I want to examine here the comics that form the roots of the now popular Incredible Hulk title. As is well known, the success of Incredible Hulk #181 has led to something like a spike regarding other Bronze Age Hulk issues otherwise long ignored (#180 and #182 come to mind, but there are others).
In this post, I plan to examine early Hulk appearances focusing specifically on the series that was renamed The Incredible Hulk starting at issue #102: the Atlas/Marvel Silver Age title Tales to Astonish.
Marvel’s TTA didn’t start out as a Hulk comic. In fact, if it had stopped publication before issue #70 it would have been known as the book that brought us Ant-man (issue #27) and Giant Man (issue #49). However, issue #21 already featured a creature (‘Trull’) that was clearly a ‘Hulk’ prototype, and by issue #70 the Incredible Hulk had become a mainstay feature of the book which naturally led to his taking over the title after issue #101.
The Hulk’s first series lasted a total of exactly six issues. In that time he went from grey to green and joined (only to rapidly quit) the Avengers, but Marvel didn’t want to give up on old Green-skin just yet. That’s why in October of 1960, the Hulk’s saga was taken up again in TTA. This issue featured his continuing adventures and is worth seeking out. Currently valued at around $3000.00 in certified 9.6 grade. It is probably because it’s so expensive in higher grade, that TTA #60 has shown best returns on 4.5 graded copies since 2002, at a positive +135% rate, although a large number of signature series seems to have pushed the prices on that grade artificially upwards; if we ignore signature series then the returns on 4.5 grades fall to only positive + 38.5% roi while 3.5 grades show positive +75.6% growth after 5 sales over the last four years.
What would the Hulk be without General Thunderbolt Ross’s adjutant Major Glenn Talbot to hunt him? Less fun, that’s for sure. This comic is less pricey and therefore less valuable than TTA #60, but still worth seeking out as a Hulk key since it’s the first appearance of Glenn Talbot. Currently you can own a 9.0 certified copy for $210.00 or an 8.5 certified copy for $150.00.
Here is probably the most under-valued issue of TTA. As I write this Aquaman is, by all indications, set to become a big hit at the cinema. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that Marvel Studios/Disney will probably want to answer the success of DC’s Fish-man with their own under-water hero. That hero will be Namor, and this comic features his first solo story since the Golden Age. It also begins a team up of Namor and the Hulk which probably set the stage for the Defenders later on. Currently you can pick this comic up in 9.0 certified condition for under $300.00. Anything above 9.2, however, will cost you anywhere from $325.00 – $7, 000.00.
Throughout the years the Abomination has been a formidable Hulk enemy (at least until the Red Hulk beat him to death). The Abomination, or Emil Blonsky, was also featured in the Ed Norton led 2008 Marvel film ‘The Incredible Hulk’ played there by Tim Roth. This is the comic that features his origins. Without the support of a movie in sight, the prices on this are ripe for buying. A 9.0 certified copy will cost you $160.00, but its trending down and may continue to do that until the Abomination reappears.
We can end our survey with the last issue before the series changed its title. Featuring Loki, Heimdal and the Warriors Three, in this comic the Hulk travels to Asgard where he is manipulated by Loki before turning into Bruce Banner and falling into a chasm. The story is continued in Incredible Hulk #102, but the first part of the adventure can be found for $120.00 in certified 9.0 and a 9.6 is currently selling for $425.00 but with mixed returns.