PROJECT: HULK — PETER DAVID

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And to think, it wasn’t even considered that great of a job.

In May 1987, The Incredible Hulk was far from a flagship title. Sales were down, and recent stories had become convoluted and made the book nearly unrecognizable. Rick Jones was the Hulk. A powerless Bruce Banner, now married to Betty, was working with the Hulkbusters to bring down his best friend. General Thunderbolt Ross had just been killed. In short, there was a lot of baggage for a new writer to deal with. Meanwhile, the X-Men (Wolverine in particular) were becoming wildly popular. The Avengers hadn’t needed the Hulk in years, and the Defenders had disbanded. The Hulk was certainly no throwaway character, but it’s fair to say he did not occupy the same cornerstone within the Marvel Universe as he once did.

Enter Peter David.

David had been given the title largely to make it up to him for being taken off Spectacular Spider-Man. He really hadn’t done that much comics writing, and news of his addition to the book couldn’t have excited fans that much.

Fast forward 12 years, when David left the book as the most prolific writer in Hulk history, penning 137 issues (331-467) and defining the character for a generation. His body of work on the title may never be equalled, in terms of quantity or quality.

This is PROJECT: HULK — PETER DAVID.

Many reactions swirled about my head as I sprinted through Peter David’s run, but one thought in particular came to the forefront of my mind, time and again:

Stan Lee wouldn’t even recognize this character.

Therein lies one of the true strokes of genius of David’s run — not only the degree to which he took the Hulk to places he had never been, but how rarely he used the typical Hulk formula.

When I told Spiffy about all the complete Marvel series I now have, he said he was least interested in the Hulk. I can’t blame him; other than David’s run, I would probably feel the same way, even now. You think about the Hulk, and you think about Bruce Banner, a nerdy, wimpy scientist who gets too angry and turns into the green and massive Hulk, a mindless brute of nearly unlimited strength and rage. It’s a creative enough concept, but in a monthly book, that formula can become pretty repetitive and, well, formulaic. Yet that was the formula Marvel had followed for the vast majority of the 25 years before David took over The Incredible Hulk.

How many times did David use the formula in his 137 issues? I won’t tell you exactly, but you can count all such incidents on one hand.

This break in tradition was directly related to David’s other great strength: change. He didn’t just break with the Hulk formula; he was never bashful about changing his own direction. Some writers will take a book in a new direction when they come on board, but few make major shifts in direction in the midst of their own run. David made five or six such major changes, and somehow, nearly each shift seemed better than the last.

So here is a look at David’s run, broken down into the different “eras” of his time on the book.

David’s first task was restoring some sense of normalcy to the title. He didn’t want to go back to the Hulk formula, but as I mentioned in the intro, the book had strayed too far from the beaten path. His first few issues reversed the most glaring error of previous Hulk writers, as David once again made Banner, not Rick Jones, into the Hulk.

But although Banner was back in his proper place as the Hulk, right away David made certain that this wasn’t going to to be your father’s Hulk. For starters, he used the gray Hulk, one of the defining decisions of his run. David didn’t create the gray Hulk. Although few people know it now, the Hulk was originally gray when Lee created him, though he was changed to green quickly thereafter to make the coloring easier. The idea of the gray Hulk had been reintroduced shortly before David took over, and David seized the opportunity to make the gray Hulk into his Hulk.

Gray Hulk is just so different that you can’t help but find yourself quickly captivated. He’s intelligent, but not in the Bruce Banner sense; gray Hulk is more clever than anything. He’s capable of rational thought and conversation, but he’s still brazenly arrogant and dominated by self-interest. He’s mean, with an unapologetically devious streak, yet Banner’s subtle influence on his psyche means he reluctantly cannot escape his softer side. Rather than triggered by emotion, gray Hulk comes out at night, every night, and cannot exist during the day, at least during David’s First Era.

