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‘The Incredible Hulk: Worldbreaker, Hero, Icon’ (review)

Written by by Rich Johnson
Published by Universe


If the following review seems familiar, that’s because it is. With the exception of the underlined words, it’s the exact same review I did for Rich Johnson’s Spider-Man book back in September of 2022. At the time, I predicted we’d see a Hulk book next, and here we are, complete with the same issues I had with the Spidey and the earlier Cap volumes. My thoughts are the same…so my review is the same.

Back in September, I reviewed Rich Johnson’s big ol’ coffee table tome on Spider-Man here.

I called it “little more than a nicely illustrated $50 cash-grab catalog.”

Sadly, but not surprisingly, Rich’s Hulk volume is more of the same.

While I appreciate that there are books like this, clearly aimed at new MCU fans not familiar with the long and complex print legacies of the Marvel superheroes, I am not a fan of the fact that in this series, they’re just trying to sell you current trade paperback collections collecting more recent storylines.

Like its predecessors, this book is a visual treat. If you want to buy it for the art, you’ll find some great modern stuff here. Very, very little by Jack Kirby, though, or even Herb Trimpe!

No, almost every story arc given any detailed coverage at all comes from the ‘80s up, with the bulk being from the last 20 years.

As an introduction to the comic book Hulk, that alone makes this book feel pointless to me. The Incredible Hulk has perhaps the second richest history of any Marvel character and far too much of it is glossed over or completely ignored here in favor of highlighting more recent—and in some cases not even very well-done—arcs.

What’s here is good, mind you, well-written with even some of the more convoluted parts explained succinctly.

What’s NOT here, however, is any kind of real picture of the Incredible Hulk.

I’m betting Thor is up next for similar treatment.

Thus, endedth the rerun.

One more comment, particular to the Hulk volume, and that’s the sad lack of Herb Trimpe art herein.

I spotted exactly six examples of Herb’s artwork, all but one reproduced very small. A PDF search reveals that the artist’s name appears only once, and only in the reference material at the very end of the book. Trimpe was never a superstar artist, nor even a personal favorite of mine, but it was widely accepted for ages that the Hulk was definitively Herb’s character. Yes, others came before him and others came afterwards, and many of them made the Hulk “theirs,” too, if only for a while, but the Silver Age and Bronze Age Hulk was defined by Herb Trimpe, and I think it’s a crying shame that Rich, and Marvel, here seem to be trying to downplay his contributions if not erase him from their history entirely.


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