Ditko influence in the 1960s Hulk cartoon

Written: 22 February, 1999

I'd seen in the current comics that Marvel has re-released some of their 1960s cartoons on videotape again. Today I went to a local store and saw four of the tapes (Spidey, Hulk, Captain America, and Iron Man) on sale for $9.95 each.

The cover artwork of the Spidey one looks very Ditkoesque. Not sure if it is Ditko or Al Milgrom who drew it. Each tape contains two episodes. I bought the Hulk tape since I hadn't seen one of those Hulk ones in ages. (I already had the Capt America episodes from a previous video release, perhaps the Iron Man as well.)

Anyway, the reason I mention this on the Ditko mailing list is because the second episode on the Hulk videotape uses many panels from Ditko's 1960s stint on Hulk (Tales to Astonish). The plot is that Banner is being held for ransom in Asia and Glenn Talbolt goes in to get him back.

There are two scenes where I was surprised by the violence. An enemy leader is gunning for the rampaging Hulk, who is tearing down brick walls and so on. The Hulk is standing over the enemy leader and holding a big rock when he unexpectedly changes back to Banner and crushes the enemy with the rock because Banner cannot hold it up. There is another scene where enemy jets are firing upon anything that moves in the town below. Banner is hiding behind some rubble and sees some innocent townspeople. The camera moves up over the townspeople's heads, to the roof of the building they are next to. We see bullets tear into the shingles of the roof, making many holes. We do not see what has happened to the townspeople, but it is made clear by the tears in Banner's eyes and he shouts the word "Killers!" to the jets above. Both of these sequences are directly taken from the Ditko artwork.

The other story on the tape is the origin of the Hulk, taken faithfully from Hulk #1 by Lee & Kirby. And the beginning of the tape contains a short but enjoyable talk by Stan Lee on the creation of the Hulk. (Stan can sometimes come across as embarrassing to watch, as in some of those intros to the 1990s Iron Man and FF cartoons, but such is not the case here. I watched the Stan Lee opening with my older sister in the room, not a comics fan -- though she remembered the Hulk cartoon theme song! -- and I felt that Stan came across as a likable English professor, or as what he is, a writer. His intro reminds any non-fans in the audience that comics are written by real people with intelligence, just like any other medium.)

I've read that Hulk #6, the Metal Master story that was drawn by Ditko, got the cartoon treatment in this 1960s series, but I've not seen that episode. I guess if these tapes are successful, they'll release more! I'll most likely buy the Spider-Man tape later in the week, after I know how much I'll be spending on new comics on Wednesday!

Speaking of new releases, the New Comics Release List has The Essential Hulk TPB scheduled to be released this Wednesday. That $14.95 book will reprint Ditko's Hulk #6 and Tales to Astonish Hulk stories (in addition to the Kirby, etc., stuff!). Also scheduled for this week are The Golden Age of Marvel Vol. Two, a Human Torch Comics reprint (Torch vs. Namor), Webspinners: Tales of Spider-Man #4 (drawn by Keith Giffen), Jack Kirby Collector #23, and many more...!