Tag Archives: Marvel Comics

A Comic Fan Searches For A New Hero: Part 11, The Incredible Hulk

A Comic Fan Searches For A New Hero: Part 11, The Incredible Hulk

Posted on November 15, 2013 by 

Check out the introduction for background on this series of posts!
Check out part 1: Green Lantern. Check out part 2: Captain America.Check out part 3: Wolverine. Check out part 4: Power Girl. Check out part 5: Aquaman. Check out part 6: Luke Cage. Check out part 7: Iron Man. Check out part 8: Spider-Man. Check out part 9: Wonder Woman. Check out part 10: John Constantine.

The Incredible Hulk (1982 TV series)

The Incredible Hulk (1982 TV series) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Hulk has had 2 movies, has been in more than 10 cartoon shows/movies, had a well known live-action TV show, and is easily one of the most recognizable comic characters in the world. Huge, green, and angry. How does he stack up to the rest of the so-called heroes?

Who is the Hulk?

Hulk used to be just plain old Bruce Banner. Of course, nothing was plain about him. Many call him one of the smartest people on the planet. He used to work for the US government making an ultimate weapon called a gamma bomb. When testing the bomb, a young kid (Rick Jones to be precise) drove onto the testing site. Banner ran to save him, throwing Jones into a shielded area just in time, but was himself caught in the heart of a gamma bomb explosion. Ever after, Bruce Banner has shared his existence with the raging Hulk that lives inside him. There have been different incarnations of the Hulk, ranging from Green to Grey, child-like to manipulative, smart to dumb. Some of these will factor into the scoring, so I’ll divide Hulk into essentially 3 characters: Savage (Green, dumb, childlike), Mr. Fixit (Grey, Manipulative, smart), and Smart Hulk (Green, shares many traits in common with Banner).

Is this character heroic?  Except for Mr. Fixit, yes. While the Savage Hulk may not seem like he is very heroic, he always does the right thing when pressed. He has shown willingness to sacrifice himself over and over for the sake of others. Smart Hulk does as well, but he is often less overt about his heroism. (Savage: 1 point) (Mr. Fixit: 0 points) (Smart Hulk: 1 point)

Does this character represent the “powers” or fight against them? Defiantly fights against them. Hulk is the quintessential outcast character. The US military has often been his most aggressive enemy. No matter if he be Savage, Fixit, or Smart Hulk, even other heroes do not trust him, cannot control him, and look at him as a threat, often for no good reason other than his other-ness. And Hulk hates their hypocrisy and never shies away from pointing it out. Which of course makes them more aggressive.  (1 point)

Does this character kill? Errrr… depends on who you ask. Since the Hulk goes through so many different states of mind, it is hard to nail down which has done what. Even the Savage, Mr. Fixit, and Smart Hulk categories are somewhat arbitrary and porous. Still, having said that, Hulk is often protrayed as a savage, mindless brute who can level towns and mountains alike without even thinking about it. Surely he has killed thousands of people? Well, not really. In a more recent comic, a super-brilliant prodigy called Amadeus Cho revealed that when he was the Hulk, all of Banner’s intelligence didn’t dissapear, but instead was being used in Hulk’s subconscious to do “super-math,” essentially calculating the physics of Hulk’s rampages and making sure that no innocents have ever been killed. And sure enough, I looked back through tons of issues, and couldn’t find once instance of an innocent person dying. Still, what about killing bad guys? Savage Hulk, ironically, is innocent. He hasn’t killed any bad guys. Ever. Even Mr. Fixit, while he has maimed and broken his bad guys, has never killed them. Probably an oversight, though, as he has said he would. However, when smart Hulk has come around, he has killed a few. Especially when you consider that he helped a planet stage a rebellion against its oppressors. Lots of bad dudes died then.  (Savage: 1 point) (Mr. Fixit: 0 points) (Smart Hulk: 0 points)

Does this character have a spirituality? Eh… no not really. Banner straight up says he doesn’t believe in that stuff. Savage Hulk can see ghosts, though, and often interacts with spiritual beings more easily than normal people. Fixit and Smart Hulk don’t really talk about religion… unless it is with Thor.  (Savage: 1 point) (Mr. Fixit: 0 points) (Smart Hulk: 0 point)

Does this character have an interesting (and sustainable) story to inhabit? Definitely. Hulk is never status quo. His book, probably more than any other I can think of, has seen his character develop, devolve, change, and grow like no other. His antagonism to power, only to see them come begging to him when they need help is always satisfying. His disregard for the judgement of others, and his faux desire to be left alone, masking his deep longing for acceptance and intimacy is heart breaking and often reads like Greek tragedy.  (1 point)

Does this character have a supporting cast that isn’t just around to make them look good? Yes. Hulk has done a great job of surrounding himself with other people to share his burden, even as he pretends to push them away. From Banner himself, who alternates between antagonist, protagonist, friend, brother, and mad scientist to Rick Jones, his constant companion and friend (and now fellow gamma-powered hero), to Betty Ross (his girlfriend/wife who has also become gamma-powered recently), to General Thaddeus Thunderbolt Ross (his constant enemy-turned gamma powered rivial), and a whole host of others (Jarella, Caiera, Meek,  Brood, Hiroim and Korg, Amadeus Cho, etc…). Hulk shares the spotlight, because he needs people as much as the world often needs him. (1 points)

