Have the comics taken the wrong direction?

This topic is locked from further discussion.

Avatar image for zardu
#1 Edited by Zardu (367 posts) - - Show Bio

At the beginning Hulk was 6.6 ft tall and had the physique of a professional wrestler. At that time it was impressive when he smashed a solid concrete wall with bare hands. Then he turned green and grew to 7 ft. Someday he picked up a tank (later he even threw a tank). But what happened next?

Over time, Hulk became more muscular and bigger. It was the emergence of bodybuilding which led to this change of aesthetics. Now muscularity stood automatically for physical strength which emerged from the well known country called "Steroidos". This phenomenon affected not only the comic world, it also spread to other areas: movies and action figures. Based on this change, Banner transformed not only into a slightly larger tyrant, but in a green steroid monster that could crush entire planets.

If comics produce only one superlative after another, then what can we expect? What superlative can surpass the previous superlatives? And does it have to at all?

I know that times change and that one must adapt many things to the changing times. But isn´t there a loss of essence? For the children of the 60's and 70´s strong heroes looked different. The normal human being, the human potential was still the core of it all. And today? Heroes can not look bulky and big enough. For me, this is an idealization of something that we can not detect anymore. It is a continuously expanding cloud that wants to please at any cost. Maybe I sound a bit old fashioned, but there is a feeling, a certain anxiety and hopelessness that slowly but surely eats through the pages of comic books. I don´t want to see exploding planets anymore and I don´t like that "Steroid-Bulk-Freakshow. I'm tired of all these repetitive clichés that try to shoot each other, this grrr, I'm a giant and can smash a planets, all this blood pools, that gushes out of the steroid freaks.

I want exciting stories and ordinary people whose deeds make them heroes and not their appearance. Hulk should be muscular, but please not like a giant burst pile of meat. And one more thing: Please don´t show meaningless and exaggerated violence, which are characterized by oceans of blood, no women, which consist only of big breasts and big butts, that are worn by meter-long legs (and of course, all in skin-tight patent leather). Sorry, I'm digressing somewhat from the real topic.

So, what is your opinion?

Avatar image for verotikryptonite
#2 Posted by Verotikryptonite (390 posts) - - Show Bio
No Caption Provided

Avatar image for imnemothegemini
#3 Posted by ImNemotheGemini (874 posts) - - Show Bio

Maybe some Indy comics will serve you well ! Pretty sure ones out there !

Avatar image for zardu
#5 Edited by Zardu (367 posts) - - Show Bio



Of course, Hulk must be the strongest there is. The problem is the definition and representation of strength. Children and young people are suggestible, they can be influenced positively and negatively. One of these influences comes from parents, the other from the environment. The strongest of all influences comes from the media: TV, magazines, comics, movies and computer games. All this produces toys, that can affect the social behavior of a child as well. Girls usually play with dolls, boys, however, with cars, airplanes, wappons and action figures. The action figures are from TV, movies and the comics. If a child has an action figure with a normal physique, it can identify with this. This means that a child sees a hero with normal muscles. Almost any man can build such a body by training (more or less). If a child has an action figure that has abnormal muscles, then the child learns that this physique is normal. And so the image of the normal body aesthetic shifts. This in turn affects the whole society, because children will eventually grow up.

The problem may be the lack of imagination of the comic writers and comic artists. It is easier to impress with monstrous superlatives than with good stories. We see this phenomenon in the movies: either gun battle or any monsters. This is the reason why enemies are invented which are always more powerful than the hero. To defeat this enemies, the hero must also be stronger. And so it goes on and on. Look at the manga universe: every character looks the same and the action is always the same. It seems as if all of these heroes could unleash unlimited powers. In addition, the stimulus decreased the more one is exposed to it. Those who have experienced only superlatives can´t eventually perceive no more superlative. Hulk can affect the gravity in space and smash planets. What's next? Squash the entire universe? The 70's Hulk TV series was a great success. Why? That Hulk has not thrown a single tank, smashed no planet and had nothing of the strength of the Comic-Hulk. When I was a kid, I found Lou very muscular. Then the steroid freaks made ​​its appearance, my view changed.(The example with the image of women was referred to all comics.)

