By Ben Morse
For the past month here on Marvel.com, we've been getting you pumped for the release of "The Incredible Hulk," which premieres in theaters everywhere today, so we figured the time had come to give some other folks a turn.
As the clock ticks down to show time, we contacted the creators and editors of Marvel Comics and asked them for some of their fondest memories regarding the Jade Giant, on the page, on the TV screen and elsewhere.
It's Friday, so kick back, relax and enjoy.
TOM BREVOORT (Marvel Executive Editor):
The same as so many of us, the Hulk stories I tend to remember most fondly were among the earliest I read with the character, so these probably all need to be graded on the curve somewhat.
But the Hulk's memorable battle royale with the Thing in FANTASTIC FOUR v1 #25-26 remains a pinnacle. No matter how many times people have tried to come up with a rematch, this epic story has just never been topped. It's a textbook example of how to
stage a running fight scene for almost an entire issue and make it interesting and visual and epic. This was from back in the days when the Hulk didn't have a series, and he played extremely well as the heavy.
There was the long, winding Leader serial in TALES TO ASTONISH #60-74, which I first read in the oversized Hulk trade paperback that came out when the television series was hot. It was billed as "the first ongoing super hero soap opera in comics," and it definitely set the style for the Marvel books from then on, transitioning the approach from self-contained stories to more free-form epics. These were the stories that really made the Hulk a success, with Stan [Lee], Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby all working at their peak.
Speaking of Jack, my favorite of the early INCREDIBLE HULK v1 issues has to be #5, with the Green Goliath's first encounter with Tyrannus. The Hulk truly comes across as bestial in this one, and Tyrannus has more personality and distinctiveness than he's ever shown since.
Finally, a few slightly more modern stories from when I started reading the book: INCREDIBLE HULK v2 #191, in which the Shaper of Worlds creates a fantasy realm in which the Hulk's dead friends Crackerjack Jackson and Jarella are still alive, but it's all disrupted by the arrival of the Toad Men. You really felt for the big guy in this one. #204— a fill-in issue, but a strong entry in which Bruce Banner uses a time machine to
try to prevent the creation of the Hulk, with disastrous results. #207—where the Defenders have to fight the Hulk, who's gone berserk because he can't accept the reality of Jarella's death, which has a heartfelt close in which the Hulk comes to grip with his loss. And #222, another fill-in issue, "Feeding Billy," in which Bruce banner runs afoul of a backwoods cannibal child who's been transformed into a monster by toxic waste.
Of the stories I worked on while I edited the series, the standout is probably INCREDIBLE HULK v3 #24-25 by Paul Jenkins and John Romita Jr., in which General Ross sets the Hulk against the Abomination in an attempt to get revenge for the death of his daughter, Betty.
JOE KELLY (upcoming writer of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN):
When real-life Hulk Lou Ferrigno [from the "Incredible Hulk" TV show] stopped a rolling car from squishing his kid—with his bare hands! And he wasn't even angry!
CHRISTOS GAGE (co-writer of AVENGERS: THE INITIATIVE):
I absolutely love INCREDIBLE HULK ANNUAL #5, in which the Hulk battles a whole passel of giant Atlas-era Marvel monsters, including Xemnu the Titan, the Blip, Googam son of Goom, Groot and Taboo! Taboo is a giant mud-creature and not, as some believe, a stripper from Reno. Seeing all these awesome monsters in one place
was just too awesome for my young mind to comprehend. Can I just say...rematch?
MIKE PERKINS (upcoming artist of THE STAND):
The Hulk memory that always puts a lump in my throat is that
music from the "Incredible Hulk" TV series' end credits. I'm choking up just thinking about it. Comics wise, I really enjoyed the first four arcs of the Bruce Jones run [on INCREDIBLE HULK v3]. I loved the espionage feel of the stories, the building mystery and rolling tension—accompanied by stunning artwork from John Romita Jr., Lee Weeks , Stuart Immonen and Mike Deodato Jr.
WELLINTON ALVES (artist of NOVA):
I love the Hulk, and when I was a child, I loved the "Incredible Hulk" TV show with big Lou Ferrigno. In the comics, I liked "World War Hulk" a lot. I can't wait to see the movie.
BILL ROSEMANN (Marvel editor):
A sad but true story: Back when I was a wee lad in the 2nd or 3rd grade, whenever the end-of-recess bell would ring, I would flip my jacket over one shoulder and, whistling the haunting closing credits song, would slowly stroll towards the school building pretending to be lonely Dr. Banner walking down a windswept highway at the end of every episode of the "Incredible Hulk" TV show.
KAARE ANDREWS (former cover artist of INCREDIBLE HULK):
My favorite Hulk experience? My almost two-year run on the covers [of INCREDIBLE HULK v3]. Working with amazing editor Axel Alonso on those covers and being associated with Bruce Jones' scripts, being allowed and encouraged to do crazy things like my "Where The Wild Things Are" or Norman Rockwell homages—those are some career defining memories. I'm misting up...going to go cry now. Good crying. Manly.
PAUL CORNELL (writer of CAPTAIN BRITAIN AND MI: 13):
I'm a huge fan of [writer] Peter David's long run with the character, an amazing example of building a world and a supporting cast that you looked forward to returning to over a long period of time.
TOM RANEY (upcoming artist of SECRET INVASION: INHUMANS):
When I was a kid Marvel put out this novel-sized reprints of the Hulk, Spider-Man and Doctor Strange. I loved these books. We didn't have a lot of places to get comics where I lived so being able to get them in a nice little compilation like this was something really special for me. The Hulk ones were by far my favorite and helped to cement me as not only a lifelong Hulk fan but a
comics fan as well. The stories were so much fun and the art...Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, John Buscema, Gil Kane and Marie Severin—man, they set the bar for what I wanted out of comic art! It was all enthralling!
