Foreward into the past.

§ July 19th, 2023 § Filed under how the sausage is made, hulk § 9 Comments

So thanks to Roel for pointing out my “forward/foreward” typo, which was dumb of me specifically because 1) I had the book right in front of me and it’s spelled out there, and 2) I had to correct myself when I typed the same word in an email, so I do know how to spell it. Ah, well, it wouldn’t be Progressive Ruin without any typoos.

Anyway, I’ve been going through some old CD-Rs and DVD-Rs of old files, and finding some oddball stuff. Like, here, enjoy a full box of Spawn POGs (or SPOGs) that I had at some point for sale on the eBays:

And here’s this thing, a blank template I created from the first Eclipse issue of Miracleman:

…that I eventually used to make this post.

If you want a full-size version of this template for your artistic shenanigans, just drop me a line and I can email it to you. (Sorry, it’ll get hotlinked to death otherwise.)

Oh, and another thing…I’ve recently been reading Bill Mantlo and Sal Buscema’s “Intelligent Hulk” storyline from the early to mid-1980s, leading up to the Hulk’s banishment to the Crossorads in #300. I started reading Incredible Hulk with #293, which is pretty much right at the final act of this story which more or less began around #270.

For about 2 1/2 years the status quo of the Hulk had changed from what everyone basically “knew” (either from the comic itself or from the TV show), which seemed like it was taking at least a slight risk. Even at the end, changing the Hulk back into an even more brutal, even cruel, version of the character was a little startling. It definitely laid the groundwork for following writer Peter David’s ten years of various versions of the Hulk, and pretty much the Hulk ’til today. (Not to leave out interim creator Al Milgrom, who was the fella what actually brought back the Grey Hulk before David got his hands on him.)

But what I thought was interesting, after Mantlo demonstrating repeatedly over the course of the storyline, that even with Banner’s mind controlling the Hulk’s body, he could still fall into a Hulk-ish rage if he wasn’t careful. This groundwork for Banner eventually losing control was put down sporadically, but not, like, overwhelmingly, and the danger of the old savage Hulk returning seemed…at least preventable.

Then Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars came along, where a whole gaggle of Marvel’s heroes vanished at the end of one of their issues, returned at the beginning of their next issues, and we were all extolled to read the 12-issue Secret Wars series to find out what happened to them between those installments.

In Hulk’s case, he came back with a broken leg and a bad attitude, suddenly a lot more cranky and violent than he had been just a month ago. Obviously things went poorly for ol’ Jadejaws during his Secret Excursion, causing his further mental decline.

However, reading it now, as a whole, rather than just the final few issues as I had originally…the pacing is off. Having so much of the Hulk’s decline happen elsewhere felt like something of a cheat after following the story in his own book for so long. Yes, everyone reading Marvel was expected to read Secret Wars, but even if you were planning to, the nature of the series meant that by the time you got to Hulk’s problems there, the actual Incredible Hulk book would have moved on into its new direction. A part of the story’s development had been excised from the main book, put into another writer’s hands in another series, and then deal with those repercussions back in Hulk. Ah well, that’s the Marvel Universe for you.

To be fair, #300 was looming ahead, so a change to the status quo was going to come anyway. And realistically, how much more of “Banner is or is not losing control?” plot events did we need? It would have been nice if we’d got more of Mantlo’s Intelligent Hulk, but it’s enough that he basically changed what a Hulk story is for…well, all time.

9 Responses to “Foreward into the past.”

  • Chris says:

    Bill Mantlos Hulk run is extremely underrated

  • Thelonious_Nick says:

    As a kid, I always liked the way the cornerboxes in those issues showed the gradual deterioration of Banner/Hulk. I re-read more or less the same chunk of issues you read (but also the follow-up Crossroads storyline) a few years ago and found the storyline held up fairly well. Especially compared to the some of the 70s Hulk which I binged on around the same time, but which could be awfully repetitive.

