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By Thomas Wheeler

For quite a few years after his early 60's debut, The Incredible Hulk had a little-known secret. In his very first issue -- he was grey. That color didn't print terribly well given the printing methods of the time, and he was quickly changed to green in the second issue. Even some reprintings of that first issue, in such publications as "Origins of Marvel Comics", recolored the Hulk to be green.

Years later, the grey Hulk resurfaced, with a distinct personality, essentially a third version of Bruce Banner's fractured personality, which had been bifurcated for so many years between Banner and the Hulk. This grey Hulk was more intelligent than his green counterpart, but he was still a vicious individual, and basically became a mobster-type in Las Vegas for a time. And believe me that's a distinctly short summary of the long and extremely varied history of the Incredible Hulk's multiple incarnations.

The grey Hulk that's part of the latest Marvel Legends assortment, though, is not intended to be anything other than a color-accurate representation of the Hulk as he first appeared in the early 1960's, that fateful day when scientist Bruce Banner took a full blast of gamma radiation. And to that end, the figure is remarkably precise, especially considering the rather simplistic artwork of the time, and the complexity of the Marvel Legends figures.

The figure, understandably, is huge. He stands roughly 8 inches in height, compared to the 6 inches-- give or take a bit -- that most Marvel Legends figures boast. The head sculpt has a "Frankenstein monster" look to it, but that's appropriate. Stan Lee saw the Hulk as a classic-type monster, and I suspect that Jack Kirby probably had a Frankenstein-like creature in mind when he designed the character.

The detail work on the body is very interesting. It's surprisingly minimal. Toy Biz was obviously shooting for something that would be at once a match for the level of detail collectors have come to expect from the Marvel Legends line, and at the same time be a good reflection of how the character looked when he first appeared. That cannot have been an easy line to walk for the sculptors, who also had to work in the considerable level of articulation. And yet, they managed it magnificently. If it were possible to step into a "real world" version of the 1960's Marvel Universe and encounter the Hulk at his first appearance, this is probably pretty close to what he would have looked like.

It's hard to be certain, of course, since anyone encountering a real world Hulk that close-up would likely be too busy running in the opposite direction to really pick up the nuances of detail -- at least if they had a brain in their heads.

The greatest amount of sculpting detail is reserved for the torn blue jeans, which have been given a simulated fabric pattern.

The body design is interesting. This is not the massively muscular, almost body-builder physique that later versions of The Hulk had. The character almost looks paunchy around the gut. Again, part of this is the design, which deliberately avoids the muscles-upon-muscles and bulging veins that are much a part of modern comics art when rendering a character this massive.

The Hulk boasts an impressive 34 points of articulation, with surprising attention paid to the hands, which have articulated thumbs, index fingers and remaining finger groups.

The figure is grey, but there's still a bit of a nod to his later color scheme, as a certain amount of green detail has been sprayed over the figure, mostly along the muscle lines. It should also be mentioned that the rare "chase" figure in this assortment of Marvel Legends is a green version of this Hulk figure, with a different head sculpt.

This Hulk figure is a little strange. He's just "early Marvel" looking enough so that he won't necessarily be a good match standing alongside more modernly-designed Marvel Legends figures. he sort of sticks out, and not just because of his massive size. However, The Hulk is certainly one of the hallmark characters of the Marvel Universe, and any fan of The Hulk, especially one familiar with the character's long history, will likely appreciate this figure, and it's certainly an excellent Marvel Legends figure in its own right.

As part of the GALACTUS Series, The Hulk comes with the Left Arm Segment of the Galactus figure. I assume that either version of The Hulk would come with this piece, although I can't quite imagine someone finding the scarce green version and wanting to open it for the Galactus part. The rest of the Galactus Series includes Deathlok, Dr. Strange, Professor X, Nightcrawler, Bullseye, and War Machine. And I'm recommending the entire assortment just on the basis of Galactus, whom I shall review separately.

But for any longtime Hulk fans, this 1st Appearance Grey Hulk will be a welcome addition to their collection!