
- vs GREEN LANTERN: Unlimited Access #1 (Dec 1997)
- vs SILVER SURFER: Incredible Hulk #95 (Jul 2006)
- vs THUNDERBOLT ROSS: World War Hulk #3 (Oct 2007)
- vs SENTRY: World War Hulk #5 (Jan 2008)
- vs HERCULES: Hulk vs Hercules: When Titans Collide #1 (Jun 2008)
- vs RED HULK: Hulk #6 (Nov 2008)

The circus of death and rebirth in Marvel Comics is something we should all be pretty much resigned to. With every passing year another sacrifice is made to appease the need to 'Change Everything Forever!' A new name added to the queue of next 'shocking' returns from the afterlife!

Marvel really got this pattern underway ten years ago with their hero-v-hero event: Civil War. That story offed third-string Giant-Man Goliath, before dovetailing into the dramatic death of Captain America. This year, they're chasing their tail with a follow-up sequel - "Civil War II" - and ramping up the dead pool by giving Marvel Age icon Bruce Banner time away from life. You may know him best as the scientist who could never manage to find peace on his own: The Incredible Hulk.

As the big story of the moment, Hulk seems a fitting Hero of the Week, but it's getting very difficult to have any genuine enthusiasm for events like these. No matter how much time is wasted selling their impact - we know they're not for keeps. Nor should they be.

The flaw in killing major characters was always that its writing a cheque a corporate publisher doesn't want to cash, for a bill readers don't really want to pay. We love our heroes and the unique saga of their continuous serial adventures! It's what makes them unique. The need for an ebb and flow may be true over time, but the joke of meaningless death in comics was never very funny. Something we should have grown out of when the books kept printing decade after decade, reserving death for carefully considered generational commitment, and/or well conceived plots. Not stunts.

On Firdays this month, we're wandering back through some of DC Comics' various Rebirths. As in some of their past efforts, they're currently in the process of trying to patch up mistakes made with the hatchet job line-wide reboot of The New 52 [see; HOTW: Dr. Manhattan, Flash].

In our last installment, we returned to the mid-2000s mini-series Green Lantern: Rebirth -- the first prominent entry in the DC "Rebirth" canon. It's a story best summarized as a conceited effort to correct the thoughtless, destructive urges of the 1990s. It was a restoration of the classic Green Lantern mythos that was harshly dismissed shortly after Hal Jordan turned villain, but would prosper in the years following the Rebirth. A shining example for an industry that seemed to spend the 2000s hungover, but learning from the excesses of past mistakes, as well as new triumphs.

Marvel already have a shiny new Hulk in place for the dead old one - the "awesome" Amadeus Cho. He's one of a slew of substitutions for classic icons operating in the current comics. The umpteenth alternate added to a Hulk brand still recovering from the Hulks-a-go-go of Jeph Loeb's time on the series. Relatively inoffensive in isolation -- Cho has been a Hulk mainstay for over a decade -- but overwhelmingly tedious in the bigger picture of both Hulk comics, and Marvel as a whole.

In recent years, many myths have started to pop up surrounding the Hulk as a character. One of the more miserable is the notion that a good Hulk story is hard to find. Hollywood's the source of that one, but at the Big Two, that's tantamount to the team bosses. Wisdoms established over decades of New York minutes - the cultivation of an entire culture - isn't worth what it used to be. To their credit, for what ever difficulties have arisen after a few bungled movies, Hollywood still hasn't thrown their Hulk out with the trash.

As you can see in the Comic Book Resources preview [pictured above], Bruce Banner's killer is an old ally - Clint Barton, aka Hawkeye. The permanence of Hulk's death - something to be reviewed over the next five or so years. It's hard to believe they'd kill off their legend much longer than that. Not that I'd want them to.

We've done replacement heroes, death, doom, and diminishing returns. The really novel high concept that would demand attention at this point is some good old fashioned, run of the mill, honest to goodness comics about the characters they star. Self-contained episodes in an unbroken series. New chapters to take the endless journey forward. Heroes of this week, and many weeks after.

No comments: