Welcome back readers! Hope you all had a good Thanksgiving and that you’re not to burnt out on turkey as Christmas is just around the corner. My Thanksgiving was nice as always, spent with my family. This month of December we will be leading up to my big Christmas Eve update that will be as fun as last year’s look at Thundercats. So I am sure you are wondering what I have planned, but you’ll have to wait until next update for that teaser. This update we will be taking a look at a one shot comic that was based on an episode of the 1982 NBC Incredible Hulk cartoon put out by Marvel Comics the same year.
In 1966, a 30 minute cartoon series called “The Marvel Super Heroes” went on the air in the US via syndication. It was made by Grantray-Lawrence Animation and Marvel Comics Group and features not only The Incredible Hulk but also episodes based around Captain America, Iron Man, Thor and Prince Namor. But we are not going to talk about the other superheroes of the show and just focus of the Hulk ones that were based on the comic books and used artwork done by Jack Kirby and others as the animation. They would crudely animate them and use over the top voice overs. Each episode would be chopped into three chapters to tell the whole story of the chosen story arch. The Incredible Hulk had a total of 13 solo episodes and along with the others lasted till late 1966 for a total of 65 episodes among them. I can remember catching these shows years and years later in the 80’s on TV and also on VHS and always thinking how cheesy they were. While I enjoyed the Hulk episodes, I found the Captain America ones to be the best. Some episodes can be found on VHS, and on DVD for Region 2 players but as of 2014 no DVD nor Blu-Ray are planned for the US market.
In 1988, Marvel Productions made a cartoon series for NBC called “The Incredible Hulk” that was played during their Saturday Morning Cartoon lineup. The animation style was chosen because it was very close to the artwork that was being used in the comics at the time, but much like most cartoons of the 80’s many shots were reused saving money for the company. The episodes would follow Bruce Banner who would find himself in bad situations that only is alter ego, The Hulk, could get him out of. In this series he would meet and fight with such super villains as Doctor Octopus, Puppet Master, Spymaster, Hydra and Quasimodo, and would also team up with the likes of Rick Jones, She-Hulk and Betty Ross. The series also introduced a new set of friends with a Hispanic father and daughter named Rio and Rita who joined The Hulk on his adventures. The series only lasted one season and a total of 13 episodes, but even with such a short run thanks to reruns and VHS when I was a kid I was able to watch this series and will forever say it’s my favorite Hulk animated series to date. The cartoon had a few episodes make it to VHS and once more as the complete series was released on Region 2 DVD. No US release on DVD and Blu-Ray are planned.
In the 1990’s FOX Network was one of the top stations when it came to cartoons, and I am not just talking about the Saturday Morning line up. They showed many great cartoons from Batman The Animated Series all the way to X-Men; they had the lock on superhero cartoons for years. In 1996 UPN started to show another cartoon based on Hulk called yet again “The Incredible Hulk” that was made in the hopes to capture the same popularity as FOX’s major Marvel cartoon hits like 1992’s X-Men and 1994’s Spider-Man, and while many others cartoon series tried like 1994’s Fantastic Four and Iron Man and even later 1998’s Silver Surfer, they all failed to capture the magic and Hulk was as well a miss when it came to kids watching. This series followed The Hulk who was less dimwitted than the cartoons that came before and would add more smashing and fighting as baddies like Abomination, Wendigo, Leader and so many more became the punching bags for the old green menace. The cartoon’s main attraction was that it had the voice acting of Lou Ferrigno doing the Hulk, giving it a tie into the live action show and that it had many cameos from other superheroes like Iron Man, Thor and Fantastic Four. I watched the cartoon from time to time but was way older at this point and was more into girls, rock and roll and horror films than watching toons on TV. The series lasted two seasons for a total of 21 episodes that have not come out complete on DVD in the US, though at one point this series and many of the others that came before it could be watched on Netflix for a short time. Over all seen a few episodes even as of late and must say it’s a pretty good series but not nearly as fun as the 1982 one. Oh yeah and for season two, the show had a name change to “The Incredible Hulk And She-Hulk” after UPN felt that the first season was way too dark and that by adding She-Hulk they might can get a female audience to watch.
