Hulk 1976 - 1977

Let's continue this overview of the Hulk's 1970s adventures. Set the Way Back Machine for 1976 to 1977.

Gerald Ford! The Bionic Woman! Pol Pot! Star Wars! Antebbe! Roots! Jimmy Carter! And (starting in 1977:)

Writers: David Kraft, Doug Moench, and John Warner.  Art: Alfredo Alcala, Tony DeZuniga, Keith Giffen, Ed Hannigan, Jack Kirby, Al Milgrom, Alex Nino, Keith Pollard, John Romita Jr., Walt Simonson, and Jim Starlin.
One of Marvel's short-lived black and white magazines. (For the record, I support bringing back oversized black and white magazines, as well as digest-sized softcovers in spindle-racks. Everywhere. Please and thank you.) 

I look at my scribbled notes from when I read the first 5 or 6 issues and all I wrote down was "Bereet, Krylorian, Namor." Exactly! Right? Well, Namor's self-explanatory enough. For the record, the others refer to an alien race and an ally the Hulk and Rick Jones pick up along the way. 

More on this in the next few posts in this series, as only a few issues were published in our present window.

As for what was happening over in:

Writer: Len Wein Art: Sal Buscema, Ernie Chan, Tom Palmer, Joe Staton, and Herb Trimpe.
Not a whole lot. Well, plenty, to be sure - two years in the life of the Hulk buys a lot of craziness - but nothing really blew my mind from this run of issues. They're fine, just not earth-shattering. Among them:

- The Hulk is captured for an alien's menagerie of curiosities.

- A Fantastic Voyage homage for the Hulk's 200th, which leaves another run of shrinking adventures in its wake.

- This leads to the return of Jarella. As you likely recall,  Jarella was the Hulk's sub-atomic sweetie originally introduced by Harlan Ellison way back in Hulk #140. She and the Hulk tumble through several dimensions together before landing back on Earth.

Count the homages on this splash page!
Once more for the official record, I'd watch/ read any series that exclusively dealt with the Hulk having Gulliver-type adventures, alternating between giants, people his own size, and leprechauns. All green of course.

Of course, you can't have the Hulk or Bruce Banner become some happily married hero. So:

I'm sure he'll take it in stride.
Oh well.
Len Wein has said he always meant to bring Jarella back, but he left the title before he could do so. She stayed dead a long time for a Marvel character, only coming back (sort of) for Marvels' Chaos War.

There are some fun other plots, including a Conan the Barbarian, "The Gamesters of Triskelion," and Beyond Thunderdome mash-up over several issues with Doctor Druid. 

The splash from # 210. (Sal Buscema looks a little more like Gene Colan when inking his own pencils, eh?)
An attempt is made to shake up Bruce Banner's side of the book, bringing back Jim Wilson. a young teen inexplicably caught up in the Hulk's adventures from time to time, and introducing a flirty landlady who keeps probing into Bruce's past.

The Hulk annual from 1976 pits Hulk against the cream of its pre-hero monster catalog, one of whom ("the overlord of all the timber in the galaxy!") enjoyed a surge of renewed popularity with last year's Guardians of the Galaxy.

I liked the idea of that annual more than I enjoyed reading it, if the truth be told, but it's fun enough. I think it was meant as an homage of some kind to Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1, but I can find no corroboration of this.

And who the hell is Hannah?

Moving on to:

Writers: Gerry Conway, Steve Gerber, David Kraft, and Roger Slifer.
Art: Sal Buscema, Dave Cockrum, Keith Giffen, Mike Golden, Dan Green, Klaus Jansen, Jim Mooney, Mike Royer and Chic Stone.

Steve Gerber's last year on the title does not disappoint. Things start off with an attack by the Headmen - I won't even try and summarize this. 

The Headmen story is just one of three plotlines that culminate with the 1st Defenders Annual:

The other two: 1) the Hulk forms an attachment with a baby deer whose mother he observes being shot by hunters. 

This being a Steve Gerber story, things then get weird.

And 2) Nebulon (you remember him from last time? No worries.) returns to Earth from his celestial exile, this time with the intent of helping Earthlings self-actualize.

Pursuant to this task he takes a less imposing form.
It all seems to me a parody of Scientology and Erhad Seminars Training. And a good one at that.

Also from #34.
In case that thought bubble didn't give it away, that's Doctor Strange in disguise, there.

Ultimately, Nebulon decides that humanity is beyond redemption and leaves Earth. But not before sweeping up a few super-villains in his Consciousness Raising foofaraw.


Gerber left the book with issue 41. This left new writer Gerry Conway to resolve the long-in-the-running Elf with a Gun mystery.

Which he did in issue 46:

Said Gerber in later interviews: "The elf made his first appearance for no other reason than that Sal Buscema was getting sick of drawing guys in snake suits. He asked if I could toss in something else for variety, and I did. (...) I've always said that having (him) run over by a truck with the second-best resolution. I don't know what the best would have been because I was making the story up as I went along."

As per usual, this stretch of Defenders includes a good amount of guest stars, some of whom stick around for awhile, like:

And of course the ubiquitous Luke Cage:
Moon Knight sticks around for awhile, as well.
But the most important (for the Defenders, anyway) character introduced in these issues is:

Hellcat is Patsy Walker, who was one of Marvel's old romance comics superstars.
Prior to the Defenders, she wasn't a part of regular Marvel continuity. But Stan and Jack had her make an appearance at the wedding of Reed and Sue in Fantastic Four, so Gerry Conway and David A. Kraft took that as re-establishing her in the Marvel Universe, gave her the Cat's old costume (the Cat - Greer Nelson - having become Tigra, to the delight of cat-lady-fetishists everywhere) sprinkled in supernatural somedamnsuch, and voila: Hellcat.

