Monday, August 5, 2013

Not-So-Idle Hands


Let's say a staffer walks into your production office at Marvel Comics and says, "Hey! Let's produce some comics covers where the main object pictured is just a giant hand, doing something or grabbing someone. I'm telling you, they'll sell like hotcakes!" You'd probably wonder how many martinis this guy had on his lunch break. Well, as it turned out, the guy may have been given an open tab at the corner bar, because a hand on a cover has been put to evocative use on more than one occasion.

But the key to getting the comic to sell was in portraying what the hand is doing. Ripping something to shreds is eye-catching, and can always have variations to it:



More often than not, the hand has been gigantic--perhaps to illustrate the "immense" threat facing our hero(es). And you'll have to admit a gigantic hand can represent a pretty credible threat:




In this instance, the X-Men were facing off with one of the guardians of the M'Kraan crystal that was being usurped by the mad Shi'ar emperor, D'ken:



(Apparently Modt and his fellow guardian, Jahf, didn't rate apostrophes in their names.)

Mostly, though, hands on issue covers have been involved with grabbing someone or something. Of course, sometimes the artist would stretch the truth a little, for dramatic effect:



In Thor's case, it was more the indignity of being grabbed by Mangog's tail rather than his hand/claw, though the end result of being grabbed by a creature possessed of the hatred of a billion billion beings (that would be two billion, I think) is admittedly about the same. As for the Angel, it was actually the new Defender, Cloud, who had the grab put on her by an armored construct of the Secret Empire.

It goes without saying that Dr. Strange has been menaced by giant hands belonging to lots of slithering things.  In this case, one named, I kid you not, "Sligguth":



The Hulk has certainly had his encounters with giant beings or constructs that meant him harm. You might argue that a giant hand threatening the Hulk is little more of a threat to him than a normal-sized hand would be:



And you'd probably be right:



Giant hands on issue covers have also played a part in Spider-Man's stories, though in one case even his own made an appearance:



You've probably guessed that the first cover's hands belong to the villain Mysterio, who uses special effects to confuse his enemies. Though Spider-Man, knowing that special effects are Mysterio's stock in trade, still falls for the illusion like he'd never met the guy before:



As for Spider-Man's apparent dramatic defeat of the Hobgoblin, the cover has stretched the truth just a bit:



Which, considering we're talking about the Hobgoblin, is actually a pretty cool ending to their conflict. For now. Heh heh.

There was also this nice homage to Jack Kirby's illustration of Galactus and his new herald from the Silver Surfer graphic novel, this time with John Byrne's rendering of Nova making her first appearance:




Less impressive were the instances where the Avengers had encounters with giant hands:



In the first, it was actually only a couple of Avengers being grabbed by the villain Maelstrom, with the others buzzing around him like hornets:



While in the second, the hand wasn't after the Avengers at all, but instead the Grim Reaper, here a shadow of the villain he was:




If you feel somehow compelled to check out that issue, I'm warning you as strongly as I can: DON'T. Aside from giving the Reaper his last gasp (we can only hope) as a threat to the Avengers, the story itself is as pointless and uninteresting as the Kardashians, with a final page that will have you wishing Modt would bring down his giant, armored hand on it.

Finally, let's "hand" this off once again to the master himself, Jack Kirby:


Judging by their expressions, I'm guessing these poor Deviants aren't under the impression that this giant hand is lunging toward them to grab them out of the path of that tidal wave.

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