Hulk annual #1
Issue(s): Hulk annual #1
I've been aware of this issue for a while due to the Steranko cover, but it's always been out of my price range. I don't know if i knew and forgot that the issue was reprinted in Giant-Size Hulk #1 and passed on it hoping i could get the original (since the reprint has different cover and i wanted the original), or if i just never knew it. But either way, i've decided to get the Giant-Size issue since the story itself is pretty important, in the sense that it introduces a cast of "evil" Inhumans. The Inhumans introduced here are probably only rivaled by the Royal Family in terms of number of appearances, at least until the explosion in the usage of Inhumans in the mid 2010s. The issue also has a Hulk / Black Bolt battle. So definitely a story that needs to be in my project. I can look at the original cover online.
The story begins with the Hulk having wandered for "weeks" before bumping into a "European peasant".
A surprisingly articulate Hulk complains that humans always run from him, and then as if to prove them right, he tosses a huge bolder, causing an avalanche.
But hey, he didn't mean to kill anyone.
But i mentioned that the man was a European peasant. And we also have Black Bolt returning home to the Inhuman city, which is in the "Alps".
The Great Refuge is actually in the Himalayas. Marvel's No-Prize Book, written in 1983, makes fun of this mistake (and also notes that the Refuge was originally said to be in the Andes). But maybe this is the Inhumans' summer refuge. Or maybe this story was written from the Hulk's travel log, and he's not a good note taker.
Maybe it really is a separate Inhuman city. Because Black Bolt has come from "far-off lands" to render a judgement on some of the Inhumans here. And the only other member of the Royal Family that we'll see in this issue is Gorgon. So maybe the rest really are back in Attilan in the Himalayas.
Anyway, here are the Inhumans that Black Bolt has come to judge. These are the evil Inhumans that are introduced in this story.
Actually, Aireo, notably the guy in the most super-hero-ish costume, has appeared before. He was a random Inhuman drawn by Jack Kirby in the first appearance of the Inhuman city in Fantastic Four #47.
Note also that there are six Inhumans in the panel above. The one that you don't actually see is Nebulo, a shadow man. He will appear a lot less than the others, probably because he's easy to miss. There is also some confusion around Stallior, the centaur, but more on that in a bit.
These Inhumans led a rebellion while Black Bolt was away. It happened and was put down all off panel, and Black Bolt is now here to render a verdict on them. Before that, though, Stallior makes an appeal, claiming that he was led astray.
Due to the fact that i waited so long to get this issue, i've already read most of the evil Inhumans' other appearances. And one thing that always seemed odd was that in later appearances, Stallior is called Chiron or is replaced by another centaur named Centarius. I originally thought this was a case of later writers getting the name wrong. But it may actually be because Stallior, unlike the others, isn't really a bad guy. So when he was drawn into the later plots, someone might have realized the error and changed his name to fix it in the script. Eventually both Stallior and Centarius appear on panel together, confirming that there are indeed two Inhuman centaurs (and maybe three if Chiron really is a separate character).
Anyway, the other evil Inhumans don't take kindly to Stallior trying to separate himself out.
Here's our first good look at Nebulo.
In any event, Stallior's attempt to plead that he was duped is ignored by Black Bolt, and the group of six are banished to another dimension.
Meanwhile, Hulk, still surprisingly articulate (a first person pronoun!), encounters Lockjaw.
Lockjaw winds up teleporting him to the same dimension as the evil Inhumans.
Notice how infrequently Nebulo shows up on panel with the others. It makes sense - he's a shadow! - but i bet that later writers flipping through this issue just missed him when incorporating this group into later appearances.
The dimension that Hulk and the Inhumans are trapped in is surrounded by a barrier. The Inhumans say that it is impenetrable. But of course the Hulk isn't going to take their word for it. So he starts pounding on the barrier. Meanwhile, Maximus the Mad - what, you didn't think an Inhumans story wouldn't include him, did you? - uses machinery to weaken the barrier from afar. So the Hulk is able to break through.
