There are a few Marvel Comics that have highly renowned runs by specific creators, stories that defined the characters and are the mean by which all others are measured: John Byrne's Fantastic Four; Chris Claremont's X-Men; Frank Miller's Daredevil. There have been quite a few of these runs over the years, from both Marvel and DC, but a more recent example would be the pairing of Peter David and the Incredible Hulk.
Peter David wrote Incredible Hulk for more than a decade, starting on issue 328 and steping down with number 467. In that time, he played around with the idea of Bruce Banner and the Hulk more than any writer had before. One of his best ideas was a truly radical departure for the character: with the body and brawn of the Hulk and Bruce Banner's intellect, the "Smart Hulk" was truly the green goliath's most impressive incarnation. At least until he got angry.
After years of transformations between Bruce Banner, the green Hulk, and the gray Hulk, the smart Hulk brings it all together. With the intellect of Dr. Bruce Banner, the strength of the green Hulk, and the attitude of the gray Hulk, the smart Hulk is a one-man army! Calling himself "Banner", the smart Hulk is as comfortable in the laboratory as he is out smashing tanks. No longer transforming between human and beast, the smart Hulk is a merging of the best of his three past forms. With all the best traits of his many incarnations in one body, the smart Hulk is ready for any challenge he might face!
There's only been one Smart Hulk figure before, part of the "Transformations" line released about the time of the short-lived Hulk cartoon. Designed and sculpted by Art Asylum, that Hulk was very nice for his time, and still holds up decently today, but this new version is much better.
Standing 7 3/4" tall, Hulk isn't 100% accurate to artist Dale Keown's depiction of him, but it's close enough to make the figure look great. While the last Smart Hulk moved at the Big Five, this new version is much better, with articulation at the head, neck, shoulders, biceps, elbows, forearms, wrists, fingers, thumbs, torso, waist, hips, thighs, knees, shins, ankles and toes. That's enough to smash any enemies who get in his way.
The sculpt on the figure is very good, as we've come to expect from ToyBiz of late. Go Phil Ramirez! This figure is based on Incredible Hulk #390, part one of a three-part arc that saw the Hulk and his allies fighting a war in the vague imaginary country of Trans-Sabal. He's wearing a black tanktop, brown pants and black shoes, all of which are detailed well. Hulk never wore shoes in the issue (he started out in size 20 bunny slippers, then went barefoot), but that's no great mistake; the last Smart Hulk, drawn from the same storyarc, did have bare feet, but the shoes are nicer.
Hulk comes with a pair of reading glasses, which help peg him as being from issue 390. They're entirely removable, and just fit on his head by tension, no pegs or tabs. A hole in his left hand allows him to hold the "Gamma Sound Blaster" gun, which was used for about six pages in the issue and made a hearty "choof" sound, but was just plain armament - it's "gamma" in toy-name only. The gun is 4 3/4" long and has two moving parts - the handle and trigger can be folded flat. A 5 3/4" ammo belt can be fed through the gun. Press a button on the side and it makes a rather loud blasting sound. While the gun pegs into his left hand, his right is sculpted with the trigger finger extended.
This is a great figure. I might have liked to see the forward-sliding shoulders so that he could perform his infamous thunderclap attack. Still, ToyBiz has given us, if you'll excuse the Peter David-style pun, an incredible Hulk.
What writer/artist team's classic run on what book is your favorite? Tell us on our message board, the Loafing Lounge.