Wednesday, May 21, 2008

"Post No. 501"

I was down at the local flea market a couple weeks ago and this one guy has quite a few modern-type comics. Going thru them I pulled out a stack of Incredible Hulks, a little over 40 issues ranging from 1983 or so into the early 2000's from both the original (formerly TTA series) as well as the 1999 one. He wanted $40. for the lot and I passed on them, but later on I noticed he still had the stack so I offered him $30. on it and he took it. I figured it was a pretty decent deal as the majority of these issues were like newstand mint (altho none had bags or boards).

It's taken me around a week to read thru all of these, and after doing so I can see "why" Marvel decided to reboot the series in 1999. Honestly, writer Peter David had done about all he could with any originality to the character.

I don't recall exactly which issue he began writing that series, but it was in the early #300's; probably a good 150 issues plus a couple of mini series. There's one thing you can say about David's writing is his stick-to-it-ness on one title, like his 80 issue + 2 annual run on the '06 DC Supergirl series. He continually tried to keep the storyline fresh. But I'm afraid that towards the end of the first run of HULK it was just every ten issues or so of re-telling his origin, flashbacks, and dream sequences. Not that there wasn't a few decent stories thrown in there.

The stories where they were self-contained in a single issue were the best. Some were pretty dismal, especially his battle with The Abomination and The Circus of Crime. The artwork (by a variety of artits) ranged from very good to hacky. Towards the end of the (formerly TTA run), over-all, the title was pretty bad.

The issues in the1999 series I got were from between #'s 4 and 41 (18 misc. issues), which started out as many revamped titles do with John Byrne at the helm attempting once again to rewrite an iconic character "in his own image", but he left before the first dozen of these were published, and it was then that Hulk got some more interesting challenges.

The artwork was much better for one thing, several issues being drawn by Kyle Hotz, who has this Arthur Sudyam style, that's a bit quirky but pretty decent. And the stories, many of which were written by Paul Jenkins, gave us a choice of which Hulk we liked the best: the old "Hulk Smash!" version, the gray-skinned "Joe Fixit", or the combo/intelligent more handsome version with Banner's mind. It was a good play on the combined personna storyline that David had begun back around #370-something (or maybe before that; I forget) in the previous series, and well-handled.

Even the covers got more interesting. John Rominta Jr. came in for a while and gave us some nice artwork around issue #27. (His style has definately gotten more refined than his days of doing "Punisher".)

HULK, like a couple of other Marvel titles, would be a good one for me to collect if not for what I mentioned in a previous blog regarding the pricing of many new comics. Four bucks a pop is just too much for any comic that has no more content than the ones that they'd been charging $3. for per issue. More pages for more money I can see, but just because it's a limited series or reboot upping a price does not warrent more money. There's just not enough "bang for the buck" with such books especially when you combine that with the padding of full-page spreads as filler material and a sparce dialogue. If this is going to continue to be the practise of various comic book companies, then they simply need to have the balls to take the next great step in the history of the medium, which is a total transaction into the Trade Paperback format. After all, the spinner rack days are as dead as hippies, and a reduction of the number of titles being published, and a concentration on their major characters into a more lengthly format such as quarterly TPBs (or, even bi-monthly ones for that matter), just seems to make more sense. And with this economy being as such in this country, I'm sure that it'd also make more sense financially for these companies as something to consider.

Personally I'd rather pay $4.99-$6.99 for a book which has the equal to three comics, that $3.99 for something that's not even a "whole" issue.


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