I’m back from the comic shop this week and I got no new comics. Another slow week. I did get a hard cover collection:

  • “Charley’s War” by Pat Mills and Joe Colquhoun
  • And now for a review of something I’ve read recently.

  • Hulk “Heart of the Atom” – By a bunch of people.

    This is a collection of Hulk stories that inspired the recent “Planet Hulk” story line. It all started in the early 1970’s with a Harlan Ellison story in which the Hulk was shrunken down until he landed on a microscopic world. In that microscopic world he met a queen named Jarella who became the Hulk’s girlfriend. By the end of the comic Hulk was back to full size and gone from Jarella’s world. And that was just the first issue in this collection. You got a lot of plot in a 1970’s comic.

    Jarella only appeared in a few stories after that. One of them was from the mid Seventies and was one of the first Hulk stories that I ever read. So there is some nostalgia in this collection for me. The book end with a What If? story where the Hulk goes back to Jarella’s world and becomes a king.

    I really enjoyed this volume. Though the stories were never meant to make one big story arc they certainly do. Not in today’s pre-planned six issue way but in an old fashioned Marvel Universe continuity way. They catch you up on what has gone before and point out what you need to know.

    I hadn’t realized how much I missed the old “Hulk Smash” version of the Hulk that I knew from childhood. I haven’t read many Hulk stories since the late Eighties or so. I didn’t read much of the Peter David run but read some of the Bruce Jones run. Whenever I’d read writers talking about the Hulk they’d always mention how hard it was to write the “Hulk Smash” version. They would always mention they found it limiting and were looking to write new takes on the character.

    But in rereading these issue for the first time in twenty-some years I really had an appreciation for the good job the writers did. Harlan Ellison, Roy Thomas, Len Wein, Archie Goodwin, and Bill Mantlo all did an excellent job with the Hulk. And I think the “Hulk Smash” version of the Hulk is the most interesting despite his limited intellect and vocabulary. This volume made me reach that conclusion.

    I’m glad I picked up this volume. Though the Hulk was one of my favorite comics during my childhood I haven’t reread any of them in my adulthood. For some reason I didn’t think they would hold up (probably listening to all the people who poo-pooed them for their “lack of sophistication”) but they do hold up. I was content with my fond memories of my old Hulk issues but now I’m going to have to go back and reread some of them.