We start off this time with a bit of a forgotten masterpiece (despite the fact that it’s been reprinted at least once.) This issue of INCREDIBLE HULK, with its horrifying story of children and cannibalism packed a punch and really stayed with you–top notch work by writer Len Wein and illustrators Jim Starlin and Alfredo Alcala. It was also a strong influence on the current IMMORTAL HULK series, as it treats the Hulk and the world he moves through not as a super hero but as a horror character, a monster.
Where do you go after you’ve sparred with the competition’s headline character? The heavyweight champion of the world, of course! (Though Ali had been dethroned by the time this perennially-late release finally hit the racks.) A tour de force by Neal Adams where everything from the streets to the stars looks magnificent, and the Treasury Edition format is used to its fullest. Adams and co-author Denny O’Neil take what might have been a goofball premise and make magic out of it. Worth it alone for Adams’ cameo-laden wraparound cover.
Wendy and Richard Pini’s epic fantasy series Elfquest debuted here, a sprawling saga that attracted a huge and devoted audience of non-typical hardcover comic book readers in the manner of SANDMAN or SAGA, but years before. There are a few other minor features in this book, but it’s Elfquest’s show–and the fact that the Pinis got ripped off by the publisher motivated them to turn to self-publishing, opening up whole new avenues in the burgeoning Direct Sales market.
Possibly the most absurd, most unlikely story that Marvel ever published, this was also co-creator Jack Kirby’s last full-length Fantastic Four adventure, and it gives a sense as to how he might have handled the series had he elected to work on it in the 1970s. Part fantasy, part propaganda, all ridiculous fun–they don’t make them like this anymore, and that’s probably for the best.
A thrilling climax to a year of stories in which the Fantastic Four had gone their separate ways, and a terrific knock down, drag-out fight between the ultimate nemeses of the Marvel Universe, this was also the first oversized celebratory anniversary issue–and it managed to live up to the hype. Topped off with Jack Kirby’s very last Fantastic Four cover.