Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The Incredible Hulk (1962) #1


Cover Date May 1962
On-Sale Date 1 March 1962
Cover Price $0.12 US
Pages 32 (24 story pages)

Cover Credits
Pencils: Jack Kirby. Inks: Jack Kirby (probably). Colours: Stan Goldberg. Script: Stan Lee (probably). Letters: Artie Simek.
  The inks for this cover have previously been credited to George Roussos or Paul Reinman, but comics historian Nick Caputo believes that Kirby inked the cover himself.

Story Titles
Part 1: "The Coming of the Hulk" (6 pages)
Part 2: The Hulk Strikes (5 pages)
Part 3: The Search for the Hulk (3 pages)
Part 4: "Enter... the Gargoyle!" (5 pages)
Part 5: The Hulk Triumphant! (5 pages)

Story Credits
Script: Stan Lee. Pencils: Jack Kirby. Inks: Paul Reinman. Colours: Stan Goldberg. Letters: Ray Holloway & Artie Simek
  According to Nick Caputo (him again!) Artie Simek lettered parts 3 to 5, and Ray Holloway lettered the first two parts (although Simek lettered the title and logo on all five).

Plot Summary
Dr. Bruce Banner, under the command of General Thunderbolt Ross, is testing an experimental gamma bomb for the US military. When a teenager named Rick Jones sneaks onto the test site on a dare, Banner goes to his rescue. Banner's assistant Igor - secretly a Soviet spy - fails to halt the countdown as instructed, and as a result Banner is irradiated by the gamma bomb blast.  When night falls, the radiation transforms him into a gray-skinned super-strong behemoth, and he goes on a rampage. He is dubbed "The Hulk" by one of Ross's soldiers.
  The Hulk inadvertently stops Igor from obtaining the gamma bomb plans, and reverts back to Banner at daybreak; only Rick Jones, now his loyal friend, knows his secret. From his prison cell Igor sends a message to summon the Gargoyle, a mutated, super-intelligent Soviet scientist. The Gargoyle manages to capture the Hulk and Rick and take them to the USSR.  When he discovers Banner's secret, he breaks down and admits how much he hates being a mutated freak.  Banner cures the Gargoyle of his mutation, and the Gargoyle allows Banner and Rick to escape in his own personal rocket, programmed to return to the USA.  Once they are gone, he blows up his own lab with himself inside to strike a blow against the Soviets who ruined his life.

House Ads
There's a full-page ad that plugs both Amazing Adult Fantasy and Fantastic Four. The latter shows a group shot of the team in their new uniforms, with each labelled by name, describing them as "America's Greatest Fantasy Characters".


CHARACTERS APPEARING

HEROES:

The Hulk (aka Dr. Bruce Banner) (1st appearance)
Bruce Banner is the inventor of the gamma bomb, and is described as one of the USA's most famous scientists, as "America's foremost atomic scientist", and also as "the most famous missile expert in the world". He has been placed in charge of the g-bomb's first test explosion. He's reserved and cautious, refusing to go ahead with the test until every precaution has been taken. On the surface he is extremely confident, not allowing any of his colleagues to check his work, and keeping the plans for the gamma bomb a secret known only to himself. He even declares that "I don't make errors". In reality, he is more tense and worried about the test than anyone else on his team.
  Banner dislikes violence, and when threatened by his assistant Igor he calmly states that "he detests men who think with their fists". He's not a coward, though, as he shows no hesitation in driving out onto the test area to save Rick Jones.
  Bruce Banner wears glasses, and smokes a pipe. 
  As the Hulk, he is large and heavily muscled, with grey skin. The first thing he does after his transformation is swat Rick away (calling him an "insect"), and smash his way outside; he seems frantic to escape his confines. He attacks some soldiers in a jeep with no provocation, but then leaves, wanting to get away and hide. The Hulk at first seems to have no memories of being Bruce Banner, but eventually some subconscious instinct drives him to retrieve the gamma bomb formula from his home.
  When ho encounters Igor in his house, the Hulk is irritated when the spy shoots him, but goes into a rage when Igor says that he's "not human"; the very suggestion of being human seems to enrage the Hulk. He recognises a photo of Bruce Banner, and recoils in a mixture of fear and hatred when he sees it, saying that it is "weak" and "soft". For a brief moment Banner's personality resurfaces, as he remembers the gamma bomb explosion, but soon he is the Hulk again, and glad to be the Hulk rather than "that puny weakling in the picture". (And while we're at it, why does Bruce Banner have a framed photo of himself in his house?)
  Bruce's reaction to his transformation is one of delayed shock; he holds it together while there are soldiers around, but as soon as he is alone with Rick and Betty he has what might be described as a nervous breakdown. He describes his ordeal as a nightmare, referring to the Hulk as a "brutal, bestial mockery of a human -- that creature which fears nothing -- which despises reason and worships power!" He tries to find an open, uninhabited area before his next transformation, but doesn't get there quickly enough.
  It's difficult to say how Banner feels about Rick Jones after saving the boy's life.  He doesn't show much emotion towards Rick one way or the other, but it should be noted that he never once blames him for his condition. The two of them seem to slip quite easily into a mentor-sidekick relationship, based more on Rick's gratitude than anything else.  The Hulk's relationship with Rick Jones is an unstable one, however. Most of the time he tolerates the boy's presence, but he doesn't hesitate to throw him around when he loses his temper. At one point he even makes some threats that suggest he's about to kill Rick for knowing his true identity.
  His (and Banner's) relationship to Betty is more straightforward. As Banner he is polite and reserved around her, although it's obvious that he's attracted to her. Upon his second transformation to the Hulk, he instantly decides that he needs to see Betty when he recognises that he's near her house. He approaches her threateningly, and shows contempt for her fainting spell, but he handles her gently.
  Banner seems remarkably calm about being abducted by Soviets, but he does not hesitate to aid the Gargoyle by reversing his mutation.
  Background: Banner is repeatedly described in this issue as the USA's foremost expert on atomic science, as well as the most famous missile expert in the world. Presumably he has spent most of his adult life in study and research. He is the creator of the gamma bomb, although he has yet to share his discoveries with anyone else; he has spent weeks before this issue overseeing the g-bomb project under the watch of Thunderbolt Ross.
  Powers and Skills: Banner, as mentioned before, has extensive knowledge of atomic science and missile technology. His knowledge of radiation is sufficient that he is able to reverse the Gargoyle's mutation. He is also seen driving a military jeep.
  As the Hulk, he is super-strong and resilient. He is shown breaking through brick walls, smashing jeeps, and crushing a pistol in one hand. He's not entirely invulnerable or bullet-proof: when Igor shoots him with his .38 the bullet penetrates his shoulder, although the Hulk seems not to feel the injury. His arm is still wounded even after he transforms back into Banner.
  Banner's transformation into the Hulk takes place at nightfall, and he changes back into Banner at sunrise; it seems as though the absence of sun-light is what triggers the change at this point. The Hulk does not possess most of Banner's memories and skills, although he is subconsciously influenced by those memories during this story. At one point Banner's persona seems to come to the surface while he is still the Hulk, but only briefly. His speech patterns don't deteriorate significantly when he becomes the Hulk, although his personality becomes more savage and bestial.


VILLAINS:

The Gargoyle (1st appearance)
The Gargoyle is one of the most feared men in the USSR, due to his hideous disfigurement and frightening intelligence. When Igor sends him a message, it passes through the hands of several Soviet officers who are too afraid to face him in person. As for the Gargoyle, he wants everyone in the world to fear him.
  Upon learning of the Hulk, the Gargoyle immediately decides that he either needs to kill the Hulk, or capture him as a symbol of his might. Later on, his plan is to turn the Hulk over to Soviet scientists to study, and perhaps create an army of such powerful creatures. He shows no hesitation or fear at confronting the Hulk, and captures him easily with a ray that saps his will. Even though he considers Rick Jones to be unimportant, he captures him as well, because he believes in taking no chances. He's supremely confident through the whole operation, declaring that he is "never wrong", and reveling in the ease of his victory.
  The Gargoyle has a lot of resources at his command, and is able to deploy them quickly. He takes command of a rocket-firing sub within a matter of hours to take him to the USA, and also uses a Soviet jet based on the American X-15 to return to the USSR.
  Upon seeing that the Hulk has reverted to human form, the Gargoyle recognises Bruce Banner as America's foremost atomic scientist. As soon as he is alone with Banner and Rick, he breaks down in tears, saying that Banner must be insane to want to be a monsters, and crying that he wants to be normal again. He instantly seizes on Banner's offer of a cure, and there's no further mention of his plan to turn the Hulk over for experimentation.
  Upon regaining his human form (and losing his super-intelligence), the Gargoyle rages bitterly at a picture of Nikita Khrushchev, who he blames for his former condition. Having been cured by an American, the Gargoyle decides that he can now stand up to his former masters. He helps Banner and Rick to return to the USA in his own escape rocket, then sacrifices his life to strike a blow against "the Reds" by blowing up his laboratory and the facility surrounding it.
  Background: Before he was mutated, the Gargoyle (whose real name is not revealed in this issue) worked on secret Soviet atomic bomb tests. (That the tests were secret indicates that they may have taken place before 1949, when the USSR detonated its first atomic bomb. The Gargoyle blames Khrushchev, however, who didn't become Premier of the USSR until 1958. I'd be inclined to use the later date; there are many reasons why the tests could have been done in secret despite the Soviet arsenal being known about.) It's not clear in what capacity the Gargoyle worked on the tests. Although he was not super-intelligent before his mutation, there's nothing to indicate that he wasn't a scientist of some sort.
  Powers & Skills: The Gargoyle was mutated by exposure to atomic radiation; his head grew large and bulbous, and his face twisted and grotesque. He also gained increased intelligence. He had no powers other than these, but his scientific genius and position as a Soviet agent gave him many vehicles and gadgets to work with: a rocket-firing submarine, a gun that fires a pellet that saps its target's will and makes them his slave, a plane based on the American X-15, an advanced laboratory, and his own personal escape rocket. Even as a normal human, he has enough intelligence to set the controls of his escape rocket, and rig up enough explosives to blow up his own facilities.


Igor Drenkov (1st appearance, named only as Igor)
Igor worked as Bruce Banner's assistant on the gamma bomb test, but in actuality he was a Soviet spy. He tries to convince Banner that the test is too dangerous to go ahead, then complains multiple times about Banner's secrecy in keeping the bomb's plans to himself. After Banner refuses to share the formulas, Igor loses his temper and threatens Banner physically; he claims to be concerned that nobody has checked Banner's work, and that an error could "blow up half the continent", but it's far more likely that he's concerned for his own skin.
  When Banner rushes onto the test site to rescue Rick Jones, telling Igor to delay the countdown, Igor takes it as his opportunity to be rid of Banner for good. (Presumably he thinks that he'll be able to obtain the plans once Banner is dead.) He doesn't tell anyone to delay the countdown, and is thus partly responsible for the creation of the Hulk.
  With Banner under medical surveillance, Igor goes to his cabin when night falls to look for the plans. Unfortunately for him, the Hulk finds him there. Igor shoots him without hesitation, but the Hulk ignores the wound and knocks him unconscious. He is later found and placed under arrest. (Strangely, the soldiers who find him already know that he's a spy, and have been looking for him. Igor must have been exceptionally careless on his way to ransack Banner's cabin.)
  Igor is last seen in his prison cell, using a "sub-miniature transistor short wave sending set" pasted onto his thumbnail to send a high-priority message to his superiors in the USSR.
  Powers & Skills: Igor is a Soviet spy, and has presumably been undercover for a long time; it seems implausible that he would be trusted as Bruce Banner's assistant otherwise. He must also have a decent level of scientific knowledge in the areas of missile technology, radiation, or some other relevant field. He knows how to fire a .38 pistol.


SUPPORTING CAST:

Betty Ross (1st appearance)
Betty is the daughter of General Ross, and despite having no apparent qualifications she seems to have full access to the gamma bomb test facilities and the surrounding military base.
  Betty shows an obvious attraction to Bruce Banner, supporting him when her father goes on a  tirade about the constant delays of the gamma bomb test. Later, when soldiers go to Banner's home hunting for the Hulk, Betty is with them; she claims that she returned to apologize for her father's earlier rudeness. She shows obvious concern when Banner has his nervous breakdown, and offers her help before she leaves. Before this scene the two refer to each other as "Dr. Banner" and "Miss Ross", but after this they're on a first name basis, and it's played very much as the beginnings of a mutual attraction. She's still thinking about him in her next scene at home with her father.
  Betty encounters the Hulk when walking outside, and faints in fright at the sight of him. Later she describes him as "horrible" and "terrifying", although she also senses something sad about him, as though he was in need of help.
  When first introduced, Betty seems to have little fear of her father's temper, and even gently teases his nickname of "Thunderbolt". Despite a few instances where he dismisses her for being a girl, she shows no signs of resentment; their relationship appears to be a loving one, and she's comforted by his presence after her ordeal with the Hulk.
  Background: Nothing of Betty's background is revealed, but as there's no sign or mention of her mother in the issue it could be inferred that Betty has lived with her father on various military bases.
   Powers & Skills: None to speak of, unless you count the customary "woman's intuition" that every female written by Stan Lee eventually displays.


