Monday, August 24, 2009

Huh, I have a comic with Woodgod. I would not have bet on that.

If the Hulk has that much trouble with radio, the Teen Brigade's twitters are going to boggle him.
Actually, that's not quite true: I'm pretty sure I have an old Marvel Team-Up or reprint of same with Woodgod. Possibly drawn by John Byrne, before he was JOHN BYRNE, y'know? Well, we're looking at a different comic, anyway. The Incredible Hulk #252, "The Changelings!" Script by Bill Mantlo, art by Sal Buscema. I should mention up front, I didn't start paying much attention to the Hulk until Byrne's run; and I had for years an unreasonable dislike of Sal Buscema, because I thought he had replaced Walt Simonson on Thor. (It wasn't like Walt was replaced, he stepped down to writing the book instead of writing and drawing.)
Wait, the Changelings can't be that much stronger than actual animals; so how did they work over Doc Samson so bad?
The story opens with the Hulk (classic, dumb Hulk) arriving at the hunting cabin of General 'Thunderbolt' Ross, to help his friend Rick Jones; and instead finding a savagely beaten Doc Samson on the floor. The 'changelings' came, took Ross and Hulk's friends Betty, Fred, and Rick; and mopped the floor with Samson. Hulk isn't impressed.

Meanwhile, the satyr-like Woodgod and his people take their captives to their hidden village. Woodgod had set out to capture another changeling, Viperus, but took prisoners when Ross shot one of his men. At the village, Leoninus, who couldn't be more evil if he had a Snydely Whiplash mustache, forments dissent against Woodgod, demanding the humans' execution.
'We came from Scream, and to Scream we would return.'  Poor Kevin Williamson.
Woodgod recaps his origin for the humans, involving his 'parents,' who were apparently genetic engineers that also happened to have a barn full of nerve gas. Great double major, there. After the normos and his folks died, eventually Woodgod learned to use their equipment to make the Changelings, all of whom have boring names like Neptunus and Goatus. To be fair, they are animals, so it probably is asking too much for them to come up with names on the level of He-Man bad guys.

Even though it's not my favorite run of Hulk, I do have a good pile of Bill Mantlo's run; and I think this shows up more than a couple times: a secret, often abandoned government base; with weird or dangerous experiments that were probably dangerous enough before the locals got wind of them, formed an angry mob, and shot up the place. (Something similar happened in the last Mantlo issue I looked at here.) As a general rule of thumb in fiction, whenever the angry mob card is played, it's an example of ugly humanity falling victim to its worst prejudices and probably hounding an innocent. Conversely, if the townspeople laugh off the trouble as mere superstition, there's something mind-numbingly terrible out there. Buy your torches and rake-things accordingly.
How did Woodgod make a fish guy that looks like he's 70, is the question.
Back on topic: the Hulk makes his way up to the village, and gets attacked by Neptunus, who looks like General Ross playing the Little Mermaid's dad in the school play. Kinda surprised the Hulk didn't kick his fish-ass extra hard, then. When Hulk arrives at the village, the Changelings are human enough to freak the hell out and attack without asking questions.
Seriously, the Hulk has to introduce the Changelings to the world of pants.
As the fight brews, Siren--not the one from X-Factor, this one's a topless bird-girl--is distracted by Leoninus, who poisons a healing potion, that Woodgod then gives to the wounded Centauron. Meanwhile, the Hulk learns, mess with the bull, you get the horns. Hopefully the horns, since I don't like the way he's...frankly, mounted the Hulk there.

Hulk gets kicked through a wall, to Fred, Betty, and Rick; all of whom are ungrateful dicks, and tell the Hulk he's just making it worse, that they will be freed when Centauron recovers.
You 'thought'? Hey everybody, get a load of 'A Beautiful Mind' here!
Hulk is already pretty steamed, when Thunderbolt Ross wakes up, dazed, but still denouncing the Hulk as "a vicious, murdering monster." (We won't reopen the debate on whether or not the Hulk has a huge bodycount in his wake, thanks.) By the time man-goat, I mean Woodgod, joins the pantsless animal-man pile-on, the Hulk has had enough of this crap, and stomps off. Screw you guys, I'm going home.
Worst petting zoo ever!
Of course, then things really get out of hand: Centauron dies, Leoninus shows up with his own crew of Changelings, and Betty, Rick, and the rest are good and screwed now.
The Hulk was three states away, before he realized he wasn't mad at Betty... I suspect Mantlo, creator of Woodgod, had larger story plans for the character, but I'm not sure he ever took off. I do suspect it's just a matter of time before someone dusts him off for his own MAX book or something, at the very least to keep the copyrights alive. And this is like the second or third comic in the last week or two I've blogged without reading the concluding issues; so I may have to do something about that.


SallyP said...

Gah, Sal Buscema! I simply love John Buscema, who actually knew how to draw, but Sal has to be one of my least favorite artists.

googum said...

I'm ok with Sal now, for the most part. Still, I don't remember being fond of his Spider-Man days, either...

CalvinPitt said...

Sal Buscema's work is something I'm Ok with. Don't hate, certainly don't love it, but you can pretty much count on him to make sure the art gets across the point of the story.

Provided that point doesn't require subtlety, of course.