Uncanny Origins #5
Marvel Comics (January, 1997)
The Hulk: “Unfettered Fury”
WRITER: Glenn Greenberg
PENCILER: Pablo Ralmondi
INKER: Bill Anderson
COLORIST: Bob Sharen
LETTERER: Jack Morelli
EDITORS: Mark Gruenwald & Terry Avanagh
It’s basically the retelling of Incredible Hulk #1, just without the sidestory of the Gargoyle and some further explanation. For example we actually see the guys daring Rick Jones to drive onto the military base bomb testing site, where we learn his friend was only kidding. We’re told about Bruce’s history with his father, which wasn’t introduced into the lore until much later, and early glimpses of Bruce’s attraction to Betty, which it comes out and says rather than hinting at it like the original story. I think the original handled that better. The conversations between Bruce and Igor and with Bruce and General Ross are almost exactly the same, as is pretty much everything else.
For those of you who only know the origin from the live-action productions, none of which use the original comic origin like the cartoons did, Bruce sees Rick on the base during the testing of his new “gamma bomb” and rushes out to get him, his assistant Igor willing to let Banner die because he’s a spy for the Russians (not named in this telling, just calling them the “motherland” and such). While Bruce gets Rick to the bomb trench which totally protected him from radiation fallout because Stan Lee himself admits to know nothing about science despite creating at least three scientists as heroes (Bruce, Tony Stark, and science major Peter Parker) Bruce take the full burst of gamma radiation, which turns him into the Hulk at night and back to Bruce during the day (later changed to be caused by his anger). Going to his cabin as the Hulk, he and Rick find Igor tearing Bruce’s cabin apart looking for the gamma bomb formula and despite being shot easily takes him down. Hulk then plans to use his power to attack humans and would have killed Rick if he hadn’t changed back. (Hulk got nicer later, so long as he wasn’t being attacked or his friends weren’t in danger.)
The comic concludes with a nod to Hulk changing from grey to green, a necessity born of the printing process at the time. This was later retconned into the first of many personalities that Bruce has because apparently a Jekyll & Hyde transformation with a hint of Frankenstein’s monster wasn’t screwed up enough for poor Bruce. I think he has a whole Avengers worth of personalities now, and at least two of them are evil. I should note I plan to review the original comic once the comiXology library gets back into my review schedule, which is why this is a longer synopsis than usual.
What they got right: Within the cartoonish art style (because Marvel thought it was the only way to attract kids, but at least looks better here than Marvel Adventures, which will also feature the Hulk on Sunday), I like the updated designs of the character, although General Ross and Igor look basically the same. I also like the notation of Hulk’s in-story change from grey to green, and the addition of the actual dare, although I don’t know if that was ever added to other flashback tales before this.
What they got wrong: Rick seems to be annoyed that Bruce and Betty are attracted to each other, and a little too eager to get rid of Betty. I don’t mean they were implying Rick was gay for Bruce or the Hulk, but it’s like “he’s my friend now, I share his big secret, so get out!”, but that could just be how I read it. The narration also implies that Rick has always been there for Bruce, but at this point in the series Rick had already been another Bucky for Captain America, the conduit for Quasar, and I’m not even sure he still hung with the Hulk at this point, despite always being in the cartoons. And wearing a cowboy hat for some reason. No really, both the 80s NBC and 2000s UPN shows had him with a cowboy hat that I’ve never seen in what few comic appearances I’ve seen him in.
Recommendation: A decent retelling of the Hulk’s origin, although now you can get the original easily reprinted in numerous ways. It’s not a bad alternative if you want something less 1960s-ish.