General "Thunderbolt" Ross (1st appearance, no first name given)
General Ross is in charge of military operations on the gamma bomb test site, having been stationed there with his men for weeks. He's irritated at the constant delays, irritated that Banner is a "milksop", and just irritated in general. According to him "a bomb is a bomb", and if he were in charge of the operation they would have tested it by now. It's possible that some of his anger is just posturing; according to his daughter, ever since he was nicknamed "Thunderbolt" he's been trying to live up to it.
  Ross seems remarkably comfortable after Banner's near-death, the Hulk's rampage, and the revelation of a Soviet spy on the base: he's reclining at home with a cigar and a newspaper. He even asks why Betty has been troubled all day, as though he's not aware of these occurrences, on top of the fact that Bruce Banner - who his daughter obviously likes - has been bathed in radiation and shot in the shoulder. To his credit, though, General Ross does show genuine concern for her, even if he does dismiss her for being a girl more than once. After she is menaced by the Hulk, he swears that he will destroy the monster even if it takes him an eternity.
  Background: Thunderbolt Ross is probably in his fifties or sixties, and is a three star general in the US military. (It's not outright stated here which branch he belongs to, but it will later be clarified that he's in the Air Force. It's probable, especially given Jack Kirby's history of military service, that this can be inferred from his uniform in this issue.)
  Powers & Skills: Blustering, obviously, as well as the skills he must have learned in his long military career. It's hard to say at this point, because he's not in this issue a great deal.


Rick Jones (1st appearance)
Rick Jones takes a dare from his teenage friends to drive onto the gamma bomb test site, and thus becomes partly responsible for the creation of the Hulk. He's very cool about the risks, and more worried that his friends will think he's a chicken, but it becomes obvious that he had no idea that a bomb was about to be tested.
  Rick feels grateful to Banner for saving his life, and takes him straight away to a doctor. Even after Banner transforms into the Hulk and strikes him, Rick chases after him to give whatever help he can. He tries to stop the Hulk from killing Igor, helps him locate the gamma bomb plans, and also tries to convince the Hulk that he is really Bruce Banner. He's grateful not only because Banner saved his life, but because he saved him from becoming the Hulk, and he is quick to lie to the soldiers when they start questioning Banner's whereabouts. He considers Banner and Betty's burgeoning relationship "revoltin'", and seems not to understand the true horror of Banner's transformation (saying that turning into the Hulk must be "a gas"). Even so, he vows to stick around to stop the Hulk from doing anything terrible, and tries to keep the Hulk from seeing Betty.
  Rick is kidnapped by the Gargoyle and taken to Russia along with Banner, but he contributes little to the adventure except to question Banner's decision to help the Gargoyle.
  Background: Rick is an orphan, and claims that nobody has done anything for him before Bruce Banner saved his life. He's a teenager, though it's not clear exactly how old he is.
  Skills & Powers: Rick knows how to drive a car, and is seen playing a harmonica (whether he can play it well is not established). It's clear that his scientific education is minimal, as he mistakes a geiger counter for a radio.


MINOR CHARACTERS: Technical staff and soldiers at the missile base, the base doctor, various Soviet military officials and personnel, US Defense personnel, a hypnotised truck driver, Nikita Khrushchev (in a painting)

LOCATIONS:

Los Diablos Missile Base (1st appearance, not yet named)
The base is located in a desert in the US, although there's no further indication of its exact location.  (Later stories will place it in New Mexico.) The base is the site of the first gamma bomb test. Preparations for the test have been going on for weeks, and General Ross and his men have been stationed there for that whole time. Aside from the testing ground, the base features solid concrete bunkers with scientific facilities inside, a medical facility, a number of cabins to house the personnel, and at least one prison cell.


