The Incredible Hulk #1
November 26, 2012
Hulk is strongest one there is! Unfortunately, his origin is not as strong.
Linkara: Hello, and welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn. And welcome to the final installment of "Secret Origins Month 3"!
(Secret Origins Month title is shown)
Linkara: Today, we look at the Incredible Hulk, whose origins actually find their roots in classic horror stories and movies.
(Cut to the title of the original version of Frankenstein, followed by footage of that film)
Linkara (v/o): Specifically, Stan Lee has said that the main inspiration for the Hulk was the 1931 Universal version of Frankenstein. Lee always felt that the Monster wasn't really a bad guy; he was just misunderstood and it was the hate and fear of everyone else that drove it occasionally to do terrible things. And having seen the first four Frankenstein movies... yyyeah, that's not an inaccurate take on it. Hell, the first time the monster kills someone, it's out of self-defense because Fritz was an asshole who kept whipping him and hurling abuse for absolutely no frickin' reason! In the end, Frankenstein was wholly sympathetic.
Linkara: (holding up both hands) And before you start launching into the comments to correct me, (holds up index finger) let me remind you: Frankenstein is the name of the monster, too! If the acceptance of popular culture isn't enough, I have the movies themselves to back me up here!
(He snaps his fingers. Then we cut to a clip of Son of Frankenstein)
Ygor (Bela Lugosi): (to Baron Wolf von Frankenstein) Your father made him! And Heinrich Frankenstein was your father, too.
Wolf von Frankenstein (Basil Rathbone): Do you mean to imply, then, that, uh... (points to the Monster's form) that is my brother?
Ygor: But his mother was lightning.
Linkara: (points to camera) Boom! The Monster is named Frankenstein! (points to himself) I rock! (beat) What were we talking about again?
(Cut to a clip of The Avengers)
Captain America (Chris Evans): And Hulk? (grunting, Hulk looks toward Cap) Smash.
Linkara (v/o): Oh, right, the Hulk. Anyway, while the sympathetic monster angle was taken from the film...
(Cut to a clip of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, showing Jekyll drinking the formula that turns him into Hyde)
Linkara (v/o): ...Lee also decided to make the villain and the hero of the story one and the same by combining it with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, an [sic] heroic, weaker person who transformed into a brutish, stronger creature. The name itself came when Lee was writing up a description of the character...
(Cut to a clip of the Incredible Hulk movir, showing Bruce Banner's transformation into the Hulk)
Linkara (v/o): ...a monstrous, potentially murderous hulking brute. What's rather amusing to me is that the most popular incarnations of the Hulk outside of comic books – namely, the live-action adaptations – always tell a different origin story than this comic.
(Cut to footage of the old Incredible Hulk TV show)
Linkara (v/o): In the Incredible Hulk TV series, David Banner is exposed to high levels of gamma radiation from a science-y doodad and that turns him into the Hulk. Both the Ang Lee and Louis Leterrier films used this as the origin, while pretty much every animated version uses the comic version. Now, the TV series invented its origin because they wanted it less comic bookish and more "realistic".
Linkara: And I say (makes "finger quotes") "realistic" is probably not the word you want to throw around when talking about a guy who transforms into an enormous green rage monster. Also, if you don't want it to be like a comic book, then perhaps you shouldn't ADAPT A COMIC BOOK CHARACTER.
(Cut to a clip of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 gang watching The Amazing Colossal Man)
Linkara (v/o): Or maybe it was just because the Hulk's origin story is pretty much the same as the Amazing Colossal Man.
Tom Servo: (as Glenn Manning) Wait a minute! What the hell am I doing out here?! (An explosion occurs, and Servo mimics screaming)
Joel: Well, live and learn.
Linkara: So let's dig into (holds up today's comic) "The Incredible Hulk #1" and see the beginnings of the Jolly Green Giant... who was actually gray at first. (beat) We'll get into that after the theme song.
