The Transparent Fox:
Issue(s): Hulk #312
It's an important contribution to the Hulk mythos, and many consider it one of Mantlo's best contributions to Marvel.
Unfortunately, it's pretty clearly documented that the plot idea was stolen from Barry Windsor-Smith. I don't think anyone disputes that (although Bill Mantlo is unfortunately no longer able to defend himself, this would have been a known problem even prior to his accident; i don't know that he ever spoke on the subject).
Per Jim Shooter:
Barry came to me with a completely penciled and written graphic novel. It was the about the development of the "mighty, raging fury" inside Bruce Banner, who, he revealed, was the product of an abusive home. I looked it over. I thought it was brilliant, one of the best comics stories I'd ever seen. I offered Barry a contract and an advance. He turned me down -- temporarily. He proposed to finish the thing -- then, if I would agree to publish it as created, no alterations whatsoever, he would sign a contract and take the money. I was willing to agree to that in writing on the spot, but he said, no, when it's finished. Okay. Fine by me. I already knew, from what he'd shown me, that there'd be no problem.
I don't think BWS accepts the idea that Mantlo was a "rogue agent" on this. However, in the comments on the above post, Glenn Greenberg suggests that the reason this wasn't caught was due to the upcoming editorial shuffle between this book and Alpha Flight.
As far as i know, the original story never surfaced, even though Marvel had the draft copy referenced above. Windsor-Smith had been working on re-purposing the story for an independent release, but that doesn't seem to be forthcoming either.
Also see that second link for the original pitch. It differs in details from this issue, but obviously the general idea is intact, as is this innovation: "Bruce Banner, an 11 year old in 1950, is represented as the full grown, seven foot Hulk throughout this fantasy." In this issue, we have the very similar idea of a green Hulk outline around Banner at all times.
It's unfortunate the way this played out, because while this is a great idea, it's really not executed very well here, so if you're aware that this story might have been written and drawn by BWS, you get that sense of what might have been. Mantlo's story is ham-handed.
Later, Banner's fear of his father is transferred to General Ross.
A neat little bit: Bruce's father, although clearly irrational, speculates that Bruce is a mutant due to the incredible intelligence he shows even at an early age. Banner will later remind his father that mutant powers don't manifest until adolescence, but this isn't always the case, and there's no doubt that Bruce (and Reed Richards, and Tony Stark, and more) have an intelligence level that really does qualify as a super-power, so i thought that was interesting. Bruce's father was no slouch himself; he was an atomic scientist, and he fears that exposure during his research might have affected his DNA.
This issue depicts a final meeting between Bruce and his father at Bruce's mother's grave.
In this issue, the father is shown walking away, but in the Hulk #-1 Flashback issue, it will be revealed that Bruce's father was killed in the scuffle and Banner suppressed the memory.
The symbols of the Triad that we've seen in Hulk recently show up rather obtrusively in the flashbacks. Even though it's obvious and shoe-horned, the "symbolic" aspect of the Triad gives this story a weightier feel, so it's kind of cool.
Nothing in particular seems to trigger the Hulk's flashback of these events, although we can infer that the recent return of Banner's consciousness is the cause. The Hulk sits with the Triad in the Crossroads while this occurs. It's worth noting that i've been assuming the Triad represented the Id, Ego, and Super-Ego, but here they say they represent rage, self-preservation, and reason.
This issue is also a Secret Wars II cross-over (the final humiliation for BWS!) but the Beyonder doesn't interact with the Hulk at all (directly, anyway. He does help along Alpha Flight's fishing line. See more on that below). He's been observing Hulk/Banner as he had his flashbacks (maybe they were triggered by him?)...