Plots-wise, the Conway/ David A. Kraft era is pretty fun. There's a great Red Rajah story, an Atlantean insurrection, and a Valkyrie Goes to College arc. Also, the Defenders mix it up with Scorpio and his re-formed Zodiac of Evil.


"I think I was a little too subtle for... maybe everybody," David A. Kraft later recounted to Back Issue (#65.) "But Scorpio was gay. (...) There was a lot of pressure to conform back then, which is why Scorpio refers to the female android Virgo as his 'last chance to be 'normal.'"

Scorpio commits suicide at the end of the storyline. Times have changed, and a character driven to suicide over his homosexuality carries a different sort of charge in 2014 than it did in 1977. I applaud Kraft's attempt to introduce a sympathetic gay character, but I doubt he'd have received a positive citation from GLAAD for his efforts, had anyone grokked that was what he was doing.

Before I sign off, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention this storyline from the end of Gerber's run:

Valkyrie is arrested while busting up a crime with her usual enthusiasm and, unable to explain herself, is sentenced to a stint in the clink. Things quickly become interesting due to the way Valkyrie's powers work: she is unable to use her super-strength or agility against women.

Naturally the story involves a lecherous male warden - how could it not?

Sal's pencils stay on the safer side of women-in-cages-sploitation - which would surely not be the case today. Eventually, Valkyrie has to take down her main lady rival.

She figures out a way around the whole "My hands shall never strike a woman" enchantment.
Okay, so new premise for proposed Valkyrie TV show...  seriously, though. It'd be a cross between Orange is the New Black and Prison Break. The thing writes itself.


That's all I've got for you this time around. The Hulk TV show premiered in 1978, so next time around we'll have some added goodies for review along with the usual stuff.


  1. Jack of Hearts!!! Fantastic!

    I second your call for digest-sized softcovers to be available in spindle racks across the nation. But to be honest, I'm not sure spindle racks exist anymore -- I couldn't tell you the last time I saw one. Jeez, what a bummer. I understand that the march of time leaves many things behind, but it seems like spindle racks full of books shouldn't have been one of them.

    I like that The Hulk has to say stuff out loud in order to fully process it. E.g., "Jarella is . . . DEAD?" You wonder if this process extends into every aspect of Hulk's life, so that if he orders a pizza, he must first say "Pizza has been . . . DELIVERED?" before he can pay for it. My guess: it does, and he must.

    Jeez, man. Why is Groot in that one panel saying things that aren't "I am Groot"? That's weird. (But really, I only have the movie as reference, so it might not in actuality be at all weird.)

    "Holy Hairy Hanna" -- uhmm...

    Those panels with Ruby, or the Headman, or whatever is going on there . . . man. What THE fuck...?

    The Red Guardian...!!! Holy cripes, HOW could I have ever forgotten about HER?!?

    You may have seen it, you may not have, but it was recently announced that Hellcat -- or at least Patsy Walker -- is going to be a major part of the Jessica Jones series on Netflix. How cool is that? The whole Marvel/Netflix thing has so much potential that it's sort of incredible. (Hellcat will be played by Rachel Taylor, by the way.)

    I am going to do us all a favor and opt not to make any comments about that Valkyrie-in-a-women's-prison series you're pitching. Apart, of course, from saying "YES."

    Man, these comics all look great! I've seriously got to go on a big-time old-Marvel binge one of these days.

    1. Rachel Taylor as Patsy Walker is interesting. I wouldn't have picked that one, but lately when asked to cast any Marvel superheroine (or DC too) I pick Ingrid Pitt or Shirley Jackson. So, I'm useless for casting, unless time travel is involved.

      Probably with time travel involved, as well, honestly.

      I agree - so much potential with the Marvel/Netflix-verse. The Valkyrie: Jailbreak show would be perfect for it. With a spindle-rack in the prison library.

      I love the idea of Hulk narrating his life like that. It's unfortunate no writer of 70s Hulk (at least this far) made something like that the definitive approach to writing Hulk. It sure beats his other go-tos ("Hulk is the strongest one there is" "Puny humans won't leave Hulk alone" etc.)

    2. Well, when and if you open that temporal casting agency, I demand you cast Caroline Munro as The Red Guardian. Homina-homina...

      I'm very curious to see whether the movies will begin making Hulk a bit more like he is here. That would either play like gangbusters, or would fail utterly.

    3. I can hang with Caroline Munro as the Red Guardian.

      Actually now I think I want to see a film just about a time-traveling casting agency on a quest...

    4. You should check out Jodorowsly's Dune then, if you want to get as close to that concept as possible.

      That said, I can't say I'd mind Munroe as the Guardian.


  2. Is it weird to admit my first reaction The Head and Zebulon was to take it all pretty much in stride? The reason for that is simple, Howard the Duck automatically popped into my mind. I'm not talking about the movie version, but the original comic character (that's assuming the post-credits cameo in Guardians is the same).

    The reason I automatically thought of Howard is because, from what I understand (does anyone have any of his comics?), his adventures were more of less that kind of weird 24/7.

    As for Groot, huh, I knew that guy had to be deliberately holding back. I'll bet he even keeps a shelf full of the complete works of Shakespeare!

    Also, horror author Brian Keene has a neat retrospective on how Marvel Comics led him to write fiction for a living, it features notable mentions of House of Dracula and Man-Thing. The essay can be found here:


    1. I love the original Howard the Duck series - I hope to blog that one up here somewhere over the course of 2015.