Hulk may look threatening, he can be muscular and strong. But somewhere there must be a limit. This is a Superman effect: he can lift anything. And that's what makes this character boring. What could he do, so readers and viewers could impress even more? What could Hulk do, so we say: "Wow, Hulk is the strongest there is"? If he has destroyed all the planets, then what is left? And if he bring the entire universe to collapse, what is left? Galactus can eat as many planets as he wants, but that will not remove the dilemma. Well, he could begin to devour galaxies, but what would be left?

One would have to set boundaries from the beginning. I know, it also depends on the authors, there are good and bad Hulk comics. But the core remains the same. "The strongest" is a personal definition and depending on comparisons. Due to the large comparisons, definition is moved to the immeasurable. One could also say: This way of thinking leads to exaggeration and finally inevitably to nothing.

PS: Sorry if my english faulty, I'm german.

Avatar image for zardu
#7 Posted by Zardu (367 posts) - - Show Bio

@theacidskull: I never wanted to say that Hulk lives only by his strength. Especially the conflict between Banner and his alter ego makes Hulk so interesting, and there must be more of it. Furthermore, good stories should connect to this conflict and bring something new and innovative, something that highlights the essence of the Hulk without superlatives that are constantly outdoing themselves. The mention of the strength was only one of the elements of the comic book character that bothers me.

As a child I played with He-Man figures. For me, this bodies were the epitome of a strong hero, although that was a little going in the direction of steroids. Luke Skywalker e.g. was once a quite normal toy figure. By the emerge of steroid bodybuilding the next figure was more muscular (there is a TV-doku about this topic, you can find it on youtube). So, the first generation grow up with a normal figure, the next with an abnormal. Today, many young people take steroids because they want to look like the pros. Why do they want to look like that? And why do they call the normal muscle mass "too thin"? Arnold Schwarzenegger was once an idol for millions. He also took steroids, but never overdoses. Today, Arnold would not be able to compete with the pros. Without steroids, Hulk would not be what he is today. When I think about what Hulk could do to surpass his previous feats of strength, then my head is empty.

After all, Marvel wants to surprise and impress his readers with new things (I do not know, but I'm assuming). But with what? What do we have? Lets have a look:

  1. Banner´s personality and story
  2. Hulk´s origin story
  3. Hulk´s enemies
  4. Hulk´s feats

Now there are two options:

  • Hulk's time is over
  • A total reboot

I would opt for a total reboot. One origin, one Hulk - no changes. All ideas are in line with one level. This means: endless creativity, without reaching a level at which there is no forward anymore. All these Hulk incarnations are perhaps only stopgaps, solutions that have emerged out of trouble. They are not necessary, in my opinion. There are so many comic book characters that have not changed over time. And yet they are among the most successful. And why? Because they don´t need to be defined by their appearance. Their feats remain the same or change only if it contributes to the story (and that does not necessarily have anything to do with their body strength). Today, it is probably the case that everything is tested until it breaks. And that is the reason why Hulk eventually does not work anymore. Seen, forgotten.

In this sense: Marvel, give Hulk a chance.

Avatar image for zardu
#9 Edited by Zardu (367 posts) - - Show Bio

Hulk had a character progression, yes, of course. I was referring mainly to the action and his physique. People take steroids for different reasons. But once a particular body aesthetic has prevailed, then you will not get rid of it so quickly. Steroids do not automatically mean big muscle. Also physical performance is a crucial factor. How should children be self-obsessed? Children look for role models. That must mean nothing, but it can. Lee Priest started with bodybuilding, because he's fan of Superman (he even wears an S-shield tattoo and a necklace). And Shawn Ray was fascinated by Bruce Lee´s physique.

Lee Priest as a child
Lee Priest as a child
Lee Priest posing
Lee Priest posing
Lee Priest with his S-shield necklace
Lee Priest with his S-shield necklace

Interview with Flex:

FLEX: Were you always a Superman fan?