Banner and Hulk forge an uneasy alliance and began a cross country trip, along with Rick Jones and SHIELD agent Clay Quartermain (younger brother of Allan. Seriously, lol), to atone for Banner’s greatest sin: creating the gamma bomb. This First Era of David’s run, with the group trekking to steal and deactivate the government’s gamma bombs, feels a lot like Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing, which was winding down about this same time. It’s not “horror” in the same way that Moore’s Swamp Thing was, but the First Era definitely explored the darker side of the Marvel Universe. Hulk fought Half-Life, a sinister creation of the nuclear age. He encountered the mysterious Stranger and the “savage” Man-Bull. He had his first meeting with the even more mysterious Mercy, an alien with vague powers who grants people’s wishes … to die (she showed up several times, to brilliant effect, in David’s run, and has never been used by another writer). In a particularly noteworthy issue, he fought a corrupt sheriff, in a story about inner demons — a motif that always dominates Hulk. Hulk also fought the original X-Factor and had a superb rematch with Wolverine in #340 (pictured above).

David teamed up with many artists during his lengthy run, and I will discuss all the main ones. But there were three great pencillers he worked with, and the first one was his artist during this era: Todd McFarlane. McFarlane was starting to emerge as a well-known name in the industry. He penciled the entirety of David’s First Era (#331-346), then left for Amazing Spider-Man, where he became more of a superstar. Not long after, of course, he would leave Marvel to help found Image and create Spawn, his biggest cash cow.

During his Incredible Hulk run, however, McFarlane was still developing as an artist. At times, it shows: in several issues, you can tell he just missed his best stuff on a few panels. For the most part, though, his rough edges seem intentional. Some later artists would draw a more polished, neat Hulk, but McFarlane made his gray Hulk look ugly, and he seemed proud of it. His interpretation of Hulk fit this era of the book perfectly. He was a complicated character with a lot of ugliness on the inside, and with McFarlane, Hulk’s outside appearance reflected that, as well. It’s no small task to visually re-invent such an established character, but to some degree, that’s essentially what McFarlane did, and it worked very well.

David wasted no time in involving the Hulk’s arch-enemy, the Leader. But as with the Hulk himself, David made it clear that this wasn’t going to be the same old Leader. For one, he had McFarlane re-create him visually, as he had the Hulk. The Leader had always had a big forehead; McFarlane did a variation on the forehead, bubbling out the Leader’s smooth skin to look almost like a giant brain. The result was that, for the first time, the Hulk’s nemesis looked menacing instead of borderline comical.

And David wrote him to be menacing, too. The Leader is lurking in the shadows throughout this entire First Era. And while he had always been evil, David made you feel that evil on a different level. He introduced you to the Leader’s victims, so that each one’s loss had a much bigger impact than if they had merely been the faceless masses. And he escalated the conflict between Hulk and the Leader to its highest point ever, leading up to the dramatic conclusion to the First Era, #345 (346 was a sort-of epilogue). Incredible Hulk #345 is definitely one of David’s top five issues on the title, and I would defy anyone to read it without getting goosebumps — cannot be done.

From there began David’s Second Era, best known for the Mr. Fixit stories. In the aftermath of the previous storyline, Hulk moved to Las Vegas, where he donned the alias Joe Fixit and became a bouncer/bodyguard/strong man for a local casino owner and mob boss, Michael Berengetti. This era has become perhaps the most famous and enduring portion of David’s run, stretching from #347 to 378, though the Fixit/Vegas stretch didn’t last throughout the entire era.

The penciller for the start of this era was Jeff Purves. Purves was no McFarlane, though he tried to be. He kept McFarlane’s ugly Hulk, but someone forgot to tell him that the rest of the characters didn’t have to be ugly, too. In some ways, I suppose Purves’ ugliness was somewhat fitting. Purves was there for all of the Vegas stories, which explored the town’s seedy underbelly and continued to peruse Marvel’s dark corners. David blended his near-horror of the first era with a Scorsese-type mob story, with conventional superhero elements occasionally sprinkled in. Hulk fought everyone from rival gangsters to actual demons, from the Grey Gargoyle to the Werewolf by Night. Considering the subject matter, you could argue Purves’ less than attractive characters were fitting. But that doesn’t mean I have to like them, or him.

In the First Era, Hulk fought his biggest enemy, the Leader, as well as an old rival, Wolverine. In the Second Era, David delved deeper into the Hulk’s Rogues Gallery, with the Abomination making his first appearance during the run, as did another of Marvel’s strongest villains, the Absorbing Man. Hulk also met with other rivals, Spider-Man and Iron Man. But if the Leader is Hulk’s arch-enemy, then the Thing is his arch-rival, and David delivered the greatest Hulk vs. Thing story ever. Hulk and Thing had fought several times, dating back to a very early Fantastic Four issue, and of course, the Hulk had always won. But the gray Hulk was not as strong as the classic green version, and at this time, Ben Grimm had become the spiky version of the Thing, augmenting his strength. In a brilliant two-part crossover (Fantastic Four #320 and Incredible Hulk #350), Thing won in his book, while Hulk won the re-match in his book.

Yet David’s creative touch helped him to not rely on the same villains time after time after time. True, Hulk had several run-ins with his two main villains, the Leader and the Abomination, during David’s tenure, but hardly any other villain was ever used twice. Instead, David kept dipping into new territory. He created several of his own villains (few of which were ever used by anyone else), the most notable creation  in this era being Madman. He also used many guest stars. This era saw Freedom Force stop by, and Hulk also teamed with former teammates Doctor Strange and Namor  (leaving the story just a Silver Surfer cameo short of a full Defenders reunion).

But one of the most important developments in this era came with issue 367, the conclusion to “Countdown.” The issue was a very good conclusion to a very good story, but it is most noted for marking the debut of the new penciller on the book, and the second of the three great artist during the run: Dale Keown. Keown had the longest run of any of David’s pencillers, staying until #398. For most people, Keown was not only the greatest artist of David’s run, but perhaps the all-time definitive Hulk artist, period. I’m not quite sure I’m one of those people (for me, it’s very close between Keown and the third great penciller of David’s run — still to come), but there’s no denying Keown was outstanding.

From the first page of his first issue (showing a weak, emaciated Hulk), Keown made a huge impact. With a writer of David’s caliber, the story is going to almost always stand out the most, but Keown’s pencils had a way of grabbing you and demanding to be noticed. He didn’t have a gimmick, in the same way McFarlane did with his ugly Hulk, or later artists with their overly muscular Hulk. Keown’s art was clean, crisp, straight-forward, and you love him for it. His facial expressions were superb, and those expressions played a large role in his stint on the title. He knew when to let characters’ characteristics look exaggerated (particularly evident in #369, the Freedom Force issue, with the massive Blob and the scrawny Pyro), but he never let his style become unrealistic. His action scenes were flawless, his close-ups were awe-inspiring. In short, Keown was just spectacular.

And with Keown’s great pencils on board, David seemed to up his own game once again. The book went through a slight lull, relatively speaking, after Hulk left Las Vegas, but now David came roaring back to full strength as the Second Era marched toward its conclusion. One of the first things David did on the book was tear apart Bruce and Betty Banner, who hadn’t been married all that long; then, by tearing them apart, he made them both stronger and showed why they belonged together in the first place. It all built to a fever pitch with issue #372, another of David’s top five or so issues on the title, an issue drenched in emotion and surprise, with Keown capturing it all masterfully.