(AT4W title theme plays; title card has the theme from the old Incredible Hulk TV show playing in the background. Cut to a closeup of the comic's cover)
Linkara (v/o): Stan Lee had originally intended for the Hulk to be gray, as we see in the original story and on this cover. However, they apparently had problems keeping the gray color consistent in the story, so it was decided to make him green. While occasionally, reprints have come out to change it so it's green, usually, it's preserved as gray, with flashbacks sometimes suggesting that he started as gray, but later transformations had him become green. However, in an amusing twist, they later used the gray Hulk idea by having Bruce Banner suffer from disassociative identity disorder, and the gray Hulk was somewhere between the two; not as strong as the Hulk, but not as smart as Banner. And then there's the red Hulk, but that's a story for another day. The cover's pretty good. Bruce Banner and the Hulk are framed in the center, with the Hulk towering over him, and we can't really tell if he's in transformation or if we're seeing a residual image of Banner inside of the Hulk, as it were. I'd assume that's the case, what with everyone else on the cover aside from Banner having washed-out colors and the fact that the people around him are reacting to the Hulk. (reads text dramatically) "THE STRANGEST MAN OF ALL TIME!!"
Linkara: Oh, 1960s, let me introduce you to a guy named Tommy Wiseau!
(Cut to a clip of The Room, with text reading, "TOMMY WISEAU IS...", as Johnny (played by Wiseau) goes over to a TV while wailing like a bratty child)
Johnny (Wiseau): (grabbing TV) Bitch! (holds up TV) THAT BITCH!!
(He throws the TV through a window, while additional text is added: "THE HULK" (in green). Then cut back to the comic cover)
Linkara (v/o): (reading text) "FANTASY AS YOU LIKE IT!"
Linkara: Well, with all the made-up science in this, I guess you could call it fantasy.
Linkara (v/o): (reading text) "IS HE MAN OR MONSTER OR... IS HE BOTH?"
Linkara: (reaches hand out menacingly) MANSTER!
(A clip of the movie The Manster is shown, before cutting to the first page of the comic)
Linkara (v/o): We begin with a splash page featuring the gargantuan Hulk.
Narrator: Half-man, half-monster, the mighty Hulk thunders out of the night to take his place among the most amazing characters of all time!
Linkara: (narrator voice) Characters like Neutro, that hippie guy from Birdemic, and of course... Rock!
(Cut to a clip of an episode of Blake's 7)
Avon: (examining a sopron) This happens to be the most sophisticated life form that it has ever been my good fortune to come across. Present company not accepted.
Tarrant: Life? But it looks like...
Avon: A rock, yes.
(Cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): We open in an unnamed desert.
Narrator: Alone in the desert stands the most advanced weapon ever created by man--the incredible G-bomb!
Linkara: (holding up a ball with the letter F on it) Here, we have its predecessor, the F-bomb. But somehow, it's not as impressive, and yet, somehow, more offensive.
Narrator: Miles away, behind solid concrete bunkers, a nervous scientific task force waits for the gamma-bomb's awesome test firing!
(Cut to 90s Kid)
90s Kid: Duuude! The test firing of this gamma-bomb is gonna be AWESOME!
Narrator: And none is more tense, more worried, than Dr. Bruce Banner, the man whose genius created the G-bomb!
Linkara (v/o): And of course, the best way to alleviate your worries is lots and lots of smoking around sensitive equipment! I mean, it just worked out so well for Jay Garrick! Banner's compatriot says that the bomb is still too dangerous and that he should have revealed the details of it to the other scientists.
Dr. Banner: Quiet, Igor! Here comes General Ross!
Linkara (v/o): Wait, Igor?
(Cut to another clip of Son of Frankenstein)
Ygor: Igor is dead! (cackles)
Linkara: Huh. I guess the Frankenstein parallels are a bit more overt in places.
Linkara (v/o): General Ross enters and yells at Banner for the delay.
Gen. Ross: My men have been stationed here for weeks, wasting time because of your infernal delays! Are you going to test that blamed or not?
Dr. Banner: Of course, General! It's just that I must be sure every precaution has been taken! We are tampering with powerful forces!
Gen. Ross: Powerful forces! Bah!! A bomb is a bomb!
Linkara: (as Gen. Ross) Being a general, I assume that a pipe bomb and a hydrogen bomb are pretty much the same thing!
Gen. Ross: The trouble with you is you're a milksop! You've got no guts!
