Thursday, September 15, 2016

80-Page Thursday: Marvel Treasury Edition #24!

Our biggest 80-pager ever, since it's a giant treasury edition! From 1979, Marvel Treasury Edition #24, featuring the Rampaging Hulk! Guest-starring the Inhumans and Adam Warlock! Art for all four issues by Herb Trimpe and Jack Abel.

These were reprints from 1974, leading off with Incredible Hulk #175, "Man-Brute in the Hidden Land!" Written by Roy Thomas, this opens with the Hulk re-entering earth's atmosphere after being blown sky-high by the Cobalt Man. Although "Ol' Greenskin" shows up on Chinese radar, they aren't overly concerned, since he's going to crash in an isolated, desolate section of the Himalayas...namely, smack into Attilan, home of the Inhumans! Black Bolt deflects the flying Hulk, who reverts to Bruce Banner shortly thereafter. The Inhumans are hospitable and friendly (at least the royal family are...) but aren't planning on hanging about, since they've discovered another earth, in the same orbit as their own, but the opposite side of the sun! (They've also noticed the other earth doesn't seem to have many, if any, super-powered types, and think it may be a better home for them. Uncharitably, that would probably seem like an invasion...) Still, when some rank-and-file, no-name Inhumans pick a fight with Banner, they get immediate comeupance, as he Hulks out and wallops them. Although Black Bolt is able to knock out the Hulk, he knows he will be enraged and destroy Attilan when he wakes up, and opts to launch the Hulk into space--not to that other earth, they plan for him to "hurtle through empty space--forever." So, you're murdering him, then...

By the way, the GCD entry includes an excerpt of the USPS Statement of Ownership for that issue: "Statement of September 25, 1973. Average number of copies sold during preceding 12 months (total paid circulation): 187,318. Actual number sold for issue nearest filing date (total paid circulation): 209,124."

The next issue, "Crisis on Counter-Earth!" (Incredible Hulk #176, per the GCD written by Roy Thomas and Gerry Conway.) Hulk, unreasonably pounding on the rocket he finds himself in, inadvertently sets it on course for the sun, but crashes on Counter-Earth. Found by the Feds, Banner is questioned--they recognize him, but think he's an impostor--and when shown a picture of Adam Warlock, Bruce realizes he's been there before, and Hulks out. The President is given a report, though--President Man-Beast, that is! His approval ratings are a bit down, as the people may be rallying behind the new messiah Adam Warlock; but he's getting a nuclear war ready to take care of those dirty hippies...

Manny's New Men soldiers have captured the Hulk at the start of "Peril of the Plural Planet!" (Written by Thomas and Conway) and he plans to use the Hulk as his weapon against Warlock. The Hulk "escapes" and in short order catches up to Warlock and his group, which includes a few good New Men and a Recorder. Together, they plan their Counter-Earth counter-attack, but the Man-Beast's implant in the Hulk sets him off, turning Hulk into an unwitting green Judas. The revolution is seemingly over before it can begin, with Banner and Warlock captured. Man-Beast, past wanting to control Warlock, begins a smear campaign that leads to Warlock's "crucifixion." Questioning if the High Evolutionary abandoned him, Warlock dies, reverting back into a cocoon.

In the final chapter, "Triumph on Terra-Two!" (Written by Thomas, Conway, and Tony Isabella.) the Hulk, enraged over the death of his friend, grabs Warlock's cocoon and splits with him. Warlock's revolutionaries (or apostles, or whatever) comfort the Hulk, who mourns the loss of one of his few friends, while the Man-Beast steps up his march to mix a metaphor. The Hulk throws down with Man-Beast, but is stopped from killing him by Warlock's inexplicable-yet-not-entirely-surprising return. Claiming to now be "far more than a man," Warlock de-evolves Manny back into a wolf (although he escapes!) and then returns to his home planet leaves for space.

These last three issues (and #158, Hulk's prior visit to Counter-Earth) wrap up Adam Warlock's stint as messiah figure there, and the Christ-allegory is pretty thick. Warlock seems far more friendly and approachable than he would be his next appearances: under Jim Starlin, Warlock was broody and tortured, like saving Counter-Earth wasn't as rewarding as he might've hoped.

Also this issue: for good measure, a new Hercules story, with Herc vs. Wonder Woman's mom, Hippolyta! OK, probably not the same Hippolyta, but there you go. This isn't even the first oddball Hercules fill-in I've seen, although it might be in order of publication: there was another short one in Marvel Treasury Edition #26, that I saw reprinted in 1986's Incredible Hulk and Wolverine #1. I wouldn't have thought four comics would fit in an 80-pager, with a two-page pin-up, and still need a filler back-up, yet here we are. ("Welcome to the Hotel Macedonia" Written by Mary Jo Duffy, art by Ricardo Villamonte.)

1 comment:

Dale Bagwell said...

Looks really really good actually.
Definitely a total night and day approach with Warlock once Starlin got his hands him huh. Wow, I think I prefer Thomas's version more and more.