After that fever pitch of an issue, it was immediately clear that a reckoning was at hand as the Second Era neared its end. But this time, there was no climactic showdown with a villain, but rather a reckoning within Bruce himself, as the warring factions of his mind could no longer co-exist without some sort of resolution. When Bill Mantlo wrote The Incredible Hulk in the 1970s, he introduced the idea that Bruce’s father had abused him as a child (a concept that was butchered in the horrible 2003 Hulk movie). David revisited Mantlo’s idea, but took it one step further, revealing that as a result of that abuse, Bruce had developed multiple personality disorder, and the gamma bomb merely gave physical form to his separate psyches. Enter Doc Sampson, who tries to save Bruce from the battle within his mind. The result was some of the most dramatic, stark character development you will ever see in a comic book.

My Favorite Hulk Cover

And thus began the Third Era of David’s run. Gone was the gray Hulk, but that didn’t mean David would be returning to the Hulk formula. Instead, he took the book on yet another departure from the norm. Bruce was now fully self-actualized, with his separate personalities merged into one — no more Banner or Hulk, just a new and improved Banner. However, the effects of gamma radiation could not be undone, so the one body his one personality would occupy was not that of Bruce Banner, mild-mannered scientist, but that of the green Hulk, in his full-strength glory.

This concept opened up a new world of possibilities. There had briefly been intelligent Hulks before, but never really a full-strength Hulk with Banner’s mind. For that matter, there was really no more Hulk, as he chose to go only by Bruce or Dr. Banner. But now, possessing unlimited strength and brains, Banner realized that  not only did he have control over his own life, but once again, he had the power to really change the world.

Enter the Pantheon, the group at the core of the Third Era, which went from #379-425 — the longest lasting of any era in David’s run. The Pantheon was a small group bent on achieving world peace; it was made up of highly trained individuals, most with super powers, who took their names from ancient Greek legends. Only the group’s founder, the mysterious Agamemnon, was actually immortal, claiming to be a half god. The rest of the members were mostly Agamemnon’s descendants and extended family. The group lived on a high-tech mountain base called The Mount. They offer the new Banner a place on the team, which he initially resists. But soon, he comes around to the idea of being able to use the Pantheon’s vast resources to change the world. Not long after Bruce joins, Agamemnon leaves the team, naming Banner his successor.

From there begins a long stretch of Banner searching for the best way to make a positive impact on the world. He has the means to do great things, and his own team to help him. Yet the task still proves more difficult than he had thought. At last, Bruce can be a true superhero, but he’s surrounded by a world full of shades of gray. His own group members mostly dislike and resent him. And he’s still dealing with the changes in his own life: the same remedy that gave him his sanity and intellect back required him taking on tendencies of the green and gray Hulks. For the first time in his life, he’s whole, and that’s more problematic that he could have guessed. During this time, Banner encounters Abomination again, but in a far more complicated manner. He meets with Sabra and SHIELD, fights new villains such as Speedfreak, and even involves himself in a civil war.

One of the strengths of the Third Era is the supporting cast. Bruce and Betty are together again, though the relationship is uneasy. Betty herself develops into an incredibly strong, perfectly written character. Rick Jones is there, returning to the book’s spotlight late in the Second Era and showing why he’s one of the greatest supporting characters in comics’ history. And there’s Marlo. Marlo Chandler, who dated Mr. Fixit in Las Vegas (yup, gray Hulk got laid), now in a serious relationship with Rick. Marlo is immediately a breath of fresh air, and has more staying power than you initially expect. She is also one of the focal points of “Ghost of the Past,” probably the best story of David’s illustrious run. The four-part concluded with Incredible Hulk #400, perhaps David’s greatest issue. It’s a story of death and rebirth, of friendship strained to its breaking point, of betrayal and rage, of high-stakes battle with the world dangling in the balance. It’s the final showdown between two great enemies, as Banner and the Leader have one last climactic struggle.

