Hulk Smash Avengers
$16.99, color, 112 pgs.
Writers and Artists: Various
Reprinting Hulk Smash Avengers #1-5 (Jul 12)
When I first heard of this project, I realized it owed its existence to the Avengers movie, but nevertheless thought it might be worthwhile: Five issues, set in five different Marvel eras, showcasing the Hulk’s relationship with the Avengers.
Now, my understanding is that until recently the Hulk’s relationship with the Avengers had been nearly non-existent, except for the occasional rumble. When ol’ Greenskin THOOMED off the team in issue #2 in 1964, he basically disappeared from the strip. After all, he had his own book, where various Avengers could guest star as need be.
But, how could I not be intrigued? A stroll through Marvel history could be fun for a long-time fan.
Of course, as a long-time fan, I was bound to be disappointed. I mean, Stan Lee and Roy Thomas don’t write any more, and both Jack Kirby and John Buscema are dead. So most of the creators that this aging fan most associates with the team wouldn’t be participating.
But, I thought, surely some of the older creators could ape the styles of yesteryear, and here I see Tom DeFalco and Roger Stern among the assembled. Won’t that work?
Nope. I was amazed to see DeFalco and long-time partner Ron Frenz, who have basically made a career out of aping Lee-Kirby, NOT aping Lee-Kirby, or at least the dialogue. So the first episode, set between Avengers #4 (when Cap joined) and Avengers #16 (“The Old Order Changeth”) didn’t read or feel at all like an early 1960s Marvel. And, for God’s sake, why not? Those are my Avengers – I started reading with Avengers #5 – and I don’t get a taste after all this time?
The rest of the book was pretty much like that. The right team members would be there for the individual eras, but they didn’t act or talk as characters did back then – they talked and acted like characters do now. Which, you know, I’m fine with for stories that take place in the present. If you’re going to set a story back when characters acted a certain way, have them act that way. Or else none of the stories from back then make any sense any more.
And did you know that Tony “Iron Man” Stark and Bruce “Hulk” Banner have had a close relationship all along? Despite that not making a lick of sense? Well, apparently they did, so all the times the Hulk almost killed Iron Man or Stark tried to exile Banner in space or whatever were just, uh, misunderstandings or practical jokes or something. For example, the 1980s Iron Man here realizes “Mr. Fixit” is the Hulk, but lets him go after the Avengers battle him in Las Vegas. Why? The Armored Avenger of that era, stuffed shirt that he was, would surely have arrested him. Then the other Avengers go along with his unexplained decision on Iron Man’s say-so alone, for the compelling reason that … oh, there wasn’t one. Even though Iron Man wasn’t exactly Mr. Popular in the Avengers in those days. (He’d been kicked off the East Coast team by Captain America – for Armor Wars, I believe, but it might have been for being a drunk. I don’t recall, because Iron Man and Captain America have had more disagreements and/or physical altercations than almost any pair of Avengers, going back to Tales of Suspense #58, Oct 64.)
So I’m disappointed that this series didn’t showcase the Avengers history that I’m passionate about. But I’m aware that wasn’t the purpose. I know, since Iron Man is a popular movie franchise on his own and Hulk was in the Avengers movie, that Avengers history is going to be re-jiggered so that Iron Man and Hulk are both central to the team from the get-go so that the (mostly imaginary) new readers from the movie won’t be confused when they pick up their first Avengers title. That, and not my interest in Avengers history, was probably why this series was written in the first place.
So, clearly, Marvel didn’t write this book for old farts like me. But then, I’m not writing this review for youngsters like them.
FWIW, the Iron Man/Mr. Fixit thing did happen, although I don't recall whether other Avengers were involved. IIRC, Iron Man let him go because he thought Banner had licked his demons finally and just wanted to live in peace.
Did it really? Wow, it's a given that I read that, but don't remember it at all. At a guess, I probably deleted it from my mental hard drive because I didn't buy it the first time, either.
I'm not sure what happened with the Avengers, but in Incredible Hulk 361, Hulk and Iron Man team up to take on the Maggia, Hydra and AIM. Also, there's definitely a very friendly relationship between Banner and Stark.
Wasn't Mr. Fixit working for the Maggia at the time?
He was working for Michael Berengetti. An issue prior, Berengetti had fired him. The Maggia were in his hair, however.
Yeah, I remember him being a knee-breaker for some Vegas mob boss. Not THE mob, apparently. Still, not the sort of guy Avengers should let go, IMHO.
If I had to guess, the Avengers allowed him to go because he was intelligent now. They likely figured that he'd be less of a menace, and that the effort to bring him in would likely not be worth the effort in civilian casualties and property damage.
Of course, I don't know, because I never read that issue of Avengers.
I read most of this series and thought it was just okay. I actually did read the “Bill Mantlo” issue in conjunction with Hulk #281, but although the former represents a sort of “untold tale” which leads directly into the latter, the two did not fit together at all. Id din’t read the issue featuring the “Red Hulk” because that character does not exist on Earth-J.
I bought the Joe Casey/Max Fiamura issue, but that was the only one. I was disappointed when I found out that Lee Weeks was only doing the covers.