Comic Review – “Essential Hulk Vol. 2”

This collection of Hulk comics from the late 1960s is considerably different from the approach being taken in Bruce Jones’ current run. Those who want to understand how good Jones really is can read about the background he had to work from.

General Information

Title: Essential Hulk Vol. 2
Credited to: Stan Lee, Herb Trimpe, Marie Severin and Friends
Original Publication Date: 2001 reprint of material first published
from 1967-1969
ISBN: 0-7851-0795-9
Cover Price: $14.95 US, $21.95 Can
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The Issues

This volume contains:
Tales to Astonish 92-93: Hulk meets the Silver Surfer
Tales to Astonish 94-96: Hulk meets the High Evolutionary
Tales to Astonish 97-99: Hulk meets the Living Lightning
Tales to Astonish 100: Hulk battles the Sub-Mariner
Tales to Astonish 101: Loki brings Hulk to Asgard
The Incredible Hulk 102: Hulk fights the Executioner’s invasion
The Incredible Hulk 103: Hulk fights the Space Parasite
The Incredible Hulk 104: Hulk fights the Rhino
The Incredible Hulk 105-106: Hulk fights the radioactive Missing
The Incredible Hulk 107-108: Mandarin attempts to subjugate the
The Incredible Hulk Annual 1: Hulk battles the Inhumans
The Incredible Hulk 109-110: Banner and Ka-Zar shut down a doomsday
The Incredible Hulk 111-112: The creator of the Doomsday machine
becomes upset and seeks revenge.
The Incredible Hulk 113-114: Sandman and Mandarin try to exploit and
destroy the Hulk.
The Incredible Hulk 115-117: The Leader returns.
The Incredible Hulk 147 (backup story): The Hulk is fooled by a desert

High Point

The Leader storyline. This is where they finally bring Betty, T-Bolt
Ross, and Major Talbot back into the story. Things were going so well
at the end of the last collection…

Low Point

The Radioactive Missing Link just died. No reason was given.

The Scores

How original can the Hulk get anymore? It’s a lot of “Hulk
smash!” and “Nobody can beat the Hulk!” and “Hulk will never be caged
again!” and so on. Most of the villains were new to him, though.
The only repeats were the Executioner (who somehow managed to
remember a battle that hadn’t happened yet,) the Mandarin, and the
Leader. The Mandarin didn’t even feel like a repeat as his first
appearance in Hulk was in this volume. Similarly the Executioner’s
storyline is so different I had to look up the original appearance to
remind myself why they knew each other. The Hulk’s responses to
situations were always the same, but the villains had some variety in
their plans, if not in their motivations. I give it 3 out of 6.

The artwork was varied, due to the large number of artists
involved. This is an excellent volume to show people who want to know
what an inker does; various people ink Herb Trimpe’s work, with a wide
range of results. The artwork was rarely off-putting, and
occasionally very well done. The first issue here, which brings in
Marie Severin, was particularly well detailed. It really helped to
draw me in to the environment. I give the artwork 4 out of 6.

The stories showed some variety as well. The Rhino encounter
is one of the better super battles I’ve seen. The final story (from
issue 147) is completely without a villain, but it would have
benefitted from having a few more pages to play out. The dialogue is,
well, repetitive. The plots are always simple enough for the Hulk to
understand, which means they’re generally insulting to the reader. I
give the stories 3 out of 6.

The characterization was always clear and consistent, but
most of the characters are very one-dimensional. They’re either
hell-bent on ruling the world, trying to prove they’re the strongest
one there is so that they’ll be left alone, crying over the Hulk’s
plight, or trying to convince the Hulk to help save the world. I give
it 4 out of 6.

The emotional response this produced was limited. I enjoyed
seeing the cameos by Nick Fury, Reed Richards, and Tony Stark,
especially since the last two were brief and practical in story
terms. There was little or no suspense produced at any stage, and a
few too many coincidences to really buy into the fantasy worlds
created. I give it 3 out of 6.

The flow is excellent, possibly due to the limited vocabulary
of the combatants. There is never confusion about pacing or time
frames, and the conversations are realistic in the time allotted. I
give it 5 out of 6.

Overall, this collection has several issues worth reading,
and a few that can be easily forgotten. It’s a decent resource for
the casual reader, and it’s a step up from Essential Hulk
Vol. 1
. I give it 4 out of 6.

In total, Essential Hulk Vol. 2 receives 26 out of 42.