Giant-Size Super-Stars #1
Issue(s): Giant-Size Super-Stars #1
At the same time, these books are described in this issue as being a return of annuals, which mostly stopped in 1968. "We started it in FF Annual #1... then had to let the series lapse, due to pressures of time and space, except for an occasional reprinting. But now, we're back with a vengeance!". In fact, footnotes will soon start confusing annuals and these giant-size issues, using the words interchangeably. But these giant-sized issues weren't intended to be produced annually. They'll actually come out several times a year. And while some giant-sized stories are standalone (like this one), in many cases they will be parts of continuing stories that begin and/or end in a regular monthly series.
Which, if the idea was indeed to gets newsstands that weren't otherwise carrying comics (or as many comics) to carry these issues would have been somewhat frustrating. I know that years later, picking up a run of Defenders and then finding out i didn't have the complete story because of the Giant-Size issues was pretty annoying. I wonder if that was because the Giant-Size issues weren't actually selling well; they were discontinued after only about a year.
Anyway, that's all mostly speculation on my part. As for this issue, it really is more in the style of annual. It's a big concept (Hulk vs. Thing in Madison Square Garden!) and a standalone story.
And it is a lot of fun. Of course "a lot of fun" and "Hulk vs. Thing" are usually synonymous, but there's the added twist that the Hulk and the Thing get their minds swapped, something the Hulk doesn't even realize but causes Ben to be disoriented and so he fails to use the Hulk's full strength.
And of course when the rest of the FF show up, they attack Ben-Hulk, not Bruce-Thing.
Thundra also shows up and attacks the Hulk, thinking she's helping Ben.
And when the Thing attacks her for interfering, she assumes it's Ben rejecting her help and gets angry.
The mind-swap occurs after Bruce Banner shows up at the Baxter Building for help, and gets excited when he hears that Mr. Fantastic had build a Psi-Amplifier, which was the latest failed attempt to cure the Thing.
(By the way, the "coffee machine" that the Thing is using is actually the remnants of a previous Thing cure attempt, from Fantastic Four #68. Thanks to Rich Buckler's regular referencing of Kirby's artwork, the device has been re-purposed and put to good use! Pretty hilarious! Thanks to Shar at Panelocity for pointing this out.)
Banner makes a few modifications and hooks both himself and the Thing up to the device, with the idea that the Thing's cosmic rays and the Hulk's gamma rays will cancel each other out and cure both of them.
Taking Banner's word for it that the super-science there makes sense, the device fails (and causes the mind-swap) only because Banner gets himself too worked up and turns into the Hulk. So as always, i wish one day Bruce and Reed would have tried to do the same thing again, maybe after giving Bruce some chamomile tea first. (Mr. Fantastic will actually use the Psi-Amplifier to try to help the Hulk again, but not in the same way.)
When the Hulk first arrives in New York, he's not sure what he's doing there, and wonders if Dr. Strange has summoned him again. "If magician made Hulk come to city, Hulk will hit him."
Most Giant-Size issues are padded out with reprints or extras. This one has the FF's rogue's gallery, accompanied with commentary. Example, for the Mole Man: "We always kinda wondered where all those old 3-D glasses went when they died!" And for the Miracle Man, it says "Real Name: Who cares?" and then the comment is "Gerry Conway, that's who! This is the super-villain he couldn't forget - or else M.M. would still be languishing in limbo."
Another extra is a reprint of a review of FF #1 by Roy Thomas, written in 1961. I've added it to bottom of the Fantastic Four #1 entry.
The original idea for this series, and the reason it has a generic (and silly) name, is that it was going to appear monthly and feature a rotating lead. Issue #2 was going to feature Spider-Man fighting Morbius and Man-Wolf (that became Giant-Size Super-Heroes #1) and then #3 was going to be a Conan story. Instead, this series becomes Giant-Size Fantastic Four #2 with the second issue.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: The MCP places this between Hulk #179-180. For the FF, it takes place before Sue gets back together with Reed in FF #148-149, but the question is how soon before? The FF are testing out a new aircraft given to them by the Black Panther in this issue, but that shouldn't affect placement for him; it doesn't say when the Panther gave the FF the ship or that the FF are returning from Wakanda or anything. But getting back to placement for the FF characters, in issue #146, the Thing leaves the Baxter Building to bring Johnny home because Reed has just received the divorce papers from Sue. In FF #147, they return to see Reed in full-blown depression mode, and that's before he learns that Sue has moved in with the Sub-Mariner. Issue #148 also begins with Reed pretty despondent. This issue has Reed clean-shaven and in a seemingly better mood. But i'm thinking Medusa got him cleaned up and interested in taking the Black Panther's aircraft out for a ride (maybe the aircraft was delivered by the BP as a way to help Reed cheer up). So i've placed this after FF #147.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Besides the need to make more money for newsstands, there was also pressure by Cadence(Marvel's owner company) to just get more books out in general(which is the most likely reason why individual characters got their own Giant-Size book rather than one monthly Giant-Size with a rotating cast).
Posted by: Mark Drummond | April 14, 2013 4:08 PM
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