Does this character have a T-shirt I can buy in size XL? not a whole lot that don’t look tacky. (0 bonus points)

Does this character represent, in broad terms, an outlook on life that I can support? Ahhh… probably not. At best, Hulk is wish fulfillment. He might represent us at our worst, or what we might want to do when if we had unlimited power. But the point is, Hulk is really defined often BY his power. Savage Hulk might do the right thing, but only in the way a 5-year old might. Mr. Fixit isn’t concerned in the least about the right thing, and Smart Hulk is unpredictable, often representing the best of us, and then sometimes the worst.   (0 Points)

Are this characters powers (or lack thereof) interesting? Yep. Hulk is the strongest there is. Most of Hulk’s adversity comes because of his great power, not as a challenge to it. His immense (nearly immesuarable) power scares people, even his friends. The tragedy that follows him like a shadow makes his power all the more pathetic in terms of getting him the peaceful life he desires. (1 point)

Verdict: 
Savage Hulk: 7 out of 8 points
Mr. Fixit: 4 out of 8 points
Smart Hulk: 5 out of 8 points

Tune in next time for a discussion of Batman…

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A Comic Fan Searches For A New Hero: Part 8, Spider-Man

A Comic Fan Searches For A New Hero: Part 8, Spider-Man

Posted on November 13, 2013 by 

Check out the introduction for background on this series of posts!
Check out part 1: Green Lantern. Check out part 2: Captain America.Check out part 3: Wolverine. Check out part 4: Power Girl. Check out part 5: Aquaman. Check out part 6: Luke Cage. Check out part 7: Iron Man.

Spider-Man

Spider-Man (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am going to go ahead and assume that unless you are willfully ignorant of anything in any way relating to Western Culture, you have heard of Spider-Man. He has 5 (big budget) movies to his name, no less than 6 animated cartoons to his name, and at any given time appears in 4 billion Marvel comics per week. He is Marvel’s flagship character, and creator Stan Lee’s go-to quote machine.

Who is Spider-Man?

Peter Parker was a kid who’s parents had died and was being raised by his Aunt and Uncle (who happen to be Marvel’s city equivalent of Ma and Pa Kent). One day while visiting a science lab for school, he is bitten by a radioactive spider and gains powers associated with the spider. Once gained, he puts these powers to use trying to get rich and so becomes a pro-wrestler. However, that is short lived since a burglar that he fails to stop ends up killing his Uncle Ben. Peter realizes that his Uncle was right when he said, “with great power comes great responsibility,” and so Spider-Man is born.

Is this character heroic?  In every way imaginable. In many ways, he represents courage and heroism in the Marvel Universe. Spidey has gone out of his way to put his own personal life and desires on the line for the sake of others in nearly every comic book since his debut in 1963. Peter’s life is almost always a wreck because of his heroism, and he literally almost never considers himself above others.  (1 point)

Does this character represent the “powers” or fight against them? With a few notable and reversed exceptions, Spidey is the other. He is maligned by the media and outcast by society, with very few confidants that know both sides of him. He refuses to make money on the Spider-Man label, and consistently lives a poorer lifestyle than he could in order to maintain his ability to do good. This has also made him somewhat not a team player, simply because he has his own moral compass that he has to follow, above and beyond those of whatever teams he has found himself on. (1 point)

Does this character kill? No. Never. Not even a little. It is a point of character and morality with him. He has great power, and so he constantly strives to find more creative options to deal with his problems other than deadly force. Many MORE POWERFUL heroes could learn them a thing or two from Spidey  (1 points)

Does this character have a spirituality? Yes. It isn’t overt or treated particularly often, but yes. There have been numerous examples when Spider-Man has prayed, having literal conversations with God, we have seen that his Aunt May and Uncle Ben raised him in what seems to be a Protestant Christian fashion, he thanks God for this and that, and even with his overtly scientific view of the world, he was picked by a cosmic entity as one of the 33 most religious superheros in the world. Plus, that kind of devotion to non-violence has to come from somewhere, right? (1 points)

Does this character have an interesting (and sustainable) story to inhabit? Ehhh…. Here is my problem with Spidey’s story. Nothing really ever changes. His status quo always goes back to normal. This might be a reflection of comics in general, but Spider-Man has nowhere to grow. He has spent 60 years being as awesome as he currently is . Now, granted, he has had some of the most memorable events in comic-dom happen to him. The death of his first girlfriend, Gwen Stacy, was a major milestone, not only for Spidey, but for all of comics. He has been married, and had that marriage reversed through time-magic-mojo. He has had his personality displaced with one of his foes, he has been cloned and replaced with that clone, and has a marvelous villains gallery. Hmmm.. Now that I think about it, my earlier argument was invalid. If you stick around long enough, I guess his status quo does change after all. (1 point)