Linkara: (as Gen. Ross) Rip and tear! Rip and tear your guts! When you become the Hulk, you'll be HUGE! And that means you'll have HUGE GUTS! Also, you'll be radioactive! That can't be good!
Gen. Ross: They should have put me in charge of this test! By thunder, it would have been done by now!
Linkara: (as Gen. Ross) The hell with safety regulations! I want to blow crap up!
Betty Ross, Gen. Ross' daughter: Oh Daddy, don't be so unfair! Dr. Bruce Banner is one of our most famous scientists! I'm sure he knows what he's doing!
(Cut to a clip of the MST3K gang watching Young Man's Fancy, as a teenage girl is peeking through a door to eavesdrop on two men having a conversation)
Servo: (as one of the men) SHUT UP! THE MEN ARE TALKING IN HERE!
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): I'm actually not far off with that clip.
Gen. Ross: You keep out of this, Betty! This is MAN TALK!
Linkara: (as Gen. Ross) Women can't be scientists! Just ask Marie Curie! (stops as he realizes his mistake and feels embarrassed) Oh... wait... uh... (shakes index finger) Well, you're a still a girl, so I have to question your geek credentials!
Linkara (v/o): Oh, and by the way, yeah, I know that Tony Harris was trying to only talk about a specific kind of evil woman folk who preys on men at conventions, but got news for ya: the thing he was referring to is a MYTH! And even then, women can cosplay whatever the hell they want for whatever reason they want. You notice guys never get questioned about their geek status because of their cosplay!
Linkara: (suddenly feeling uncomfortable) What is this I'm sitting on? (finds it and pulls it out) Oh! (smiles, chuckles and holds up what he was sitting on) It's a box of soap.
Betty: Don't mind Dad, Dr. Banner! Ever since he was nicknamed "Thunderbolt" Ross, he's tried to live up to it!
Linkara: (as Betty) He keeps capturing Pikachus in the hopes that they'll teach him thunderbolt, but it never works.
Linkara (v/o): So, what the hell is Betty doing here, anyway? Wouldn't this be a top secret project? Dr. Banner tells them that they're about to begin the final countdown, which makes General Ross happy. Igor once again tells Banner that nobody's checked his work and that activating the bomb is the wrong thing to do. Banner says he has the formulas locked up in his room and he intends for them to remain there.
Igor: You fool! Nobody has checked your work!
Linkara: (as Igor) What if you forgot to carry the 2?! WHAT IF YOU FORGOT TO CARRY THE 2?!?
Igor: If you've made an error, you might blow up half the continent!!
Linkara (v/o): Yyyeah... If that's the case, not having someone look over your decimal points might be a really dumb thing to do, Brucie.
Dr. Banner: I don't make errors, Igor!
(Cut to a clip of Ghostbusters)
Dr. Peter Venkman (Bill Murray): (to the library administrator) Back off, man. I'm a scientist.
(Cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): The countdown begins, but when Bruce looks out the observation window, he spots a teenager driving into the test area. You'd think they'd have security guards to prevent that kind of thing. He tells Igor to delay the countdown while he drives out to get the kid to clear the test zone. Uh, why don't you delay the countdown and have one of the military personnel clear the kid out? I think he might respond better to guys with guns instead of the wormy scientist.
Igor: (thinking) What a stroke of luck! All I have to do is keep my finger off the "hold" button, and it'll be the end of Bruce Banner!
Linkara: (as Igor) It is a good thing that absolutely no one else is looking out the window, or else my entire evil plan would be doomed.
Linkara (v/o): Bruce runs to the kid, who's just sitting in his convertible, playing a harmonica.
Dr. Banner: You! Get out of there! You're in a forbidden test area!
Youth: Cool it, man! The kids bet me I wouldn't have nerve enough to sneak past the guards...
Linkara: (sarcastically) Yeah, you really snuck past them in your loud and obvious car!
Linkara (v/o): Banner pulls the kid away, who resists at first, at least until Banner says they need to get to the protective trench before the bomb goes off. He tosses the kid down into the trench. Oh, yeah, a big hole in the ground is gonna protect him from the fallout. I guess Stan Lee thought "duck and cover" really worked.
Narrator: Altho' many miles from bomb zero, Dr. Bruce Banner is bathed in the full force of the mysterious gamma rays!
