ISSUE #50: SMASH!-Up
Welcome back, CBSI, to yet another Cover Tunes. Not a ton to report this week as it has been rather a light week for comics. Unless you’re War of the Realms-ing it this week, there isn’t a lot. HOWEVER… there is a new Immortal Hulk with another awesome Ross cover and a 1:25 that, while tough to look at, is grabbing huge money on the secondary market. You all know what that means; Wednesday Warriors will be losing their minds when their LCS opens, this week… like Black Friday Walmart trample style.
I hit on a sweet Ross Hulk cover in the Cover Tunes issue from two weeks ago. It was one that could have easily been an Immortal Hulk cover. I thought I’d be satisfied with that, but I can’t ignore it any longer; the character needs his own article. At this point, almost anything is in play when it comes to Hulk from a speculation perspective. With that said, though, these picks are not spec. They are an appreciation for great covers and art/artists, only.
With that, let’s take a look at Hulk through the eras, this week. I’m going to skip the initial 1962/1963 six issue Series #1 as they are way out of reach for even most serious collectors. Issue #1 of that series is arguably the scarcest Marvel Blue Chip book. I’m also going to skip the Herb Trimpe years because… well… I’m just going to skip them. We can pretend Hulk #181 is a great cover if we want to, but iconic/classic decidedly does not mean great. As a matter of fact, most of the Bronze and Copper Age covers are fairly lackluster and same-y with WAY too much going on in them. So, one thing is for sure. Hulk has a lot of terrible covers; even on the key books (actually, ESPECIALLY on the keys, if we’re being honest).
There are literally hundreds of (actually, closer to 2000) Hulk covers across the comic and magazine formats. With appearances throughout his own titles, Tales to Astonish, Avengers, Defenders, Fanfare, Two-in-One, Team-Up… even Dazzler – virtually every Marvel title one could think of, actually – we could feature dozens of covers. Thus, picking five or six is a near impossibility. However, I will attempt to give you all an affordable glimpse into the many eras of the character that should satiate your appetite for the Green Guy.
Here we go…
PUBLISHED: Marvel Comics – September, 1966
ARTIST: Jack Kirby (and Bill Everett)
A conversation about the Hulk just isn’t complete unless Jack Kirby gets a mention. I could easily have gone with a bunch of others from the late part of this run like #81 or #75, but this one just seems better in some way. It’s a clean and iconic image done beautifully with smooth linework and fantastic action. Of course, it has that Silver Age cheese to it, but that’s why we love Jack, right?
Ending with issue #6 in March, 1963, Series #1 of the Hulk is essentially continued in these Tales issues from issue #60 (October, 1964) onward to #101. After that, at issue #102, the title gets turned over to Hulk and Namor gets his own book..
Early TtA covers had a split-screen motif where Hulk only had half of the cover. This always looked clunky and a distracting. Later in the run, though, Namor and Hulk would alternate from month to month and we get some incredibly dynamic covers through those later numbers. Most of them can be had for $10-$15 in mid-grade condition. However, like anything else from the Silver Age, though, expect to pay high premiums for high grade copies.
PUBLISHED: Marvel Comics – August, 1978
ARTIST: Val Mayerik
Val Mayerik… now there’s a name you don’t hear every day. Mayerik did a fair amount of work on Man-Thing, Howard the Duck and Conan throughout the 70’s and 80’s, but the name is certainly not a household one to most collectors. The cover above, though, is a magnificently painted wraparound representation of the Hulk on a cover that very much fits with the Magazines of the day such as Savage Sword or Vampi.
To be perfectly frank, as I mentioned in my introduction, the pickin’s for Hulk covers in the Bronze Age are slim. Most of them are cluttered and downright ugly. Even those done by masters such as Wrightson (yes, he did one… Incredible Hulk #197) are lackluster in comparison to other works by those same artists. However, these lavishly painted puppies fill the void as there are a bunch of totally awesome (ha! See what I did, there?) covers in this Rampaging Hulk Magazine run. The mag lost the “Rampaging” moniker after issue #9. Thus, this issue #10 is the first that is just called “THE HULK.” This was also the first color issue.
These can regularly be found for $10-$15, although, current ebay sellers seem to be listing them closer to $20. I actually find them all the time for single digit prices. Well worth it for such a gorgeous cover.
PUBLISHED: Marvel Comics – July, 1984
ARTIST: Bill Sienkiewicz
Yep, enter joke about Morello’s articles and Bill Sienkiewicz, here. Laugh all you’d like (Don’t worry, I have no pride), but take a second and scroll through the main Hulk covers and this will jump out at you like it jumped out at me. It is so different from the rest and so moody and distinctive. It portrays the wildness of the character and contained rage in a way that no other artist could. It is amazing what a few well-placed lines can accomplish. Sink’s main focus, especially in his earlier years, is to get emotion across to the viewer. On this cover, he does just that in spades. The duality that is Hulk is on clear display, here.
PUBLISHED: Marvel Comics – August, 1989
ARTIST: Jeff Purves
This entire run of Purves covers are fantastic and with #347 getting hot and the idea that Grey Hulk/Fixit will return in the pages of Immortal Hulk, this whole group of covers will have some additional spotlight on them. This particular one is the most dramatic of the lot and fully embodies the horror feel that we are all loving about Immortal Hulk, right now. It has such unique line style and simple color. Thus, it seems to be the perfect fit for current Hulk fans. This one can be routinely found in dollar bins at an LCS near you.
PUBLISHED: Marvel Comics – 2003
ARTIST: Kaare Andrews
For those that missed the Andrews variant for Immortal Hulk #1, never fear. Andrews did other covers for earlier Hulk issues and this is one of the excellent ones. This series began as “Incredible Hulk,” but quickly, the “Incredible” was dropped from the title after #11. There’s not much to say about this one other than that it sure does a lot of what the Avengers #684 Brooks cover does. It’s mean and gritty and sums up the Hulk quite succinctly. This one is a short dollar bin dive away.
PUBLISHED: Marvel Comics – July, 2012
ARTIST: Michael Komarck
From the 2011 series that dropped the “The,” we get this exquisite cover from another name most people have never heard of. Komarck didn’t do a ton of comic work, regrettably, but did do a short run of covers (four to be exact) for this series. This one is the undisputed standout, by far. Much like the Sienkiewicz cover, above, this one impeccably shows the duality of the character and the struggle of Bruce Banner with the “Other Guy.” I’d love to see more from this artist and can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of this one. It will only set you back a buck or two.
BONUS LOOK BACK
Hulk featured covers from Earlier Cover Tunes issues…
And that will do it for yet another week. Thanks so much for reading. Feel free to drop a comment and tell me what you think. Until next week, be well and good to each other and happy hunting.