Sunday, January 26, 2014



WRITERS: Len Wein, Mary Jo Duffy
PENCILS: Herb Trimpe, Ken Landgraf
INKS: Jack Abel, George Perez
COLORS: Christie Scheele
LETTERS: Artie Simek, Michael Higgins
EDITOR: Roy Thomas, Jim Shooter
EIC: Jim Shooter
COVER: John Byrne and Jack Abel with George Roussos
48pp, Color, $2.00 (October 1986)

In the summer of 1986, Marvel Comics published The Incredible Hulk and Wolverine #1.  This was a one-shot, single-issue comic book that reprinted The Incredible Hulk #180 and #181 (cover-dated November 1974).  Issue #180 (cover-dated October 1974) contained the first appearance of Wolverine, as a cameo in the final panel of the last page.  Issue #181 features the first full appearance of Wolverine.  Of course, Wolverine is a member of the X-Men and one of Marvel Comics’ most popular characters.

The Incredible Hulk and Wolverine #1 also includes the short story, “Wolverine and Hercules,” which originally appeared in Marvel Treasury Edition #26 (1980).  “Wolverine: The Evolution of a Character” is an essay at the back of this comic book.  It is written by former Marvel writer and editor, Peter Sanderson, and details the creation of Wolverine and also provides a fictional biography of the character.  This text piece includes spot illustrations and other art drawn by John Romita, Paul Smith and Joe Rubinstein; John Byrne and Terry Austin; John Romita, Jr. and Dan Green; and Frank Miller and Joe Rubinstein.

The Incredible Hulk #180 finds the Hulk returning to Canada.  There, deep in the Canadian woods, the emerald behemoth finds himself caught in a conspiracy involving Marie Cartier and Georges Baptiste.  Marie’s brother, Paul Cartier, bears the curse that transforms him into “the hideous cannibal beast,” known as the Wendigo.

Marie has devised a plan to transfer the Wendigo’s form to the Hulk.  Events don’t follow her planning once Hulk and Wendigo engage in an epic battle.  Meanwhile, at a top secret Royal Canadian Air Force Tracking Installation, military authorities are not about to allow the Hulk to rampage through Canada again.  They’re sending something called “Weapon X” to take care of the green giant.

The Incredible Hulk #181 begins with Wolverine revealing himself to the Hulk and the Wendigo and launching himself into their battle.  This three-way fight devolves into a death match between the Hulk and the Wolverine.  Meanwhile, Georges Baptiste makes a fateful decision about him and Marie Cartier’s plan to save her brother from the curse of the Wendigo.

When The Incredible Hulk and Wolverine #1 arrived on newsstands and in comic book shops, it gave me a chance to read the story in which Wolverine made his first appearance, and I was ecstatic about that opportunity.  I would read the story again in a single-issue facsimile reprint of The Incredible Hulk #181.

I long ago lost or sold my original copy of The Incredible Hulk and Wolverine #1, but a recent at sale at super comics retailer Mile High Comics’ website allowed me to get another copy.  I had forgotten that even with a $2.00 cover price, The Incredible Hulk and Wolverine #1 was just a cheapie reprint.  At a time when comic book publishers, large and small, were moving to heavier and whiter paper stocks, Marvel Comics printed The Incredible Hulk and Wolverine #1 on newsprint.  The print quality ranges from mediocre to tolerable, and the colors don’t “pop” off the page the way they do today.  With newsprint, things like details, borders, and lettering can fade or even not fully print.

I think that at the time this was originally published Marvel Comics was printing anything that would help with their market share and that could make a lot of money with little investment.  The Hulk stories here were bought and paid for over a decade earlier, and who knows if the creators got any royalty payments from this reprinting.  Like I said, high return on low investment.

That aside, I like these old Hulk comics.  Writer Len Wein’s ability to create a compelling story out of monster comics and supernatural melodrama is a sign of the skill that made him a standout comic book creator and editor in the 1970s and 1980s.  Penciller Herb Trimpe, one of my favorites, mixes the dynamism and fury of Jack Kirby (who was obviously an influence on Trimpe) with the cartoon mysticism of Steve Ditko.  This is classic comic book art and graphical storytelling – monster comics and mystic mumbo-jumbo.

It is also fun to look at this early Wolverine-in-the-raw, which is practically nothing like what the character would become in the decades that followed his first appearance.  So I grade this comic book not on the cheap newsprint reproduction, but on the fun old comics.


Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux

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