  • Bryan says:

    “(Not to leave out interim creator Al Milgrom, who was the fella what actually brought back the Grey Hulk before David got his hands on him.)”

    Wasn’t the Grey Hulk technically brought back by John Byrne during his very brief run between Mantlo and Milgrom? The first issue of the Hulk I ever bought was 317, and Banner uses an imaging machine to pull up the grey Hulk and gives a quick synopsis of how he fits in the life of the Hulk. That image later became the corner box image when the Hulk turned grey, and I’d be surprised if Milgrom would have thought about changing the Hulk so severely without the one off image by Byrne.

  • Chris K says:


    Yeah, that’s a good point. I believe that the Byrne issue was the first in-story acknowledgement that the Hulk had ever been grey (unless I missed an earlier one). Prior to that, the Hulk had always been retroactively green from the beginning in all origin flashbacks and reprintings of Hulk #1. The Hulk being grey was just a bit of trivia that would occasionally come up in letters pages and the like but not in the actual stories.

  • Sean Mageean says:

    Because The Hulk had gone Sub-atomic before, it’s kind of surprising that Bill Mantlo never had him go to the Microverse and encounter The Micronauts…it would have been cool to see Hulk smash Baron Karza…

  • Mike Loughlin says:

    I had a few issues of Marvel Saga, and the issue that reprints panels from Incredible Hulk 1 has the character recolored green.

    I’ve read bits and pieces of the Mantlo/Buscema run, and most of them didn’t do much for me. To be fair, ‘70s/early ‘80s Hulk reads best 1-2 issues ant a time, due to the repetitiveness Thelonius_Nick pointed out. Issue 300 is an all-timer, however, and my favorite Sal Buscema art job. I should probably go back and at least read the run up to 300.

    The other exceptional Mantlo issue, 304, is a well-executed look at how child abuse shaped the Hulk’s creation. I can’t get over the fact, however, that Barry Windsor-Smith proposed a version of that story first, and Shooter shot it down. According to BWS, the sticking point was his demand that his story contain mild swearing. He also claims Mantlo ripped off the story, which is possible but (as far as I know) unsupported. Imagine how good a mid-‘80s BWS Hulk comic would have been! I’m glad he developed the story into his jaw-droppingly gorgeous “Monsters,” at least.

  • S says:

    For what it’s worth, Shooter says he didn’t turn it down, BWS didn’t want to sell it until it was fully finished:

    “Barry came to me with a completely penciled and written graphic novel. It was the about the development of the “mighty, raging fury” inside Bruce Banner, who, he revealed, was the product of an abusive home. I looked it over. I thought it was brilliant, one of the best comics stories I’d ever seen. I offered Barry a contract and an advance. He turned me down — temporarily. He proposed to finish the thing — then, if I would agree to publish it as created, no alterations whatsoever, he would sign a contract and take the money. I was willing to agree to that in writing on the spot, but he said, no, when it’s finished. Okay. Fine by me. I already knew, from what he’d shown me, that there’d be no problem.

    Barry showed the work around a bit to people in the office. I guess he allowed Al Milgrom or someone to make photocopies of it. Ask Al.

    I was later given to understand that Al kept the copies in the Hulk drawer of his flat file.

    Bill Mantlo, looking through the drawer to see what current Hulk artwork had come in, saw the copies. He then blatantly ripped the story off for a regular issue of the Hulk. 


  • Mike Loughlin says:

    @S: I’d never heard Shooter’s side of what happened, thanks for sharing! It looks like both parties agree Mantlo ripped off the story, though.

  • Snark Shark says:

    And let’s not forget John Byrne’s run of, what, 2 to 6 issues?

    “Bill Mantlos Hulk run is extremely underrated”

    Agreed! IT was (most of it) reprinted in TPBs several years ago. The ROM issue isn’t in it, of course, and also some of his earlier stories, which I don’t KNOW why. Maybe because he was more of a fill-in writer at the time?