In the middle of “Ghost of the Past,” Keown left the title, creating a formidible hole to fill. But Jan Duresma came on to do a very brief but admirable fill-in stint. Then, with issue #403 (featuring Hulk vs. Juggernaut), the third and final great artist of David’s run came on: Gary Frank. Frank picked up right where Keown left off, staying until #425. His and Keown’s runs as artists, separated by just a handful of issues, formed the golden age of art for David’s run. Frank was similar to Keown, too; his style was crisp and straightforward, though he was much more willing to draw a more exaggerated Hulk, with massive muscles. But he never lost his sense of perspective, despite drawing everything from space stories to war to a wedding. If I had to pick one Hulk artist as the best, I would probably lean slightly toward Keown, but Frank would be right there with him, superb in his own right.

Reading David’s Hulk can be an emotional roller coaster, to use an appropriate cliche. He makes you feel such attachment to his characters that their pains and victories become yours. And David knew just how to tug at those heartstrings to make a point. In Incredible Hulk #420, he tackled his most serious issue yet: AIDS. Jim Wilson, who had once taken Rick’s place as Hulk’s sidekick (I believe in the 1970s), returned to Bruce’s life, dying of AIDS. Bruce’s final moments with his old friend are juxtaposed with Betty, who had taken a job at a crisis hotline, talking with another man with the disease who was on the verge of choosing suicide. You rarely think of comics as being able to tackle such serious topics in a way capable of registering such an emotional and, quite frankly, devastating impact. Yet David did just that, and it’s a difficult issue to make it through without becoming a little emotional yourself.

In addition to Betty, Rick and Marlo were pivotal in maintaining the more lighthearted human element in the midst of the heavier issues Banner was dealing with. Their relationship continued to blossom, and naturally, this led to marriage. David is known largely for his humor (especially in books such as Young Justice), but most of Incredible Hulk is pretty serious. But with Rick getting married, David got to stretch his funny bone for the two most humorous issues of his run — #417: the bachelor party, where assorted male superheroes give Rick a final send-off to single life (including Captain America bringing a porno), and #418: the wedding, where, in addition to countless heroes, many villains come to peacefully pay their respects to the happy couple (the Krees and Skrulls have to sit on opposite sides, of course).

Meanwhile, David continued to develop the members of the Pantheon, making each one a relatable and interesting character. Ulysses is the most easily likable character, except for his homophobia straining his friendship with Hector. There’s the overly ambitious Paris; Achilles and Atalanta, the secret lovers; Prometheus, the scarred tracker; and Ajax, the mentally retarded strongman. You come to really like and enjoy each member, and care about them individually and as a group. Which is why it’s all the more chilling when it all comes crashing down, as the Third Era ends with it in the emotionally wrenching #425.

The Fourth Era was not nearly as long as the Third, going from #426 to 446. The Hulk/Banner psychological split was restored, kind of, but Banner’s mind now occupied the Hulk body, and he would revert to the Hulk mind in Banner’s body whenever he got too upset. It’s an amusing concept, but David actually managed to get some mileage out of it in a quite serious way.

Around the time of the Fourth Era, the Marvel 2099 line came  out, featuring a series of miniseries and one-shots about how things would be in the Marvel universe in a little over 100 years. Some characters, such as Spider-Man, had new incarnations. But Hulk 2099, also written by David, was the real Hulk, who had become a powerful and evil villain named the Maestro. The Maestro was destroyed in the 2099 books, but the knowledge of this dark future dominated the stories of the Fourth (and Fifth) Era. Was Hulk/Banner fated to become the Maestro, or could his path still be changed? Every storyline becomes a possible signpost, every new trial could be the setback that sends him down the wrong road.

With Frank leaving the book at the end of “Fall of the Pantheon,” the Fourth Era opened with a new artist. If the Keown and Frank years were the golden age of art during David’s run, then the remainder of his run was the dark ages. First up was Liam Sharp, 426-432, who looked fairly promising in his debut. His was a more exaggerated style, but it looked like it might work. You may have seen Brandon Peterson’s art on Uncanny X-Men in the 1990s (including “X-Cutioner’s Song,” if that helps), and Sharp’s style seemed similar. But very soon, it became very apparent that Sharp wasn’t going to work. He seemed to be using the book to experiment with his drawing, and his work became more angular and messy until you could scarcely bear it. Thankfully, Sharp didn’t stay long, but after a few fill-in issues, Angel Medina came on board, and suddenly, Sharp didn’t look so bad by comparison. Medina, whose run went from 436 to 446, also looked promising at first, but again, dropped off painfully. His work looked incredibly rushed. His weirdest thing was that he gave everyone a massive forehead that often jutted out irregularly; it looked really terrible.

