The Ages of the Incredible Hulk

Essays on the Green Goliath in Changing Times

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About the Book

The Incredible Hulk is one of the earliest Marvel Comics superheroes. Through the decades, the character and his narrative elements—the causes of Bruce Banner’s transformations, the Hulk’s strength, intelligence and skin color, the stories’ tone, theme and sources of conflict—have been continually reinvented to remain relevant.
This collection of new essays explores Marvel’s more than five decades of Hulk comics. The contributors analyze the Hulk and his supporting cast in their shifting historical contexts, offering insights into both our popular entertainment and our cultural history. Topics include the Cold War’s influence on early Incredible Hulk issues, a feminist reading of She-Hulk and writer Peter David’s focus on the AIDS crisis.

About the Author(s)

Joseph J. Darowski teaches English at Brigham Young University and has published on comic book superheroes such as the X-Men, Wonder Woman, and Superman as well as on television series such as Chuck and Frasier.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Joseph J. Darowski
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 220
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliographies, index
Copyright Date: 2016
pISBN: 978-0-7864-9733-1
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2301-6
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Preface 1

Smashing Cold War Consensus Culture: Hulk’s Journey from Monster to Hero (John Darowski and Joseph J. Darowski) 7

Becoming Nature’s “Monster”: How the Gamma Bomb Reterritorializes the Human World (Justin Lerberg) 24

A ­Globe-Trotting Atomic Weapon: Illustrating the Cold War Arms Race (Fernando Gabriel Pagnoni Berns and César Alfonso Marino) 35

The American Military in The Incredible Hulk During the Vietnam War (Lori Maguire) 49

“The Monster’s Analyst” and the “Binomial Self” (José Alaniz) 62

She-Hulk Crash! The Evolution of Jen Walters, or How Marvel Comics Learned to Stop Worrying About Feminism and Love the Gamma Bomb (Jennifer A. ­Swartz-Levine) 78

Jennifer Walters and the Savaging of American “Malaise” (Peter W. Lee) 93

A Made Man: Joe Fixit, the ’80s and Consumption as Resistance (Matthew Alan Cicci) 111

The Pantheon Era: Personal and Political Morality in Peter David’s Hulk (Jason Sacks) 124

Metafictional Powers in the Postmodern Age: ­She-Hulk, Canon and the Nature of Superpowers (Roy T Cook) 136

Bruce Banner on the Couch: Dubious Psychologizing in the 1980s and 1990s (Michael Smith) 156

Live and Let Die: Jim Wilson, the Hulk and AIDS in the 1980s and 1990s (Cathy Leogrande) 168

“You, on the other hand…”: Dual Identity and Superhero Storytelling in Dan Slott’s She-Hulk (Adam Capitanio) 181

“I didn’t come here for a whisper”: Monsters, Violence and Heroes in World War Hulk and Post–9/11 America (Brooke Southgate) 193

About the Contributors 207

Index 211

Book Reviews & Awards

“the first academic book devoted to such an intriguing character now over a half century old…grab a copy”—The Journal of American Culture; “goes into extensive detail about the individual characters starting from their origins and their transition and evolution through the decades…makes for fascinating reading”—Collectors’ Corner.