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Marvel Masterworks: The Incredible Hulk Vol. 10 (Marvel Masterworks: Incredible Hulk) Hardcover – August 30, 2016
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The art is all from Iconic Hulk artist Herb Trimpe. The art is either inked by Herb himself for three of the stories or by Jack Abel for the other 10 stories. The late Herb Trimpe was a quiet and humble man who underrated his own work. The knock on Mr Trimpe's art has always been that it is not realistic, something which could rightly be said about both Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko and many of our other masters. As I reread these stories I appreciated his skills more then I did as a youth. Something about reading the Hulk run by Herb Trimpe just makes me smile.
After last volumes very solid run from Steve Englehart, he departs the book with the first story here. With Hulk #172 through #178 Roy Thomas sets himself up to retake over the book. Unfortunately he was now also Editor In Chief and really didn't have enough time to devote to the book. So while he plots out these seven issues, he only has time to script two of them himself. Gerry Conway and Tony Isabella both spend a lot of time expanding Roy's plots. Then with Hulk #179 Len Wein takes over as new regular writer. While I never thought Len was as good of fit for Marvel and I really disliked his Thor run, I think his stories here are the best of this volume and very good.
The first story Hulk #171 was plotted by Englehart and finsished by Gerry Conway. The Rhino teams with the Abomination in a good story. Jim Wilson, Hulk's sidekick briefly returns for two issues before he disappears for the rest of the volume.
Next up Roy plots Hulk #173, scripted by Tony Isabella. The Hulk fights the Juggernaut, while the canceled X-Men team show up briefly.
Next in a two parter in Hulk #173 and #174 Roy brings back another X-Men villian this time the Cobalt Man. Of course Roy is still busy and Gerry Conway must finish the 2nd part. The subplot with Betty Ross (Talbot) is that she married Glen Talbot when she thought Bruce Banner was dead is carried over several issues. Now Talbot is dead. Then she finds out Banner is not dead, and eventually Talbot is also not dead.
Then we get Roy's best story of this run Hulk #175, which he finishes all by himself. Hulk enters the Inhumans Great Refuge and wants to stay.
Next up is the three part visit to Counter Earth starring Adam Warlock. This ran in Hulk #176 through #178. Roy Thomas provided the basic story with Conway and Isabella (or both) helping out. The opinions on this Opus are mixed with some thinking it was brilliant, while others think the Jesus Christ parody was sacrilegious. My opinion is this story doesn't hold up well and it reads like a train wreck. Something about too many cooks. I did like the part where Warlock reverted to the Cocoon like his first appearance as "Him". Also interesting is Roy's introduction where he says Counter-Earth was his answer to Kirby's Fourth World books at DC.
With Hulk #179 we get Len Wein's introduction and my favorite story of the collection. The Missing Link is reintroduced as a family man who is unknowingly killing a young boy. This is a poignant story about a monster trying to change his life.
Next up is Hulk #180 and #181 which is really a follow up to Englehart's Wendigo story in the previous collection and the introduction of Wolverine doesn't happen until the story is half over. While I have read this one several times before my discovery this time was Wolvetine is actually called Waepon X in this story. I always thought that came much later.
Hulk #182 is actually a good story despite the lame villains Hammer & Anvil. Wein's CrackerJack Jackson is great character as Wein continues to play on our emotions.
We close with Hulk #183 which brings back Zzzak in a rather bland story.
We round out the book with two introductions by both Roy Thomas and Len Wein. I like that the are now sometimes doing this and I encourage this new trend. Of course both of them spend most of their time discussing their involvement in the creation of Wolverine. The extras in the back also focus on Wolverine including House Ads, John Romita's original costume design work and material used for the subsequent reprintings.
My Higest Recommendation.
This collection follows the adventures of the Hulk from America, to Australia, to the Inhuman's Great Refuge, to counter-Earth, back to America, to Canada, and home again. The Hulk gets in well choreographed slugfests each and every month. Some of his opponents are classic opponents like the Abomination, perennials like the Rhino, a few getting in their second shot like Wendigo, the Missing Link, and the Living Dynamo, and a couple of revived villains facing the Hulk for the first time like the Cobalt Man and the Juggernaut. There are also a few new villains like Hammer and Anvil. Hulk also faces some Marvel heroes like the Inhumans, Warlock, and most importantly for the future of the Marvel universe, the Wolverine is introduced.
Fortunately, this collection offers more than just slugfests. The Hulk gets to display a full range of emotions giving his child's personality some more depth. The friendships he forms and the attendant losses are well written and touching. The supporting cast is augmented by the interesting and complex Colonel Armbruster. Betty is still conflicted between Talbot and Banner. General Ross displays a change of attitude towards the Hulk. There is a developing subplot with Talbot that is not resolved here.
On the debit side, Bruce Banner is losing ground fast to his alter ego. He pops up only when the plot demands and disappears quickly. Dr. Don Blake was going through the same thing in the Thor book at this time. Some heroes really don't need alternate identities.
Although we have a bevy of writers the editorial hand of Roy Thomas keeps things relatively consistent throughout. Artistically one couldn't ask for greater consistency with Herb Trimpe pencilling all the issues. Jack Abel does a fine job with the inks but there are a few issues where Trimpe inks his own pencils.
The extras are fairly generous. There are two introductions, one by Wein and one by Thomas, each giving his take on the invention of Wolverine. Wolverine is also featured in character designs, original art, house ads, and covers of previous collections of Wolverine's introduction.
The book is highly recommended and not just for the historical importance of the first appearance of Wolverine. The stories are very entertaining and sure to delight all Hulk fans. The Hulk would rise to greater glories in the future but this collection can stand by itself.