Monday, October 03, 2005

Hulk Smash #1: Hulk To The Rescue

I found this pop-up book Hulk To The Rescue for a dollar at the grocery store the other day. I scanned it flat because I don't feel like taking any photos with my camera today. The pop-ups are amusing, so I'll probably update it this week with some EXTREME! POP-UP! ACTION! photos in the proper setting.

Hulk To The Rescue is part one of a four part mini-series of unrelated stories titled Hulk Smash! The other three books are The Incredible Hulk: Storm (#2), Hulk: Show and Tell (#3) and the mind-blowing finale, Hulk: A Walk In The Park (#4). Let me just say that issue #4 has a purposely misleading title, will totally shock the reader with its' twists and turns and it changes the life of the Hulk forever! Really.

Some of you are asking where this book fits into the regular Hulk continuity, and rightly so. The gamma-irradiated Goliath as shown in this book is the stupid, bean-loving and baby deer-hugging Hulk, so I'd say this story takes place somewhere around Hulk #206-222, v1 (1977-1978).

Hulk To The Rescue is also another good example of the cover of a comic not accurately representing the interior story. While the cover depicts a monster that seems on the edge of violence, about to rip some children apart and grind them into paste, the story is all about the love. Much of the cast shown on the cover does not make an appearance in the book, either. That was a missed opportunity, as the girl in the upper right corner bears a resemblance to the time-travelling grand-daughter of Rick Jones who solicited the help of the Banner-brained Hulk against the Maestro in the classic Future Imperfect story. It would have been interesting to read more about that fascinating character in the Rescue story.

The art by the Jeff Albrecht Studios is the usual more-than-competent but ultimately uninspired effort, and it is only the pop-ups that make it stand out. The work that really shines here is the amazing script by Michi Fujimoto. What made this a good read is that the old story of Man vs Nature was presented with a refreshing update, while avoiding the usual traps and cliches' of a story of this type. Another plus for the fan-boy is that the story stands on its own and is not a part of some contrived cross-over event designed to empty my wallet without furthering the story. Also, no big words.

It was a pleasant surprise not to see Wolverine make an appearance in the book. Apparently, Marvel must have some new-found faith in their characters and creative teams so they felt that a cheap gimmick was not necessary to sell the book to hard-core fans while also attracting the casual reader.

Ultimately, an outstanding additional chapter in the Saga of the Hulk was marred only by the unfortunate editorial decision not to make the pony a baby-blue unicorn with a glowing, pink horn that sheds magical, happy-faced smiley-stars.

My score: 3 out 5 Ditko-faces


  1. It's nice to see Marvel feeling they can be courageous enough to launch a title that doesn't feature Wolverine as a guest star, but it could be that they are saving him for that crucial second or third issue.

    I hope we see more character development of the kids in subsequent issues. The girl has some kind of pony fetish while the black kid is really only interested in it as a way of getting to her (see on the final page he's practically ignoring the rescued pony and looking at her longingly. The other boy (pointy kid) is clearly sufferring from ADHD, his attention caught by every passing butterfly. He doesn't even care about the pony as he points, open-mouthed at the collapsed bridge.

    I would have rated this higher on the basis of all this character development, if it hadn't been let down by the misleading cover which shows eight children where we only get to meet three. Perhaps Rick Jones' time-traveling granddaughter will show up with the rest next issue.

    That and the whole unicorn thing. Such a wasted opportunity.

  2. Man, that water was totally shin-deep on the Hulk. That pony would have been S.O.L. if it had fallen into that creek. Especially if it were made out of carmelized sugar or pure sodium.


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