Linkara: (as Dr. Banner, holding up his arms in defense) OH, MY GOD!! (stops abruptly in confusion and looks down at himself) Huh. Gamma rays don't actually seem to hurt. Huh. I was expecting, like, blinding pain or something... (Suddenly, the screen turns reverse in its colors) OH, GOD, THERE IT IS!
(The title card is shown as we go to a commercial. Upon return, the title card is shown again before the review resumes)
Linkara (v/o): Hours later, Banner awakens on a hospital bed, evidently none the worse for wear. The teenager reveals that he was the one who brought him and his name is Rick Jones.
Jones: You saved my dumb life... I figgered it was the least I could do for you!... Y'know, it's a funny thing... I'm an orphan, and no one ever did anything for me before--'cept you, a stranger!
Linkara: (as Jones) A random stranger saved me from my own bottomless stupidity and is now gonna be urinating neon green for the rest of his life!
Linkara (v/o): Hours later, the two are still in the hospital room. Banner believes they're being kept there so he can die, since it's otherwise not possible for someone to absorb as much radiation as he has without, you know, dying and all. As the moon comes out, a nearby Geiger counter starts reacting, and Banner's body quickly and radically alters. He grows a few feet, turns gray, and shreds his clothes.
Jones: Hey! Look at you! You-- changed!
Linkara: Rick Jones, proud graduate of the No Friggin' Duh School of Observational Study.
Linkara (v/o): The Hulk, actually displaying the ability to speak complete sentences, shoves Rick out of the way and is confused by his surroundings. In his anger, he starts smashing at the walls.
(A panel shows the Hulk smashing through the wall, while the sound of a Kool-Aid commercial plays)
Kool-Aid Man: (audio; smashing through wall) OH, YEAH!
Linkara (v/o): The military personnel spot the Hulk escaping, but he just smashes their car and proceeds out into the desert.
Hulk: Have to go! Have to get away-- to hide...
Linkara: (as the Hulk) Hulk no have insurance for crash!
Linkara (v/o): Rick Jones follows after him, feeling he still owes Banner his life and feels that the creature needs him now. We then begin part two of... (awkward pause) the exact same story in the exact same comic, with separation of the two segments only happening because of advertisements in the comic. The Hulk hides behind some conveniently placed rocks while the military forces run past, and really, I'm just confused by the fact that they're supposed to be in the desert, and yet there's quite a bit of tall grass.
Soldier: Fan out, men! We've got to find that--that HULK!!
Narrator: And thus, a name is given to Bruce Banner's other self, a name which is destined to become-- immortal!
Linkara: You know, I keep seeing these old comics proclaim that the characters we're reading about are gonna have "long histories" or something prophetic like that. You think we ever have a story that just proclaimed: "This character will only be an historical [sic] footnote after his tragic death from rampaging llamas"?
Linkara (v/o): The Hulk smashes through whatever's in his way as they circle back towards Bruce Banner's cottage so he can get to the formulas he had made for the gamma bomb. They reach the cabin and find Igor inside searching through papers to try to find the formula. He tries to shoot the Hulk, but the bullets do nothing. The Hulk grabs the gun from him.
Hulk: So! This is what the puny humans fear!
(As the Hulk smashes the gun in his hand, we have an audio clip from the movie Short Circuit)
Number 5 (Tim Blaney): (audio) Colt .45... semi-automatic... Play-Doh!
Igor: No! It's impossible! You-- You aren't human!
Hulk: Human?? Why should I want to be human?!?
(Cut to a clip of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country)
James T. Kirk (William Shatner): Spock, you want to know something? Everybody's human.
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): Hulk tosses Igor across a table. Looks like he twisted the dude for good measure. Underneath one of the beakers is a file with Banner's notes. The Hulk starts remembering that he was Bruce Banner and proclaims he's happy that he became the Hulk, since he's no longer weak, and he proudly yells his plans to – you guessed it – take over the world.
