lundi 6 janvier 2014

Hulk could fly in his first series

Here's my hypothesis: In Hulk #3 Kirby had the Hulk gain new powers thanks to cosmic radiation (the same way the Fantastic Four got their powers) and Lee overwrote it. I think this comes from Stan Lee objecting to characters flying for no reason. Few characters could fly in early Marvel.

(Personally, I wished writers were more discriminate with flying power. I don't know what would be the wind force necessary to fly a human being and the amount of noise it would create but I wished X-Men didn't speak in mid-air when flown by Storm. To this day I'm annoyed when I see Sub-Mariner carry people when he shouldn't be able to fly. At least his 70s costume made it likely he could glide.)

 Many panels in Hulk #3 to #5 show the Hulk flying, not leaping. It’s only the text that says he’s leaping. There’s not one panel that shows him unambiguously leaping while there are several that show him unequivocally flying (he changes direction mid-flight, turns right or left, takes off like a plane):
#3 page 24
#4 (first story) page 6, 9

And every time you have Lee captions which explain it’s not flying. Coincidence? Hardly.

The second story of #4 page 6 is the first panel where he is shown clearly leaping but that’s a different, smaller leap to create a shockwave to scatter soldiers when Hulk hits the ground.
On page 9 the panels are more consistent with leaping long distance. It’s only on #5 second story page 1 that he rebounds.

Clumsy as the overwriting looks, I have to agree with Lee's instant retcon (just editing actually). It makes the Hulk more interesting. And it worked. To this day some people have said Hulk wasn't flying in those issues so Lee must have been convincing. Like many I read those early Hulk issues after I had seen him in later Bronze Age issues so I also didn't think he was flying when I first read those early issues.

Since a picture is worth a thousand words, look at those trails...
Hulk takes off like a plane, can change direction mid-flight, etc.

The panels unequivocally show the Hulk flying and thus an intent on the part of the penciler for him to fly. Just as well the captions go at great lengths to overwrite the visual and show an intent for the Hulk not to fly. And this in two stories, Hulk #3 and the first in #4.

My guess is that Kirby was already at work on #4 before Lee informed him of the changes in #3. It also suggests that Kirby was doing a good part of the plotting already in 1962.

(And maybe earlier if someone gets to analyse and compare the various versions published by Atlas-Marvel of the same stories. Lee was known to submit an old plot when he didn"t have a new one ready for a penciler.)

There is a possibility that Lee first asked for a flying character and then changed his mind at the scripting stage but I doubt that. Kirby was the one who made unlikely characters fly (Thor) while Lee strived for more realism. I don't have my Omnibus at hand but I think it's Kirby who added the bootjets to Iron Man. In recent years some pages of a rejected Hulk story have surfaced;

(https://www.blastr.com/2012/02/6_pages_of_awesome_art_fr.php)

This wordless story seems to show the mental link between Jones and Hulk that was established at the end of the first story in #3 and that Hulk received along with the flying power. So, were those rejected pages supposed to come in issue #3?

Issue #3 retells the origin in three pages. It's a bit odd so soon after the first issue to do that. Then the Ringmaster is a character from Kirby's run on Captain America Comics. Did Kirby come up with that story in a hurry? The last page shows Hulk not only flying but looping (page 24).

Issue #4 starts with a machine aimed at Hulk's head (page 1). Was that originally connected to his injury in the discarded pages? In that same story the soldiers train against a jet-powered robot Hulk (page 4). Lee puts a lot of effort in his captions to explain that the Hulk leaps in such a way that he seems to be flying (page 5).

In #5 there are still many panels where he seems to fly (1, 3, 6 -cf the twisting trail as he leaves the plane-, 7, 11, 12, 13). On page 1, 6 and 12, we have rebounds and I wonder if these weren't added/redrawn by the inker at Lee's request. It is known that Kirby generally didn't read the pages after Lee had scripted them. Was that why the flying Hulk went on for so long? Or was it a disagreement which led to Ditko taking over with issue #6?

Ditko's Hulk is more clearly leaping. Page 2 is ambiguous but page 3 is less so. On page 8, no place is left to any doubt with the Hulk bracing and bending his knees in slow motion.

dimanche 5 janvier 2014

What are the defining runs of Marvel heroes?

A defining run is simply one that defines the character. A defining run is then one that is used as inspiration by later writers and which established or explored the limits within which a character works well. It is rarely a later run. Now, Silver Age heroes weren't all defined in the sixties.

Beast was defined by his 70s series which established his continual mutation.

 Captain Marvel and Him/Warlock were defined by Jim Starlin in the 70s even though they were created in the 60s.

 The (first) Guardians of the Galaxy were defined by Gerber.

 She-Hulk wasn't defined in her first series. Well, she was, as a monster, but that didn't stick. The one that stick is her Stern Avengers + Byrne FF appearances. She became a legit superhero rather than a menace, and fun loving and gorgeous rather than monstrous.

 Captain America was defined by Lee's work from 1964-1971. During that period, he became the out of time soldier, he was a team member of the Avengers in epic adventures, worked for SHIELD as a one-man commando in spy/action thrillers and was engaged in social commentary by his association with the Falcon and his road trip through America. Little much has been added since. Englehart's run fall in the social commentary model. Brubaker in the spy-thriller one.

 As excellent as it was, I can't see how Simonson's run on Thor could be defining. The mythology, soap opera and space opera epics were already there in Lee-Kirby's run.

 Wolverine's limited series didn't define him because Wolverine isn't continually immersed in the Japanese culture.

For Daredevil, it's tricky. Miller clearly influenced generations of writers but on the other hand the character has characteristics that Miller didn't touch and that other writers, like Kesel and Waid have touched. I'd say Wally Wood had the first defining run (he created the costume) but it's subsumed under Lee. Wolfman created the modern DD with more hard edged stories, which Shooter, McKenzie and Miller followed. Then Miller redefined the character by adding elements.

A famous comic book writer once said that he considers Miller's DD an "Earth 2 version." Mazzuchelli featured some Gene Colan influence. In that his approach wasn't the complete break that Miller was, his run is highly regarded. The first writer who has combined all the influences is Mark Waid. I'd say this character didn't have one defininig runs but several. One interesting aspect is how the character changes when you change the romantic element: Karen Page, the Black Widow in San Francisco, Heather Glenn & Elektra, Typhoid Mary & Karen Page, Milla Donovan, Kirsten McDuffie.

samedi 4 janvier 2014

Le 40e anniversaire de Wolverine

C'est cette année et apparemment ce qu'ont prévu les responsables, c'est plus de pouvoir autoguérisseur (c'est déjà fait), des griffes artificielles (dans les images pour le prochain numéro 1). Le personnage redevient ce qu'il était il y a 40 ans. Si on pouvait aussi retirer les japoniaiseries, je suis curieux de voir ce que ça pourrait donner. Le concept de départ peut-il tenir la route ou le personnage a-t-il besoin des ajouts successifs?