Friday, August 23, 2019

Battle In... Burbank!?


Take one (1) orange, envious Thing, who's planted himself in front of the television to take in an episode of the 1978 "Incredible Hulk" series and can't for the life of him understand why it isn't himself on that 25-inch screen:

Following a loud crash that signifies a large orange foot making unrestrained contact with said television, add in the Thing's famous three (3) partners, who suggest he take out his angst on the show's producer:

Mix in one-half (½) physicist and one-half (½) raging behemoth, who, blended together, would also like nothing better than a face-to-face with our hapless producer, and not to chat about an acting job:

Finally, fold in three (3) former studio stuntmen who are scheming to make off with more zeroes than they ever saw in their paychecks:

Allow for flight (and leaping) time, and then serve.
But careful, this dish might have quite a kick to it!

It's been a little over five years since the Hulk appeared with the Thing in the pages of Marvel Feature to help propel the latter into a successful team-up format of his own--though two years earlier, in 1976, the two would become brief partners when the Thing disapproved of the treatment of Bruce Banner and the Hulk by both the FF and the military. By the looks of their recent cover, it certainly looks like they're at odds again--but is this really the knock-down drag-out it appears to be?

The short answer is, you probably won't be putting it in the same category as their classic throw-down in mid-1971, the last to be scripted by Stan Lee; in fact, you'll likely agree that the story by Alan Kupperberg makes clear from the very beginning that this meeting between the Thing and the Hulk isn't at all to be taken seriously--even less so than their clash in Marvel Feature, where their blows against each other amounted to little if any dramatic effect for the reader. (And if their battle here is being likened to a recipe, you can chalk this issue up to light reading, indeed.)

Generally, you'll have the impression that Kupperberg believed that staging a Hulk/Thing battle in the midst of a Hollywood movie studio (heh, "staging," get it?) would be a cross between a fight and a farce ("You can't hold up production like this!" "Hulk will knock you right out of that stupid shirt!")--as we discover as early as their arrival, with the put upon studio gate officer having become almost an institution in film and TV scenes by this time.

And just for kicks, let's throw in Karen Page, who has transitioned from legal secretary to actress. Regardless, whether in Daredevil or as an in-demand leading lady, she's still finding herself at the mercy of criminals.

"...I've been threatened by experts!" You make it sound like you'll break out of that mold anytime soon, Karen. Alas, you remain a running hostage (of stuntmen, Karen--your kidnappers hardly need to be experts) for the entirety of the story.

But, back to our combatants--one of whom has spotted the kidnapping in progress and attempts to convince his foe that this isn't the time for a slugfest. But the Hulk rages on, because... well, because he holds the Thing responsible for making him look ridiculous on a television show. Not exactly the seat-gripping tale we might have been expecting for our 35¢.

Finally, however, our kidnappers meet the end of their scheme when the Hulk's rampage brings down the set where they had taken refuge--and, in so doing, realizes the Thing was on the up and up with his claims of innocence. Of course that still leaves the matter of the TV show that raised his hackles in the first place--but our smooth-talking producer, Joseph Jusko, is a skilled hand at calming concerns raised by "talent."

As for Karen, she's on her way to another studio, having decided that soap opera work is far less harrowing than what she's just gone through. Gee, Karen, when the going gets tough... well, suffice to say you're misinterpreting that phrase.

And unfortunately for Ben's aspirations, he'll be moving on as well:

Could our studio mogul's name be ringing a bell with you?


Colin Jones said...

The Hulk TV series was very disappointing and nothing like the Hulk in the comics so Ben needn't have been jealous.

But it did give us: "Don't make me angry - you wouldn't like me when I'm angry". What a great line - Marvel should have used that in the comics :D

Tiboldt said...

No mention of the Thing's very own cartoon?
'Thing ring, do your thing!'

Comicsfan said...

Colin, I may have seen three or four episodes of that show. I remember when he and Thor went at it, and then teamed up--whatever you thought of the Hulk, you would have winced in agony at Thor's portrayal!

Tiboldt, no! Seriously? I remember the old FF cartoon, but I didn't realize the Thing had been given a solo shot.

Haydn said...

And then Karen Page's film career took a seedier turn...

Big Murr said...

Colin's observation calls up the old days of superheroes in film and TV. The paradigm was totally reversed to what it is in current times; DC had the only successful portrayal of heroes on the big and little screen. Marvel-related projects were so incredibly lousy that The Hulk was held up as the champion gold standard of "not totally sucking and mostly watchable."

Colin Jones said...

I do remember the poor portrayal of Thor in a Hulk TV movie (after the main series had ended) but at the time I was merely thankful that somebody else from the wider Marvel universe had been recognized!

Anonymous said...

C.F., you DON'T wanna know about that Thing cartoon. A teenager with a magic ring gets turned into the Thing. Don't even google it.
That Hulk show wasn't about the comic book Hulk, really.
It was basically like the old Kung Fu show where this dude wanders around aimlessly solving people's problems and occasionally kicks somebody's ass a little.
Which is basically the premise of Route 66, now that I think of it. And B.J. and the Bear.


Comicsfan said...

A teenager with a magic ring gets turned into the Thing.



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