Fred Hembeck’s Hero Complex: The Hulk (Part 3)

March 16, 2009 | 4:39 p.m.

Fred20Captainamerica110at500_3It was 70 years ago that Marvel Comics No. 1 hit U.S. newsstands and all year here at Hero Complex we’ll be celebrating that momentus pivot point in American pop culture with special features. Today it’s the latest installment of “Fred Hembeck’s Hero Complex,” in which Fred Hembeck, the comics-fandom parodist, lovingly revisits classic Marvel covers. Today, it’s Part Three of his going-green movement as he takes on the oh-so-incredible Hulk. (Did you miss the other two installments? Here’s Part One and Part Two, and also check out Hembeck’s star-spangled, two-part tribute to Captain America. Now without further ado, here’s Fred…..

Greetings readers, it’s Fred Hembeck back once again!

Y’know, it’s been awhile since I destroyed the Marvel Universe — today what say we just mess with it a little, hmm? We’re celebrating the 70th birthday of Marvel here at Hero Complex, and I’ve been doing my part by sifting through my trove of Classic Cover Redos (Want one of your very own? Well, commission one!). Today for your edification it’s the third and final part of my retrospective of covers prominently displaying everyone’s favorite big green lug!! Read on, puny humans!

“Captain America” No.110 (February 1969 ) Jim Steranko, original artist.

Gee, I knew The Hulk was big, but who knew he was so TALL as well? I’m guessing it was artist Jim Steranko’s idea to slip The Hulk’s erstwhile sidekick, Rick Jones, into one of Bucky’s old uniforms, because as soon as Jim left the Captain America pencilling chores (after a mere three issues, but OH WHAT ISSUES…!), Rick bailed on the Star-Spangled Avenger, soon after finding himself alternating trips to limbo with ANOTHER Captain, Mar-vell! I’m betting there were times THEN that hanging with The Hulk didn’t seem all that bad

“The Incredible Hulk” No.139 (May 1971)

Herb Trimpe, original artist


The Rhino, the Abomination, Crusher Creel (AKA the Absorbing Man), the Glob, Sandman, the Mandarin — like the cover says, many foes has the Hulk! But for about a decade beginning at the end of the sixties, The Hulk had pretty much only ONE artist: Herb Trimpe! Although I had met Herb in passing a few times over this past quarter century, it wasn’t until a few years back when he became associated with the high school my daughter was attending that I REALLY got to know him. He invited me in several times as guest instructor for a cartooning class he was teaching, and as a result, we became good friends. I did this piece specifically for Herb, and I was delighted to give it him as a gift — plus, it was just such a way cool cover to do period, I was happy for any opportunity to redo the thing.

“Amazing Spider-Man” No.119 (April 1973)

John Romita, original artist


There they are, folks, the two big ones, together again! How can you possibly go wrong pairing up THESE dudes? I just wish Spidey wasn’t always so pessimistic (“Even if it kills me! Which it probably WILL!) but I guess that’s just his nature. Just like trying to prevent the big guy from sounding like a trash-talking baby is a losing proposition as well…

“Incredible Hulk” No.181 (November 1974)

Trimpe, original artist


Over these three installments, we’ve seen the jade giant himself intrude on many another Marvelite’s turf, but HERE, famously, the tables were turned! Ladies and gents of 1974, I present to you THE FUTURE!!! Whoda thought? Not me, and I bought this comic off the stands. Frankly, MY money woulda been on the Wendigo — proving once again, I don’t know nearly as much as I think I do (shh, don’t tell anyone…).

“Incredible Hulk” No 231 (January 1979)

Trimpe, original artist


I ask you, has the Hulk ever looked more menacing? Has alcohol consumption ever seemed more risky? Has a pair of fishnets ever been less distracting? Here’s hoping it’s St. Patty’s day and the hapless bar-keep has some green beer on tap–I don’t what else could calm our less-than-jolly jade gent down! Another Trimpe triumph!! And so, gang, we bring to an end our Hulk trilogy. With such a rich resume to his credit, we’ve only barely scratched the surface of Mr. Purplejeans past exploits, but hey, we did our best. Hope you’ve enjoyed the survey!! And if not, well to paraphrase Greenie, “Hembeck SMASH!!” But if I somehow haven’t lost you with that hollow threat, I cordially invite you to visit my very own website, And hey, may I also suggest purchasing a copy of The Nearly Complete Essential Hembeck Archives Omnibus? I’m sure our buddy The Hulk would — IF he could read, that is…

— Fred Hembeck


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