In comic shops this week, Marvel’s Hulk collides with The Frankenstein Monster, a case of the gamma-green superhero acknowledging its roots.
The Hulk was created by a red-hot Stan Lee and the indefatigable Jack Kirby in a fury of creativity that launched Marvel Comics in the early sixties. A panoply of new heroes and rejigged Golden Age characters connected with a new generation of readers, challenging the reign of DC Comics and making their Superman and Batman books look corny.
Artist Kirby often referenced classic movies in his work, displaying an obvious love for the Universal monsters of the thirties and forties, and writer Lee has cheerfully acknowledged the direct influence of Boris Karloff’s Frankenstein Monster in the creation of The Hulk as a misunderstood monster. Jekyll & Hyde’s powers of transformation were thrown into the mix, making scientist Bruce Banner into his own monster.
Kirby rendered the character as a boxy brute with a telltale neanderthal brow and a flattened skull. In the first issue of The Incredible Hulk, in May 1962, the monster’s skin is inconsistently grey, a glitch due to mechanical color separation and the crude four-color and newsprint presses of the day. The problem was solved with the next issue when The Hulk was made a solid green.
A Halloween treat from Marvel Comics, Monster-Size Hulk #1 features a number of writers, artists and monster guest characters. The Frankenstein tale was penned by Jeff Parker and illustrated by Gabriel Hardman. The cover, shown here, is by Guisseppe Cammuncoli. The issue ships October 15.