OBJECTS:

Gamma Bomb (1st appearance)
Also referred to as the G-Bomb, it is supposedly "the most awesome weapon ever created by man". It was invented by Bruce Banner, and has its first live test during this story. Only Banner knows the formula for creating the bomb, which releases powerful gamma rays when detonated. Although he is many miles away from ground zero when the bomb explodes, Banner is still bathed in the full force of the gamma rays. Although he survives, the radiation causes him to transform into the Hulk when the sun sets.


Gamma Bomb Plans (1st appearance)
Bruce Banner refuses to share his formula for the creation of the gamma bomb with his fellow scientists, preferring to keep them a secret. He has them written down, though, taped to the bottom of a glass beaker and labelled 'Top Secret Report on Gamma Ray Bomb'. He probably could have hidden them better. The plans are handed over to the US military after Igor's failed attempt to steal them. (This may explain how the government was able to create a bunch of gamma bombs later on, as revealed in Incredible Hulk (1968) #337.)


Gamma Radiation (1st appearance)
Also referred to in the story as "gamma rays", this form of radiation was the basis of Bruce Banner's gamma bomb. Banner is said to be the only one who knows the secret of harnessing their power, although it seems that he has no idea what will happen when the bomb detonates and the gamma rays are released.  After Banner is bathed in the full force of the bomb's gamma rays he screams for hours before coming to his senses. Once the sun goes down, the radiation causes him to transform into the Hulk. In later stories it will be revealed that only certain individuals will be mutated by gamma radiation, and that said mutation affects everyone differently based on their psychological make-up. None of that is apparent in this story, though.
  (This would normally be where I describe what gamma rays are like in the real world, but it's honestly a bit beyond my understanding. If you're that interested, here, knock yourself out.)


Sub-Miniature Transistor Short Wave Sending Set (1st appearance)
This tiny device is pasted onto Igor's thumbnail, and went unnoticed when he was thrown in prison. It's powerful enough to send a signal all the way from the US to the USSR.


Soviet X-15 (1st appearance)
This plane, which is launched from a Soviet submarine, is used by the Gargoyle to transport the Hulk and Rick to the USSR. It makes the flight in a matter of hours, and appears to be capable of suborbital flight. It's also said to have been copied from the American X-15. The American X-15 was indeed capable of reaching the edge of outer space, and still holds the highest speed ever recorded for a manned, powered aircraft. The American X-15 could only carry a crew of one, though; this Soviet version has been altered to fit the pilot and at least two passengers (one of whom is exceptionally large).

That's an actual X-15 on the right, provided for comparison

Gargoyle's Escape Rocket (1st appearance)
The Gargoyle has his own personal escape rocket set up near his lab in the USSR. After Banner restores his humanity, the Gargoyle pre-programs it so that it will return Banner and Rick to the USA. It's controls can be set to automatic, and it also has an "automatic escape ejector".


Gargoyle's Pistol (1st appearance)
This pistol shoots pellets of the Gargoyle's own invention. The instant they strike, the target is sapped of their own will and becomes the Gargoyle's slave. The Gargoyle uses it on the Hulk, Rick Jones and a random truck driver, and it works perfectly in all three cases.  It's effects wear off in a matter of hours.


Other Objects: Rick's car (presumably vaporised by the gamma bomb), Rick's harmonica, a geiger counter, various military weapons and vehicles, Igor's .38 pistol, a photo of Bruce Banner (why does Banner have a framed photo of himself anyway?), a Soviet rocket-firing submarine, a Soviet experimental man-carrying rocket, a truck, a Soviet dinghy

WHO'D WIN?

The Hulk. There aren't any other super-strong beings in this comic, and so far it's clear that nobody normal is a match for him, at least physically.  Even so, the Gargoyle is able to capture him easily with his technology, and there's no reason he wouldn't have been able to do so again if he had wanted to.

CHRONOLOGY

The story spans two nights, both of which feature a full moon, but there aren't any other clues to place it in relation to other comics. It must take place before Fantastic Four (1961) #5 though, because in that issue we see the Thing reading a Hulk comic.

