QUESTPROBE #1, Marvel Comics, August 1984
Billed as a Scott Adams/Marvel Comics limited series, Questprobe was meant to go 12 issues over 4 years, but only managed 3. Why? Because it was quintessentially a bad idea, that's why. Scott Adams... Scott Adams... Sound familiar? It should, but this isn't the same guy who's responsible for Dilbert. Crossing Hulk with Office Space might've been something. Not funny, but something. But I won't bash Dilbert here. I think the Internet has got it covered.
In any case, this isn't that Scott Adams. This Scott Adams was a programmer of games in Basic in the late 70s and early 80s. In '84, he took some Marvel-inspired text games he'd made in '78 and updated them with graphics for the likes of the Commodore 64. In the tie-in comic, the featured hero would eventually enter a black portal. If you wanted to know what happened to the character, you'd have to play the game. It's the Matrix franchise at least 15 years before its time.
Have you spotted the problem? It's a text-based adventure game. The first of which stars the Hulk. The HULK. Clearly, they went with Marvel's best and brightest puzzle-solver. I hope there's a lot of smashing to be done! Let me tell you, I've played the game on my old C64, and there isn't. There are, however, obtuse puzzles like this one:
The same objects recur in the game, and no, I have no idea what to with them. The egg smashes itself!
The plot of the comic revolves around a pacifist alien race confronted with its own doom when a "black fleet" approaches. Only one of them does something about it by heading to Earth to copy our heroes' powers. I kinda like the guy's look:
Man, that's a 'fro made of light! Writer Bill Mantlo strikes again! He's not as interesting with a helmet as the Chief Examiner though (a name he seems to have picked off tabloids in the grocery store checkout line). He finds the Hulk rampaging through the Grand Canyon and tries to make him jump into the portal. Since he seems to have control over the damn thing, I don't know why it just doesn't fly straight at the green goliath, but there you go.
Finally, to save a girl wearing what must be the heaviest lifejacket in the history of comics, he does go through it. And it leaves you wondering if you missed the only interesting bit of the story. But if you've only played the game, you have the feeling the comic must have been the interesting bit.
And what happened to the Questprobe series? Hulk was followed by Spider-Man, then the Fantastic Four, and while they were working on the X-Men, Scott Adams' company folded. The X-Men comic was eventually published in Marvel Fanfare. Computers just started developing too fast for poor ol' text-based adventure games. I guess that's why we don't remember Scott Adams' name along the likes of Bill Gates and... um... Bill Gates.
They brought John Romita Sr. out of retirement for THIS?!?