So that was a look at the cartoons based on The Hulk from my generation, but a 2013 series called “Hulk And The Agents Of S.M.A.S.H.” airs on Disney X-D and follows The Hulk who leads other Gamma monsters into battle is being made for kids of this generation. I have not seen the show but will probably watch it once it hits DVD. But now let’s talk about the 1982 episode of The Incredible Hulk called “When Monsters Meet” where Bruce Banner and Betty Ross travel to Paris and become the target of an ancestor to The Hunchback Of Notre Dame who wants a key that Betty is wearing around her neck as he knows it will unlock a vast amount of treasure just waiting for his taking. Of course when this Hunckback appears so does Banner’s anger, and The Hulk is set to stop the creep once and for all. What a cool idea for a cartoon, and I am sure it had both Super Hero and Monster Kids happy as the two titans of brute power slugged it out for their amusement on Saturday Morning Cartoons. This episode as well as the rest in the series was narrated by Stan Lee who helped try to build the mood as well as fill in the blanks of what and who the characters are, making you as the viewer feel as if you now knew everything about the likes of Quasimodo. The episode is the fourth episode in the series when it aired and helped set the bar for the episodes to come. I first watched this episode on VHS via the Marvel Comics Video Library Volume 5 that I bought from a local video store when I was in my mid teen years, and I can remember thinking just how fun and silly the cartoon was and how The Hulk looked like he should in animated cartoon world. If you’re looking to watch this episode you can via VHS, DVD and even on Youtube, check it out if you like 80’s cartoons and enjoy all things Hulk.
Before we move onto the comic adaptation of the episode we just spoke about I want to talk about another horror film I would love to see get made into a comic mini series and it as well was made in 1982! The film is called “Curse Of The Cannibal Confederates,” and it could be one of the cheesiest horror films I have ever seen, but damn would it be a fun film to turn into a comic. The film was directed by Tony Malanowski and follows six friends, one being a blind girl, as they go camping and hiking, but while finding an old church and graveyard in the woods they bother some items left behind and one takes a journal written by a Confederate general who was tortured alongside his men and are the ones buried in the graves. Taking the journal off the Church land makes the General and his men rise from the grave as zombies to eat the living and get back what’s theirs. The movie is released by Troma and is ranked as one of the worst films in their vast library or so Lloyd Kauffman says in his book “All I Need To Know About Filmmaking I Learned From The Toxic Avenger”, but this didn’t stop the film from coming out on VHS and DVD from Troma as well as part of Brentwoods/BCI sets on DVD called Toxie’s Triple Terror Volume 1. If a comic series was to be made, it could follow a new set of campers who go out into the woods and stay the night at the old church after hearing the legends of the Confederate Zombie Soldiers. They bring cameras along with them to make a documentary and at night they all get a little drunk and get destructive and burn an old confederate flag taunting the spirits of the soldiers, and this act brings the dead back to life once again! The comic is then about them trying to get out of the woods alive, and as a side story two cops, who are the sons of the cop characters from the movie who are killed and eaten, are also around trying to see if the legends are true and if their fathers really died as legend tells. This could be a fun mini series and could make up for the lame movie kills with over the top zombie art kills and a spine tingling story. I would like to see Troma make the comic themselves and if not them than IDW. If I could get one of my comic book friends to make it I would say that Bruce O’ Hughes, Eric Shonborn or Justin Wasson would be the best for the job as each have their own styles and all that could fit the mood of the story and characters. Maybe someday once I get the Night of The Demon Comic done. I will try and get this one done. Oh yeah and the film has an alternate title “The Curse Of The Screaming Dead”. So until then for god’s sake please don’t read any journals found near cemeteries.
So we took a look at cartoon versions of the Hulk, the episode from 82 that this comic is based, a comic series I would love to have made based on a Troma movie as well as a little about my Thanksgiving. So now I think its time that we take a look at this one shot Marvel Comic starring one of my all time favorite superheroes, The Incredible Hulk, and guest starring one of Horrors most iconic characters The Hunchback of Notre Dame. So I have to remind everyone that I grade these on a standard 1-4 star rating and base it on how well the comic stays to the source material, it’s entertainment value and it’s art and story. I was lucky to get this comic for free thanks to Joe G and Mavericks Cards and Comics who gave this away for Free Comic Book Day some years back. Joe use to work for Mavericks and was helping out on Free Comic Book day and when the normal stock of free comics were given away Joe brought some of his own in to continue the fun…and I was lucky enough to get this issue, so a big thanks goes out to Joe and Mavericks for going above and behind that Free Comic Day. So let’s travel to Paris and watch two monsters clash in the streets for our amusement.
