Marvel collected some of the Hulk’s adventures in two Marvel Treasury Editions. #24, with the staggeringly low cover price of $2, finds Hulk playing a major role in the early development of Adam Warlock. Warlock here is in transition. Fantastic Four #67 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby gave us the origin of Warlock, though he had not even a name back then. (It’s reprinted in Marvel’s Greatest Comics #50 if you want to own the issue without spending an arm and a leg on it.) After this story, Jim Starlin would take on Warlock and make the fledgling character truly great. Starlin’s first issue recalls some of the key plot points from the issues presented here.
In the opening chapter, Hulk tangles with the Inhumans and gets shot into space where (hopefully) he can’t hurt anyone. Greg Pak ran with this same idea in recent years, landing Hulk on a distant planet where he becomes a great warrior and leader, Gladiator-style. Gerry Conway sets Hulk on “Counter-Earth” instead, where the High Evolutionary has created some anthropomorphic Ani-Men (animal + men) that have become caught up in a war. It seems that these “furries” have many of the same conflicts we do!
This conflict brings Warlock and the Hulk together, and our lumbering green Goliath finds one of the few friends he will ever make in comics. Hulk’s love and dedication for his new friend take on an innocent, childlike tone that gives us another side of his character, while Warlock plays out a Christ story in his capture, death, and heroic resurrection.
Along the way we get some glorious Herb Trimpe splash pages, and a giant-sized two-page spread designed for this edition. Trimpe’s art really sings in this large format. Though the political and religious themes of the story seem aimed at a more adult reader, the writing is geared for young readers, too. Trimpe’s artwork embraces the childlike silliness of comics while delivering some fairly intense pathos and drama at the same time.
We read this Treasury Edition several times as a kid in the early 1980s, just after it came out in 1979. It was fun to pick up and read again, even if the story wasn’t quite as fresh these days as it was back then. Trimpe just kills it, as you can see on many of the pages in this post.
You can usually find Marvel Treasury Edition #4: Rampaging Hulk in stock for a reasonable price. It’s perfect for fans of the classic Bronze-Age Hulk as well as Warlock collectors.