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Lo, There Shall Be a Phallus! – The Incredible Hulk #115

November 27, 2011

The Leader’s head doesn’t look like a penis. It wouldn’t make Deadspin’s Unintentional Dong Submissions. But if Joe Camel can be considered phallic, then BY GOD we can label the Leader’s enormous cranium thusly. He’s in a proud line of comic book huge-noggined freaks, some of whom have skulls that veer into the elongated, roughly cylindrical penile realm. Like the Leader.

Maybe it’s the David Niven moustache that sexualizes him. When he frowns he’s ribbed for her pleasure, that’s for damn sure.

This is one of the least interesting of the Stan Lee/Herb Trimpe Hulk issues (with Dan Adkins inks), and the only thing commending it is the triumphant return of ol’ Greenskin’s fellow gamma-irradiated foe. A moment on that: I’m tempted to hate the Leader because of his origin. It’s so trite. Yes, Bruce Banner, a brilliant scientist, was bombarded with Gamma Rays and turned into a green rampaging beast. But Samuel Sterns, a dim-witted plebian, was turned into a green big-headed megamind. The smart man became dumb. The dumb man became smart. Bro, that’s all Shakespearean or something! Opposites! Ooooooooh!

So I’m tempted to loathe, but my first encounter with the character was on an old Viewmaster disk (I feel like my grandmother when she used to talk about going to silent movies with a guy sitting in the back banging on a piano, though I guess Viewmasters are still around), so I let him slide (no pun intended). He’s crossed over with some heavy duty nostalgia. (Nostalgia that might be completely made up. I scoured the internet looking for info on that Leader Viewmaster set, and found only references to a Hulk/Absorbing Man adventure that I also remember. This fond memory may be a figment of my imagination.)

Anyway, the Leader’s head looks especially profane in these pages. I don’t know if it’s Trimpe’s lines or what. I don’t know if I want to know.

A few notes… There are some nice artistic references to earlier Marvel works within, including the original Leader arc from Tales to Astonish. I was most smitten with this cue to a concurrent storyline, the classic Jim Steranko-infused Death of Cap, from Captain America #113 (only here it’s IN COLOR):

SHAMELESS SALESMAN STAN.

The Leader comes back in this issue to help General Ross contain the Hulk. Here he is bursting into Thunderbolt’s office (penetrating it, as it were) — RECEPTIONISTS MEAN NOTHING TO HIM:

There are few characters that can compete with Doctor Doom in the “Hurled Imprecations” category. The Leader is one of them:

The above scan is also the dongiest looking that his head gets here.

I never liked some of the Leader’s more modern designs, where his skull ballooned like a mushroom cloud. I always missed the old widow’s peak and attendant phallic implications. I don’t know what that means for me, but so be it. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and so is the dong.

I need a cigarette.

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