Bruce Banner and Betty Ross are on a trip to Paris and visit the famed cathedral of Notre Dame, as high above them Quasimodo and his large bat humanoid friend Salvatore watch and target a key necklace that Betty is wearing. You see her necklace key alongside The France Prime Minister Of Finance’s opens a hidden vault filled with money and gold. While Quasimodo hatches a plan to kidnap Betty and get the key, Bruce and Betty meet up with Professor Jaques Royale who gives Bruce an untested cure, that Bruce shrugs off as a cure for a cold so Betty doesn’t get hip to the fact he is also The Hulk. As Bruce tries to get them a taxi, Quasimodo pops from the sewer and grabs Betty, taking her back down with him. As Bruce gives chase Quasimodo puts Betty in a hidden room deep in the sewer and comes out to face Bruce who quickly turns into The Hulk, and the two monsters exchange punches. As the fight between the monsters rages on the formula cure falls from the Hulks pocket and Betty climbs the side of her prison wall and escapes only to be followed by Salvatore who finds out the location of the hidden loot and tells Quasimodo who has shaken the Hulk off his trail by making him fall into water and almost drowning! Betty meets up with The France Prime Minister Of Finance, and they enter a metro car filled with gold and head to the secret hidden spot. Meanwhile The Hulk has turned back into Bruce and finds the cure at the same time Quasimodo finds him. Quasimodo says he will trade information on where Betty is and will not go after her and the gold if Banner gives him the cure. Bruce gives him the cure, and when it doesn’t work fast enough Quasimodo goes on a rampage to steal the gold as Bruce turns into the Hulk and makes quick work on the attacking Salvatore, and goes to stop Quasimodo who turns into a normal man thanks to the cure. The Hulk stops the train car that was out of control. In the end all ends well for everyone besides Bruce Banner who still is cursed with The Hulk.
This comic follows the cartoon it was based on for the most part; the one major change is that I felt the fights between the two in the toon were way more epic than they are in the comic. The plot is simple: Bruce and Betty go to France each with their own “secret” mission. Betty is to help transport gold to a hidden vault with a key that was entrusted to her by her father Thunderbolt Ross, and Bruce is there to give some science lectures but mostly around to get an untested cure. The Great, Great, Great Grandson to The Hunchback of Notre Dame Quasimodo wants what both of them have and more so wants to be cured and not an ugly monster any more. This clearly is not in the main story arc of the ongoing comic series as many changes are around from Betty not knowing Bruce is the Hulk and the fact that Quasimodo for the most part fought the Hulk fist to fist and was able to hold is own for the most part. The Hulk is the slow-witted Green Skin Goliath that we all know and love who just wants to protect Betty and smash things. Bruce Banner is the same old same old smart guy, but is a lot less of a sad bastard. Betty for some reason is like a secret agent in this issue and holds literally the key to all of France’s money. While she does play the helpless victim for a short time, she clearly can take care of herself as she escapes Quasimodo’s prison cell on her own. Quasimodo is a jerk for the most part and while he knows he’s ugly and a monster he thinks by stealing gold and money that he can buy himself happiness. In fact even though it looked as if Bruce was going to give him the cure formula Quasimodo bullied his way into snatching it from his hands. Salvatore the giant bat is pretty much a generic henchman who can bully the weak humans but is no match for The Hulk. The comic, while not the completely the same as the cartoon, holds true enough to the source material to make it an enjoyable read. Oh yeah and at the end of the issue, they try and make sure to remind you to watch Spider-Man And His Amazing Friends and Incredible Hulk on NBC Saturdays! The comic’s artwork is well done and is by the two talented artists Sal Buscema and Steve Mitchell, and the cover is fantastic and reminds me of an old Monster Magazine like Creepy meets a classic 70’s Hulk Comic cover. Great Read, Great Cartoon Adaptation and once more thanks Joe G and Mavericks for having this comic out for Free Comic Book Day.
Nothing says the holiday season to me more than The Hulk…am I right or am I right? Here is to hoping that some day Disney will get in gear and release all these Hulk cartoons as well as all the rest of the classic Marvel cartoons on DVD/Blu-Ray. Thus far they have released the 1967 Spider-Mans, The 1992 X-Men series as well as the 1994 Iron Man and Fantastic Four, but nothing more for a few years now. Fans have begged for them to release the 1994 Spider-Man series, and while they have put select episodes on DVD and VHS no full seasons are in the works. Well over all I find this one shot issue a very cool tie into a very underrated Saturday morning cartoon tht should have truly lead to a comic series based on his animated adventures, and if Star Comics was around at this time it would have been a perfect fit to go alongside Wally The Wizard and Thundercats. Our next update will bring us a little closer to Christmas, and while doing some deep thinking on what to do and I decided that we will take a look at a Dell Comic based on a Roger Corman film that was adapted from the writing of Edgar Allen Poe that stars horror actor icon Vincent Price and that’s Tomb Of Ligeia! So until next time have a safe Holiday Season, buy your Christmas presents from local stores and make sure to stay nerdy and read a comic or two.