Monday, July 18, 2016

Manic Monday--The Swanky Lives of Scientists, Or, Proto-Hulk!

This is why we don't have a cure for cancer yet...

...because the life of a scientist/playboy is one non-stop party!!

Seriously, how was Einstein able to come up with relativity when he had society dames begging him to come to yacht parties?!?
But of course, this is a comic book, so dumbass scientist must test his formula on himself...

Well, you know what's going to happen, right?



Hey, wait a minute!!

This guy looks kinda familiar!!

Fun Fact: This story was published one month before the debut issue of the Incredible Hulk. One month earlier...same writer (at least plotter, in this story), same artist, same science-goes-amok-to-turn-scientist-into-unstoppable-gray/purple monster story.

I've said it before and I'll say it again--early Marvel's success came from turning monster comic tropes inside out. It just usually took longer than a month...

From Journey Into Mystery #79 (1962), as reprinted in Fear #6 (1972)

7 comments:

Arynne said...

So what becomes of Dr. Not-Banner in the end?

snell said...

Oh, he was indeed immortal, so they tricked him into falling into a bottomless pit...

Hypersmash Studios said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hypersmash Studios said...

Hi there -- I'm a new reader enjoying your blog. Can you explain the comment that success of early Marvel Comics came from turning monster tropes inside out? Sounds fascinating. Thanks! --Roel

snell said...

Soory for the late reply, Hypersmash...I was out of town.

The formula for many of the Timely-era horror monster comics was essentially "some jerk does something greedy/arrogant/evil and suffers a horrific punishment, usually lifelong torture or death."

Well, for the early Marvel heroes Stan et al turned that on it's head a bit. Reed is arrogant, ignores proper safety, and as a result their entire family is transformed into freaks. In the monster mags, that would have been the end of the tale. But here, Stan said no, they suck it up, turn lemons into lemonade, and work for the betterment of humanity. (Contrast with Dr. Doom--his arrogance maims him, but he chooses to blame everyone but himself, and goes on to become a menace to society)

That same formula reversal is there to a greater or lesser extant in many of the early Marvel heroes. Nerd bitten by radioactive spider? In horror mags, he would get revenge upon his tormentors, but end up permanently transforming into a spider-thingie. But Stan and Steve chose a brighter path. An arrogant surgeon whose hands are maimed seeks out a mystic cure? In Timely books, he would have stayed arrogant, killed the Ancient One, stole the "cure,' and find himself in some horrible ironic punishment. Again, Stan and Steve chose a less cynical path. A scientist idiotically decides to try his shrinking potion on himself? You can see the horror comic twist, where his fiancee kills him with ant spray and a pet eats him. Stan made this guy a hero, founding member of the Avengers. Hulk, of course, could have been a one-off jerk like the monster in this story. But Stan and Jack play up the Jekyll/Hyde, give him friends and family, and while he's a jerk, he's (basically) a force for good.

Hypersmash Studios said...

Hi there,

Thanks for the thoughtful and informative reply. That makes a lot of sense to me, and I agree with it on an intuitive, non-critical level. I suspect it will hold up well even with greater scrutiny.

Is this a commonly accepted theory, or is this your own personal observation? I like it a lot. It's a really interesting way to look at early Marvel comics. Thanks!

Cheers,
Roel

snell said...

It's my own theory, but I wouldn't be surprised in the least if someone else had come up with something similar over the years...