CONNECTIONS & RETCONS

As revealed in Original Sin (2014) #3.1-3.4, Tony Stark tampered with the gamma bomb; Bruce had built into it an excessive amount of shielding that would have caused the energy within to build up and create an explosion five times larger than the one that created the Hulk. Stark fixed the shielding. He also saw the potential for the bomb's radiation to cause mutations, and tried to e-mail Bruce about it, but due to animosity between the two of them Banner deleted the e-mail before reading it.

Due to some time-travel shenanigans, the future version of the Hulk known as the Maestro was sent back to the heart of the original gamma bomb blast and killed (as depicted in Hulk: Future Imperfect (1992) #2)

The Gargoyle dies here, and has technically never returned. I say technically, because although he did come back in Rampaging Hulk (1977) #1, those stories were declared non-canon due to various continuity issues, and retconned as fictional accounts created by the alien techno-artist Bereet (in Incredible Hulk (1968) #269). The Gargoyle did have a son, however, and the similarly deformed Gremlin first appeared in Incredible Hulk (1968) #165.

Hulk Annual '99, makes numerous retcons to this origin story, most notably the idea that alien Skrulls were manipulating events surrounding the gamma bomb test, and that the "gamma bomb" was actually a firing mechanism for a gamma laser intended to shoot down UFOs. It also depicts Betty Ross as being on staff for the project, retcons Igor as a Skrull, and makes any number of smaller changes to the events as originally depicted.  This annual has never been explicitly written out of continuity, but in Captain Marvel (2000) #2 Rick Jones is shown reading said annual and scoffing at the involvement of the Skrulls.

FIRSTS

This is, of course, the first appearance of the Hulk, who - despite having his first comic cancelled at #6 - will star in various iterations of his own book from 1968 all the way to the present day. He's also one of Marvel's most recognisable characters in pop culture at large, with two feature films, a live action TV series, numerous cartoons and countless bits and bobs of merchandise to his name.

It's also the first appearance of the three most important members of Hulk's supporting cast: Rick Jones, Thunderbolt Ross and Betty Ross. Thunderbolt and Betty (despite each having been killed off at least once) have remained integral to the Hulk's story throughout his history, the former as an antagonist and the latter as his primary love interest (and both as Hulks in recent years). Rick Jones has transcended his status as a supporting player for the Hulk, and has acted as a sidekick/partner for numerous other characters, including the Avengers, Captain America, Rom, and two different Captains Marvel.

The Gargoyle makes his first (and technically last) appearance here. It's strange, given that he was the Hulk's first villain, that he's never properly returned, but he remains one of the few Marvel characters with any significance to have stayed dead.

We're treated here to the first of what will be many Marvel Universe appearances of evil Communists. Villainous Commies are all over Marvel's books in the 1960s, whether they be from the USSR, China, or some country that Stan Lee made up. Eventually they are phased out as generic villains, though many super-villains with Communist origins will continue to appear right up until the present day.

THINGS THAT MAKE NO SENSE

The thing that makes the least sense in this story is that Bruce Banner would be the one to run out onto the test site to rescue Rick Jones. It's played as though Banner and Igor are the only ones who see him, which seems unlikely enough, but for the military to allow someone as important as Banner to just run out of the bunker as the bomb is counting down is ludicrous. General Ross and his lax security is as much to blame for the Hulk's creation as anybody.

IS THIS ONE IMPORTANT?

I'll be saying this a lot in the early years of Marvel, but of course it is. It introduces one of Marvel's most important characters (both in the comics and in terms of pop culture at large), as well as the bulk of his supporting cast. And while most of the details have changed over the years, the central conflict of the series is there from the beginning.

IS IT ANY GOOD?

It's been said that Stan Lee and Jack Kirby didn't really know what to do with the Hulk once they'd created him. That's an opinion that 's borne out by later issues in this series, but it's certainly not apparent in this first story. This origin tale is tense, eerie and atmospheric, with a ton of memorable scenes: Banner screaming for hours on end after being irradiated by the bomb, the relentless crackling of the geiger counter as he makes his first transformation, his grim vigil as he once more waits for night to fall. The first three parts of the issue are brilliant stuff, and Kirby really shines here, showing off his talent for horror. Once the Gargoyle turns up and things swing more towards standard superheroics it's not as strong, but even there the villain provides a nice counterpoint to the Hulk, and it gives Bruce Banner a heroic moment as well. The anti-communist ending hasn't aged very well, but the origin sequence is perhaps one of the best that Marvel ever produced.