Finally, after 20 issues of painful art, Mike Deodato Jr. came on with #447. I’m not Deodato’s biggest fan by any stretch, but after Sharp and Medina, he looked like George Perez by comparison. Plus, Deodato’s style at this point (1996) was still much more traditional than he eventually became, so it really did look quite good.  However, his was also a short run, and in #454, there was another art change, as Adam Kubert replaced Deodato. Kubert would stay until the end of David’s run, #467. I’ve never been a big fan of Adam Kubert. He does close-ups well, but his backgrounds are poorly developed, and he doesn’t even try to draw to draw faces on characters who are far away. Seriously, go look at anything he’s ever done. When a character is way in the back and small, Kubes just draws a circle for the head and some hair on top — no eyes, nose, mouth. I have no doubt that drawing detail that small is one of the toughest things for any artist, but the good ones pull it off; Kubert doesn’t even try. Nevertheless, his run on Hulk was something you can look at and say, “eh, good enough.” He seemed to gain confidence as his stint went along, and by the end, his overall product was finally above average.

The best story of the Fourth Era was “Ghosts of the Future,” Medina’s first story as the artist. Again, it was a story mostly about the Maestro’s impact on present times. The five-parter concluded with the greatest Hulk/Thor battle ever, in issue #440. Medina’s art spoils the fight somewhat, but it’s still pretty epic.

I don’t know where David eventually would have taken the Fourth Era if left alone, but instead, the era was brought to a close by Onslaught. Onslaught, created by the dark side of Charles Xavier’s psyche, became one of Marvel’s ultimate villains. It took essentially every hero on Earth to finally defeat him, and during the final battle, Hulk and Banner were split off into two separate beings. Hulk ripped a hole in Onslaught’s armor, and the Avengers and Fantastic Four, with Banner, went into the void to save the world, seemingly perishing. Instead, of course, they were transported to an alternate Earth, where Marvel did the Heroes Reborn line for one year.

During those 12 months, Hulk was among those left back on the regular Earth, and without any of Banner’s influence, this incarnation was known as the Savage Hulk. This year of stories with the Savage Hulk was the Fifth Era in David’s run. If there’s a weak link in David’s time on the book, the Fifth Era (along with parts of the Fourth) would be it. He still kept the quality higher than most books you’re likely to read, but it wasn’t up to the standards he set during his first 100 issues on the title.

Nevertheless, despite being put in an awkward position by Marvel, David delivered some good stuff during Heroes Reborn. The highlights include a story where Savage Hulk takes an entire island hostage, and Hulk submitting to Apocalypse and briefly becoming one of the Four Horsemen — War. There was also the debut of the Thunderbolts, setting them up for their own series, and an issue revisiting Bruce’s relationship with his father. He also fought Mr. Hyde for the second time during David’s run, but their first meeting was better.

In time, Marvel brought everyone back to the regular Earth in Heroes Return, also by David. Banner and Hulk were merged again in #460, setting off the Sixth Era of the run. However, this would be David’s final era, and his shortest, as he would depart the book with issue #467. Marvel wanted to take the book in a new direction that David wasn’t comfortable with. He was the longest tenured writer in the book’s history, and now, he was being forced out. But David still had one more bullet left in the chamber, and he was going to use it on his way out the door.

He told a couple good stories, wrapped up some loose ends, then got ready for the big bang with which he would leave the book.

