Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Recreations: Jim Steranko's Logo Shattering Hulk Annual #1

Jim Steranko's cover to Hulk King-Size Annual #1 (in 1968) is one of the most famous covers in Marvel Comics history.

Hulk King Size Annual by Steranko

I was blown away the first time I saw this image.  The Hulk, carrying a crumbling logo on his back, like Atlas with the weight of the world.  I had never seen a comic-book logo used as a prop on the cover.  Was this the first time it had ever been done?  Whatever the answer is, it doesn't matter, for me as a kid, this was my first time seeing such a mind blowing concept.  Steranko's depiction of the Hulk is also out of this world.  There's a unique quality to the Hulk's face that Steranko captured, something that no other artist has ever matched.

This cover is the favorite of many Marvel maniacs, and inspired a number of recreations...

Hulk v3 35 Kaare Andrews

Kaare Andrews created this cover for Bruce Jones' Return of the Monster arc (Hulk #34, vol 3).  In this interview at, Andrews said: "One of the first comic creators I became aware of on an individual level was Jim Steranko. When I started shopping in real life comicbook stores (what a find when you're a kid!) I picked up a reprint book of some of his Nick Fury stuff. I was really intrigued. This was a guy that didn't look like everyone else. This was a guy that stood out. This was a guy that was freakin' cool."

Hulk-Herc teaser

Towards the end of World War Hulk, we were teased with the cover of what should have been Incredible Hulk 112 (vol 3).  The crumbling logo does say Hulk, and this issue would have followed immediately after the conclusion of World War Hulk.  It gave the reader the impression that the Hulk would be roaming around the Marvel Universe with Amadeus Cho.

incredible herc 112

Not so fast, true believers!  In World War Hulk #6, the full cover was revealed.  Incredible Hulk was now re-titled the Incredible Herc, with Hercules taking over the starring role.  Art Adams did a beautiful job on this cover, and I am sure it induced many fans to give Hercules a chance.

Hercules Steranko

Now there's a funny coincidence here:  Steranko did another take on his own classic cover for Hercules #2 from Radical Comics!  You can read an interview with Steranko about his over at CBR.  I really dig Steranko's design for this version of Hercules.

thing after Hulk annual wilson

If you are going to replace the Hulk in a cover recreation, which character could be better than the Thing?  Ron Wilson did this piece, which I noticed in a recent Back Issue magazine.  You can visit Ron Wilson at Comicbook-art and get a commission like this one!

Last but not least, I believe Steranko has recreated this cover for private commissions.  This full color recreation is certainly different than the original.  I can't remember where I found this one...

Hulk recreation color Steranko

I found this one on Albert Moy's collection on Comic Art Gallery.  Is it a recreation or was this a version of the original cover that was redone/retouched later?  The Hulk's face is different, and several of the rocks don't match the published cover.

Steranko Hulk cover recreation pencils

Steranko is a titan in the world of comics.  Let me know if I missed any recreations!  Nuff said.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Thing Tuesdays: Jim Starlin's Hulk and Thing, Funnier than Lewis and Martin!

In celebration of Hulk week, let's look at some classic Thing-Hulk encounters.  Jim Starlin has produced three classic stories featuring our favorite Marvel monsters, featuring plenty of no-holds barred brawling, but also lots of humor.  The Thing becomes the straight man (Dean Martin) to the Hulk's lovable lummox (Jerry Lewis) in each of these stories.


Marvel Fanfare #11 was published in 1973 and was the launching pad for what became Marvel Two-In-One.  It proved that the Thing was popular enough to star in his own series, albeit a team-up series with a different guest star each month.  Written by Len Wein, drawn by Jim Starlin, and inked by Joe Sinnott, this is probably my favorite Hulk-Thing story of all time.


The Leader and a more obscure villain called Kurrgo (Master of Planet X) are bored and decide to play a game.  A game where the Hulk and the Thing must fight each other!  One of them boosts Ben Grimm's strength artificially to make him more of a match for the Green Goliath.


In order to induce the Thing to fight, the Leader has planted a nuclear bomb in a western town.  Try as he might, Ben Grimm just can't reason with the Hulk!  You have to give a lot of credit to Len Wein here, this dialogue just cracks me up every time I read it.

Marvel Fanfare 11 by Art Adams

Marvel Feature #11 is a favorite of many fans, including Art Adams.  You can see his cover recreation of Marvel Feature #11 here.  According to Back Issue magazine, Seinfeld writer David Mandel owns this piece.  He is a very lucky guy with great taste!


