Essential Hulk—Volume 1

essential hulk volume 1 cover trade paperback
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Art: 8/10

Decision to reveal his identity

The Hulk's character lacks direction

Comic Info

Comic Name:  Incredible Hulk (Volume 1)/Tales to Astonish (Volume 1)

Publisher:  Marvel Comics

Writer:  Stan Lee

Artist:  Jack Kirby/Gil Kane/Bill Everett/John Buscema/Mike Esposito/Bob Powell/Steve Ditko/Dick Ayers

# of Issues:  37

Release Date:   2000


Incredible Hulk (1) #1

Reprints Incredible Hulk (1) #1-6, Tales to Astonish (1) #60-91. Bruce Banner is transformed into a beast when he protects a boy named Rick Jones from a gamma blast. Now Banner must hide the truth as he searches for a cure. First he only transforms at night, but soon the transformations continue to morph. As the Hulk continues to rampage, he faces other gamma affected enemies like the Leader and the Abomination.

Written by Stan Lee, Essential Hulk—Volume 1 had many illustrators through the collection including Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, and Gil Kane. The Incredible Hulk was not met with huge success. His first series was cancelled but he was later picked as a back-up for Tales of Suspense (first as a back-up with Ant-Man and then with Namor).

Hulk had a lot of problems to be ironed out in this book. First, the character’s powers were constantly in flux. He was gray (a coloring mistake that later became a storyline in the late ’80s) and he only could be Hulk at night. Then for awhile Rick Jones could control the Hulk and he was almost a puppet. There is a a period in the story where the Hulk controls Banner’s brain and then another portion that Banner is considered dead. It doesn’t feel like they are following these stories lines to develop the character as much as they are too find the character. It was a Jekyll and Hyde character they wanted, but they didn’t know what to do once they had it.


Tales to Astonish (1) #91

Hulk did do at least one different thing in the collection. Most characters either have a secret identity or they don’t have a secret identity. Hulk had a secret identity and blew it. Instead of his identity constantly threatened by his transformation, Stan Lee just revealed his identity. This did change the series and gave it a direction. Bruce Banner became a man on the run. People learn who he is and what he’s capable of. That twist later in this collection does change the story.

The collection has a number of first. The first Hulk, the first Rick Jones, the first Betty Ross (the current Red She-Hulk), and Thunderbolt Ross (the current Red Hulk) all were in the first issue along with the Gargoyle. Other big first include Tyrannus, the Leader, Boomerang, Abomination. and Glen Talbot who became a rival to Bruce for Betty’s love.

Essential Hulk—Volume 1 is a must for all Hulk fans, but those who don’t like the Hulk probably won’t enjoy these early stories that are even less developed. The Hulk is finding his feet here, and it isn’t always the smoothest path. The next volume finishes Hulk’s run in Tales to Astonish and introduces the Hulk’s second continuing series.

Related Links:

Essential Hulk—Volume 2

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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