Stranded in the Jungle

“He couldn’t think; he couldn’t feel; all he knew was the rage. Then his body exploded.” Of all the chatty superheroes in the Marvel bullpen, no one is less chatty than the Hulk. The guy is practically pre-lingual. Only the Mindless Ones come close to being so damn inarticulate.

But as we know, the Hulk is not always the Hulk. Half the time he’s a wandering scientist who suffers from memory loss. “Two connected, but separate, rational personalities: one for thought, one for action.” The TV show proved that Bruce Banner could be an interesting character on his own. And everybody knows the Hulk possesses an undeniable primal charisma wherever he appears. After all these years, he remains Marvel’s most iconic hero (sorry, Spidey).

The one-two punch of amnesiac scientist and dumb monster works pretty well in the comics. But here, in prose format, the formula falls apart quickly. Banner, described as “handsome in a mediocre way,” is dead weight, nothing but a guy who’s infected with the Hulk germ. And the reader is just a guy turning pages waiting for “the green inferno of acrimony” to show up.

And in this case he shows up on a banana boat headed toward Africa. Why not? Let the big guy smash another continent for a change. In quick order, the Hulk thrashes a few acres of jungle, snatches helicopters from the sky, fights an entire herd of rhinoceri, dispatches a flamboyant despot (Idi Amin, perhaps?), and falls in love (sort of). When it’s all over, Bruce Banner returns to the States. And the Hulk remains ever-lovin’ ever after.

[Cry of the Beast / By Richard S. Meyers / First Printing: April 1979 / ISBN: 0671820850]

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