Somehow, somewhere along the way, I skipped over this issue of MARVEL SUPER-HEROES in recounting the different comic books I read growing up. And while it’s not something that anybody but myself is going to be aware of, it bugs me enough that I’m going to go ahead and go over this issue with you all even at this late date, so there aren’t any embarrassing gaps in the narrative. I bought this issue sometime earlier, out of my local drug store chain’s Big Bin of Slightly Older Comics, which were five for a dollar (and which were clearly returns copies that were meant to have been destroyed, but which somebody had sold to the chain on the black market.) My younger brother Ken was into the Hulk during this time for a short while, and so I suspect this was a book that was initially purchased for him that I wound up with along the way.
After a bit of a false start at the dawn of the Silver Age, where his self-titled series was cancelled after just half-a-dozen issues, the Hulk had gone on to become one of the most popular characters in the Marvel line by the 1970s. In part, I’m sure that’s because, by the nature of the character, his series was often a lot more action-oriented than the standard Marvel book. For another, his stories always tended to be just a hair more basic, which meant that they were easier to get into as an impulse purchase, even if you hadn’t been following along for several months. And the basic appeal of the Hulk of this era, the petulant child who just wanted to be left alone and maybe make some friends, had a certain elemental pathos to it that made readers empathize with the big brute.
This particular issue was drawn by Herb Trimpe, working over layouts from Frank Giacoia. Those layouts were all about the manner in which the story was broken down and dramatized–as a relative newcomer to Marvel, Trimpe had to be indoctrinated into the Marvel approach to comics, which was largely the Jack Kirby approach. The issue was inked by John Severin, one of the finest ink-slingers in the field, who probably wouldn’t have needed anything more than Giacoia’s breakdowns to build final pages from. He and Trimpe were a good combination, with Severin’s finish making Trimpe’s work look more polished and attractive. Scripts were still being provided by Stan Lee, who had found his groove with the character after a bunch of earlier trial-and-error. It was a solid package all around (though the reproduction in this reprint is a little bit muddier than the original printing was.)
The plots for most of the Hulk stories tended to be just a bit basic due to the limited ability of the series’ protagonist to engage with the world around him. As this story opens up, having smashed the evil Mandarin in the preceding issue, the Hulk is left wandering through communist China, where he’s assaulted by the military, as usual. This leads to several pages showcasing the Hulk doing what he does best: absolutely annihilating planes and tanks and guns with his bare hands. The Chinese are about to test a new missile, and seeing it, the Hulk thinks that maybe it’s his way off this world to some better place among the stars. But as he leaps up and grabs it, he causes it to go awry of its planned flight path, and eventually to detonate. The Hulk survives the explosion, but the errant projectile has brought him to the Savage Land, that hidden prehistoric area in Antarctica that was a frequent staging ground for different Marvel stories.
Transformed back into his powerless alter ego Bruce Banner by the explosion, it’s not long before the stricken scientist who fell from the sky is found by one of the Savage Land’s primitive tribes. There’s something strange and mysterious striking down their people, and they figure that if they sacrifice Banner on the ritual altar, maybe the Gods will stop killing their people off. Things look bad for Banner, but other eyes are aware of his plight. These are the eyes of Ka-Zar the Savage, the Marvel Universe equivalent of Tarzan. Not being on board with human sacrifice, Ka-Zar and his companion the saber-toothed tiger Zabu race to Banner’s rescue.
In a wild though short fight sequence, Ka-Zar shows off his prowess and drives the Tribesman away from Banner. Ka-Zar has a second reason for liberating the captive, however: he’s hopeful that Banner may be able to solve the secret of the Glowing Cave, whose radiations are poisoning the tribespeople. Entering the cave, the pair come upon a super-technological device secreted there by some unknown power. The thing is leaking atomic radiation, and this is what’s causing the sickness and death among the people of the Savage Land.
Examining the device, Banner determines that it’s designed to destroy the world by speeding up the Earth’s rotation on its axis. He moves to try to disarm the device, but before he can do so, the tribesmen return in force and attack, firing gas projectiles into the cave. Ka-Zar is weakened by the gas, and Banner panics, beginning his own transformation back into the Hulk once more. The Hulk is effortlessly able to drive the attackers away, but he doesn’t even remember what the deal is with the mechanical device. As Ka-Zar attempts to implore him to finish disarming the gizmo, the Hulk lashes out, knocking him unconscious. And as the issue wraps up, the Hulk stands there within the cave, unaware of the danger as the device steadily counts down to the destruction of the world. To Be Continued!
8 thoughts on “BHOC: MARVEL SUPER-HEROES #63”
I remember getting the original of this reprint when i was a kid in the late 60s, and how much i loved Trimpie’s work, and Stan’s writing. A lot of fans are dissing Stan these days, but i loved everything he ever did.
Um, you should probably edit that next to last sentence.
Muddy is right. I have the scan from the Marvel DVD set that was put out about 15 years or so ago- I think they used Ralph Macchio’s library- and the colors are far brighter. I have that collection on my iPad Pro, and there’s no better way to read old Marvel comics, short of Marvel Unlimited.
These Hulk issues operated at a breakneck pace. From China to the Savage Land to outer space in just three issues!
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Not sure I’ve ever seen Frank Giacoia credited as a layout artist before. Could this have just been simply to help out a tight deadline, or is he subbing for Jack Kirby to show a relatively new penciller Marvel page dynamics?
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Now I need to search for Giacoia pencils… 😉 To be frank, or 1 of the Franks… Giaocoia, McLaughlin. Chiaramonte. Robbins. Thorne. Brunner. Miller. Quitely. Cho. “Is it Frank’s? Thanks. “
Giacoia penciled Avengers #73 and #87, and they were gorgeous.
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I’ll search for those, thanks! 😊