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Make Mine Marvel 1

By: NLogan

Make Mine Marvel!

I have been interested in superheroes as long as I can remember. Out of all the many comic book companies out there I was and am most interested (at least the vintage stuff) in Marvel Comics and their associated superheroes.

I was exposed at a very young age and became enthralled with The INCREDIBLE HULK, The AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, and later The Uncanny X-Men.

This is me at age two in 1979 proudly sporting my Spider-Man pajamas for a Christmas morning photo. My brother? He is supporting another comic book company and associated hero. Well there is no accounting for taste in some people!

That year we went to see Santa Claus to sit on his lap and tell him our secret wishes for presents. Instead of the standard candy cane fare parting gift that usually accompanies such an occasion, this Santa had superhero coloring books!

Years later I tracked them down again and gifted them to my twin among his presents that year. I had the Incredible Hulk versus a nefarious numbers alien villain wanting to take all the numbers from Earth.

My brother received some other non-Marvel hero in the big top versus a circus villain.

The Incredible Hulk Bop Bag that we had from about age 3 to around age 6 when it finally gave up the ghost with us having spent many adventures tackling and punching it while dodging the return swing as the weighted end brought it back upright after being knocked down. My brother distinctly remembered the colored bottom. I remember being pummeled, with it being dropped like a bomb on my head from the couch. That bottom was heavy.

At the tender age of five in 1982 while attending preschool, one of my teachers was especially fond of me and would secretly give me PEZ candy dispensers because she thought I was adorable.

I would happily munch away at my cherry, lemon, and orange flavored PEZ candy while drawing superheroes with huge muscles which were bumpy arms and six packs made by by an upside down U shape divided by two horizontal lines and one vertical. My Hulk drawings were as anatomically correct as I could make them as a 5 year old. I even gave the Hulk a belly button. My mom would later ask me what were the dots on Hulk's chest and I not having a word yet for nipple promptly lifted up my shirt to show her mine! She exclaimed they were naughty dots and that since they weren't included in the official pictures of the Hulk I didn't need to include them either. I jokingly called nipples naughty dots for years. I would stare at my PEZ dispensers during nap time instead of napping. My favorite PEZ were the Incredible Hulk (dark green from the late 70s, light green from 1989) and the Amazing Spider-Man (from the late 70s reused until 1989).

My mother, being the keen observer that she is, noticed an infatuation with superheroes as the fridge and my room were plastered with superhero drawings, she astutely deduced that I was a fan of the Hulk and accordingly bought me a Hulk belt buckle which I proudly wore to school. Somewhere along the way I also acquired a Hulk badge that I pinned to my chest proclaiming my support for the angry green giant (the jolly green giant was associated with nasty vegetables that were to be avoided at all costs)!

My brother had an Incredible Hulk wallet. I recently acquired one as a gift from a friend of mine. I can't tell you how cool it is to hold a piece of history in your hands again, a piece of me and my brother's childhood. It is funny how nostalgia works and how only a tiny plastic wallet would instantly bring me back to our shared childhood.

The Incredible Hulk pencil cases we had during first grade.

Grandma was also in on the game and got me my very own Hulk Colorforms set.

You started out with a cardboard background with a thin vinyl layer. This was the scene setting for whatever character you got, for the Hulk obviously it has to be a city street to smash up, "Hulk Smash"!

You would then apply your characters made from vinyl sheets like stickers where ever you wanted and they would stick by static cling. Unlike stickers you could move them again and again on the background. It usually also came with some kind of story setting. Here the Hulk is ready to trash the Leader, Abomination, and the Rhino.

On television my twin brother and I were enraptured by the live-action version of The Incredible Hulk that ran from 1978 through 1982. We faithfully followed the adventures of Bill Bixby as he played Dr. David Bruce Banner (different from the comic book Dr. Robert Bruce Banner) and were overjoyed when some idiot did something to make him mad and turn into the Hulk played by Lou Ferrigno.

"Dr. David Banner, physician, scientist...searching for a way to tap into the hidden strengths that all humans have. Then an accidental overdose of gamma radiation alters his body chemistry. And now, when David Banner grows angry or outraged, a startling metamorphosis occurs. The creature is driven by rage and pursued by an investigative reporter.

'Mr. McGee, don't make me angry. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry.'
- Dr. David Banner

The creature is wanted for a murder he didn't commit. David Banner is believed to be dead. And he must let the world think that he is dead, until he can find a way to control the raging spirit that dwells within him." - Opening narration from the show.

A radical departure from how Dr. Banner is originally infused with gamma radiation in the comic books. Which was during a gamma bomb test racing to save an ignorant teenager who wandered unknowingly into the blast testing zone and saving the kid by pushing him into a trench but being hit by and absorbing a massive wave of gamma radiation in the New Mexico desert.

I wouldn't find that out until later only knowing the T.V. version with him experimenting on himself in hopes to find a way to tap into the hidden strength that people sometimes display in moments of extreme fear, distress, or anger and lift cars off of people. Because he was unable to do so to save his wife Laura when their car rolled in an accident and he was thrown free but was unable to lift the burning car before it exploded, killing her as shown in the movie length pilot for the show that aired in 1977.

I vividly remember watching the show at my maternal grandmother's apartment while planted on the floor with our T.V. trays Dukes of Hazard and Garfiield on our laps with our legs underneath eating macaroni and cheese, sliced hard boiled eggs, toast, and corn (all separated of course by my Garfield plate with sections) in awe as the Incredible Hulk rolled over a car in the pouring rain (from the pilot shown in the opening sequence of every episode).

Back at home the show inspired us to try and lift the corner of the couch and rip up, or as we called it, Hulk out, of every button up shirt we owned trying to split it by flexing our muscles (it helped to cut the shirt a little or wear a smaller size much to my mother's horror) as shown during every Hulk transformation on screen. My mother fortuitously stopped my brother and I before jumping out of a second story window having popped out the screen trying to live out our hulk fantasies. Rrrrraaaaaaaaauughhhhhh! We would growl tearing around the house and toppling the coffee table over.


Years later they followed up the television series with some T.V. movies to sort of give a conclusion to the show after it was prematurely canceled. First was The Incredible Hulk Returns in 1988 where the Hulk meets Thor. Then the Trial of the Incredible Hulk in 1989 that featured Daredevil in an all black suit joining up with Hulk to fight the Kingpin. Finally there was The Death of the Incredible Hulk in 1990 where, you guessed it, the Hulk dies after falling from a plane but reverting back to Banner before hitting the ground.

Many years later I met the man who played the monster, Lou Ferrigno himself, Mr. Incredible Hulk, at a comic con, my twin brother is in the zombie makeup.

At the conclusion of every Incredible Hulk episode, after trying to find a cure and helping various people out of trouble as the Hulk, Bill Bixby as Banner would move on to a new town with only a small bag of possessions on his shoulder while haunting piano music played that was titled fittingly The Lonely Man.

Until next time Make Mine Marvel!
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NLogan Posted on Jan 13, 2017 at 05:24 PM

Thanks Old School! I am much like you and also liked most of the things you mentioned. This article is part of a 6 part series. In the sixth part I get around to the non-marvel stuff.

OldSchool80s Posted on Jan 13, 2017 at 04:50 PM

Nice piece that I could relate to quite a bit. I have always been partial to Marvel as well, but at the same time have never been anti-DC. I liked Super Friends and the JLA. I liked the old Batman TV show and then the Tim Burton Batman of 1989. But Marvel has always been my true love. The Avengers have always been my favorite and I love what they have done with them in movies now. I could go on and on with my own memories of growing up with Marvel, but I will just end it with Excelsior.

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