This year we will be delving deep into Hulk history to re-discover all the first appearances that the Hulk issues have given us over the years! With 1st appearances being such a hot trend these days it only makes sense to highlight some of the best Hulk issues to invest in this year! This week: The Leader!
Tales to Astonish #62 (1964)
|Artist: Pencils / Ink
$3.59 – $49.99
- (Keown) Skrull Variant
- Cory Smith 1:25 Variant
With this tag line it seems like Marvel is kind of begging us to like this comic:
I’m not looking to tear anyone down. That being said, Weapon H isn’t the worst idea Marvel has had in the last few years. Silly? Sure. A total waste of time? Surprisingly – no! The series has been pretty entertaining but we all knew it was just a matter of time before they had this new hybrid character face off against the originals! Picking up from the last issue of the Weapon H where Agger is eager to have Wolverine and Hulk meet up with Clay for a little chit-chat.
This issue picks up at Shadow Base where they have had the Leader incarcerated or some time. That is until an agent comes calling for help from Sterns in locating the Hulk. With the Hulk’s most recent re-emergence they realize that nothing they’ve used before is working as this Hulk is nothing like they’ve dealt with before. Using just the report the agent gave to Sterns he dispatches both people and escapes the holding cell.
Clay and his family are peacefully existing without incident until they’ve returned home one day with Clay sneezing. The problem with that? Weapon H doesn’t sneeze – or get sick – at all. The whole family knows something is up and the wife and kids get ready to leave. Clay books it into the woods where he meets up with an exhausted Bruce Banner.
Thinking he is there to hurt him and his family Clay goes to attack the weary doctor. Only, the sun is going down and the Hulk is due to come out. The two behemoths begin pounding each other with Hulk ready to take his stolen gamma power back.
The Leader stands some distance away watching the fight unfold – taking delight in his plan working out. In fact, he isn’t even concerned when Shadow Base catches up with him. They go to inform the Leader that the Hulk can drain gamma out of people and Sterns happily replies that he is aware. Just then the Hulk uses said power but ends up absorbing the virus that Sterns infected Clay with.
Weapon H is able to get the better of our hero now that the Hulk is weakened. With the Hulk laid out Clay is ready to leave but the Leader isn’t satisfied with that – he reveals his presence and instructs Weapon H to kill the Hulk. Clay just wants to know who the hell the Leader is. The Leader gets testy until Clay pops the claws and Sterns realizes he’s pushed too hard. Too late – the Leader flees with Clay in pursuit. Just as Clay is ready to land the killing blow Logan shows up to get some answers on who Weapon H is.
As fine as this initial issue is I must say I think Pak’s use of the Leader is way off base. What a flimsy plan – Sterns didn’t see the possibility that Clay would be upset with him threatening his family? There was no plan put in place in case Weapon H turned on Sterns? Which is exactly what happened! I mean, maybe the Leader hasn’t been the same since his bout of crimson and re-invention of self – but this whole issue comes off a bit flat. Hoping the series picks up in the next issue.
||Bag and Board It
Classic Leader is too cool! How interesting is the comments? “Big brain is a real pain”. What was Marvel doing there? Trying to start a rap career? I think Samuel Sterns could pull off some sick rhymes – with his intelligence? He could find a real rhyme for orange!
Knowing that the Leader is supposed to have said the title of the comic out loud… while he was by himself, by the way, should do the trick. I hope one of his Humanoids overheard him and went back to the others and they laughed at him for hours and hours…
Click on the image for the article that shows off toys being switched and returned to stores. Take notice of the Marvel Legends Face-Off Leader replacing Lex Luthor in the first bungled package.
UPDATE: I had to unlink the site due to a warning from google not to visit it. Instead it links you to The Fwoosh thread that shows the unscrupulous practices of some collectors. Sorry guys.
Let’s have a little fun and discuss some of the more graphic, violent, sad, or just plain awkward moments that have plastered the Hulk history. Be it a passing meeting between spouses of a gruesome scene that nobody saw coming – this year I’ll have you squirming in your seat!
