Cool Comic Covers is a weekly (almost) look back at some of the most interesting, intriguing, and engaging artwork in pop culture. This week:
It’s Avengers week here at Strangers and Aliens! Each day we are going to take a look at the characters who will be featured in the upcoming (depending on when you are reading this) Avengers movie. Yesterday was Iron Man. Today is Hulk. Wednesday is Captain America. Thursday is no surprise to anyone. And Friday will be the team. The Avengers.
Normally, for Cool Comic Covers, we feature one comic cover. But for Avengers week, we’re going to give a handful of our favorite covers featuring the spotlighted characters.
The Incredible Hulk #223 -- by Ron Validar. This cover has it all. The rage and power of the Hulk and the tragedy of Bruce Banner.
The Incredible Hulk #151 -- by Herb Trimpe. I know some people don't like Herb Trimpe, but for me, even though I didn't read The Hulk very much as a kid, he defines the character. Again, this character is about anger and power, and it's too powerful in some ways to have an opponent that can provide a challenge. Because honestly, if Hulk IS challenged, he's just going to get angrier. And more powerful. And your opponent becomes less of a challenge, right?
The Incredible Hulk #140 -- by Herb Trimpe. Yes. THAT Harlan Ellison. The story here is great, but again we have some staples of Hulk comic covers. Anger. Power. Crumbling rock. And some sort of powerful opponent. This issue was collected into a graphic novel called "The Heart of the Atom," telling stories about Hulk's adventures in a subatomic world where, when he was shrunk down enough to go there, Hulk was also intelligent. He fell in love, but of course since this is Bruce Banner we're talking about, there's tragedy involved, too.
Tales to Astonish #75 -- by Jack Kirby. I said Herb Trimpe defined the character, but it was Jack Kirby that Trimpe was building on. In this cover, we get another Hulk staple: conflict with the military. Oh, and rage. And power. (Trivia: We always look for the Stan Lee cameo in Marvel movies these days, but when Jack Kirby was still alive, he cameoed as a police sketch artist in an episode of The Incredible Hulk!)
The Rampaging Hulk #7 -- by Jim Starlin. Because the Hulk is so powerful, often writers have to pit him against supernatural or otherworldly foes to give him a challenge. This give cover artists unique opportunities that they may not have in a more grounded hero to draw something with more bizarre or surreal elements. It could end up looking ridiculous. It could end up looking amazing. Or both, like this one.
World War Hulk Prologue -- by John Romita, Jr. Romita's World War Hulk covers are all amazing and worth looking at, but this one was the most iconic. Previous to this story, Hulk was again sent away from the planet to face foes who were more of a challenge. Bringing him back, he was challenged with the entire population of Marvel's earth. Also a challenge.
The Incredible Hulk #340 -- by Todd McFarlane. Hulk vs. Wolverine. It's an iconic cover, but it also illustrates something that very few characters get to do: come into conflict, on a regular basis, with other heroes. Because Hulk is not a hero. Not really. He's a monster, a force of nature, who becomes a challenge to the other heroes.
The Incredible Hulk #81 -- by Lee Weeks. Nothing says "POWER" like sitting on a horse with an ax and a mace and purple pants. I love this image, based on Frank Frazetta's Death Dealer.
The Incredible Hulk Megazine -- by Adam Kubert. All of these covers have incredible composition, but with this one I just see this as perfectly embodying the Hulk. What does Hulk do? Hulk smash. Even his own logo . . .
Captain America #110 -- by Jim Steranko. For fun, I thought I'd include some of the iconic covers featuring Hulk fighting his other Avengers cast mates. First, Captain America. Not much to say here. I just love looking at it.
Ultimate Human #1 -- by Cary Nord. Iron Man vs. Hulk. There were some other cool ones, but this one seemed the coolest. Of course, in the ultimate universe Hulk looks a Iron Man as canned food goods.
Thor #385 -- by Ron Frenz. There are other Thor vs. Hulk covers out there as well, but this one just struck me. Again, power and rage. And power and a hammer. Which will win?
The Incredible Hulk Versus Quasimodo -- by Sal Buscema. While we're doing some versus here . . . why not include this one? This one shot was based on an episode of the animated series from the early '80's, I guess. But I don't know why that merits a comic. It's a nice curiosity, though, and makes for a fun addition here . . .
Previous Cool Comic Covers:
#6 — AVENGERS WEEK: Iron Man
#5 — “Unknown Worlds of Science Fiction” Giant Size Special
#4 — “Fear” #1
#3 — “From Beyond the Unknown” #12
#2 — “Action Comics” #419
#1 — “Weird Science-Fantasy” #27