If you’re unfamiliar with Marvel hero origin stories, you might want to invest in the new Mighty Marvel Masterworks line. Marvel has already released a Thor and Spider-Man edition, and this week Hulk gets the treatment. It’s a slightly smaller-sized trade paperback collecting the first issues of the character. As usual for the series, Michael Cho supplies the gorgeous new cover, which is a draw for the comic collector.
This book collects the first six issues of the series with a handy table of contents that breaks up the action into chapters. These issues were originally told in shorter episodic chunks, so the table of contents actually makes some sense.
It’s fascinating to reread this book partly because Immortal Hulk draws from its horror origins so deeply. Originally, Hulk was gray and a bit like Frankenstein. He wasn’t quite so huge and shirtless on the outset, but he eventually gets into the purple pants by the end of the collection.
Possibly the greatest joy in reading this book is seeing how Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Steve Ditko were playing around with science experiments and the weirdness of the character. He wasn’t simply a strong guy fighting equally strong guys, but struggling with the fact that he couldn’t turn back into Bruce Banner unless he used a special energy ray on himself. Or in another weird turn, Bruce’s body becomes the Hulk, but his head remains unchanged.
The enemies Hulk fights in this book vary quite a bit, too. We’re talking toad men from outer space, a circus-themed villain named the Ringmaster, and a blonde man named Tyrannus who lives inside the Earth. And who can forget the Metal Master, a character who can control metal and was created four full months before Magneto was ever introduced? Hulk doesn’t just use his brawn on these baddies either, as is the case with Metal Master when Hulk drew in the bad guy by simply holding up a gun that was actually made of plastic.
Mighty Marvel Masterworks: The Incredible Hulk Vol. 1: The Green Goliath is a great way for new readers to catch up on Hulk’s origin story and for older readers to get a slick new trade paperback with Michael Cho’s art on the cover. If you already have these stories in another format, it probably doesn’t make a lot of sense to buy it, but it’s nice to know these stories remain in circulation over 60 years after they were published.
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