Let’s look back and notice that no other enemy of Hulk’s rogue gallery have had the transformations that the Leader has. He went from a sanitation worker to ultra-evil genius to a man with regular intelligence – to super evil genius again! This time with a bulbous head rather than just a vertically-gifted head. Years go by and suddenly the Hulk comes face to face with a grotesque, disturbing Samuel Sterns
Of course, the Hulk arrives just in time for the Leader’s head to expand to the point of explosion. Nothing like running into a old friend and end up with his brain matter all over you… gross.
Well, that was short-lived. I really thought we were going to make it past a measly 6 issues. I know that technically, with the Hulk/Thanos mini-series coming next week, since it was supposed to be part of this title that this series did surpass the Rampaging Hulk series from the 90’s – but it’s still a bummer that a second Hulk title can’t even last a year. What happened exactly? If you can remember, the Rampaging Hulk was brought out because there were a lot of fair-weather Hulk fans clamoring for a Hulk series that starred the classic, savage Hulk. Of course when Marvel responded by releasing the underrated and fun Rampaging Hulk series those said “fans” still didn’t buy it and it was cancelled after 6 issues. Almost a complete 20 years later they have done it again, releasing a second Hulk title with the classic Hulk – this time keeping within the continuity of the Hulk and having the series cover sort of the “untold” tales of what has happened in the past. It didn’t exactly go as planned…
Savage Hulk (2014-2014)
What I thought was a fantastic and brilliant move, the Savage Hulk started off exploring the classic X-Men #66 – bringing in the Hulk’s greatest villains right out of the gate – he was facing the Leader and the Abomination! How can you go wrong? The story was written and beautifully illustrated by Alan Davis and moved in a decent pace with a good amount of action and, like I said, it was good to have the Hulk battling his classic rouges gallery. Seeing the Leader in all of his original glory was a thrill – and of course having the REAL Abomination back in a new story was real like having an old friend come in the room and smack you across the face… but in a good way.
The Hulk was fighting his foes along side (and sometimes against) the X-Men in trying to save Professor X. Just like back in the day there was plenty of subconscious battling inside Banner’s head while the real action is taking place in reality. That and seeing the Leader with his humanoids, the gamma-irradiated desert roamers and even a Hulked out Professor X made the first arc a must read! Banner fought his others selves for control, the Leader was defeated – but wasn’t – and the Hulk’s allies still didn’t trust him in the end. It was nothing short of smart and entertaining story-telling with that classic flair.
Issues 5&6 jump ahead to Hulk #300 where the Hulk was sent to the crossroads by Dr. Strange. A story line that I wasn’t all that entertained by when I first read it and was a little bummed when I saw that this is where they were headed. The Hulk is sent to different lands where he can be by himself – but the plan goes astray when Hulk lands in a reality where the inhabitants age so quickly that the Hulk is a new threat to a historic destructive force in a matter of hours. Strange comes to the rescue in the end – and avoids a gamma-catastrophe with the by convincing a mind-less Hulk to dispose of a gamma bomb.
I’m not sure why this series didn’t catch on more – I mean it didn’t come screeching out of the gate with initial sales but, unfortunately, dropped by half with the 3rd issue. That, of course, spells certain death with books. This series seemed to be doing everything right – the only thing I can think of is that people may have been turned off of the timeline jumping – having to know their Hulk history to really enjoy the stories. Even then, the authors did a fantastic job of catching you up so you weren’t lost and maybe even inspired a few to go back and read the original issues these stories were taken from. I guess that’s really a pipe dream since issue 6 was the last. I’m bummed to see this series go. It was an enjoyable side series for the Hulk fans out there. As mentioned before, this coming week we will see the continuation of this series as the mini Hulk vs Thanos. While it looks real fun it comes at a price knowing that this could have given the Savage Hulk the sales bump it needed to get some new readers on board.
I miss the old days where new readers jumped on a title without loyal readers seemingly getting punished with reboots and cancellations. This series was a perfect title for old and new readers alike – the only set back being that it may never had a chance to get solid footing with a new writer and artist on the book every few issues. Of course, with the state of comics today that doesn’t seem too far off of what regular series seem to be doing. Grade for issues 5 & 6: B / Series: B+