LEE PRIEST: Pretty much. Every year, my mother would make me a new suit and a cape for the dog, and I always had Superman stuff. I wasn't so much into the comic books, but I remember getting up at 5 AM before school to watch the old black-and-white George Reeves TV show.

I was always interested in strength. When I was 10 or 11, before I even started bodybuilding, I'd have my sister sit in the car in the driveway and take the brake off, and I'd push it one way and then the other. We used to go to this place where the river emptied out into the beach and I'd put her in a raft and tie a rope to her and I'd run against the current, pulling her back and forth.

FLEX: What were you like before you started weight training?

LEE PRIEST: I was a normal skinny twerp. I had lean muscle, but because I started so young [at age 13], as I got older and the hormones kicked in, I always progressed. At 13, I weighed about 120, and when I moved to California at age 20, I was over 200 pounds. I was about 186 in my first pro contest [1993 Niagara Pro Invitational], so I gained more than 70 pounds of muscle in my teenage years.

PS: Peter Parker has the physique of a so-called weakling. His power is hidden, no one can achieve his abilities (spider silk can not be trained :-).

Avatar image for zardu
#11 Edited by Zardu (367 posts) - - Show Bio

@theacidskull: The turn in the wrong direction refers to all the clichés, focusing on the physique and it´s exaggerated strenght. Steroids are just one of many side effects.

Yes, the Ruffalo Hulk is the most realistic one. That's what I meant: the naturalness of a human body (although I have my own idea of ​​the Hulk). I prefer a Hulk physique like a strongman with less body fat and natural proportions.

Peter Parker is a very slim man, muscular but slim. This physique is not used in conjunction with concentrated power. We think: Power = Mass (and in part that is true). The difference is the definition of mass.

Gallery image 1Gallery image 2Gallery image 3Gallery image 4Gallery image 5Gallery image 6
Here one can see how the body aesthetics has changed, from normal to monstrous.
Gallery image 1Gallery image 2Gallery image 3Gallery image 4Gallery image 5Gallery image 6Gallery image 7Gallery image 8Gallery image 9Gallery image 10
Almost a mirror image of the development of bodybuilding

That's what bothers me. I have nothing against muscle mass, not even against excessive mass (for comic books). But there must be a "healthy" limit, also for strength.

Avatar image for zardu
#13 Edited by Zardu (367 posts) - - Show Bio

@theacidskull: Here you can see the development of the Hulk action figures.

Gallery image 1Gallery image 2Gallery image 3Gallery image 4Gallery image 5Gallery image 6Gallery image 7Gallery image 8Gallery image 9Gallery image 10Gallery image 11
These are only the action figures, the Hulk statues of today are even more muscular

Avatar image for kramotz
#14 Posted by Kramotz (1338 posts) - - Show Bio

@zardu: I think you just don't like the direction they're taking the Hulk (I didn't read any of the previous post), but people are loving the direction Marvel is taking the Hulk all-around. Here are some reasons I'm loving it:

  • Hulk has now been equipped with a powersuit, which finally does what some fans have wanted done for a while - covering up Hulk. And the suit looks cool, on top of that.
  • Banner's intelligence is being utilized more to show that he is pretty much up there with Reed and Doom, but has been held back due to the Hulk, which he now has control over.

I think your only problem is with Hulk, but now Banner/Hulk as a whole. I may be wrong though (because I didn't read all of those long post above).

Avatar image for zardu
#15 Edited by Zardu (367 posts) - - Show Bio

@kramotz: The problem is the muscle mass and power of the Hulk. Please read the previous posts.

Avatar image for kramotz
#16 Edited by Kramotz (1338 posts) - - Show Bio

@zardu said:

@kramotz: The problem is the muscle mass and power of the Hulk. Please read the previous posts.

I'm guessing it's because Marvel is gradually making him bigger?

This edit will also create new pages on Comic Vine for:

Beware, you are proposing to add brand new pages to the wiki along with your edits. Make sure this is what you intended. This will likely increase the time it takes for your changes to go live.

Comment and Save

Until you earn 1000 points all your submissions need to be vetted by other Comic Vine users. This process takes no more than a few hours and we'll send you an email once approved.