Pros:Interesting information about the Hulk.
Cons:Some repetition with the information. No timeline. Organization could have been better.
The Bottom Line: Hulk: Incredible Guide by Tom DeFalco had a lot of interesting information about the character and is worth reading. Fans of the character will probably enjoy it.
When I was growing up, I watched different cartoons that featured superheroes, including the Hulk. When the live action movie came out in 2003, I felt like I knew a bit more about the character than I had some of the other superheroes that turned up in live action movies. Then I picked up Hulk: The Incredible Guide by Tom DeFalco and discovered that there was a lot I had not known.
Hulk: The Incredible Guide was published by Dorling Kindersley, the same company that has released many other books related to superheroes and movies, several of which I own. I got the book in 2003 when it was first released, around the time that the first live action movie was released. It looks like an updated version is going to be released shortly before the release of The Incredible Hulk - The Incredible Hulk (2008), the new live action movie. This book is an oversized hardback book like all the other books from Dorling Kindersley that I have.
There wasn’t any actual plot to Hulk: The Ultimate Guide. The book did discuss some of the more important story lines from the Hulk comics, but there really weren’t any plot summaries either. The book was made up of information about the Hulk and the different characters he interacted with over the years. The information on the characters was shared over one or two pages for each subject in short paragraphs that were only a few sentences long. Some of the text was in the form of captions to the different illustrations. It would have been nice if the information had been more detailed or in depth, but that seems to be normal for these books.
Scattered over the pages of Hulk: The Ultimate Guide were many illustrations. Many of them looked like they had been pulled from actual comic books. Some of the others looked like they might have been drawn just for the book, but I didn’t see an illustrator listed anywhere, so I’m guessing they were pulled from other sources. All the illustrations complimented the text very well. For the different characters that were discussed, there tended to be on drawing of the character that dominated the spread and there would be a few captions pointing out certain things about the character.
Hulk: The Ultimate Guide began with an introduction by Stan Lee, the man who created the character. He talked about how he came up with the idea for the character and about how the Hulk wasn’t a typical hero like the others he had created. The book then jumped straight into dealing with the subject by sharing basic information on Bruce Banner. Most of that was focused on things from before the incident that created the Hulk, but there were a few mentions of things that would happen later. Two pages covered the incident that created the Hulk and how he was actually grey at first. The Hulk’s powers and some of his different incarnations were also covered. People that were friends of the Hulk as well as a few enemies were also covered in this part of the book.
The rest of Hulk: The Ultimate Guide was divided into five sections, one for each decade since the creation of the Hulk in 1962. A large two page illustration of the Hulk singled the beginning of the next section. The next two pages of each section would share some general information about the Hulk from whichever decade was being focused on. Some of the covers from comic books from the time were also included. Each section would then discuss different characters, friends and foes, that the Hulk came into contact with during the decade. It would have been a bit better if the allies and enemies were weren’t mixed in together like they were. However, the Hulk seemed to have a tendency to fight even those that were on his side. Only a very few story lines were specifically brought up over the course of the book.
The last several pages of Hulk: The Ultimate Guide covered some things that I think had happened more recently before the 2003 publication of the book. One page talked about Hulk 2099 and how a different man had become the Hulk in that time. There was also a page that focused on evil Hulk, one of the Hulk personalities in Bruce. The Ultimates, the new version of The Avengers, was also briefly touched on, including how Bruce had started out working with them and then ended up being an enemy to be dealt with.
The last storyline that was covered was The End of the Hulk. That was set far in a possible future that didn’t look very promising. Hulk Around the World had a world map that pointed some different places that the Hulk had been to over the years. Something called Gazetteer covered two pages. That had an alphabetical list of all the characters the Hulk came into contact with and told which comic book they first appeared in. The book ended up with an Afterword by Tom DeFalco. He talked about reading the first Hulk comic books and how he came to like the character. He did mention different sources that he used for writing this book.
The Hulk did occasionally work with some other Marvel superheroes and he actually worked with some teams like The Avengers and The Defenders. It would have been nice if there had been a bit more information about the times that the Hulk did work with those other groups. The last little bit shared about The Defenders talked about how the members were forced to work together when a former enemy returned and cast a spell on them. It wasn’t explained what had happened to make them dislike each other so much. That is just one example of something that I thought wasn’t explained as much as I would have liked. People more familiar with the Hulk may already know those things, but people like me wanting to learn more are left with some confusion over certain details.
For the most part, the organization of Hulk: The Ultimate Guide was fine. It seemed like the different characters were introduced in this book in the order they were introduced in the comics, but I might be wrong about that. There was some repetition to the information shared, something that has happened in many of the other superhero guides put out by DK that I have. The first several pages when some of the more important reoccurring characters were first talked about also included information that turned up again later in the book. That did get me a bit confused a few times since I had thought some of those things had already happened and then they were being brought up again later. It would have been nice if there had been a timeline highlighting the major events somewhere in the book. That would have helped me to keep track of the order of certain events and just when certain characters turned up.
The Hulk has been featured in at least one cartoon that I remember watching all the time when I was growing up. I also watched The Incredible Hulk, the television show starring Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno that started in 1978. There were a few movies made after the end of the television show as well. The cartoon was not mentioned and the television show was only briefly mentioned on the page that shared general information for the 1970's. The first two movies were mentioned on the page about the 1980's and the last one was mentioned on the page for the 1990's. The live action movie that came out 2003 was only briefly mentioned as well and there wasn’t any information about it other than who some of the actors were going to be. It would have been nice if there had been just a little more information about the cartoons and movies since they were important to the character as well.
There was a lot of information about the Hulk shared in this book that I had not known before even though I had watched the cartoon and television show before. With certain things, I’m not sure if I just forgot those things or if they had not been part of the cartoon or television show. When I first saw a preview for Hulk, the live action movie from 2003, it seemed like the Hulk was entirely too big. I was basing that mostly on the television show where he got just a little taller and more muscular. According to this book, when Bruce turned into the Hulk, he did get much larger than I had thought. I also hadn’t known that the Hulk was first grey or that he had other incarnations over the years. I thought the information was very interesting and I learned a lot about the character.
I enjoyed Hulk: The Ultimate Guide and thought it had a lot of interesting information. I would have liked it if there had been some more detailed information about certain things and organized slightly better. Fans of the Hulk will probably find the book interesting.
This review is part of elvisdo’s 2008 Funny Pages Write-Off.
I was only able to find this listing by searching for the author’s name. It was listed with the correct title, Hulk: The Ultimate Guide, on the list of results from the search. However, when I clicked on that link, the page that loaded up had the title as just Hulk.
Hulk ~ The Incredible Hulk - The Incredible Hulk (2008) ~ Hulk: The Ultimate Guide ~
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