Articles At A Glance
"You wouldn't like me angry!"
By Roy Nuhn
As seen in The Antique Shoppe Newspaper, August 2008
2008 is shaping up, like 2003, as the Year of the Hulk.
Hitting the silver screen this summer, the "Incredible Hulk" will once again make green everyone's color of choice.
The Hulk might also, as he did in 2003, inspire many novelties, toys, commercial tie-ins, and ephemera. If America once again becomes "Hulked Out" as Hulkmania grips everyone, it will be due to the release of yet another motion picture about the famous comic strip character.
The June 2003 showing of the then latest movie about the huge green brute was a big budget extravaganza featuring a high-tech computer generated creature and starred Australian actor Eric Bana as David Banner. It renewed passionate interest in the anti-hero monster among moviegoers, comic book addicts, collectors of all stripes, and fans in general.
The latest film, with Edward Norton as the Hulk, is even more high tech and is expected to affect folks of all ages and interests in the same way.
The Incredible Hulk has yet to appear on Broadway, but he's been involved with nearly every other form of entertainment. Included among these: the original network TV series (1978-1982); three made-for-TV movies ("The Incredible Hulk Returns" in 1981, "The Trial of the Incredible Hulk" in 1989, and "The Death of The Incredible Hulk"in 1990), all of them headlining Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno reprising their TV roles; a 1960s television cartoon series, and a newer 1996 cartoon series on the UPN Network with Lou Ferrigno doing voice over for The Hulk.
"The Incredible Hulk" debuted as a comic book in May 1962. Stan Lee, the genius behind Marvel Comic Books empire, the publisher, had a big hit the previous year with "The Fantastic Four" and set out to create a new kind of character, a super monster. His Hulk was a liberal re-interpretation of the famed Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, except that The Hulk was not an evil personality. He was just a mighty, angry one filled with incredible amounts of rage. He had both great strength and a bad attitude.
Gray color in the first issue, The Hulk became green the following month. The comic book series ran for six issues before being cancelled. The stories unfolded the adventures of scientist Dr. Bruce Banner, who was accidently exposed to an experimental gamma bomb explosion which turned him into a raging, wild monster. In the original story line, Banner changed to The Incredible Hulk at sunset. Slowly, as time passed, he remained his green alter ego during daylight and came under the control of Rick Jones, a teenager. Banner's warning to friend and foe alike, "Please don't make me angry. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry," became a part of the era's pop culture.
In 1963 The Hulk joined a superhero group called "The Avengers" in a comic book series of the same name. Over the next year he drifted in and out of the strange team, first as a member and then as an antagonist. In the "Tales to Astonish" comic book series, with Giant-Man, Sub-Mariner and others, Banner would change to The Incredible Hulk in moments of strong emotion, such as anger or fear. The Hulk's characteristics were now close to what would be used on the television series.
"Tales to Astonish" ended in 1968, with issue No. 101, and "The Incredible Hulk" replaced it, beginning as No. 102. For the next couple of decades it was a mainstay on comic book racks everywhere. Eventually, interest began to decline, but new writers revived the Hulk's following.
At first, the slime-colored behemoth was a mental midget, he spoke like Tarzan in short one-, two- or three-word utterances.
Later, again like Tarzan, he became a bit more literate, especially when the comic book's writers merged Banner's mind into The Hulk's body in a strang metamorphoses of the split personalities.
The U.S. Army, led by General "Thunderbolt" Ross, who had been in charge of the gamma bomb experiments, relentlessly pursued Banner and his Hulk persona. To complicate everything, Banner and the general's daughter, Betty, were in love.
Over the years, The Incredible Hulk's popularity resulted in a small outpouring of toys, premiums, novelties and books. Puzzles, plastic mugs, model kits, even Halloween masks are a few of the trinkets that now are classic Hulk collectibles.
In 1993, Drakes Snack Cakes offered insert miniature comic books of the Marvel superheroes, The Hulk among them. Marvel's many comic book heroes and heroines appeared in several different postcard booklets in the 1970s and each of these featured The Hulk on some of the greeting style, cut-out postcards.
In 1979 Topps bubble gum packets came with cards from an 88-card, 22-sticker set of pictorials taken from the Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno television series. These gum cards and their packet wrappers are in great demand today.
McDonald's, the fast food people, offered a "Marvel Super Heroes" set of action figures to its customers in 1996. A Hulk figurine, four and one-half inches tall, was included.
The 2003 movie turned The Hulk into a hot commercial commodity. He was heavily franchised to more than 300 licensees, mostly food and general merchandise manufacturers and distributors. Products in his image or with his likeness proliferated. They included a six-inch tall "Punching Hulk," a "Battle Action Hulk" with sound effects, green electronic hands, and clothing - notably T-shirts.
The green, mean machine was also part of a Marvel Characters Magnet set. And then were Hulk bobbleheads, mechanical banks, bed sheet sets, a military gunner truck, and digital watches to be purchased. Of great interest to today's collectors is the June 21-27, 2003 issue of TV Guide, which had two different covers, each a 3-D motion photo of Hulk.
Post Cereals offered a Hulk "Limited Edition Cereal" (it came with marshmallow bits). Boxes of Ritz sandwich crackers' contained insert "movie picture cards," three in all. A free Hulk Hummer H2 die-cast car model could be had free by purchasing Pepsi Cola products. And to top it all off, both Jello and Hershey Chocolate Syrup came in a green color variety for a short while! Kraft's Cheese Nips joined the Hulk parade with both a premium gift and a special Hulk box.
When will the green-mania for The Incredible Hulk ever end? Probably never. There will always be another movie, TV series, or cartoons. Not to mention continuing comics.
The green, angry Hulk is now a cultural icon.
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