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The Incredible Hulk

Comic Books

Publisher: Marvel

The first issue of The Incredible Hulk hit the newsstands in the spring of 1962. It was the second title launched during the Marvel Age, just a few months after The Fantastic Four debuted in late 1961. Like FF and most other Marvel “key” issues of the day, the first issue of The Incredible Hulk was produced by the legendary team of writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby. Although the initial series lasted only six issues, the Hulk would eventually become one of Marvel’s most popular superheroes – powerful, significantly flawed, and immensely likeable, qualities typical of Marvel characters. The first issue introduces the character of Bruce Banner and his alter-ego, the Hulk. After being caught in a gamma bomb, mild-mannered Bruce Banner transforms into an unstoppable monster filled with rage. It also contains the first appearances of other key characters within the series, including Betty Ross, General Thaddeus Ross, and Rick Jones. In The Incredible Hulk #1, the mechanics of Bruce Banner’s transformation are still being developed; the Hulk appears whenever it is nightfall, instead of appearing at most anytime when Bruce Banner is stressed. It is also notable for being the only issue in which the Hulk has gray skin. By the time the second issue was created, the Hulk was given his signature green skin. The series literally came “out of nowhere”, Marvel essentially rolling the dice in the days when rival DC ruled the superhero comics publishing world. Unlike other Marvel superheroes that were introduced over the next few years – Thor, Iron Man, Ant-Man, and Dr. Strange to name a few – there was no “try-out” for the Hulk. After launching the title, however, it ran only six issues, with Marvel relegating the Hulk to appearing in other Marvel titles before landing a regular feature spot in the anthology title Tales to Astonish in 1964. Eventually, the ultimate strongman earned his own title again in 1968. Because the first series is relatively rare compared to other Marvel Age “key” issues and ran for such a limited time, all six issues of the original series are highly collectible, with the demand resulting in high values, especially for the first issue, which currently commands the #2 spot on Overstreet’s Top 50 Silver Age Books list, second only to Amazing Fantasy #15. A copy in even FN 6.0 currently commands over $20,000, and copies in VF- 7.5 have recently realized $40,000-$50,000. In 2014 a NM- 9.2 copy went for $320,000! One of the more in-demand and valuable comic book issues from the Bronze Age is issue #181, published in 1974, revered by collectors for the first full appearance of Wolverine. The issue currently ranks #5 on Overstreet’s Top 10 Bronze Age Comics list and looks to keep climbing. Copies in FN 6.0 can fetch $1,000 and up at auction, while pristine copies in NM/MT 9.8 are going for $11,000-$12,000.

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