Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before...

Welcome back, my friends, to the show that ends only while life gets in the way...let's see if we can get the ball rolling and keep it going for more than a post every 6 months, yeah?

And I'm starting with a post about the Hulk.

No, no, no! Not that Hulk! This one:

Image courtesy ComicBook.com
The Totally Awesome Hulk is one of the titles announced for the post-Secret Wars Marvel Universe this fall. And while traditional Hulk fans may look at the above promo artwork with apprehension if not outright disgust, there's a silver lining in the creative team.

Returning to the Hulk series (well, a Hulk series) after nearly four years away is "Planet Hulk" & World War Hulk scribe Greg Pak. Joining him is Liberty Meadows and Shanna's cartoonist par excellance Frank Cho. (While Frank himself has worked on a few Hulk stories under writer Jeph Loeb, this series will mark his first regular work on the character.)

I've heard a lot of "wait and see" statements, and a few more people on my Facebook feed have sworn the new series off altogether. In case you can't tell from the above illo by Cho, the protagonist of the new series won't be Bruce Banner. Like Loeb's series before, Totally Awesome Hulk will star a brand new gamma-powered man-monster. Unlike Banner, however, this new Hulk will revel in his new identity--which won't exactly sit well with the other heroes in the Marvel U.

Part of the stated allure of the new series will be the mystery of what's happened to the original green goliath. Although certainly I can't imagine he'll be gone for long.

Speculation's run rampant as to the identity of the new Hulk, although the smart money's on Pak's very own creation, Amadeus Cho, a.k.a. Mastermind Excello, who became an on-again, off-again sidekick of sorts to Banner and Hulk during his prior tenure. Adding more fuel to the fire is Pak's involvement in the currently-running Planet Hulk series as architect of the origin of the various Hulk-like characters therein.

But what everyone's overlooking is the fact that one Hulk writer wanted to do something very similar before. One who certainly has earned his place among the top Hulk scribes of all time. One who also had a 5-1/2 year run on the character.

That writer? Bill Mantlo.

It's no secret that Greg Pak cites Mantlo as his primary inspiration for nearly everything he's done with the character over the years. What might be a secret to everyone out there is the direction in which Mantlo wanted to go when he neared the conclusion of his run. Per Peter Sanderson's "The Big Switch" article from Amazing Heroes magazine in 1985:
[Wrapping up the Crossroads storyline] we were faced with the question, 'Okay, at the end of this, what happens?' We bring the Hulk back, it's clear we've come full circle, and more or less he's right back to where he was when I picked him up. My notion was I could go two ways: I could either bring him right back to where he was. or I was going to create an entirely new Hulk, a Hulk super-hero, who looked glorious, physically handsome, and would be a guardian of the Earth.
Of course, Mantlo's mind got made up for him when John Byrne stepped forward with the desire to tell the Hulk's adventures, resulting in a whole-house creative team swap I've previously covered. Plus, well, how long could a "new Hulk" have survived in the mid-1980s?

Still, it's very, very interesting we're on the cusp of a book featuring an all-new Hulk by a writer inspired by a classic Hulk writer who wanted to do something eerily similar.

With this being my first post back, I'm long on inspiration but woefully short on conclusions. As Joel Hodgson used to ask regularly: "What d'you think, sirs?"



  1. Would have loved to see Bill Mantlo returning to the original Hulk. At handsome Hulk protecting the earth would work better if they had invented an original character instead doing the same job.

    Never really liked the mindless Hulk. My theory; the demon Nightmare was bringing to life Banner's image of the Hulk. Not the true image of Hulk, but how Banner saw him; a beast of destruction you should fear. Fueled by his nightmares, this image became even more monstrous over time. Then he and other heroes and villains were transported to Battleworld in Secret Wars.

    It was on this planet Hulk started to change personality, like the nightmare image was starting to take on a life of its own. What used to be just a mental image was starting to manifest itself as a real personality, affecting Banner's personality. And it was probably because of Battleworld. Nightmare himself was surprised by the outcome, that a new personality was created. The planet seemed to be able to give life to what people could imagine. Captain America fixed his broken shield simply by wishing it was fixed. Spider-Man's new suit has showed properties no other individual of the parasite race have shown, a side effect of Peter Parker's and the parasite's combined wishes and desires while being connected. The Thing decided to stay in the planet, and while I haven't read the comics myself, an evil version of Ben Grimm split from the Thing.

    Once brought to life, the new personality was quickly becoming more dominant. Banner even created another image of Hulk that attacked Nightmare, and later appeared in Spider-Man (a tulpa perhaps)? When the new personality finally broke free, it was just as destructive and raging as Banner had feared. But it was a false personality, brought to life in an artificial way, and with both Battleworld and Nightmare gone, it would sooner or later start to crumble. Because how could such a creature find peace and a happy existence?

    The question is why it was the old Hulk that was returning, and not Banner. Maybe Banner's mental surrender and all the messing with his mind had finally wakened the original Hulk again once the new Hulk was starting to fade away.

    What I didn't like was the attempt to explain Hulk as a result of being abused in childhood. In an earlier issue, possibly 248, or the issue before or after, we see a short flashback where Bruce is standing at his parents' graves, saying that he is missing them (in the same issue we also see the soul gem fuse with the core of Jarella's world, despite Adam Warlock returning again later with the gem intact). It is also at the crossroads we see the original grey Hulk again for the first time. All of which would be used as fuel to create new versions of Hulk. In Hulk #227 we see that Hulk is not just a dumbed down version of Banner. He and Bruce are literally two different persons. Two different minds in two different bodies. A concept I would wish they had kept.

    After Byrne took over, the original Hulk as we got to know him from days of Len Wein, Roger Stern and Bill Mantlo, and a couple other writers, have as far as I know, never returned.

    So instead of making a new Hulk, what about bringing back the Wein/Stern/Mantlo Hulk? Or maybe inventing a completely new character which resembles him?

    1. Tim Hansen. It is odd how similar your ideas and opinions are too my own about the Hulk. Especially the Tulpa concept. Do you have a Facebook page?

    2. Wow, I never thought of the manifestation in Web of Spider-Man #7 as a Tulpa before, but it totally fits. Nice work!


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