(Cut to the obligatory clip of Street Fighter)
M. Bison (Raul Julia): Of course!
(Cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): He prepares to kill Rick before he can tell people that he's Banner, but then the sun starts rising in the distance. The Hulk transforms back into Bruce Banner just as the MPs rush in. When they find Igor, they realize he's a spy and believes he was in league with the Hulk. An officer is wondering about Banner's condition, but all the other officers who saw the Hulk in the dark give conflicting reports about what he looked like, so they don't believe Banner's involved. Betty tries to comfort Bruce because of how ill he seems to be, and clearly, there's some attraction there. They ask her to leave on the pretense of letting Bruce get some rest and then talk about what happened.
Banner: Remember, I became the Hulk when night fell, and returned to my normal self at daybreak!
Linkara: My God! The Hulk is a werewolf!
Linkara (v/o): Bruce is of course worried about what will happen when the sun goes down again. But enough of the pathos and dread; let's check up on Igor.
Igor: (thinking) The American fools think I am defeated! But not yet!! No--they shall soon learn that even in a cell, Igor can be dangerous! For they do not suspect that pasted onto my thumbnail is a sub-miniature transistor short wave sending set!
Linkara: Transistors?! (shakes fist in the air) DAMN YOU, TONY STARK!
Igor: (thinking) A set with which I shall now send a secret message to behind the Iron Curtain!
Linkara (v/o): And of course, we cut to thousands of miles away.
Soviet radio man: (to his superior) Comrade!! I am receiving a code message from Igor!
Soviet superior: Quick! Let me have it!
Linkara: (as superior, looking at a piece of paper) Okay, let's see this. (reads paper) "Dear Friend, I am Nigerian royalty..."
Linkara (v/o): The Commies decide that they need to give this message to... THE GARGOYLE! We see a line of officers pass on the message since none of them want to face the Gargoyle, who they say is the most feared man in all of Asia. They slip the message under his door and we get a good look at the guy. Aaand he doesn't look like a gargoyle. He looks like a pink dude with an oversized head. Or maybe like a pink, melting potato. I don't know, maybe this is what a gargoyle looks like in Russia. Reading about the Hulk, the Gargoyle decides to kill or capture him, ordering a rocket-firing submarine for his departure. As such, we see the latest model Red sub travel out to sea and launch an "experimental man-carrying rocket". In turn, the USA's missile defenses launch countermeasures to destroy the missile. And the Gargoyle's little missile will probably cause an international incident, but whatever. But the nosecone of the missile ejects, carrying the Gargoyle to US soil. So... what was the plan if the Americans hadn't blown up the missile? Anyway, Rick and Bruce are driving out of the military base. Bruce hopes that if he transforms back into the Hulk, he can do it in a big, wide open space where he can't do any harm. However, he apparently waited too late, since he starts transforming into the Hulk while they're driving. The car crashes, and the two crawl from the wreckage. Also, Bruce Banner's clothes are apparently one-size-fits-all, because apparently his outfit remains pretty much intact and looks like it fits the Hulk pretty well, too. The Hulk wants to go see Betty, and Rick is unable to stop him. We cut to the home of General Ross and Betty, where the General is no doubt reading about the teen troubles in Hatton Corners. He spots his daughter acting apprehensive and worried.
Gen. Ross: What is it, girl? You've seemed troubled all day!
Betty: Oh, Dad...if only things were as simple as in your day, when a cavalry charge, or a squad of infantrymen could solve anything!
Linkara: (as Betty) Perpetual motion machines, cold fusion, Fermat's Last Theorem... Infantrymen could solve anything!
Betty: But today, with the strange, almost supernatural forces all around us, I feel as though we're on the brink of some fantastic unimaginable adventure!
Linkara: (as Gen. Ross) Ah, jeez, my daughter's been huffing paint fumes again!
Linkara (v/o): And what supernatural forces? Is there a completely unrelated haunted house story happening to Betty that we're not seeing? Anyway, General Ross to get some fresh air and she steps outside, only for the Hulk to arrive. She faints at the sight of him, Rick Jones trying to get him to leave her and get away before he's found again. However, the Gargoyle arrives and aims a gun at them. However, it turns out this is some kind of mind-control gun since, when he shoots it at Rick and the Hulk, they immediately obey his commands and they commandeer a truck and its driver. So the dude has a mind-control gun? How did the Soviets not win the Cold War if they had mind-control guns? They arrive at the coastline, where Soviet officers are waiting for them. They go into a submarine or a boat or something, launch out of that in a jet to the edge of space, and then glide back behind the Iron Curtain. This is really a lot of steps in the escape plan. Why couldn't they just take the boat or submarine or whatever? If it was already so close to American soil, that implies that it was able to get into American waters without any trouble. Anyway, day breaks, and the Hulk reverts back to Bruce Banner. The Gargoyle is naturally pissed that the Hulk is gone and he deduces that the two are the same person. However, the Gargoyle starts monologuing about how sucky it is to be the Gargoyle... for no reason.
