When I was a kid I can remember sitting in my room, at the kitchen table or in front of the fire place with crayons in hand coloring in one of the many coloring books based on a cartoon, comic or movie character. Some of my favorites growing up was ones based on Batman, Inhumanoids, SilverHawks and Masters Of The Universe to name a few, but my all time favorite was an Incredible Hulk one that was released in 1979 that I would color in and give the crudely colored in pictures to my mom as gifts when I was a youngster. For this countdown to Thanksgiving update, I am feeling the need to get into a nostalgic frame of mind so I have chosen to take a look and review three old coloring books that featured original very kid friendly adventures of The Incredible Hulk! So get your Crayola Crayons ready as it’s time to color in a good time on this update.
Growing up the Incredible Hulk and Captain America were my favorite superheroes followed very closely by Spider-Man. And when growing up I had a subscription to all three of those comics at one point as well as Uncanny X-Men and looked forward to reading them as soon as they arrived in the mail…and I need to note that our Waynesville mailman did not listen to the “Do Not Bend” warning on the package and would fold it long wise to fit in our mail box! I can even remember renewing them to get more issues sent, and this is how I got to read such story lines like Cap Wolf and the first appearance of Carnage among many other great arcs. The Marvel Comics Subscription was a wonderful way for me to be able to read modern comics since I had to always wait until we could get to Big Bear to go grocery shopping in order to get the issues I needed to complete a story I had started sometimes even missing issues here and there. The good news is that for modern comic readers who don’t live around a comic shop and dislike digital comics like myself, Marvel Comics still offers the subscription service via their website! I just wanted to briefly talk about how much this helped my comic collection as a kid and how it helped me stay up to date on many of the storylines at that time. Below are some cool ads that used to be in the back of Marvel Comics that would tell you about your savings getting your comics this way. Oh yeah and also notice how two of them feature this update’s hero the Incredible Hulk!
The Hulk has been going strong for Marvel Comics for over 57 years and has had many ups and downs in his publication history and over the decades has turned from having a child like mind to having the mind of a genesis. He has turned from grey to green and back to grey to green again. He has tangled with the Army, The Hulkbusters, Abomination, The Leader and even Dr. Doom in many of his issues. But besides the Marvel Comics, The Hulk has also had many other fights and adventures as he has also graced movie screens with Hulk released in 2003, Incredible Hulk from 2016 as well as all four Avengers films! On CBS The Incredible Hulk became a TV Show that ran from 1977 to 1982 for a total of five seasons and had Bill Bixby playing David Bruce Banner and bodybuilder Lou Ferrigno as The Hulk! The TV Show started after a made for TV Film and would also go on to have three more movie specials that were The Return Of The Incredible Hulk (1977), The Incredible Hulk Returns (1988), The Trail Of The Incredible Hulk (1989) and The Death Of The Incredible Hulk (1990). He has also had his fair share of adventures in pop-up books, paperback novels, coloring books, video games, recorded audio, comic strips, cartoons and even the weirdest, toilet paper! And let’s be honest, this does not even count Fan Films and even your own adventures you made with your action figures, board games and Colorforms. So as you can see, The Incredible Hulk and his legacy in entertainment goes far beyond the world of Comic Books and has made its way into all types of media given fans even more ways to enjoy their favorite hero.
Did you readers know that in 1983 a game was being made based on The Incredible Hulk for the Atari 2600 that was going to be released by Parker Brothers? Well if not, you know now! The game would have had you play as Bruce Banner with your goal being to get through levels and avoid getting too mad and turning into The Hulk, but the trick was each level would get harder and harder. The game was to be the second in the team up between Marvel Comics and Parker Brothers with the first one being Amazing Spider-Man that was released for Atari 2600 in 1982, but sadly with the video game crash of 1982 came lots of games that never got released to consumers…and sadly The Incredible Hulk was one of those games. It would have also been a two player game meaning you and your sibling or friend could have taken turns playing as Banner and seeing how many points you could rack up. The game did have some press before it was set to be released that included ads and even a cover box design building the hype for gamers and comic readers. Over the years gamers have searched, begged for and hoaxed a prototype for this game and as of this update none have been found leaving the world without at Atari 2600 game based on The Hulk. Will a prototype for this unreleased Incredible Hulk video game ever turn up? This blogger, gamer and comic reader sadly doesn’t think so but if it ever does I for one will buy it on a cart and have an Atari 2600 Challenge update all about it. Below are some of the graphics used in the pre-promotion ads for this game so check them out and try to imagine what could have been.
