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Incredible Hulk (Marvel Essentials, Vol. 5) (v. 5) Paperback – November 19, 2008
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Marvel Essential Incredible Hulk vol. 5. - collects issues 171-200 and an Annual. By this point in the Hulk's career most of the defining crucial Hulk elements have been introduced save a few.
Among other important Marvel History events in this book - Wolverine makes his first appearance - and I'm actually surprised at the relatively full realization of the character from the start. He is Weapon X.
Doc Samson emerges in a pivotal and complex role -and it's here - in this collection - that a couple of refinements of Hulk themes are made. Around issue #189 the tragic side of the Hulk story really seems to emerge. The melodrama and adult themes kick up a couple notches and we definitely see the Hulk leave flower power and the 60s behind him. I can almost pinpoint the moment when the Hulk mythology grew up and reached maturity in this collection - somewhere around issue #189. And when Sal Buscema takes over from Herb Trimpe - the Incredible Hulk reaches full adulthood. Sal Buscema's Hulk is THE Hulk. Before Buscema the character is in development - post-Buscema - variations on a theme.
Here it's appropriate to insert a word about Herb Trimpe. Great storyteller. Punchy graphic artist - I just think his Hulk design itself is lackluster. The face is almost always inexpressive and just plain unattractive.
Regardless, if you're a Hulk fan and comic reader - this is a great book.