Now here’s an interesting idea. Take an old X-Men story from their mostly unpopular pre-94 days and expand it into something potentially intriguing. The original run of the Uncanny X-Men ended at issue #66, followed up with reprints from #67-93 and culminating in the series reboot starting in Giant Size X-Men #1. This takes the story that played out in #66 and gives us where it might have gone had the X-Men continued with new stories.
So let’s take a look at the first arc of Savage Hulk and see what’s down the rabbit hole, shall we?
I didn’t read X-Men #66 as it came out, that was a couple of years before I started reading comics, but once I got hooked on X-Men, I went back and bought a bunch of issues, including this one and I remember the original cover. In the original story, Professor Xavier had just saved the world from the Z’Nox and had overtaxed his powers, putting him into a life-threatening coma. Beast finds a way to speak to the Professor and he tells them they need to find Bruce Banner, who they realize is the alter-ego of the Hulk. They track down the Hulk, who is rampaging in Las Vegas and engage him. Marvel Girl manages to turn him back into Banner and Banner realizes that he has a gamma-powered devices that can completely cure mental exhaustion but they are attacked by Major Glenn Talbot before he can reveal the location of this device. That’s sort of where this issue starts off.
Unfortunately, and this is a problem inherent in the format of the story, we know that neither the Hulk, nor the X-Men can actually be in any significant danger in the story because we know, in general, where things went from here, everyone survived and this became a relatively minor event in the chronology. Granted, there isn’t much of a “danger” factor in comics anyhow but here, it’s even less.
Still, there are a lot of really fun elements here too. The Silver Age of comics was one of huge set pieces and massive battles spreading across the landscape and this comic gives you that in spades. It really has the feel of an earlier era, one that I really miss sometimes so this scratches a particular itch in me.
The art is amazing, anything by Alan Davis is fantastic but it really fits this retro theme. Add in inks by Mark Farmer and things get even better. The writing, also by Davis, has a distinctly old school feel, the pacing, the characterization, all of it feel spot on.
There was a reason that the original X-Men failed to garner enough of an audience back in the day but reading this made me wonder how many stories could still be told in the old X-Men universe. I’m going to keep up on this title, even though there are rumblings that it won’t survive and Davis leaves the title following this arc, but maybe what started on a high note might continue to be a good story overall.