The Inhumans try to convince Hulk that he should hang out with them. They offer to be his friend. And the Hulk says that they're lying, because the Hulk has never had friends. So to prove that they want to be his friend, the Inhumans attack him.
Attacking the Hulk with grass is about as effective as you'd imagine, but then Maximus shows up to convince them all to stop fighting and join him.
The Hulk is still not interested. He's teleported back to the Great Refuge with the rest but separately from the others. And he goes on a rampage. Generic Inhuman soldiers are unable to stop him.
Maximus, meanwhile, tells the Inhumans that he rescued that he is after an ultimate weapon created centuries ago by an Inhuman scientist named Romnar. Romnar's weapon is now locked up safely behind a barrier, but Maximus thinks that the Hulk can break through the barrier. So he sends the evil Inhumans to bring the Hulk back. It's Nebulo that does it.
Hulk still doesn't want to join Maximus' Inhumans, but they convince him that they way out of the Refuge is through the barrier that is holding Romnar's device. So Hulk punches his way through.
Once Maximus has the device, the other evil Inhumans decide that he's abandoned them, and they turn on him. It's a quick reversal.
At the same time they turn on the Hulk.
And then Black Bolt shows up.
Black Bolt orders that the evil Inhumans be taken back to prison (with Medusa not around, Gorgon is interpreting his commands). But the Hulk recovers and decides to attack the Inhumans that betrayed him. And this time he says he is trying to kill.
Stallior continues to show contrition for his original actions.
And the other Inhumans decide to get in on the action, either to earn favor from Black Bolt or to convince the masses to join them in their rebellion.
So far we haven't seen any action from Falcona. Her moment comes now.
Her murderous falcons will be pretty terrifying in future appearances as well.
I do wish Nebulo didn't get neglected, though, because i think it's pretty cool the way he interacts with real world objects.
Black Bolt uses his nebulous powers to take "control of the very atmosphere", causing Falcona to black out and lose control of her birds.
As far as the Hulk is concerned, though, Black Bolt is just another of the many Inhumans trying to keep him in this city that he doesn't want to be in. So he attacks.
Eventually Black Bolt lets loose a whisper, which knocks the Hulk back.
That doesn't end the fight, but the Hulk sees Nebulo sneaking up with his gun, and the Hulk changes opponents and attacks him. And then Black Bolt helps Hulk stand up. Black Bolt comes across to the Hulk as someone that might really be his friend. But Gorgon is still arguing that the Hulk be killed, and in general the Hulk hasn't had a good experience in the Inhumans' city. So he passes on Black Bolt's offer to stay among them.
I usually like Marie Severin's art, but this story might have benefited more from Herb Trimpe's faux-Kirby style. But Inhumans introduced here are surprisingly durable, if third-tier, characters, and the Hulk/Black Bolt interaction is a lot of fun.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: The MCP place this between Hulk #108-109. The Hulk is in Asia between Hulk #108-109, allowing him to be in the "Alps" (really the Himalayas) for this story.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Giant-Size Hulk #1
Inbound References (4): showAireo, Black Bolt, Falcona, Gorgon, Hulk, Leonus, Lockjaw, Maximus, Nebulo, Stallior, Timberius
The cover isn't 100% Steranko; Marie Severin redid the Hulk's head. The unaltered cover appears in house ads for the book.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | August 11, 2015 10:09 PM
My understanding of Nebulo is that he's not a shadow so much as he's an invisible man who happens to cast a shadow. The Marvel Handbooks call him a "semi-intangible malcontent" -- great band name, that -- but my suspicion is that tis is a typo of "semi-invisible malcontent" (whichis not a great band name).
Posted by: Omar Karindu | October 9, 2015 2:09 PM
This is interesting: according to Yancy Street Gazette #19, the Hulk's Annual was actually a replacement for a Daredevil Annual.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | January 18, 2018 8:02 PM
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