When David did … what he did, in issue #466, I was so angry. I remember turning away from the comic in disgust and cursing him out loud: “Peter, you bastard, and I can’t believe you did that.” It took me a moment to calm down enough to read #467, his last issue as writer, and I mostly kept reading with the hope he would undo what he had just done.

But he didn’t; it was real. Yet the more I thought about it, the more I realized that there was something fitting about David’s final twist. David had taken one of the least realistic characters in comics and made his whole world seem real. You were reading about this giant, super-strong behemoth, yet David entranced you so that you somehow felt you were still reading about real life.

And in real life, there are no happy endings, because there aren’t really endings at all. It just keeps going, and no matter how perfect one day may be, the next day always holds the possibility of tragedy. And for someone like Bruce Banner, life is tragedy. Maybe this was the only way David could have ended his run.

David’s conclusion to his run, 467, is a surreal but brilliant issue. A reporter is asking an old Rick Jones about his time with the Hulk. Rick tells the story of the aftermath from 466, then goes on to talk about more things that happened to the Hulk — stories David had planned but never got to tell. And by the end of the issue, it becomes clear that it is no longer Rick Jones speaking at all, but Peter David himself, as he peers out at the reader and says he could go on telling stories about the Hulk forever, but it’s time for him to move on. He’s said enough.

And indeed, David had said plenty, though he would eventually get the chance to say more. Years later, he would reunite with Keown for the brilliant Hulk: The End, a prestige format one-shot, in which he was able to do a more fitting capstone by telling the final Hulk story, drawing upon the themes of his run for one dramatic conclusion.

But confining myself to his run on The Incredible Hulk itself, David’s accomplishments were extraordinary. He put his characters through an emotional wringer, taking them to amazing highs and dropping them to terrifying lows. And he wrote it all in such a way that the reader feels every step and misstep along the way, as if he were experiencing it all himself.

And if, through his constant re-invention, he made the character unrecognizable to its own creator, then so be it. David was able to break outside the formula and create an epic run, the likes of which superhero books never see. He didn’t set out to tell good Hulk stories, he just set out to tell good stories, period, and let the character and his setting adapt along the way. The result was something fluid and unpredictable that never ceases to impress you.

I won’t sit here and tell you that as a result of David’s run, Hulk is now my favorite character, because he isn’t. But I can say now that Hulk has starred in some of my favorite stories ever, and was at the heart of one of the greatest comic book runs I ever have, or ever will, get to experience.

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8 Responses to “PROJECT: HULK — PETER DAVID”

  1. davidry214 Says:

    By point of reference, the old leader:

    And David’s Leader:

  2. Gokitalo Says:

    Wow. Terrific job, David. You know, I think it’s high time your PROJECTS got their own tag 😀

    You don’t have to read a whole lot of Hulk stories to know about the profound influence Peter David’s run on The Incredible Hulk has had on the title, as well as the character. At the very least, David deserves credit for making “Obey your Leader” one of the most chilling catchphrases ever. Well, that and “bikers are whimps!”

    I think I’ve only read one-and-a-half issues of David’s original run (a post-Horseman issue and the beginning of the Hulk/Wolverine fight by McFarlane), but I’ve been meaning to remedy that for years. That said, I read and loved Hulk: The End. Like the best “The End” stories, it perfectly encapsulated what the character is about while providing him with a sense of closure (also see Punisher: The End).

  3. davidry214 Says:

    Thank you very much, Goki. I appreciate the comment, and the praise. 🙂

    I actually had the same thought about the tag while working on this post. We could have a tag that encompasses all single-book review posts, such as Spiff’s Y review and your upcoming Eagle one. I have no idea what such a tag would be called.

    The “bikers are wimps” issue is very funny, or at least the first half of it is. Mr. Fixit goes around Las Vegas looking for someone tough enough to present a challenge in a fight.

