Monday, July 18, 2011

The Thing versus the Hulk!!! Happy Comic Con Week 2011!!

http://nymag.com/daily/entertainment/2011/07/comic_con_2011.html Comic Con's the big news in San Diego downtown.

But at the core of all its Hollywood spectacle and major product release frenzy, amidst the swirling robes of wizards and the sound of clanking Storm Troopers, San Diego International Comic Con was a celebration of fans of comic books, and easily, one of the most iconic, the most representative, of all super hero comics, it's Stan Lee and Jack Kirby's two issue battle featuring the Hulk and the Thing, as presented in early 1964! Yep, before the Beatles were even off the plane, Marvel's greatest monster men were smacking each other through a hapless New York City!

After a decidedly offbeat issue before (following a classic struggle with Doctor Doom), now we get to the place where the modern world of super hero comics evolves. Not only does the Hulk react in anger to a newspaper announcing Captain America joining the Avengers, but in the brutal revenge scheme to follow, he instead mixes it up with the Fantastic Four before the Avengers themselves make the scene in the next issue!

The interactions of characters from three different strips was facilitated by the writer and editor of all three of them, Stan Lee. So he gets a bit confused and refers to "Bob" Banner in the script---I can only imagine how fun this scrap was for fans of the time! The FF are not at their full fighting strength here, making it a rather dramatic battle centering around Hulk and the FF's resident strong man, the Thing. Their first encounter in FF #12 was the earliest crossover I know of in Marvel history.

I don't believe the Hulk had yet begun to appear again in Tales to Astonish after his own series was quickly cancelled (yes, the first commercial failure of the Marvel Age was the six-issue INCREDIBLE HULK). This was a break through appearance, then, for Jade Jaws. His strength outclassed the Thing's, but Ben's fighting spirit and wits keep this cross-town tussle from a dull moment. These two have clashed now so many times as to become a sort of Marvel cliche, but Jack Kirby brought this an energy and whacked-out sense of happening right in the middle of the Big Apple that makes it one of the true blue classics of comic books, from days gone by.

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