Saturday, 17 February 2018

The Incredible Hulk Versus Quasimodo #1 - Marvel Comics

“This special issue of Hulk comic” is based upon the script for the 1982 animated television series episode "When Monsters Meet" and therefore, due to it taking place on Earth-8107 in the reality of the Eighties cartoons as opposed to the ‘Marvel multiverse’, is unsurprisingly considered to be a non-canon narrative. Fortunately however, rather than finding such a predicament as working on a National Broadcasting Company (NBC) adaption some sort of stifling burden to his creativity, Bill Mantlo instead produces a wonderfully enthralling all-action twenty-two page “one shot collector’s item” which replaces its necessity to abide by mainstream continuity with an incredible array of outlandish foes, surreal set-pieces and magnificent motivations.

Indeed, the sheer amount of coincidences put in place to make the book’s cataclysmic confrontation occur alone is miraculously mind-blowing, with the Brooklyn-born writer manufacturing the arrival of “famous scientist” Bruce Banner in Paris in order to attend “an evening meeting at the Academy of Science”, Betty Ross secretly consulting the French Minister of Finance, Professor Jaques Royale concocting an untested, dangerous cure for the Hulk, and “the horrible Hunchback” deciding to steal “the gold of France” from its ever-moving Metro car, all at precisely the same time...

Of course, little of the Bill Finger Award-winner’s exposition to these occurrences makes any sense whatsoever, especially "Thunderbolt" Ross’s decision to choose his daughter “to be his secret agent” and entrust her with the key to France’s national bullion, or Quasimodo’s long-time association with the giant bat, Salvatore. But such quibbles are arguably easily set aside just as soon as the “great, great, great grandson of the original Hunchback of Notre Dame” abducts Betty, and Banner’s gamma-green alter-ego materialises to swap blows with the bell-ringing “monster”; “I thought we were evenly-matched, Hulk -- But you are mightier! Given time your fearsome fists might cause me harm!” 

Perhaps this comic’s greatest asset though, alongside Stan Lee’s whimsical narration, is Sal Buscema’s wonderful pencilling, particularly those panels pitched within Quasimodo’s secret lair where the deformed villain merrily swings upon ropes and tries to crush his “green-skinned” opponent with a “very ancient and very heavy” chandelier. In fact, the New Yorker’s flair for imbuing all of his figures with dynamic life is so evident in this publication that it’s clear just why the illustrator “enjoyed a ten-year run as artist of The Incredible Hulk.”
Writer: Bill Mantlo, and Artists: Sal Buscema & Steve Mitchell

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