    Hulk: The End was the first Hulk story by Peter David I ever read, and I almost didn’t even buy it. But the buzz on the internet was huge leading up to the book’s release, and I liked the whole The End concept. So I gave it a try, and I’m so, so glad I did. Not only was the book excellent (it was the best The End I read, though I didn’t get the Punisher one), but it was also my first encouragement to read more of David’s Hulk, despite not just loving the character. And at last, I’ve made good on that desire, and wow was it worth it.

    As you can tell from my lengthy praise (fittingly, this was my longest PROJECT yet, by a wide margin), I hope you too are able to remedy that lack and read some more of David’s run — though I also understand all too well the quandary of limited resources and myriad desires. I didn’t mention it in the main post, but my previous three PROJECTS have all been nontraditional titles; this was my first true superhero book to tackle. I think that’s part of what impressed me: many writers can be creative when working with genres rarely seen in the comic book medium, even if not to the brilliant degree of Fables or Y or Swamp Thing. But to be so groundbreaking within your everyday superhero genre, that really is incredible (pun intended).

  4. Gokitalo Says:

    As a lover of puns, I heartily approve! You have a point, though, it’s sometimes harder to be groundbreaking when you’re working on more mainstream superheroes. But I think the ’80s was a decade filled with groundbreaking mainstream titles. Claremont on X-Men, Byrne on Fantastic Four, Miller on Batman (Not just DKR, but Year One) and Daredevil… I’m sure I’m forgetting a few. It’s pretty impressive how David was able to continue that trend in the late ’80s and far into the ’90s, the latter being a decade a lot of people don’t view very favorably.

    Hulk: The End was probably a little better, but I do recommend Punisher: The End, which I think was collected in a trade called Punisher: From First to Last. And I like your idea for a single-book review post, although I think Spiff’s Y post was one of his “5 Comics I Love” and I’m not sure how in-depth my Eagle post will be. We shall see!

  5. Weekly Recommendations for Jan. 27, 2010 « Eat More Comics Says:

    […] I think Dave gave you more than enough reasons to buy this in his PROJECT: Hulk post, no? I mean, personally I’d start with Vol. 1, but I have the feeling you won’t be […]

  6. spiffyithaca Says:

    HULK SMASH PUNY LAW SCHOOL!

    Or at least, I hope that law school and subsequent law internships and the like don’t take that creative spark from you, David, because your Project’s are a testament to you as a writer and a testament to comics in general. Seriously, I didn’t give a shit about Hulk before reading this post (like he mentions, Hulk was my last choice of his options; I only care about how he’s translated to film or having “Hulk hands”), but somehow, I now feel like I have a hole in my life without having read this run by PAD. I know so much more about Banner and the Hulk, the character, his history, and the various layers PAD added to a previously one-note Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde rip off.

    So, thank you, David (both Youngblood and David, Peter). Posts like these are why I know that if we ever get a bigger audience, this thing could really snowball into mountains and mountains of, well, I was gonna say Gail Simone snatch, but she’s actually visited our blog before (whoops!). But something like that.

    Keep these project’s coming. I know you love doing them, and we love reading them.

    –Spiffy

  7. spiffyithaca Says:

    And, as a follow up, I’m in my last semester of college right now, and while I’m only taking 13 credits, I have to write a screenplay and TV pilot by the end of April, and all the while, say goodbye to one of the greatest chapters in my life. So, I’m going to try my damndest to keep up and read your guys stuff and respond to it, but I don’t foresee a helluva lot of posts by me, and I apologize for that. As long as you guys aren’t going anywhere, hopefully I can bring my weird brand of funny along with ya.

    (Awwwww)

    –Andy

    P.S. I’m harder than Rihanna right now

  8. davidry214 Says:

    Thanks for the comment, Spiff; I really do appreciate the validation after putting a substantial amount of work into this. When I started PROJECT: FABLES, I didn’t really envision spawning a series of Projects like this, or undertaking such a monumental run/post as this. But I’m glad it’s worked out this way.

    And I know how difficult it is to close that particular chapter of your life, but I wish you the best, and am glad to have you commenting.

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