BEHIND THE SCENES

  • Writer Stan Lee has claimed inspiration from both "Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" and "Frankenstein". The Origins of Marvel Comics hardcover, published in 1974, provides some of his closest recollections to the time of the character's creation, and there he says: "It was patently apparent that the Thing was the most popular character in the Fantastic Four. ... For a long time I'd been aware of the fact that people were more likely to favor someone who was less than perfect. ... It's a safe bet that you remember Quasimodo, but how easily can you name any of the heroic, handsomer, more glamorous characters in The Hunchback of Notre Dame? And then there's Frankenstein. ... I've always had a soft spot in my heart for the Frankenstein monster. No one could ever convince me that he was the bad guy. ... He never wanted to hurt anyone; he merely groped his torturous way through a second life trying to defend himself, trying to come to terms with those who sought to destroy him. ... I decided I might as well borrow from Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde as well - our protagonist would constantly change from his normal identity to his superhuman alter ego and back again."  From the quotes above, it seems likely that Lee was inspired more by the movie versions of those stories than the novels; the Frankenstein monster is quite murderous in the book, and heroic characters in The Hunchback of Notre Dame are pretty thin on the ground.  In later years he has also compared the Hulk to the Golem of Jewish  mythology.
  • Artist Jack Kirby has said of the Hulk's creation that he was inspired by the story of a mother lifting a car to rescue her trapped child.  This is the story in his own words, from an interview in The Comics Journal: "The Hulk I created when I saw a woman lift a car. Her baby was caught under the running board of this car. The little child was playing in the gutter and he was crawling from the gutter onto the sidewalk under the running board of this car - he was playing in the gutter. His mother was horrified. She looked from the rear window of the car, and this woman in desperation lifted the rear end of the car. It suddenly came to me that in desperation we can all do that - we can knock down walls, we can go berserk, which we do. You know what happens when we're in a rage - you can tear a house down. I created a character who did all that and called him the Hulk. I inserted him in a lot of the stories I was doing. Whatever the Hulk was at the beginning I got from that incident. A character to me can't be contrived. I don't like to contrive characters. They have to have an element of truth. This woman proved to me that the ordinary person in desperate circumstances can transcend himself and do things that he wouldn't ordinarily do. I've done it myself. I've bent steel."
  • The Hulk as depicted in this issue has grey skin, as opposed to the green that will become more familiar. The story is well-known, but I'll reiterate it here for the sake of completeness. Stan Lee chose grey for the Hulk, supposedly because it didn't represent any one ethnic group, but the grey colouring was inconsistent in the final product due to poor printing, and Lee wasn't happy with how it looked. In the very next issue the Hulk's skin was coloured green, with no explanation given, and for decades the character would be coloured green in reprints of this issue (with the Origins of Marvel Comics hardcover being a notable exception). The grey-skinned Hulk is first reintroduced in Incredible Hulk (1968) #302 as a vision of the Hulk's past, and returns for real in Incredible Hulk (1968) #323. Following these issues, reprints of Incredible Hulk (1962) #1 would depict the Hulk with his original grey skin.
  • The name Bruce Banner was coined in an alliterative style by Stan Lee, because he claimed that doing so helped him to remember the names better.  Ironically, those alliterative names are the ones that Lee would mess up the most; in Fantastic Four (1961) #25 he named the character as "Bob Banner", which later caused him to retcon the Hulk's full name as Robert Bruce Banner.
  • This story is the first set in the Marvel Universe to feature lettering by Ray Holloway. Holloway is another enigmatic letterer who I was able to find little information about.  Pinning down the beginning of his career is tough, because letterers weren't credited for a long time, but his work probably dates back to the 1940s.  As far as credited work goes (at least on comics.org, which I find is the most reliable about these things) he worked solidly for Marvel from 1958 to 1966. After that he worked for various publishers, primarily DC, before returning to Marvel in the mid-1970s. For most of his final stint with Marvel he was the letterer of Spidey Super Stories, and issue #57 of that book is his last credited work for Marvel (and perhaps for any publisher).  It should be noted that Holloway is not the pseudonymous letterer known as 'Sherigail'; Marvel artist John Romita has implied in the book John Romita and All That Jazz! that Sherigail was actually production assistant Morrie Kuramoto.

Ray Holloway, from FOOM #17

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