Friday, 20 November 2009

Amazing Spider-Man #119. The Hulk in Canada

Amazing Spider-Man #119, Spider-Man vs the Incredible Hulk, Canada
(Cover from April 1973.)

"The Gentleman's Name Is... The Hulk!"

Words by Gerry Conway.
Art by John Romita.
Lettering by John Costanza.
Colours by Andrea Hunt.

Spider-Man and the Hulk. Kindred spirits in so many ways. Both men of science. Both products of a radiation-based accident. Both misunderstood by a society that views them as a menace. Both of them Marvel big hitters.

Odd then that, up to this point, they'd met so rarely. In fact, off the top of my head, this is their first real encounter I can recall. Oh yeah, they met in Amazing Spider-Man #14 and Amazing Spider-Man King-Size Special #3 but, in both cases, their encounter was brief and only part of a bigger story (Spidey vs the Enforcers/Green Goblin, Spidey auditions for the Avengers). Here, they finally get a full-fledged battle to themselves.

And what a battle it is, as the Hulk and the military fling everything they've got at each other. There're times when Romita's ability to capture action is truly remarkable

But it's interesting to see Romita and Conway's take on the Hulk - and on General Thunderbolt Ross. It's a more violent view of both characters than we're used to from Jade Jaws' own mag. For instance, by this point in that strip's history, Ross had mellowed into a more thoughtful character, torn between a sense of guilt that he might have to kill his daughter's beloved, and a sense of duty to stop the Hulk before he causes a major catastrophe.

Not here he's not.

Here, he rants his way through the story - J Jonah Jameson style - in a portrayal that owes more to his original depiction in the early days of The Incredible Hulk comic.

As for the green one, here he's positively murderous in his rage. Not for Conway and Romita the tortured beast who only wants to sit on a log and play with the wildlife. Here, we have a creature that attacks everyone and everything in its path, with no regard at all for human life. At the story's close - as the Hulk's trying to kill him - Spidey declares that the behemoth doesn't want to hurt anyone, but the truth is that, in this tale, he seems to want to hurt everyone and everything. Even a dam!

Other points. The driver of the truck the Hulk attacks should be court-martialled on the spot if he can't see a ten foot tall, bright green man looming mere feet ahead of him. Also interesting to see that Spidey's webbing seems to have grown in strength dramatically, judging by the huge lump of rock it stops, mid-flight, and then sends zooming back to the Hulk.

Norman Osborn's acting a little strange this issue. Hmn. Wonder what that could mean?

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