*Marvel: In 1962, following the smash success of the Fantastic Four, Marvel were casting around for their next hit. Synthesising elements from popular TV shows of the time, Lee & Kirby brainstormed a ‘mash-up’ of Frankenstein and Jekyll & Hyde – the old Universal horror movies going great guns on late-nite horror shows – and threw in a jive-talking teenager a la ’77 Sunset Strip’s ‘Kookie’ for good measure, leavening the mix with a hearty dose of ever-popular Cold War paranoia.
The result was the Incredible Hulk; mild-mannered scientist Bruce Banner runs out into a gamma-bomb test to save the life of a feckless teen who’s wandered into the kill zone, and in consequence Banner becomes the Hulk, a bestial monster of incalculable strength and uncontrollable rage… and one of the Marvel Universe’s leading figures was born!
All the key components of the Hulk were introduced in this issue: Banner and the Hulk himself, perpetual hero groupie Rick Jones, Bruce’s unrequited love interest Betty Ross, and Betty’s overbearing Dad, General ‘Thunderbolt’ Ross – but several elements needed to be refined, including our hero’s skin colour. In this first issue only, he was grey, like the monsters in the black & white TV horror shows; from #2 onwards, without explanation, he became the emerald-hued behemoth we love today. But the main theme of the character – intelligence and compassion triumphing over brute strength – was evident even at this early stage, as Bruce, not the Hulk, turns an enemy into an ally and ultimately saves the day.
Curiously, the Hulk was a flop in his first series, cancelled after a mere six issues, and condemned to a few years as a guest-villain or a back-up strip until the revival of his solo title in 1968, but this is where his long and chequered career began.
Hulk #1 is regarded by many authorities as the second-rarest Marvel key issue (behind Amazing Fantasy #15, with Fantastic Four #1 in third place); we have only been lucky enough to have three or four copies through our hands in our quarter century of trading.
This is a pence priced copy, with clean, unmarred interiors, supple and unusually white for a comic of this vintage, no browning or brittleness. The cover, as you can see from the photos attached, is still very glossy, with the deep blue background vivid and unfaded. There are very fine, barely perceptible lines in the vertical centre of the cover image, not breaking the cover colour or impeding the image. Moderate spine wear and some corner blunting. The staples are firm at cover and centrefold, but the staples do have some rust, particularly the lower, which has caused some discolouration to a very small area adjacent to the staples at the interior. This discolouration is neither deep nor widespread. There is a 1 cm tear to the right cover edge, going through the ‘ER’ in the word ‘Monster’ on the cover blurb.
Despite these minor drawbacks, this is a highly attractive and eminently collectable copy of an exceedingly rare item. We have graded it VG, pence copy as previously noted, and it’s priced at £8,000.
Front and back cover images are shown below, plus splash page; high resolution images are available on request. Please note that this comic is not stored at our shop premises, and viewing is STRICTLY by appointment only and subject to 48 hours notice.