Essential Hulk—Volume 2

essential hulk volume 2 cover trade paperback
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Art: 8/10

Classic solid comic book series

Repetitive plotlines

Comic Info

Comic Name:  Tales to Astonish (Volume 1)/Incredible Hulk (Volume 2)

Publisher:  Marvel Comics

Writer:  Stan Lee/Gary Friedrich/Bill Everett/Archie Goodwin/Roy Thomas

Artist:  Marie Severin/Herb Trimpe

# of Issues:  28

Release Date:  2001


Tales to Astonish (1) #93

Reprints Tales to Astonish (1) #92-101 and Incredible Hulk (2) #102-117, 147, and Special #1 (June 1967-January 1972).  The Hulk is back!  With enemies like the Mandarin, the Sandman, and the Leader and battles with the Silver Surfer, Nick Fury, Black Bolt, and Namor the Sub-Mariner, the Hulk seems unable to find peace on the Earth.  Constantly seeking solace for his rage, Bruce Banner finds himself on the run as he’s hunted by Thunderbolt Ross and Glenn Talbot…while his love Betty continues to hope for his safe return!

Written by Stan Lee, Gary Friedrich, Bill Everett, Archie Goodwin, and Roy Thomas, Essential Hulk—Volume 2 collects the remaining issues of the Hulk’s run in Tales to Astonish (Volume 1) and the launch of his second series starting with Incredible Hulk #102 (April 1968).  Reprinted in black-and-white like all of the Marvel Essentials, the series also collects Incredible Hulk’s first annual (then called Special #1 (October 1968)) and a short story from Incredible Hulk (1) #147 (January 1972).

I’ve always been a Hulk fan since I was little and grew up watching the TV show followed by the Saturday morning cartoon.  The Hulk comic however has always seemed to struggle falling short of other big Marvel character driven books.  Despite this perception, Essential Hulk—Volume 2 is a rather solid read.


Incredible Hulk (1) #113

The story has a lot of fun guest-star drop in and this volume doesn’t have many first appearances of major characters.  Marvel Comics was a little less structured back in the original days and there was much more crossover characters and coherent plots.  Things happening in Captain America, The Avengers, and Thor actually affected events here and enemies like the Rhino and the Sandman could jump from their “primary” antagonists to people like the Hulk…and it is a bit refreshing.

Like many older comics, the book does suffer from repetitive storytelling.  The book is generally breaks down into two issue storylines involving a villain and/or ally (even in the shorter Tales to Astonish issues which he shared with Namor).  Banner inevitably reverts between the Hulk and himself in the worst and times and that is how the whole story is built.  In addition to these little tropes, the comic also has a rather sappy, overdone, soap opera love triangle between Bruce Banner, Betty Ross, and Glenn Talbot that always resurfaces.

The book also has some solid art.  Pioneer female artist Marie Severin penciled most of the early issues with Herb Trimpe inking them but Herb Trimpe began his great run on the comic later in this collection…the only disadvantage of the Essential line is not being able to see all the great colors.

Essential Hulk—Volume 2 is a strong entry of a classic series.  I also have a soft spot for this volume in that it has one of my earliest comic books in Incredible Hulk (2) #109 (November 1968) which I got at a garage sale.  The issue featured Ka-Zar and ended in a cliffhanger…which took about thirty years for me to see concluded.  Now that’s a cliffhanger!

Related Links:

Essential Hulk—Volume 1

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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