Jim Starlin's next Thing-Hulk story appeared in Marvel Fanfare #20-21.  Marvel Fanfare was a great comic series edited by Al Milgrom (who inked this story, see the "Gemini" signature on the cover), featuring stories by great artists like Michael Golden, Craig Russell, George Perez, etc.  These stories were usually slated for other magazines, but were eventually routed to Fanfare because of scheduling problems or cancellations.  This particular story reads like a Marvel Two-In-One two parter, with Dr. Strange in issue 20 and the Hulk in 21.


Dr. Strange is battling the evil wizard Xandu, who is using magic to control the population of New York.  As the Hulk was a close ally of Dr. Strange's (through the Defenders), it doesn't take much for Xandu to pit the Green Goliath against Ben Grimm.  The Hulk keeps calling the Thing "Rockman" which does not set well with Ben Grimm.  This fight takes place all over New York City, and the funniest scene is when the Thing gets in a cab to get away from the Hulk.


Starlin returned to the super-powered comedy duo in 1987, in the Marvel Graphic Novel titled "The Big Change".  But this time, Starlin did not draw the story.  His pal and collaborator, Berni Wrightson, took on the job, penciling, inking, and coloring the 64 page tale.  It was a remarkable achievement, as we got to see Wrightson's full take on Marvel superheroes without anyone else ruining his detailed artwork.


Aliens whisk both the Thing and the Hulk to another planet for a job that requires lots of muscle. There's a Maguffin in this story: if they complete their assigned task, the Thing and Hulk will receive two wishes.  Ben Grimm is thinking wish #1 must be for both monsters to become human again.  The second wish could be something beneficial for humanity.  The Hulk doesn't see things the same way.


The second act of the story is an intergalactic romp as they find and locate a giant mutated monster that has attributes of both the Thing and the Hulk.  As you can imagine, Ben Grimm and his pal are not too pleased.


At the conclusion of the story, the Thing and the Hulk receive their two wishes.  It's funny that I mentioned David Mandel, as what happens next reminds me of a Seinfeld episode.  The one where Kramer sues the Starbucks-type company and screws up his lawyer by settling for lifetime free coffee instead of millions of dollars.  It's very similar here...while the Thing carefully contemplates what he should ask for, the Hulk blurts out two wishes, one of which involves a lot of hamburgers!

I've enjoyed many of Jim Starlin's stories over the years and these are some of my favorites.  I think Jeph Loeb would be capable of writing a funny story with these two characters...let's hope we'll see one from him and Ed McGuinness or Art Adams.  Nuff said.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Monster Mondays: The Hulk, Man-Thing, and Berni Wrightson

Hulk 197

The Hulk has clashed with Man-Thing on several occasions, but this Hulk #197 (in 1975) was their first meeting,  What's extra-special about this team-up is the cover by Berni Wrightson.  Wrightson was strictly a DC artist from the beginning of his career, and this was the first time I had ever seen him do Marvel work.  Wrightson's best known creation, Swamp Thing, was co-created with Len Wein, the writer/editor behind this issue of the Hulk.  It was interesting to see Wrightson's take on Marvel's muck-monster, but I really like Wrightson's depiction of the Hulk.  Years later, Wrightson would team with Jim Starlin on a Marvel Graphic Novel featuring the Hulk and the Thing.

Hulk 197 Recreation

The interior art was by Sal Buscema and Joe Staton.  After googling for Hulk 197, I found this cover recreation by Our Pal Sal on Eelco's Original Comic Art Gallery.  Go check out the rest of his collection!  Nuff said.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Thing Tuesdays: Rich Buckler's Foom Thing

In 1974, I waited breathlessly for the fifth issue of FOOM, Friends Of Ol' Marvel, the official Marvel fan club magazine.  The fifth issue was important, as it would be the first one not edited by Jim Steranko.  Fortunately, when it arrived, I was not disappointed by the cover...

Foom 5 cover by Rich Buckler

Rich Buckler and Joe Sinnott drew this dynamic cover featuring Ben Grimm.  The pose is definitely inspired by Jack Kirby; I searched in vain for the Kirby source but I could not find it, if you do remember, please let me know.  The printing on the FOOM magazines were terrible, but I have touched it up here a bit.  Notice on the billboard behind the Thing reads: "Deathlok is here!"  This issue also an article about Buckler's creation, Deathlok.

Thing progression in Foom 5

The Thing article inside featured some interesting comments from Stan Lee, Gerry Conway, and Steve Gerber.  "When I first got the assignment to write MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE," says Steve Gerber, "I basically thought of him (the Thing) as all wisecracks.  But when I started writing, I found myself just taken over by his character."  Stan Lee said, "I totally fell in love with the Thing.  He was the most appealing character of the FF to me, the character who held the group together."  Gerry Conway sees the Thing-Torch relationship as a descendant of the Monk Mayfair-Ham Brooks "feud" in the Doc Savage pulp magazines.

