Ranking - Hulk: And Now...the Wolverine!

Hulk: And Now…the Wolverine!
Incredible Hulk #180-181 (1974)
Written by Len Wein
Drawn by Herb Trimpe
Inked by Jack Abel
Colored by Christie Scheele (#180) and Glynis Wein (#181)
Lettered by Artie Simek
Edited by Roy Thomas

 

In The Marvel Years Rankings, we randomly select one story (anything from a single issue to ??? issues that make up a single story) to look at, with the ultimate goal of ranking every single Marvel comic book story from best to worst. The rankings are subjective and highly unscientific. They're intended to be a fun way to kick off discussion, and introduce readers to new stories. 

 

Summary

In these issues, Hulk returns to Canada where he had previously done battle with a monster called Wendigo. Hulk had befriended a woman named Marie Cartier, who was out trying to save her missing brother (Paul) from the Wendigo. Hulk found Paul’s friend Georges, who explained that Paul had been stuck in a cave and forced into cannibalism. Paul wasn’t a victim of the Wendigo, but rather cursed to be the Wendigo itself due to his act of cannibalism. This story picks up some time later when Hulk returns to Canada, with the Wendigo (Paul) still on the loose.

 

Synopsis

Hulk comes across his old friends Marie Cartier and Georges Baptiste, who take care of the Hulk. It turns out though, that the pair have an ulterior motive – they’re trying to move the curse from Paul to the Hulk in order to free Paul from the Wendigo curse.

Hulk fights the Wendigo, only to be interrupted by the arrival of Wolverine – a Canadian government weapon sent to capture the Hulk. The three fight and Hulk winds up victorious over both. Georges can’t stand the idea of sacrificing the Hulk to the Wendigo curse and sacrifices himself instead, out of his love for Marie.

 

Review

I’m going to be really honest here - I’m generally not a fan of pre-Peter David Hulk stories. Hulk’s childish speech patterns and overly-simplified thinking tends to grate on me.

So, Incredible Hulk stories are often only as strong or as weak as the supporting characters and villains that surround the title character in a given story. In this case, that’s relatively weak making for a pretty sub-standard Hulk story, even if there are a number of redeeming factors here.

The most obvious of those redeeming factors is clearly the first appearance ever of Wolverine. Wolverine is probably the most successful comic book character to debut after the 1960s, and we owe that to this comic.

Though, to be fair, you couldn’t be blamed for not recognizing the character right away. Wolverine’s mask in this comic is just…silly. Look at those whiskers!

But, I really enjoy the rest of how Wolverine is portrayed here. Both in the art and the writing, Wolverine is cast as Hulk’s equal and opposite. Where Hulk is big and slow, Wolverine is small and quick. He’s able to hold his own in a fight with the Hulk because of his vicious nature.

Marie and George present the other big redeeming factor of the book – namely their desire to use the Hulk for their own gains. At this time, the Hulk tends to only interact with humans that are scared of him and/or want to capture him. To come across two civilians who aren’t afraid, and in fact want to trick the Hulk is a relatively novel concept for the time.

The rest of this two-parter is inoffensive, if a bit of a slog to read. As a big fan of Marvel’s Brozne Age, I don’t mind excessive narration, but these issues don’t do anything interesting with that narration (and, it’s in fact, all quite tedious).

Herb Trimpe’s usually solid Hulk art is also just a little off here to me. The Wendigo isn’t as imposing as you feel like he should be, and is actually fairly inconsistent from panel-to-panel. I’ve always liked the ugliness that Trimpe brings to the Hulk, but this time the Hulk is just feels a little off. A little too ugly.

Despite Wolverine’s debut, this is a story that lacks any kind of compelling hook. Elements of storytelling that haven’t aged well drag down this book even more. It’s interesting to see where Wolverine came from, but outside of that this is a story that doesn’t really stand up.

 

New Reader Friendly?

For sure. Any bits of Hulk's history that are necessary for this story are all recapped within the tale itself.

Ranking

The Silver and Bronze Ages will be represented well in the future of these rankings, but this particular 1970s tale just doesn’t offer much outside of Wolverine’s debut. It feels almost sacrilegious to place the debut of Wolverine under some forgotten Deadpool story, but I enjoyed Deadpool’s “Nuff Said” issue enough to give that story the edge. I feel bad about this.

1. Spider-Man: Origin of the Hobgoblin
2. Superior Spider-Man: A Troubled Mind
3. X-Men: Second Genesis 
4. Iron Man: Rasputin’s Revenge!
5. Marvel Team-Up: Night of the Dragon
6. Deadpool: Funeral for a Freak
7. Hulk: And Now...the Wolverine!

 

What do you think? Agree or disagree with the ranking? Still need to read it yourself to find out? These issues of Incredible Hulk are available digitally for Marvel Unlimited subscribers and for purchase at Comixology. These issues are also available physically in Marvel Masterworks: The Incredible Hulk Volume 10 and Essential Hulk Volume 5.

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