RAMPAGING HULK #7, Marvel Comics, February 1978
The Hulk's not a swamp monster, I know, but half the magazine-sized Rampaging #7 is devoted to the return of the Man-Thing, who is. Sadly, I do not own any issues of the obscenely-titled Giant-Sized Man-Thing, and what few issues I have of the late 90s Man-Thing aren't very good. I liked the creature's stint in Marvel Universe Presents, but at only a few pages per issue, it's a little harder to talk about. So Rampaging Hulk it is.
Now, for those who don't know, Man-Thing is the Marvel Comics equivalent of DC's Swamp Thing and the best example of industrial espionage between the two companies since the X-Men and the Doom Patrol both trotted out their wheelchair-bound leader only a few months apart. Man-Thing and Swamp Thing are both scientists that fell into a swamp and were turned into vegetable monsters. So which came out first? Man-Thing did, but only by a month.
Unlike Swampy, the Man-Thing is a mindless creature that is attracted to violent emotions that make it reach out and touch you with its acid-producing fingers ("and whatever knows fear burns at the touch of the Man-Thing!"). It lives in a swamp that is also a nexus for various dimensions, so the stories tend to be a lot weirder than the early Swamp Things. Case in point: "Among the Great Divide", which features a half-naked chick referred to in the purple prose as a "living - or at least animate - grotesquerie, wailing like a banshee in heat, sinking her claw-like nails deep into Man-Thing's miry mass." Since this is followed by a bunch of ass-crack shots and see-thru nips, the tendency to think of this as soft core erotica is rather tempting.
And not too flattering to that girl considering the protagonist has three roots for a face. If you want real grotesque, check out the girl's mother.
I can't believe a comics legend like Jim Starlin drew this thing. It's really rough and out of perspective. I guess if it's not full of stars and nebulae (or optionally, kung fu), Starlin can't do it.
Anyway, it turns out the girl has split personalities and they've become tangible thanks to the swamp's mojo action. This 15-year-old (drawn like a 19-year-old nymph by Starlin) runs from her mom, goes clubbing with her gang in tow, and ends up almost raped by Larry from Three's Company's ugly brother. Steve Gerber sometimes goes on decent flights of postmodernism, but in the final analysis, it's all a bit heavy-handed and talky (especially considering the protagonist doesn't speak).
Now if you're looking for real weirdness, the Hulk story is much stranger than the muck monster's. Hulk's a green monster too, so I might as well say a few words about it. Or to start with, let me just show you a panel:
Yes, this is a Hulk story in which a ghost with an eyeball for a head comes out of the purse of a chainmail-bikini-wearing chick with a mohawk. And that's not the freakiest stuff to come down the pike. She, Rick Jones and the Hulk all get into her bird mask, which turns into a spaceship and where she uses what is basically a huge cyclops/Mrs. Potato-head hybrid to tell us what happened:
Mohawk-chick creates a lot of these creatures and when they die, they just go back to the purse. They've coalesced into that eyeball demon and it's running amok. No problem! The chick creates a love-gun filled with her... you don't want to know. By the end, Rick will have to use the "bliss-maker" to stop the demon, and prevent the chick from being burned at the stake by comic book gypsies. He hasn't gone to a shooting range for a while though:
Yeah, that's not really how you should hold that thing. It falls in the fire, and the Hulk has to shoot it instead. Big explosion, and the bird-chick wakes up screaming "Yes... Oh, yes, YES!!!" in rather coital fashion.
What can I say? Marvel's big magazines were geared toward an older audience (that's why they're black and white - kids don't dig the black and white), but they're not quite Vertigo level yet. As you can see, it's a lot of innuendo, pretentious psychobabble, and maybe a rape thrown in for good measure. But if you must get Rampaging Hulk #7, get it for a good reason...
Get it because the Hulk frickin' punches out an elephant! Yah!