Foom 5: early Byrne

The last page of the article features a drawing of the Thing sitting on his throne after mopping up a gallery of villains.  This illustration looks like it was drawn by a very young John Byrne with Duffy Vohland.

Rich Buckler Thing Commission 

Rich Buckler is now doing some amazing fine art, which you can see at this website.  I've also seen some amazing cover recreations (notably the first appearance of Deathlok in Astonishing Tales) and commissions.  You can see some of the FF-related recreations over at the Fantastic Four Headquarters.

Nuff said.

Link: Rich Buckler's web site

Link: Rich Buckler Interview at Fantastic Four Headquarters

Monday, June 2, 2008

Monster Mondays: Art Adams' Man-Thing

Art Adams' Man-Thing.  Sounds kind of disgusting, but it's a beautiful work of art!  You can check out Mr. Adams's Fog City Art Exchange website for more amazing images.

Art Adams Man Thing

Nuff said.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Giant-Size Superstars #1 and the wildest Thing vs Hulk match ever!

In February 1974, Marvel decided to start their own series of deluxe comic books with Giant-Size Super-Stars #1, featuring the Fantastic Four.

Giant Size Super Stars Marvel ad

As a kid growing up, I can't possibly describe the thrill and excitement this concept of a "Giant-Size" Marvel book being published.  Perhaps it felt like a special 2-hour TV movie instead a regular episode.  During the same period of time, the NBC Mystery Movie featured rotating characters such as Columbo, McCloud, McMillian and Wife, Banacek, etc.  I think I equated the Giant-Size specials with those, and I just had the damndest feeling like Something Big Was Gonna Happen.  It had to live up to this expectation, because it cost 35 cents and regular comics were only 20 cents!

Giant Size Super Stars 1

What better way to start than by having "The Wildest Thing vs. Hulk Battle of All" by Gerry Conway and Rich Buckler!  The cover had a dynamic picture of Ben Grimm clobbering the Hulk while Johnny Blaze cheered him on from the sidelines.  The Hulk is on the ropes. But how could this be?  Everyone knows the Hulk is stronger.  And why was Reed Richards reaching out to stop Ben?

Giant Size Super Stars: Hulk splash page

The story begins in a big way as we see the Hulk being chased by the police on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway.  If Rich Buckler didn't grab me from the cover, he sure as hell did on this fantastic splash page.  Everything seemed bigger in scope already!  "Hulk wants peace...and Hulk wants it now!"  If I get any kind of classic dialog like that in a Hulk movie, I'd be happy.  The Hulk reaches New York City and stays hidden long enough (this was when the Hulk was only 7 feet tall, not that gargantuan creature he is today) to calm down and revert to back to Bruce Banner.  Banner decides to seek refuge in the Baxter Building and gets some sympathy from Ben Grimm.

Giant Size Super Stars: Thing becomes Hulk

Ben starts talking about the various cures that Reed Richards has attempted, the latest being a device called the Psi-Amplifier. Banner decides to use this device to cure both himself and Ben Grimm at the same time. Something goes snafu (as usual) and a mind-swap occurs between the Thing and the Hulk.

Giant Size Super Stars: Thing vs Hulk Subway

Rich Buckler draws this Thing-Hulk fight with Mighty Marvel Kirbyesque Magic.  It sure didn't hurt to have Joltin' Joe Sinnott on the inks.

Giant-Size Fantastic Four 1 splash by Rich Buckler and Joe Sinnott

The fight between them rages from skyscrapers to the subway to Madison Square Garden. Throw in the Amazonian babe called Thundra (always looking for a sperm donation from Mr. Grimm) and you've got a comedy of errors.

Besides the main feature, the remaining pages featured pinups, which had already been used in various Fantastic Four annuals.  It seemed like a great value for a that point we didn't have Official Marvel Indexes or Guides or anything like that.

Rich Buckler original art splash page to Giant-Size Superstars 1

Update #1: The original art to the opening splash page by Rich Buckler and Joe Sinnott featuring the Rampaging Hulk!

Rich Buckler original art splash for Giant-Size Superstars 1

Update #2: The original art to the splash page with The Thing cloberring the Hulk in Madison Square Garden!

This was the first and only issue of Giant-Size Superstars.  With the second issue, Marvel gave up the rotating wheel concept and the title became Giant-Size Fantastic Four.  Nuff said.