A leg to stand on.

§ September 7th, 2010 § Filed under hulk, secret wars § 15 Comments

Here is some follow-up to comments left on yesterday’s post about Hulk breaking his leg in Secret Wars…but first, let’s pause for a moment as we realize that not only did I just type the sentence “here is some follow-up to comments left on yesterday’s post about Hulk breaking his leg in Secret Wars,” but this is like my third day in a row mentioning said event on my website. …Who says crossover event comics don’t have lasting effects?

Anyhoo, reader William says:

“Although, to be fair, Secret Wars started the Hulk from the then-Bruce Banner controlled version to a more savage one that had to be exiled off of Earth. That storyline dominated the book for at least a year. It wasn’t a permanent change, or the one advertised, but it was a rather major change.”

That “Hulk regressing to savagery” plotline was already in motion prior to the Secret Wars thing, as I recall, though the SW series did sort of speed up the timeline a bit, with Hulk going away to the Secret Wars a bit unstable in one issue, then coming back the next really out of sorts. Now, this Hulk with Banner’s brain story was always eventually going to end with that particular status quo being reverted, I’m sure, regardless of the existence of Secret Wars, but being able to tie in what you were planning to do anyway with the high-profile crossover event is just one of those skills comic writers were beginning to realize they’d have to learn at the time.

Now, the Hulk breaking his leg…that felt more like something forced into the ongoing Hulk comic, especially since that particular “change” was disposed of almost as soon as they were able to get rid of it. Not that the broken leg was anything other than a cosmetic change anyway…no scenes of the Hulk saying “ooh boy, I’d like to fight the Abomination, but, man, you know, my leg.” He just had the crutch, and then eventually the crutch went away.

Anonymous said

“And then there was those FF issues where Byrne kept forgetting to draw Banner’s crutch. And that Avengers Annual where She-Hulk and Reed collected said discarded crutch. And I believe the Thing eventually used it after taking a smackdown from the Hulk. Forget to mention all that, Mikester?”

Geez, ask me nicely, why don’t you?

Bruce Banner guest-appeared in Fantastic Four #266-268, as one of the consultants assisting Reed and Sue Richards during the super-power/radiation-related difficulties with Sue’s pregnancy. Now, how exactly this fits in with Hulk continuity at the time, I’m not sure, but Banner’s there, and, as Mr. Anonymous points out, sure enough that crutch only sporadically appears in these issues. There’s a splash page appearance here, and single panel appearance there…but yeah, it’s not consistently presented. And it doesn’t really have anything to do with the story, anyway.

As for later appearances of Hulk’s Crutch in Avengers and other places…I’ll have to look into it and get back to you on that. For, you know, an exciting fourth day on the topic. Hopefully there’s a “Hulk’s Crutch” entry in my Marvel Universe comics.

Kid Nicky sez, he sez

“You could easily argue Spidey’s symbiote has had a huge impact on the Marvel U. The new Venom was a part of Dark Avengers,so to this day it’s still a major plot point.”

That is something I brought up in that four year old post of mine I linked at the end, where I said

“…There was Spider-Man’s new black costume, probably the only lasting impact the series has had, though the evolution of that costume into his arch-nemesis Venom was more after the fact than because of anything in Secret Wars itself.”

I should probably amend that to the “only significant lasting impact,” since, as Nimbus says earlier in the comments, this is where the Julia Carpenter version of Spider-Woman was introduced, and apparently she still turns up now and again.

And perhaps I should give a little more credit to Secret Wars for the villainous nature of the black costume, since its nefarious aspects started turning up right away in Amazing Spider-Man, while Secret Wars was still running, so obviously editorial had that particular story arc in mind from the start. But I’m pretty sure no one had any idea that the real impact it’d have on the Marvel Universe would be as part of the villain Venom, created years later.

There is this sign that something is amiss about the costume in Secret Wars #12:

So they got their hands on an alien costume-making machine, and that's what they came up with?

I like Johnny Storm’s (EDIT: or, okay, Reed’s) response. “Why you talkin’ crazy, crazy man?”

There’s a bit of irony here in that my general point is that crossover-inspired changes to the status quo usually lack lasting impact, and here I’m still talking about a very minor occurrence from a crossover series published 25 years ago.

Well played, James Shooter. Well played, indeed.

image from Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #12 (April 1985) by Jim Shooter, Mike Zeck & John Beatty

15 Responses to “A leg to stand on.”

  • Gavin says:

    I still don’t quite get it, was the Hulk’s leg supposed to be broken forever or something? Or was it broken for too short an amount of time? If that was it, come on, gamma rays.

