Batman Vs. The Incredible Hulk (aka The Monster and the Madman)

In memory of Len Wein (1948-2017)

This is a rare and special comic, for multiple reasons. First, the obvious…this issue has the Incredible Hulk…and freaking BATMAN! Wow, what a combination. Second, this comic is HUGE! It is tabloid size. See the image for a comparison between it and a standard size comic.

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This comic was released in September, 1981 as part of the DC special series (Vol.1 #27). Since I am not a DC fan (aside from Batman and a few other related characters) I don’t know all the details. This is the first crossover to feature Batman and the last of the huge tabloid size editions for many years.

Though the comic is typically referred to as ‘Batman vs The Incredible Hulk’ it’s true title is “The Monster and The Madman”. The story actually includes a lot of the Joker (in reference of the madman I assume). 

The story is told in several chapters and despite being a Hulk/Batman crossover deals with the Joker a lot. He is, as expected, the prime instigator between Hulk and Batman. Actually the Joker steals the show for the most part, and along with another villain (Marvel-related I believe) he gains some trippy powers.

batmanhulk1The story is written by Len Wein with art by Jose Luis Garcia Lopez. The art is not bad and does a good job of blending these two character’s worlds together. The story is actually really awesome in my opinion. In fact, its so highly praised its in the top 10 on goodreads.com. You can see my post on this here.

However, the story is probably more of a treat for Batman fans rather then Hulk fans. Hulk is a big part of the story, but he kind of gets upstaged by Batman who is then upstaged by Joker. It’s still worth the read. There is also the inclusion of various Batman and Hulk villains such as Abomination and Two-Face…well..sort of. In a way.

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Gotta include the Batman slap 🙂

 

 

 

Overall its a fun story with some really cool art. I recommend grabbing it if you can. The original large tabloid version is kind of expensive, especially a good copy. However, there have been smaller subsequent versions released such as the gold collectors edition and an even smaller book. They tend to go for a lower price. It’s also available as a digital comic.

Current Ebay Prices:

Original Tabloid Edition (1981):

  • $40-120 (10/12/17)

Collectors Edition (1995):

  • $20-40 (10/12/17)

 

 

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Incredible Hulk #197

If I am not mistaken this is the first time Hulk encounters the swamp creature known as Man-Thing. I personally am not a huge fan of Man-Thing as I feel he is kind of a rip-off of Swamp Thing (but who ripped off who I can’t be sure. Seems both characters debuted in 1971…hmmm).

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Writer: Len Wein / Artist: Sal Buscema / Cover: Bernie Wrightson

Any way, this issue was released in March 1976. The most notable detail (and reason why I own it) in my opinion is the cover. It is the only Incredible Hulk cover ever created by Bernie Wrightson. The only other Hulk story he did was for a graphic novel of Hulk and the Thing. If you don’t know who Wrightson is, be sure to check out my post in memory of him.

I had hoped to get him to sign this but at the time this was a hard issue to find and had to resort to an online auction. With Wrightson’s passing that dream died with him (unless I buy a signed copy).

The issue in general is not a bad story. In addition to Man-Thing it includes a host of characters such as The Glob, “Doc” Samson, and The Collector. The two monsters in this story battle the Hulk and actually give Jade Jaws a hard time.

At the time of this writing this book is not expensive. Ebay prices typically have it around $10 – 20 at best, but of course there are exceptions. However, it is hard to find. At least it has for me. I’ve only ever seen one issue in all my searching and it was the one I own.

So this one won’t break the bank, but I’d plan to get it online. RIP Wrightson.

GET SMASHED!

Marvel Feature #1: The Defenders

defenders1With the new Defenders series hitting Netflix soon I think it’s best to revisit the origins of the group.

The Defenders in Netflix’s show may be more down-to-Earth then their Avenger counterparts. But in the comics The Defenders began with some pretty out of this world members. It originally began with the Sub-Mariner, Dr. Strange and the Hulk. This first issue was released in December 1971.

Dr.Strange discovers that a machine of terrible power has been created meant to destroy the world (go figure…). So he enables the help of the Sub-Mariner and Hulk in order to infiltrate the bad guys base and disable the machine.

The machine is technically not disabled, but through some manipulation of time is made mostly harmless.

This book is one of the better stories I have read from an older time period. The inclusion of Strange and the Sub-Mariner also gives a little more to the plot. I also like the art in this issue as well. Hulk of course does not play nice with others and takes some convincing, but ultimately becomes a founding member of The Defenders.

Hulk was also a founding member of The Avengers, but did leave in issue #2. In keeping with that, Hulk pretty much abandons the Defenders the second it’s named. He does become a significant returning member in later issues though.

This issue not only marks the beginning of the Defenders but also the Marvel Feature lineup which lasted 12 issues. It is from this lineup that the Defenders comics splintered off from.

This issue also includes a new Dr.Strange solo story. I believe it was meant to “reboot” or reintroduce him back into the public eye after a short hiatus.

As of this writing the issue is fairly popular. A decent copy goes for around $100-150 to as high as $400. I managed to snag mine for $50, though it is a bit beat up.

In my mind it’s worth it. To own a copy of Avengers #1 is easily in the thousands of dollars. At least with this issue of The Defenders, where Hulk is a founding member, the issue is affordable.

Incredible Hulk #4

This issue was released in November 1962 and is another book from the original series to include two different stories. Them being ‘The Monster and the Machine’ and ‘Mongu! Gladiator from Space!’

