May 1, 1962
- With this issue, the Hulk is now his famous green, instead of grey as in the first issue. But when the Hulk, at issue's start, lumbers out of a nearby swamp at night (a swamp? bordering a desert? really?), the coloring is darker - almost a greenish/grey hue - so it's not an immediate change all at once. His bright emerald tones would start appearing just pages later, though.
- And speaking of greens, let's get this out of the way: There's no way to avoid a comparison with Fantatic Four #2. In that second issue, Stan & Jack allayed any doubts their readers might have had by pitting their still-fresh super-team against an alien race - looking not completely unlike frogs - bent on world domination. The Skrulls would return again and again, going on to become one of the most feared alien menaces in the Marvel canon. The Toad Men, on the other hand ... would not.
- That's not the only misstep, sadly. Jack Kirby was the penciller for the first five issues of The Incredible Hulk, but after just two pages the canny reader will note that the art this issue has the distinct look of Steve Ditko, early artist and co-creator of Spider-Man and Doctor Strange. Turns out, for this issue he was drafted as the inker! Unfortunately, Ditko's style is SO distinctive that it blots out most of the lauded Kirby style from Jack's pencils underneath. Steve Ditko is, of course, a master in his own right ... but is perhaps not well-suited for a monster book (or at least not here). And certainly the mixture of these two artistic powerhouses came at the nigh-total expense of one of them. Perhaps Stan realized this too, as Dick Ayers would come on as Kirby's inker with issue #3.
- In fact, it's tempting to see the whole comic as a well-intentioned mistake from start to finish. Reading it now, the comic is certainly enjoyable enough on a kooky, kitschy level ... but that's kind of the problem. Whether you're laughing at the goofiness of the Toad Men, or trying to read it with the degree of seriousness they hoped their younger readers would, the tale is still one of an angry, misunderstood monster - versus space invaders in actual flying saucers. Alien toads are completely at odds with the dark, horror tone of having a monster as the book's protagonist, and the mix never completely gels. Maybe next issue will get back to basics...?