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Hulk hate having hair like Moe Howard! – Tales to Astonish #88

October 12, 2010

In earlier posts I’ve noted my general loathing of the Sub-Mariner, and, though I’ve softened a little bit on the guy, I still shy away from buying Tales to Astonish issues with him on the cover. It’s a visceral, instinctive reaction, but one that I can usually overcome because, well, I can’t resist buying old ****ing comics. I love them. And I’m still pleasantly surprised by some of the things that I discover inside of them.

More on the pleasant surprise when I get to the Hulk story. First, a few words about the Namor installment, “A Stranger Strikes from Space!” by Stan Lee and Bill Everett. After battling his undersea nemesis, Attuma, and sending him away to lick his wounds (can you lick wounds underwater?), a passing alien spaceship has an “oops” moment and accidentally drops an unstoppable robot into Namor’s corner of the ocean:

It sort of looks like the original Iron Man armor. Kind of? Maybe?

Attuma’s the first one to come across it, and he and his minions battle it while Namor watches on his underwater spy equipment. He’s so into his voyeurism he repels feminine wiles and punctuates the rejection with his catchphrase (which never seems to be used appropriately — kind of like how Ron Burgundy couldn’t quite get the usage of “When in Rome…” down pat in Anchorman):

Attuma manages to subdue the machine and reprogram it, and at the end of this chapter it stands poised to raze Atlantis. Uh-oh…

Enough of that. Here’s what the pleasant surprise was — the artist on the Hulk story:

Gil “Sugar” Kane. Ha ha, Stan. I suppose I knew that Kane did some work on Hulk stories at this time, but I guess I’ve never stumbled across any until now. Or I just forgot. One or the other. Whatever the case, I very much like what Kane did with the Hulkster.

So what did he and Stan Lee treat us to in “Boomerang and the Brute!”?

After defeating the Hulk-Killer, ol’ Greenskin is besieged by spectators and the media with their flashing cameras (much like King Kong). Watching on television is the leader of the free world:

At first I thought that was Nixon, mainly due to the style of the receding hairline, and I was a bit confused because I thought that this issue was published a couple of years before Dick was elected. It’s Johnson, though, as we’ll see clearly in a sec. Maybe they should have shown him talking to his aides while he sat on the can — that would have cleared things up.

Anyway, a brightly costumed villain named Boomerang gets Hulk all riled up:

Hulk (predictably) flies off the handle, smashes stuff, pimp-slaps Rick Jones, and then jumps off. Par for the course. Then General Ross gets a message (proving who the President was):

Do you think Ross is going to give Hulk the benefit of the doubt? Neither do I.

Boomerang confronts Hulk, but can’t match his power. He tries a different non-physical stratagem:

Boomerang bursts a dam to drown him, but Hulk still has enough strength to crush this guy’s rocket packs. Then there’s this last page, where Kane’s art really comes alive. I love this sequence, as Boomerang’s ploy goes horribly awry and he’s undone by his own boomeranging (hey…) dirty deeds:

The look on Boomerang’s face in the third panel is so great.

It’s a real treat to see Kane working with one of my favorite characters at the peak of Marvel’s Silver Age might. His articulate style and detailed inks are a contrast to other (equally talented) artists in the Marvel Bullpen from those days, and if his work isn’t better, it at least has the merit of being different. I’m not the biggest Kane fan in the world, but I really like his stuff here. A lot.

Kane Smash!!!

4 Comments leave one →
  1. neill permalink
    October 12, 2010 6:57 pm

    It’s not exactly the definitive Hulk, but I like the few Kane example a lot, too. Gotta tell you, though, looking back I like Namor way more now than I did as a child. Buscema and Colan’s work on him was fantastic, and Roy Thomas’ scripting was excellent. Unfortunately, as he did with so many mainstream Marvel characters in the ’70’s, Gerry Conway mercilessly destroyed the strip as it rambled to cancellation (although check out Bill Everett’s last fling for fine artwork, #50-57, as well as Dan Adkins on #55).

    • October 13, 2010 9:21 pm

      I’m with you on the Colan artwork — he can elevate most any material for me, including the much-maligned Sub-Mariner.

  2. Edo Bosnar permalink
    October 14, 2010 7:47 am

    Thanks for posting this; I read the Hulk story here in my long-gone copy of the Marvel pocket book from 1978 – the second volume, which instead of picking up where the first one left off after the first 6 issues of Hulk’s first series and reprinting the first Hulk stories in Tales to Astonish, jumped right to these. Never could figure it out, but I was glad, because these stories drawn by Kane are just fantastic; this Boomerang story, and the introduction of the Abomination were my two favorite favorites in that book.

    • October 15, 2010 9:58 am

      No problem — as I said in my post, this installment was quite a pleasant surprise. I can definitely see what drew you to it back in the day.

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