I was not a fan of the machine story. Though it did further explore characteristics of the Hulk. Specifically his ability to transform. During this time Banner discovered he was able to control the transformations using controlled doses of gamma rays. This machine he would use to dose himself would be the main reason for his transformations until issue #6. Also Hulk would more or less retain Banner’s mind.

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Writer: Stan Lee / Artist: Jack Kirby / Editor: Stan Lee

The Mongu story at least had a twist, albeit a bit lame, but for the time I’m sure it was clever. A being named Mongu arrives from space and basically challenges the Earth to bring forth its mightiest warrior for him to fight. Should he win, or no one shows up, he will summon his fleet to destroy the Earth. Well Hulk could not resist of course. However, in the course of the battle it is revealed that this Gladiator’s origins are much closer to home…and Soviet.

Overall not a bad book. I did quite enjoy some of the art and Stan Lee really let the Hulk show more of what he was capable of. I dare say the Hulk was actually Incredible.

As you can see from the cover my copy is a bit beat up and has some ink stains. But this is the price you pay for affordable silver age comics of the Hulk. This issue seems to fetch large prices on eBay. So it appears to be a sought after title ranging in prices from $200-400. My copy was around $100 due to its condition.

 

Average eBay Value:

  • $200-400 (2/28/2017)

 

Marvel Mini Book: Incredible Hulk (1966)

This tiny book is one of 6 different titles (including Captain America and Thor) released in 1966. They were sold via gumball machines in various colors (blue, yellow, red, green).


These books are regarded as the tiniest comic series in the world measuring 5/8 in. x 7/8 in. Basically the size of a quarter. When the Incredible Hulk’s original six issues ended in 1963 with #6, this tiny book was released three years later and could be construed as an Incredible Hulk #7.

The pages of this tiny book are fused together but could be pulled apart if desired. I have decided not to open this one in order to maintain its quality. The story seems to be more or less an overview of who and what the Hulk is and does. There are pictures and videos available online to see the interior pages. Though they seem to be simply pictures with the opposite page having a small blurb describing the image.

I was able to win this book in an auction for about $20 but most places are asking $60 given their low availability.

I keep this little guy safe in very capable hands.

Incredible Hulk #92 (Planet Hulk Exile 1)

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Writer: Greg Pak / Artist: Carlo Pagulayan / Cover Artist: Jose Ladronn and Bryan Hitch

During the Hulk’s long run he has had many stories. Most become your normal monthly fair, some memorable, some forgotten. But back in 2006 Marvel introduced us to a new and exciting vision of the Hulk. They gave Hulk his own world.

Now of course it wasn’t his world to begin with. Hulk was tricked onto a shuttle and jettisoned into space with the hopes he could live the rest of his life in peace on a quiet planet.

Well as is custom with Hulk and Banner things didn’t go as planned and Hulk’s shuttle would crash land on a planet full of chaos and corruption. A planet of death ruled by a tyrant.

This first issue would detail Hulk’s fist steps on this new planet, called Sakaar, and introduce new characters such as Miek, Korg and Caiera. Characters that would influence the Hulk and follow him at least a decade later. Basically take the movie ‘Gladiator’ and replace Russel Crowe with the Hulk. You then have the basic idea for this book, but so much better in my opinion.

I own the hardbound collection of the entire story and it is a big book. But given my love for the story, having read it many times, and now hearing of Planet Hulk concepts being used in the Thor: Ragnarok film I had to own a copy of the first issue. The art is amazing. The story is engrossing. Pacing is a bit fast, but it’s a lot of story to cover.

This issue was valued at about $35-$50 prior to news of the Ragnarok film. Afterwards, the value for it has risen from $50 to as high as $150. Thankfully I was able to win one in an auction for $45. So I didn’t pay much more then I wanted to. Will this price increase remain or eventually settle down? Who knows? But if you want a copy its a gamble either way for buying now or waiting.

In any case I loved the Planet Hulk story line and its influenced much of the Marvel universe and even inspired a Red Hulk version (which I have not read but looks shorter and less interesting). It was so popular in fact that Marvel re-used the title ‘Planet Hulk’ for a later release of a Hulk title occurring during the recent BattleWorlds events.

All in all a great read and with the new movie having the Hulk in armor, this may be the best time to own a copy. HULK SLASH!

 

 

 

Tales to Astonish #91

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Writer: Stan Lee / Cover Artist: Gil Kane / Artist: Bill Everett

Released in May 1967 was Tales to Astonish #91. This issue is notable for featuring, for the first time on the cover, the Abomination. However, the Abomination’s first appearance is actually in TTA #90. The Abomination has been a long time foe of the Hulk and one of the most recognized bad guys in the Marvel universe.

As is the structure of Tales to Astonish this comic hold two stories. The first is dedicated to Namor. I am not a fan of Namor so I will not go into detail on his story.

For the Hulk’s story titled “Whomsoever Harms the Hulk…!” we find Abomination has defeated the Hulk and gone into hiding. The Hulk is revived by General Ross and turned back into Banner. Banner then lures Abomination back for a re-match in which the Hulk actually proves victorious. However, the Abomination is abducted by a stranger in hopes of making him any ally. Hulk then runs off to be alone.

The story isn’t amazing and its short. But it is the second encounter between Hulk and Abomination, so its historical if nothing else. Also, you see the Abomination very little. I was kind of surprised by that. Honestly, my only interest was in the the cover. It shows the two giants clashing for the first time ever. For me this was a special event. A rivalry on the same level as Spiderman and Doc Ock.

Good news is this comic is not that expensive right now. You can nab it for $30 or more depending on quality. I think I got mine for less due to the wear and tear on it.

eBay Prices:

  • $30-150 depending on condition (9/13/16)