So way back in the day I was one of the founders of a club called the “Dayton Board Game Society” and on July 11, 2012 at our first meeting we played the board game The Incredible Hulk and The Fantastic Four that was released by Milton Bradley in 1978. At the time we only had a total of three members as it was a private club and besides myself, Stephen Alexander and Josh Weinberg made up the group. I would love to share my thoughts from 2012 with you readers here about this Hulk board game so here is my review from back then: “This one was a surprise for me and I found myself liking the simple yet fun game and this would get my rating of 2.5 out of 4! Growing up I was a huge fan of The Incredible Hulk and this game has you being a member of the Fantastic Four trying to cure the Hulk as he rampages the board! While the game is a basic spinner game, it’s more fun as you the player is also forced to move the Hulk to block and steal other players cards. Very fun game.” At some point I should get the lads back together and play this board game again and see how an older me feels about it. Check out below for some cool pictures from that day.
So as you can see, The Hulk truly is one of Marvel’s most iconic characters and is one that has always captured my imagination as I have always found the character to be interesting and appealed to this Monster Kid as he always had a dash of classic horror to him like a little Frankenstein’s Monster and even some Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. So let’s get into the main attraction of this update, three coloring books made by Whitman Publishing that feature original very kid friendly stories centered around The Hulk. I really cannot wait to revisit the one I had as a kid as I have not seen it for well over twenty years at this point! So I want to remind you readers that I grade these comics on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comics stay to the source material, their entertainment value and their art and story. I also want to stress I am going to grade these a little differently than normal comics as the stories in these are going to be really silly and goofy so I will cut them a little slack. So with that grab your green and purple crayons, and let’s get to these coloring books.
Incredible Hulk: At The Circus *
Released in 1977 Cover Price .49 Whitman/Marvel # 1 of 3
The Circus is in town and The Incredible Hulk is working for them doing all types of fun things like lifting heavy weights as well as setting up the tents. The owner of the circus is Mr. Barnes and as he is counting the money, a masked baddie named The Stuntman enters and steals it and sets the trailer on fire! The Hulk smells the smoke and sets into action and saves Mr. Barnes, puts out the trailer by throwing it into water and then starts to chase The Stuntman to get the money back! The chase goes all over the circus with The Stuntman always being a few steps ahead, and The Hulk gets a good idea along with fellow circus worker Rubber Man to roll him into a ball and crash into the villain, and it works leaving Hulk saving the day and getting the money back!
The first thing I want to say about this Hulk coloring book adventure is that it’s barely a story and for the most part makes zero sense as the plot is just laughably bad! No joke, the plot is The Hulk working for a circus and loving to entertain people, getting back stolen money from a cheesy masked bad guy. The Hulk in this book is always smiling and seems to be high on life, I mean why in the heck is he working….Hulk just wants to be alone not setting up tents and hanging out with clowns! This is like opposite day Hulk as he just does not seem himself at all. The Stuntman is super lame and is so terrible he even tries to use a child as a hostage in order to get away…this guy is better left out of the comics, and I am glad this is his only appearance as this coloring book adventure should never been spoken of. The cover for this one is also really bad and has The Hulk on a trapeze looking very misshapen, and the interior art is just ok and while looks nothing like the comic art it does have a very kid friendly look. Over all this first coloring book adventure is pretty bad so lets move onto the second and the one I had growing up! Oh yeah check out the art below to see the art style of this one.
Incredible Hulk: Dot To Dot **
Released in 1979 Cover Price .59 Whitman/Marvel # 2 of 3
Alien race The Greenies are attacking the planet Big Zero and blow it up and only one of its citizens escaped named 00-6 and he has chosen Earth to hide out. But he makes a mistake and lands at a speedway as a race is going on causing panic as he uses his number blast power to make a racecar disappear as well as a near by tree and the picnic basket of Bruce Banner who was about to enjoy his lunch. This angers Banner who turns into The Hulk who charges 00-6 who uses his number blast and figure eight spaceship to try and escape, but Hulk follows and the pair are soon both captures by the Greenie King who looks like the Hulk! He informs 00-6 and The Hulk that is plan is to steal the color green from Earth and replace it with other colors causing a green out all thanks to the robot that is called Green Machine! Hulk does not like what he hears and is ready to smash both Green Machine and Greenie King and knocks out the King with one punch but is late with Green Machine who is on his way to Earth! 00-6 uses all his life power to make a number three flying machine that Hulk rides and is able to cut off Green Machine in space and knock him out and return to Earth on it. In the end Hulk is happy to be back home taking a nap under a tree.
