Marvel has always looked to Japan, believing that there was a whole world there to develop. First it was with the tokusatsu TV series Spider-man or Battle Fever J, and then with an attempt to reach a new audience by telling new stories they would understand. In the early 70’s, Spidey tried to become a Japanese hero by changing Peter Parker for a certain Yu Komori, who was much more violent than the original. Let’s not fool ourselves: it was really a bit more of the same as the first issues of Lee and Ditko, but with a new design. Of course, at the same time, the Emerald Giant made his appearance in a manga so obscure that it has not even been attempted to be published outside the country.
Haruku: Monsuta Komiku
Hulk was born in 1962 at the dawn of the cold war and atomic fear, and his first comics, where his gray complexion hid a kind of Doctor Jeckyll and Mister Hyde on the cheap, did not make you imagine that he would become a key character to understand the comics (and life) of the XXI century. And yet, only eight years later, he was already releasing his own manga in preparation for Marvel’s landing in Japan. Only Bruce Banner had very little left.
In ‘Haruku: Monsutaa Komiku’ the protagonist was Doctor Araki, a survivor of Hiroshima whose parents died in the nuclear blast. In a cluster of bad luck (and a bit of masochism), he goes to Nevada to work on the gamma bomb, where he meets Ricky Tendo (Rick Jones) and Mitsuko (Betty Ross). The story of the monster’s creation is the same, but not so much what came after.
And this Hulk cries. A lot. He rages, becomes super strong and does not stop crying over and over again, with stories similar and at the same time radically different from those written by Stan Lee in his day. And the fact is that the comic is unknown even to the company’s biggest fans. So much so, that not even in this period where the fans need to have absolutely everything has it been reissued in English, remaining a distant point in the history of the great M.
Curiously, although it could pass for a desperate commercial maneuver, behind this manga is Kazuo Koike, the author of that masterpiece that is ‘Lone Wolf and his cub‘, while the drawings, with an undeniable Tezuka-like air, are by Yoshihiro Morifuji. Morifuji took advantage of the fact that Hulk was not known in Japan to plagiarize cartoons and covers to taste, by the way, including the sound effects in English. He who doesn’t succeed is because he doesn’t want to.