Gargoyle: But why? Why would you want to be a monster? You must be insane! It--It's the most horrible thing in the world to be a freak-- a gargoyle! Like me!
Linkara: Dude, just wait until the Internet is invented, and you'll have, like, five different fetishes built around you.
Banner: Wait! Listen to me! I cannot stop myself from turning into the Hulk-- but your case is different! I've seen cases like yours! I know how to cure you...by radiation!
Linkara: Oh, well, naturally. I mean, radiation has done nothing but (gives a thumbs-up) good so far, right, doc?
Linkara (v/o): Also, RADIATION DOESN'T WORK THAT WAY!!
Banner: But although your features would become normal, your brain would suffer!
Linkara: Just like fans of–
(Suddenly, however, he is interrupted by a message...)
Text: Hello. The management has removed this joke because it was far too obvious. As such, feel free to make up your own thing that you dislike for this joke and place it here for your own amusement.
(Cut back to the Hulk comic)
Banner: You would no longer be a brilliant scientist!
Linkara: Only a science major has a (points to his own head) giant head like this!
Linkara (v/o): So, yeah, using the power of radiation, Bruce Banner transforms the Gargoyle into a normal-looking bald guy. The Gargoyle walks over to a portrait of another bald guy and starts ranting at it.
Gargoyle: It was because of you that I became what I was! Because I worked on your secret bomb tests! But it took an American to cure me!
Background singers (from Team America: World Police): America, fuck yeah!
Gargoyle: And now--now that I am no longer a gargoyle, I can defy you, and all you stand for, like a man!
(A snippet of "Now You're a Man" by DVDA plays briefly)
Linkara (v/o): I think we might be missing a few scenes. The Gargoyle helps them escape, knocking out a bunch of the guards and giving theme access to his escape rocket. The Gargoyle activates some kind of self-destruct switch on the base. And so, our comic ends with Rick and Bruce on their way back to the States... where they were no doubt shot down by American missiles, if the first attempt earlier was any indication.
Linkara: This origin story starts out really well... but then it starts to fall apart near the end.
Linkara (v/o): The most striking different in the origin with the modern version of the Hulk is how the transformation is triggered. In this original story, it was kind of like a reverse Superman, with the lack of the sun making Bruce Banner change and the sun restoring him. He's also a bit more intelligent than the "HULK SMASH!" version that came about later, but I mentioned the gray Hulk idea earlier. The story itself is pretty solid... right up until Igor signals the Commies. Once the Gargoyle enters the picture, this stops being a story about a guy who's transforming into a monster and instead about an American scientist and his plucky assistant getting kidnapped, and he somehow knows how to cure chronic unattractiveness, or whatever the hell the Gargoyle was suffering from. Still, the way Bruce Banner became the Hulk was pretty damn good, and the dialogue actually felt a lot less stilted than other Silver Age books tended to be.
Linkara: Well, Secret Origins Month 3 has concluded. Next year, we may even finally get to the Avengers, but we'll see. Next month, however... (puts on a Santa hat over his fedora and smiles)
(End credits roll, to the title theme for the opening of the Incredible Hulk cartoon show)
"Hulk like Wong-Chu, like talk in broken English. Hulk not understand sentence structure, yet Hulk still know one name and concepts. Hulks be confusing like that."
Turns out the G-Bomb was a dud anyway because of a misplaced decimal. F-Minus, Doctor Banner. F-Minus.
(Stinger: The panel showing General Ross and Betty is shown again)
Linkara (v/o): (as Betty) Hey, Dad, I just had a horrible thought. What if both of us turned into red variations on Hulk and She-Hulk? (as Gen. Ross) Well, that'd just be kind of stupid, honey!