Jun 2, 2017

The 40 Years of Comics Project Friday Magazine 11: The Rampaging Hulk #8, April 1978

https://www.comics.org/issue/32161/

The Friday Magazine finally returns! My apologies for the weeks of absence. My recovery from surgery and work and all that stuff has just been mad, and the magazine was one of the things I felt could be set aside momentarily. But I'm hopefully back on track. We'll see next week I guess.

I'm glad that I had a magazine that fits with my theme week this week. The ever-awesome Steve Gerber pens a tale of Ulysses Bloodstone in this issue, hence its presence in my collection. But what I find most fascinating about this magazine is really the very fact of its existence. I've wrestled over the course of the week with why the Hulk is such a popular character. I simply don't understand the draw of this character. But in the 70s he had not just a monthly comic book, but a monthly magazine and a television series. The X-Men, whose popularity hit undreamt of peaks in the 80s and 90s, never had a dedicated magazine or television show. Yes, they had a gazillion different titles chronicling their adventures, but the magazine and the television show of the Hulk shows that the character was appealing to a much wider array of consumers than just the comic book fan.

In Thursday's review, I mused on the idea that the character's popularity comes from the idea that he represents a safe space in which to vent our most negative emotions without fear of damaging others, hence the lack of casualties whenever the Hulk rampages through a population center. If this is indeed the case, I could certainly it as an explanation for the more diverse media representation. The safe release of negative emotion is something that most, if not all, people can understand. In contrast, the exclusion and prejudice evinced toward the X-Men, though widespread, is not universal by any stretch of the imagination. So is this it, then? Does the Hulk articulate something universal about our emotions and how we handle them, or wish we could handle them? And given that it's savagely negative emotion that he embodies, what does this say of us? It seems that the wish fulfillment that the Hulk represents articulates some of the worst of our impulses.

Onward.

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