Does this character have a supporting cast that isn’t just around to make them look good? Not really. He tries, he really does. But the supporting characters are really just there for support, even when they get more fleshed out than other hero’s cast, they are still  HIS aunt, HIS girlfriend, HIS villain/best friend, never characters in their own right. (0 points)

Does this character have a T-shirt I can buy in size XL? Not a whole lot, but they are out there.   (.5 bonus points)

Does this character represent, in broad terms, an outlook on life that I can support? Yeah. In pretty much every way, Spider-Man is who I would like to be.   (1 Points)

Are this characters powers (or lack thereof) interesting? Yeah. He has super-strength (although not as strong as most strong heroes), super agility, can climb walls, and has a spider sense that warns him of impending danger.He has also built web-shooters for himself. His powers often give him just enough edge to solve the problem at hand without making him a threat in the process. His powers also are on the lower level as far as super-powers go, so he is constantly outclassed by many friends and foes, which makes for more interesting stories.   (1 point)

Verdict: 7 out of 8 points 

Tune in next time for a discussion of Wonder Woman…

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A Comic Fan Searches For A New Hero: Part 7, Iron Man

A Comic Fan Searches For A New Hero: Part 7, Iron Man

Posted on November 13, 2013 by 

Check out the introduction for background on this series of posts!
Check out part 1: Green Lantern. Check out part 2: Captain America.Check out part 3: Wolverine. Check out part 4: Power Girl. Check out part 5: Aquaman. Check out part 6: Luke Cage.

Iron Man in his Bleeding Edge armor. Cover art...

Iron Man in his Bleeding Edge armor. Cover art to Invincible Iron Man (volume 5) #25 (second printing, August 2010) by Salvador Larroca. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Iron Man likely needs to introduction, although just a few years ago, he was a rather unknown character in the public eye. I feel confident saying that there were very few actual fans of Iron Man in the general public before the movie came out, but now, he is nova-hot and most people see Robert Downey Jr. as the face of Tony Stark, a.k.a. Iron Man.

Who is Iron Man?

There has been a little bit of redaction along the way for Iron Man’s origin, so I will stick to the main points. Tony Stark, inherited a corporate empire from his dad. He built weapons for the government. He got trapped behind enemy lines (whether as part of a war, as part of a spy operation, or as part of a hostage situation), and suffered a heart injury. Deciding not take matters lying down, he made a giant suit to keep his heart going and also give him the firepower to free himself from his captors. This suit became the Iron Man suit, Mark I. When he got back to civilization, he decided his massively big brain and resources would be best used in making new armor and fighting crime as a superhero.

Is this character heroic?  Sort of, ish, yes. Heroism often finds its definition in the sacrificial nature of doing what is right. In Iron Man’s case, doing what is right often just happens to coincide with his ego plus his fantasy wish fulfillment. In other words, he does what excites, thrills, and amuses him, which just happens to be fighting bad guys. Still, he has been known to put his bacon in the fire on occasion for the greater good, so I will be nice here.   (.66, repeating of course, points)

Does this character represent the “powers” or fight against them? Unequivocally, Tony Stark fights on behalf of the powers. In his case, the powers are corporations, capitalism, and consumerism, and traditionally, militarism. He may not be a tool of the American government, but he is a tool nonetheless, one which serves selfishness, hedonism, addiction, etc.. (0.00000 points)

Does this character kill? Yes. He really doesn’t even try not to. Its like a giant video game to him.  (0 points)

Does this character have a spirituality? No. I think he “may” go to AA meetings, where spirituality is more or less part of the equation, but it is never talked about, never referenced, and certainly his overly rationalistic mind holds no compartment for religion or magic or spirituality. (0 points)

Does this character have an interesting (and sustainable) story to inhabit? No. He is rich. All of his problems stem from a bad guy du jour, corporate intrigue or his alchoholism. These three tropes get played out so often in Iron Man, that it really gets old after a while. (0 point)

Does this character have a supporting cast that isn’t just around to make them look good? Kindof. For most of Iron Man’s history, he was it. Then Pepper (his secretary) and Jim Rhodes (his bestie) became more active. Tony displays poor judgement in dating Pepper (after a lifetime of sexual harassment) and He gives Rhodie a suit of armor even more militaristic than his own so he could call himself War Machine. War Machine left the cast to be his own derivative character (did I mention he was black? See previous post for my disdain for black, derivative characters). So there was only pepper, and she exists only as Tony’s dame, or alternatively, the female derivative version of Iron Man. (.5 points)

Does this character have a T-shirt I can buy in size XL? Not really. Not any cool ones, anyway.  (0 bonus points)

Does this character represent, in broad terms, an outlook on life that I can support? No. Not in any way, shape, or form. Except he can be funny. But not really, no.   (0 Points)

Are this characters powers (or lack thereof) interesting? Nope. Its kindof like, “what would batman be like if he made armor instead of a cape and utility belt? Oh, and I am a billionaire, brilliant, inventor, too. Hedonist Techie Batman gets old.  (0 point)

Verdict: 1.0666, repeating of course, out of 8 points (GREAT movie. Not so awesome as a favorite….)

Tune in next time for a discussion of Spider Man…

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