Waiitng for the Trade (Hulk, X-men & Daredevil)

Waiting for the Trade
The 100 Greatest
Marvels of All Time #13 – 10.

written by Stan Lee,
Mark Millar, Frank Miller & Larry Hama

art by Jack Kirby,
Adam Kubert & David Mazzuchelli

collects Incredible
Hulk #1, Ultimate X-men #1, Daredevil #227 & Wolverine #75

 Why I Bought This: It
was a $1.50 at my local comic shop and I’ve actually never read Hulk #1 before
so that alone made it worth picking up.
The Plot: So in
2001 Marvel ran a poll asking for the 100 greatest stories of all time and then
turned that into a series of four issue trades priced at $7.50 each. This one
has the first appearance of the Hulk, the first issue of Ultimate X-Men, the first chapter of the Daredevil “Born Again”
story arc, and the final chapter of the X-Men’s “Fatal Attractions” crossover.

(spoilers below)

 
Chapter 1 – We meet Bruce Banner, General Thunderbolt Ross
and Betty Ross for the first time setting up Bruce as the meek but brilliant
scientist, Betty’s crush on Bruce and Ross’s disapproval of Bruce. We also meet
a lab assistant named Igor. It is the day of the Gamma Bomb test. Teenager Rick
Jones goes joyriding into the military base on a dare. Bruce spots him and goes
to evacuate the teen leaving it to Igor to halt the test but Igor has his own
agenda and lets the bomb detonate. Bruce gets Rick to shelter but absorbs the
bomb’s radioactive detonation. The military have Bruce & Rick locked in a
bunk and when night falls Bruce transforms into a grey Hulk. He breaks out of
the base and wanders into the desert as Rick follows. Hulk finds Igor
ransacking Bruce’s office and beats him down. Rick helps Hulk realize he is
Banner and Hulk seems like he is going to kill Rick to keep his secret safe but
then turns back into Bruce. The military arrives and arrest Igor for being a
spy and question Bruce and Rick about the Hulk. In his cell Igor contacts the
Gargoyle, who seems to be a deformed Russian midget mad scientist and Gargoyle
launches a missile attack. Bruce has Rick drive him to the dessert so when he
transforms that night no one will be hurt however they are followed by
Gargoyle. Meanwhile Betty goes for a night walk to cope with her worries about
Bruce, bumps into the Hulk and promptly faints. Gargoyle then shoots Hulk with
a mind control bullet and takes him to meet more some more Red spies. Come
morning Hulk turns into Banner and he is not subject to the mind control. In a
stunning display of astuteness for the Silver Age Gargoyle immediately figures
out Hulk is Banner. Seeing that Hulk can become a normal human makes him cry.
He then frees Bruce and Rick and turns his missile upon himself.

Chapter 2 – The Sentinels are killing mutants in the
streets. And we learn this is authorized by the President as Magneto and the
Brotherhood initiated terrorist attacks on NYC and DC a week ago. We see Beast
(in his original ape-like form without the blue fur) where he gets bothered by
bigots in a bar. Next punk rock looking Jean Grey recruits Beast, Storm and Colossus
to the X-men. Professor X and Cyclops give the new recruits tour and introduce
Cerebro and the other standard X-house gimmicks. We get the usual Magneto/Pro X
were friends once back-story although this one had Pro X forming the
Brotherhood with Magneto in the Savage
Land before Magneto
impaled him on a metal rod and cost him his legs, and then Pro X formed the
X-men to stop Magneto. Cerebro sends the X-men to rescue a teen mutant runaway
who ends up being Ice-Man and they end up fighting some Sentinels in the
process. Afterwards Magneto sees the fight on the news and calls in the Brotherhood
whose members include Toad, Scarlet Witch and Wolverine.

Chapter 3 – We open on Karen Page who is now a porn actress
and a junkie and she sells DD’s secret identity for smack. Six weeks later the
info makes it way to Kingpin, and he decides to test the info and if it proves
valid kill everyone else who handled it on the way to him. Six months later
Matt Murdock wakes up to get the mail where he learns he’s behind on his
mortgage, being audited, his assets are frozen and his girlfriend is breaking
up with him. Next he gets indicted on bribing a witness to perjure himself. The
prosecution’s key witness is a cop with an impeccable record. Matt’s
ex-girlfriend Glory finds her apartment ransacked and ends up moving in with
Matt’s former law partner Foggy Nelson. Matt turns into Daredevil and pays a
visit to the cop witness. The cop kicks him out of his home but after DD leaves
the Cop makes a phone call asking revealing he is going along with this to get
his terminally-ill son treated which DD hears from the roof with his
super-hearing. When he gets back to his apartment he finds all the utilities
are shut off. As the months pass Kingpin enjoys watching DD lose his cool more
and more as he fails to shake down any info on who is doing this to him. Foggy
is able to keep Matt out of prison but he loses his law license, which is just
what Kingpin wanted. Meanwhile Karen narrowly escapes a hitman. Matt is
wandering home wondering what to do next: he has no job, no assets and 30 days
before the bank forecloses and then his apartment explodes. And finally Matt
realizes this is all Kingpin’s doing and vows revenge.

Chapter 4 – Wolverine is in really bad shape after Magneto
ripped the adamantium off his bones through his skin. If not for both Jean Grey
telekinetically holding him together and his healing factor he’d be dead; and
even so he’s in critical condition. The fight was on Asteroid M so now the
X-men are trying to get back to Earth to get Wolvie medical attention before he
flat-lines. Jean and Professor X enter Wolvie’s mind to shut down his pain
receptors to help him survive and this leads to one of those mindscape stories
where the telepaths witness key moments in Wolvie’s life some of which play out
in a surreal manner. Anyway that goes on for most of the issue with cuts and
back and forth to either problems landing the plane or X-men giving him medical
attention as his health deteriorates. Ultimately the plane lands safely with a
little help from Jean’s TK though she nearly gets sucked out of the plane when
the roof blows off which causes Wolvie to wake up and grab her. We jump ahead a
few weeks as Wolvie heals. He tries the danger room for the first time since
the injury and it isn’t going well until he suddenly pops bone-claws, which
even he did not know he had. In the aftermath of that incident, he talks with
Jubilee and makes the decision to quit the X-men so he can walk the earth and find
himself.

 
Critical Thoughts:
Certainly for the price I paid this was worthwhile. The first two chapters were
stories I’d never read before and both ended up being quite good. The third is
a classic tale worth revisiting. The fourth one is pretty subpar, especially
for a collection of all-time great stories, but that’s not enough to drag down
the book as a whole. With that said let’s take them one at a time.

Hulk’s origin is another example of Stan Lee’s genius. What
more needs to be said about the sheer volume of outstanding creativity Stan Lee
gave us in the silver age. Yes, in the course of 50 years one can argue that a
lot of Hulk stories tend to be the same thing over and over again, but for an
original concept Hulk was like no other superhero before him. More than that
Stan Lee works his magic creating outstanding supporting characters in
Thunderbolt Ross and Betty. Even Rick Jones is a nice variation on the typical
teen sidekick of the era. He is not joining the Hulk because ‘gosh gee wiz
fighting bad guys is swell, and you’re the greatest Hulk;’ but because he is
racked with guilt for accidentally turning an innocent man into a monster. (And decades later, Peter David would turn Jones into one of the most
entertaining characters in comics). This is the first appearance of four
lynchpin characters of the Marvel Universe, how can it get anything but a positive
review.

Ultimate X-men was a surprisingly good comic. I say
surprisingly good because I’m not much of an X-men fan in the main continuity
and I have no use for the Ultimate universe (though admittedly I’ve read very
little of it outside of Spider-man). First of all the art is fantastic in this
book. The Sentinels have never looked more imposing than they do in this. On
top of that this is really strong first issue to set up the revamped origin of
the X-men. There’s some intriguing changes here in the Pro X/Magneto dynamic.
This is good enough to make me consider reading more of it in the future, and
it was not something that was remotely on my radar before.

The Daredevil chapter is exceptional writing. That is a hell
of a cliffhanger. I’ve read Born Again before, but you kind of forget just how
good it is, probably because DD is not a hero usually on my radar. I own the
great classic DD stories (Elektra Saga, Born Again and Guardian Devil) but
that’s about it outside of him guest starring in Spidey once in a while.

As for the Wolverine story, I hate mindscape stories in
general that’s another subgenre where you’ve read one, you’ve read them all.
Beyond that, I really don’t see why it is here. I don’t think Fatal Attractions
is all that great a crossover to begin with but if you were going to include it
I would go with the chapter before this which has the two big shock moments of
Magneto ripping out Wolvie’s bones and Professor X mindwiping Magneto. This has
what? The bone claws reveal? Really? I realize Wolverine is popular and this
story was published about a year or so before the poll was taken so it was
fresh in his fans mind, but even so are the bone claws that exciting a
development that they belong above the other three stories in this list? Because
I don’t see it, and history has proven this was just a footnote before Wolvie
got his metal claws back a few years later.
Grade: If we’re averaging it’s three A’s and D which comes
out to an A-.