  • Old Bull Lee says:

    Wow, the fashion in those two panels is 80s-tastic.

  • Nimbus says:

    Well, considering something as final as death doesn’t even have a lasting impact in the Marvel Universe, I’d say Secret Wars managed pretty well.

    I like Johnny Storm’s response. “Why you talkin’ crazy, crazy man?”

    That looks like Reed to me. Anyway, whoever of the FF it is, they also seem to be wearing a black costume like Spidey (note She-Hulk standing next to Reed/Johnny in the same panel who has a blue costume). Was this just a colouring mistake? Or were the FFs costumes supposed to be black but coloured blue just like black hair was always blue in the good ol’ days?

  • John Parker says:

    Ha ha ! I was one of two people totally in the dark about “The Crutch Incident” the other day. Thanks everyone,especially Mike. I sure have learned me some history! And there may be more tomorrow !! Truly I am blessed.

  • Alex says:

    Yeah, I was clueless the other day, but now I know so much more… thank you, Mike! One more day! One more day!

  • Dan Seeger says:

    Strangely enough, I just read an interview with Tom DeFalco and Ron Frenz (in an old Back Issue, I believe) where they make clear that the alien symbiote nature of the costume was really their invention. Shooter just had clothes spring out of a machine and didn’t think much about it after that, even instructed DeFalco to get rid of it as soon as possible because the marketing people didn’t like having their most marketable character swinging around in different duds. By the time Secret Wars #12 was out, DeFalco had already established the costume’s true nature over in Amazing so Peter’s musings in that panel is less foreshadowing and more retrofitting.

    I think I’ve reached my continuity geekiness quota for the day. I’m going to, I dunno, go read some Proust or something to try and restore intellectual equilibrium.

  • Mike Walker says:

    I thought that the Hulk’s leg break was the reason that he’s so sensitive to changes in barometric pressure now.

    “Hulk leg acting up again. Storm’s a-commin’.”

  • Andres says:

    If the Hulk hurt his leg wouldn’t it be a greenstick fracture?

  • Donald G says:

    Nimbus, at this point, IIRC the She-Hulk isn’t in an FF costume yet, as Ben hasn’t announced his intention to stay on Battleworld. (The cut and coloration is all wrong for She-Hulk’s FF costume, anyway). The post Negative Zone adventure FF costumes (FF#256 and up) were, I believe, supposed to be black with dark blue highlights, but there were certainly a lot of highlights For the effect to really work, you’ve got to do it like Spidey’s symbiote costume, where there is more black than blue.

  • Tim O'Neil says:

    It’s funny that marketing tried to put the kibosh on the black costume, considering that just a few years later CW would switch around to the assumption that any costume change, no matter how slight, means more toy designs. Plus, the black costume is just awesome, without a doubt the best ever complete redesign of a classic costume Marvel or DC ever tried.

    I also really liked the black FF uniforms. That change actually lasted for a few years (not that that was a SW change, but from the same era). I think the costumes were black & white until at least the early 90s.

  • The Black Costume That Became Venom might have been a lasting change to the Marvel U, but the contribution of Secret Wars to that particular story thread (the thread of the threads?) is so incidental that it’s left out of every version of the character except ol’ Venom-616.

    It matters why Bruce Wayne dresses like a Bat, and why Peter Parker decided that great power had to come with great responsibility.

    It doesn’t matter one bit to the story or the (succession of) character(s) that, originally, some weird machine spat out that symbiote. It works just as well if it Randomly Falls Out Of the Sky.

  • CW says:

    “And then there was those FF issues where Byrne kept forgetting to draw Banner’s crutch. And that Avengers Annual where She-Hulk and Reed collected said discarded crutch.”

    Is it wrong of me to have mistaken “crutch” for “crotch” the first time I read this paragraph? ;)

  • FxHx says:

    Ah, the heady days of the 1980s, when crutches were all the rage comics-readin’ kids…

  • R says:

    I know it’s been a few days since the last post about the new Complete Peanuts volume, but does anyone else find the last panel of the 4/29/77 strip a bit…suggestive? :P

  • Nimbus says:

    @Donald G: Thanks for the info. Yeah, I knew She-Hulk wasn’t yet part of the FF. I was just pointing out that she was wearing blue but Johnny/Reed wasn’t. So, from your comment, it seems the FF were indeed wearing black costumes during Secret Wars. Everyone was in black!