KEVIN GREVIOUX (writer of NEW WARRIORS):
My favorite issue has to be INCREDIBLE HULK ANNUAL #8. It was written by John Byrne and the Hulk fights Sasquatch. It was cool because it showed that the both the Hulk and Banner's desire is ultimately to be left alone. But as with all things, the Hulk is often forced into situations by people, and this time Sasquatch, who are trying to prove themselves against him. And as such, it shows that they are actually more savage than they accuse the Hulk of being. In the end, the Hulk makes this complex point to Sasquatch, just before he lays him low! Classic!
ARON COLEITE (writer of ULTIMATE X-MEN):
My most lasting Hulk memory is the sad walking away music from the TV series. Those few piano notes captured the Hulk's melancholy perfectly. I'm choking up just thinking about it.
AXEL ALONSO (Marvel Executive Editor):
My favorite Hulk story: INCREDIBLE HULK v2 #171. Hulk versus the Rhino and
the Abomination, drawn by Herb Trimpe. How does Hulk beat them? He outsmarts
them. And he doesn't even know it.
REILLY BROWN (artist of HULK VS HERCULES):
Man, there are a lot of good Hulk stories that I really love, it's hard to pick just one.
I think I've got to go with FANTASTIC FOUR v1 #25 and 26, where Hulk takes on the Fantastic Four and the Avengers at the same time, and Hulk and Thing have their first real knock-down drag-out fight. Nowadays it would take a seven-issue series to tell that story, but Stan and Jack did it in only two, and those are two of my all-time favorite issues!
I also really like the AVENGERS issues that lead up to that story where Hulk betrays the team and teams up with Namor. I really liked Hulk back then because he was so surly and unpredictable, even more so than he is now.
JEFF PARKER (writer of HULK: RAGING THUNDER):
When I was a kid I used to read the black and white Rampaging Hulk magazine, that was all toned with ink wash. And from that I really liked this storyline with an alien girl named Bereet who had a
pocketbook with infinite space inside it, full of neat tech she could pull out. I can't remember any of the story titles now, but I really liked that magazine and Hulk in it. I should bring her back. Hulk was always hanging with cool women like her or Jarella back then.
It's either that or the story where Hulk befriends Crackerjack Jackson, I can't decide. I like anything where Hulk eats beans.
RALPH MACCHIO (Marvel Executive Editor):
My two favorite Hulk stories are the first Abomination story by Stan and Gil Kane from back in the TALES TO ASTONISH days, and second, Roy [Thomas'] short Hulk story published in the back of one issue called "Heaven is a Very Small Place."
I loved the Abomination story because it was the first time the Hulk had actually faced something stronger than he was! Wow! When I saw that last page of the first chapter and the Hulk had been kayoed by the Abomination and was lying on the ground I simply couldn't wait another whole month to find out if ol' Greenskin would come back and take the Abomination down. Stan and Gil Kane were in peak form here. If I'd had my druthers, the Abomination
would always be more powerful than the Hulk. He'd be the one villain Hulkie couldn't take down by getting madder and stronger. Love the guy—even if he's dead.
My other fave is Roy's beautiful little tale about the Hulk out in the desert fantasizing about being accepted by the denizens of a very small, bucolic town. It just tugs at your heart strings as this misanthrope is finally at peace in a quiet place until the images fade and the Hulk just can't deal with the loss of his only friends. The panel where he smashes his fist on the ground and shrieks, "Come Back!!" is overwhelming. Roy, Herb Trimpe and John Severin created a classic. I felt for the Hulk then as I never have before or since.
MARC GUGGENHEIM (writer of YOUNG X-MEN):
One of my all-time favorite Hulk stories comes from the TV show's fourth season. It was a two-parter called "The First," where Banner discovers another Hulk—one who can control his transformations. I was 11 when those two episodes aired and they blew me away.
GREG PAK (writer of SKAAR: SON OF HULK):
I'm a big sucker for Bill Mantlo's "Crossroads" epic, in which Dr. Strange exiled the Green Goliath to an extra-dimensional nexus of portals in hopes that the Hulk might find a place where he could finally be happy. What ensued was a series of almost "Twilight Zone"-ish fables, eerie little stories in which
the Hulk found himself in a variety of dangerous new worlds in which his rage and power played out in surprising new ways. Fred Van Lente and I had a great writing a brand new Crossroads story with our HULK VS HERCULES one-shot, which is part of the INCREDIBLE HERCULES: AGAINST THE WORLD
hardcover that just hit comic book stores Wednesday.
Mantlo also penned what may be the greatest Hulk vs Everbody story ever—the monstrous INCREDIBLE HULK v2 #300, in which the Hulk, driven mad by Nightmare, rages through New York City. This is the story that set up the Crossroads story—it's also just been reprinted in the HULK VS THE MARVEL UNIVERSE
trade paperback, which hit stores last week.
While we're talking about Mantlo, I'd like to plug David Yurkovitch's "Bill Mantlo: A Life in Comics" tribute book, which can be downloaded for free here
. The book's not just a treasure trove of info and insights about Mantlo's work from his collaborators and admirers; it's also a benefit project that raises funds for Mantlo, who tragically suffered traumatic brain injury in the 1990s. Every time the book is downloaded, a donation is sent from Wowio towards Mantlo's care, so make with the clicking, true believers!
Need to catch up on your Hulk reading? Looking for the perfect stories starring the Jade Giant? Check out our list of the 10 Collections marked as required reading by any Hulk fan!
Read classic Hulk stories in Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited! Take pictures with a life-size Hulk statue at select theaters nationwide! Visit the official "The Incredible Hulk" movie site! Remember, "The Incredible Hulk" comes to a theater near you on June 13!