Dot-To-Dot was a coloring book I loved as a kid and now looking at it as a 40 year old man, I must say this is super cheesy and super simple and really just middle of the road when it comes to a kids comic style adventure. The plot has The Hulk teaming with a number alien against a race of aliens and their robot that want to steal the coloring green from Earth as they use it as energy. The Hulk in this coloring book goes from being ready to smash 00-6 to becoming his friend to being Earth’s protector in a short amount of pages and while he is not fully Hulk of the comics in attitude, he is close enough. 00-6 is a small goofy little alien who uses number to fight against is foes, he is a good guy but also a little goofy when it comes to who he thinks are his enemies as he sees a tree as a threat. I also like how he uses all his numbers in order to save the world and dies for doing so…he is the Earth’s unknown savior. The Greenie King looks like Hulk with a crown and is an ego driven ruler who cares nor for others and only his needs. The Green Machine is a robot man who is into stealing the color green on the word of his King. The story really is super simple and is hard to break down so I will say I enjoy how Hulk goes to space, I like how he rides a space board that looks like the number three, I dig when he drops the name of the Silver Surfer. The cons are that the plot is lame, the villains are no threat and 00-6 is super goofy. The cover is pretty cool and has the Hulk being surrounded by numbers as an Unknown Artist did the interior artwork that is pretty well done. Over all this coloring book I loved as a youngster did not hold up and is pretty cheesy and for Hulk fans only. Check out the art below to see what you get with this 1979 coloring book.
Incredible Hulk: Wisdom Of The Watcher **1/2
Released in 1980 Cover Price .69 Whitman/Marvel # 3 of 3
The Hulk is in the desert to get a break from mankind, and while lonely he at least is not being attacked, that is until a small craft appears and uses gas to knock him out! Hulk turns back into Bruce Banner and finds himself on a craft and confronted by his enemy The Leader who places a device on Banners neck that will allow him to take control of The Hulk and use him as a weapon to take over the world and beyond. The Leader after making Banner turn back into The Hulk runs him through some tests to see what his body can withstand and how strong he truly is and once his questions are answered he shares his plan with Hulk that will have him travel to the moon and steal an artifact from The Watcher who makes his home on the moon. The Leader sends Hulk to the moon, and he is greeted by The Watcher who tells him to look around as he will not interfere in his quest all the while The Leader is in Hulk’s head giving orders as old jade jaws is trying to fight off his mind control. The Leader pots a red orb and he knows that is what he needs and to take it Hulk must fight a massive alien who has also shown up to steal the orb! Hulk defeats the alien easily and takes the orb as The Watcher witnesses him vanish back to the lab of The Leader who puts the orb on his head thinking he can learn the knowledge of all the planets and instead it over loads his mind knocking him out and allowing Hulk to free himself from the mind control and wonder away all the while The Watcher knew this is how it all would end.
This final coloring book issue of Incredible Hulk I have from Whitman is a pretty fun read as it’s pure kids comic stuff! The plot is very simple and has The Hulk being tricked and mind controlled by his foe The Leader who wants to use his power and strength in order to travel to the blue side of the moon and steal a powerful orb from The Watcher. And things go bad for The Leader when he finds out some knowledge just can not be learned no matter how smart you are. The Hulk in this issue feels a little off as at some points he is the mad kid like hulking beast and others he is mentally trying to free his mind from the control and comes off super well spoken. It’s like the writer of this coloring book forgot from time to time on what comic character he was writing this story about. But while the writing is a little flawed on how The Hulk acts, it’s still great when he is the Hulk we all know and love and is complaining about mankind. The Leader is as sinister as ever and wants nothing more than to gain power and knowledge and to rule over the whole world…he is such a smart slimy character that is easy to hate as he just oozes ego. The Watcher is as natural as ever and while he could mess people and events up he decides to play by his races rules and just watch, even if people are stealing from him. The Alien thief is big and bad and is no match for the might of The Hulk and gets his butt kicked really quick! One thing I did like about this coloring book is the fact The Watcher stayed true to who he is and just sits back and watches as all the events unfold, when he could have easily sent The Hulk away and then went to Earth and smacked The Leader around. The cover for this book is great and has The Hulk punching an alien in the face as The Watcher watches while space is in the background as well as what I would guess is the moon. The art inside is once more done by the Unknown Artist and is pretty good with sometimes characters looking a little off. Over all this is a fun short and silly Hulk adventure that brought joy to the kids of the 80’s and beyond. Oh and this one only had one small part colored in and that was The Watchers eyes were colored in blue. Check out some pages below to see how this one looked.
While coloring book comic character adventures are not the best written nor drawn stories, they still are part of the character’s history and it was fun to travel back and give them a read for this update. Plus I always enjoy taking some time to chat about The Hulk who I should cover way more often here on my blog. I am not sure if I ever will do another coloring book update based on a classic superhero, but if I choose to do so, I will cover Captain America. For my next update I am thinking I am going to put up the crayons and gear up to once more spend Thanksgiving with the mythology hero Hercules as he does 12 labors of superhuman challenges! So until then, make sure to stay young at heart my readers, and make sure to read a Marvel Comic or three, watch a movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host! See you next update for another Turkey Day Herc adventure!