Marvel Graphic Novel #29: The Incredible Hulk and The Thing in The Big Change


Writer: Jim Starlin
Pencils, Inks, Colors: Berni Wrightson
Letterer: Jim Novak
Titles Designer: Carl Potts
Editor: Allen Milgrom

The Stars:
      the Thing and the Hulk

The Villain:
      Banger McCrusher & assorted other aliens

Guest Shots:
      the Watcher

The Set Up:
      We begin with Ben on Yancy Street, having just taken a tomato in the kisser from a local teenager. Afer a quick flashback to tell us the origin of Ben and the rest of the Fantastic Four, we resume with Ben chasing down the kid and his friends only to be unexpectedly teleported away.
     Meanwhile, out in the deserts of Utah, a sculptor is just finishing his masterpiece- a sculpture of Ben Grimm as the Thing, probably about 50 foot high. Unfortunately, the Hulk is bounding through that same desert, and finds and destroys the statue. After a quick pause to learn the origin of the Hulk, we find the Hulk angrily smashing the statue, declaring "Hulk hates Rockman!" As the Hulk turns on the sculptor, Hulk is also unexpectedly teleported away.
     The Watcher assumes the role of narrator, and we learn that the Thing and the Hulk have been pulled to the planet of Matriculon by Stamben Malelet, a local bureaucrat. He needs some people to deliver a document to an important scientist from the clutches of a local criminal, and those people need to be large, rugged, and not too smart. So, he's chosen our heroes.
     The Thing and the Hulk materialize on Matriculon, and we're told the Hulk is being bombarded with "positive cerebral ions"and will remain relatively calm for the next day. The two are then offered, in effect, two wishes if they'll retrieve the scientist. These wishes include the possibility of both Ben and the Hulk being premanently restored to their human forms. Ben eventually agrees, but the Hulk doesn't care. Ben tells the Hulk he can promise him something if he helps- a "good time," and the Hulk agrees.
     So, on a planet full of aliens in a far distant solar system, the two set off on foot cross-planet to try to locate the missing scientist...

Clobberin' Time?:
     Not one, not two, but three Clobberin' Times in this Graphic Novel!
     Page 4, panel 3. As Ben's about to wallop three kids, all still armed with tomatos: "Guess what time it is, kiddies! It's Clobberin' Time!"
     Page 32, panel 1. The Hulk and the Thing attack a "Thulcan Death Rob" together, with simultaneous battle cries: "Hulk Smash!" and "It's Clobberin' Time!"
     Page 41, panel 5. Interrupted Clobberin' Time: After reasoning with an angry mob of thugs fails, Ben says "Okay, I tried ta be reasonable! It's Clobberin' Time," only to be interrupted mid-swing by the Hulk, who wants to try reasoning with them himself...

Petunia's Patch:
      No Petunia in here.

Things of Interest:
      This Marvel Graphic Novel (no, this is not actually an issue of MTIO, on the off chance you haven't caught up yet) was published in late 1987, not only after Marvel Two-in-One finished but after its follow-up book, The Thing, also finished. However, the good people at the Marvel Chronology Project place this chronologically between MTIO 74 and MTIO Annual 5 (presumably changes in the Hulk's nature warrant this unexpected chronological placement), so the last/next links below will take you to those.
     The plot in this issue is completely unexceptional- Ben and the Hulk are thrown together, team up, and head cross-country (well, cross-planet) having wacky adventures along the way. Its every buddy movie you've ever seen. However, as with every buddy movie, what makes it work well is the chemistry of the two leads and the interesting and funny situations they find themselves in.
     Page 22, an alien devotee of earthly horror shows (you know, the Six O'Clock News) yells "Oh, my stars and garters!" when he recognizes the Hulk and the Thing. This was a favorite cry of the Beast (a personal favorite of your editor), back in his days in the Avengers in the late 70s, and early 80s.
     The end of the whole thing is perfectly logical, and rather fun. The last page of the issue kind of nicely sums up the reality of the Thing-Hulk relationship...
     Unforgettable images: The Hulk's hat, though it might be a "you had to be there" joke- the chapeau in question is an exceedingly polite alien citizen who had the misfortune to bother the Hulk and ends up spending most of the issue as the Hulk's "disguise"---