...after exploring the multi-verse and checking out such neat places as Asgard (note the broken Rainbow bridge), Mephisto's realm (and it seems Mephisto has reformed after being "killed" by Franklin Richards; i've listed him as a Character Appearing even though it's probably safer to assume that picture is "conceptual"), the "weirdly organic" Microverse, and
I'm having trouble rating this. My ratings are fairly arbitrary anyway, but this would normally be worth a B- or so: great idea, terrible execution, decent art (this type of story isn't all that suited for Mignola's stylized pencils, but it's still good). But do i knock off points for plagiarism? I'm not a schoolteacher! But my meta-knowledge (this could have been so much better!) does affect my enjoyment of the issue so i'm knocking the grade down a peg. I know, i know: comic book creators of 30+ years ago tremble awaiting my almighty judgement.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: At the end of this issue we see the "fishing line" that Alpha Flight will send out at the end of Alpha Flight #28 to catch the Hulk and provide a new body for Sasquatch, although it's currently "an unimaginable distance away". Based on that, i'd want this to take place during/after AF #28 (Hulk #313, which depicts the Hulk struggling with the fishing line and takes place between panels of AF #28). This was officially a tie-in with Secret Wars II #3, but as long as it takes place after that issue (there's a non-specific scene depicting the Beyonder sitting at a table with who i assume is supposed to be Vinnie Corbo), we should be ok.
Crossover: Secret Wars II
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (8): show
It's possible that Shooter may have given this story to Mantlo after running out of patience with Barry's pace and simply isn't admitting it. Mantlo isn't going to contradict him, is he?
Posted by: Mark Drummond | July 14, 2012 7:55 PM
According to Doc Samson (via a back-up story soon after he helped combine the Hulk personalities), weakling Banner, the green Hulk & the Grey Hulk represent the Ego, Super-Ego, & Id (don't remember which one is which) of Bruce. I don't know if that affects your theory about the Triad or not.
I guess later changes (making the combined Hulk into "the Professor", just another personality) make Samson's hypothesis not work anyway.
Posted by: Erik Robbins | October 18, 2013 12:55 PM
"This is the issue that reveals that Bruce Banner was the victim of child abuse, which in turn is the explanation of Banner's Hulk alter-ego"
Incidentally, this is also the issue I always used to point to when people complained about the Ang Lee Hulk movie portraying Banner's abusive childhood as the root of his Hulk-ness, because they didn't like the concept and claimed it wasn't "true" to the Hulk (or however they'd phrase it).
While we can debate whether or not it's a worthwhile plot point (I always liked it, myself - it explains SO much), or whether or not it's a part of the mythos that should be emphasized or not, the fact remains that it predates Ang Lee's interpretation by about 20 years.
It could still work, if you're willing to stretch the definitions a bit. Rage easily translates into ID, and Reason works pretty well as Super-Ego. And considering Ego is supposed to be the sense of self that mediates between the two extremes, "self-preservation" could indeed be shoehorned into that sort of role.
Sure, it might not fit precisely, but why would you expect delusional manifestations of someone's fractured psyche to accurately identify themselves in Freudian terms?
Personally, I always liked the Triad, and felt like it was a shame that they never really show up again. And that, by their very nature, likely never will again.
To be fair, by the time of his first appearance in the 70's, Freudian models were mostly outmoded and rejected by mainstream psychology (along with Jungian models), and are really only taken seriously by laypeople and more "philosophical" types. Even Freud himself repudiated a lot of his conclusions by the end of his life.
You'd be hard-pressed to find practicing modern psychologists who take Freud at face value (the closest you might find are Neo-Freudians, but they change a lot of things). If your psychologist is talking about ID, Ego, and Superego, you might want to consider a new psychologist.
While this is hardly the only evidence we've seen to make the case, it's another piece of the puzzle proving that, whatever else he may be, Samson is kind of a terrible psychologist.
Posted by: ParanoidObsessive | July 13, 2014 11:23 PM
Here on SuperMegaMonkey, there is a piece about Hulk #245-248.
In one of these three numbers, pretty sure it is #247, there is a flashback where Bruce Banner is standing in front of both his parents' graves, saying something like "mom, dad, I miss you dearly", which is in contrast to how his father is portrayed in this story.
Posted by: Hanson | June 3, 2016 5:55 PM
I've added a scan of that scene on that entry. It is from #247. Thanks, Hanson.
Posted by: fnord12 | June 4, 2016 12:22 AM
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