Thursday, March 26, 2020

Comics From My Youth: Marvel Super-Heroes #76, 1978

A recent run through the dollar bins unearthed this well-worn issue of Marvel Super-Heroes, featuring the Incredible Hulk, that I instantly recognized from my youth! This title contained mostly reprints of issues featuring popular characters from '69 to '82- in this case Hulk #124 (1970). I would have been six years old, and Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno were co-starring on the popular TV show, then in it's 2nd season on CBS, proudly advertised on the cover. This issue probably cemented my love for artist Herb Trimpe, whom I got a lot of exposure to as a Bronze-Age baby, and was as formative of my early love for comics as the Spectacular Spider-Man #22 issue I wrote about back in 2013. Historically speaking, Editor Jim Shooter had started to turn things around in this era, by growing the direct market. producing some classic stories, and getting books out on time. This was a relatively good time for comics, and the Hulk, along with Spider-Man, were really popular.

This was undoubtedly my first exposure to General Thunderbolt Ross, who comes to terms with his disapproval with Banner to make his daughter happy, and marry her off to him in her childhood home. It's as surely the first time I saw the Marvel villains Rhino and the Leader, the latter whom reads about the pending nuptials, and hatches a plan to undo a helpless Banner during the affair!

The Leader dispatches Super-Humanoid to retrieve Rhino, unconscious in a hospital from his recent defeat by the Hulk, and revive him using his advanced technology. Additionally, the Leader recreated the Rhino's suit, now amplifying his strength far beyond it's previous levels.

Rhino is hot to exact revenge on the Hulk, but the Leader has his own design- a shot of gamma to the unsuspecting Banner to awaken the Hulk, endangering everyone and everything in his path. Poor Betty's special day comes apart before her very eyes, the Hulk's wrath unleashed, her father injured in the melee and her childhood home destroyed in short order...

The brouhhaha escalates further when Rhino attacks, but the Leader fires 
on his impatient accomplice while trying to get another shot at the Hulk. ..

Angry, Rhino charges on the Leader, who attempts to leave in his escape module. It's jets are damaged by Rhino's attack, seemingly destroying them both in the resulting explosion ...!

We are promised a tangle with the Absorbing Man in the next issue, which I never read, but may now have to hunt down! This is probably one of the first comics I read, and all the action and emotions left a deep imprint on me, instantly recalled upon finding this treasure. Marvel must have printed a ton of these to capitalize on the TV show- did you have this issue? Below, a couple ads for toys/memorabilia within the pages, another thing I love about old comics!

More Later- Make It FUN!

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