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CSBG Archive

The Greatest Christmas Stories Ever Told! – #11

The countdown continues with 1990’s “Rhino Plastered” from Incredible Hulk #378 by Peter David (with an assist by Kurt Busiek), Bill Jaaska and Jeff Albrecht…

This issue took a break from the regular Hulk storyline (the previous issue was the famous issue where the various Hulk personalities were merged into one with Bruce Banner’s mind in control of the Hulk’s body) to tell a flashback from when the Hulk was grey and on the run along with Clay Quartermain and Rick Jones. They are at a mall where the supervillain the Rhino has gotten a job as a mall Santa and things sort of devolve from there…

The Hulk and the Rhino have an excellent fight throughout the mall until a little girl gets involved in the melee…

What an adorable ending and what a hilarious issue! I especially dig the Rick Jones framing sequence (the kids end up being unenthused with his story).

Bill Jaaska and Jeff Albrecht did an impressive job on the art. Jaaska had a couple of really strong fill-ins on Hulk around this time (this issue and one a couple of months later). However, when he took over as the regular artist on New Titans in 1993, which was supposed to be his big break, his work did not seem as good. The odd sort of sketchy feel to his figures did not go over well with fans at all…

And instead of being his big break, his stint on New Titans pretty much finished his career in comics. His last comic book work was an issue of Turok in 1995. He passed away in 2009 living in a boarding house, surviving off of public assistance while dealing with severe vision problems. Jaaska’s story is one that is far more common than we would like to believe. It makes me proud to support the Hero Initiative, which helps out comic book creators in their time of need. If you’re interested in donating during this Holiday Season, check the Hero Initiative out. I literally just donated some money to them about 30 seconds ago. I seriously didn’t mean to bring you all down out of nowhere during a Christmas comic book countdown, but what can I say, whenever I see Jaaska’s work I think about his sad story. I’ll avoid pontificating during the top ten of the countdown!


The final panel in the second to last page (of the Hulk story of course) is HILARIOUS.

Also, I didn’t expect this to show up at all, but I’m glad that it did. I didn’t vote for it, but it would have ranked right outside my top 10 easily. It’s actually the story that made me a fan of Peter David’s Hulk run in the first place.

I didn’t vote for this one, but if I did, I’m sure that would have been the only reason it would have made the list.

been hoping this story made the cut for the calander for love how once the rhino and the hulk see they could wind up destroying a little girls belief in the magic of santa and xmas they wind up making peace and working together and sad to learn what fate fell Jaaskas after he worked on this issue.

Were his vision problem to blame for his work degrading, or something else?

Were his vision problem to blame for his work degrading, or something else?

Something else, I believe. I believe Marv Wolfman once suggested that it was a matter of the inking, that Jaaska’s pencils were still strong but he wasn’t being helped very much by his inkers.

Rhino and Hulk smiling together…best part of the whole thing.

Well, it did show up afterall.

@Brian – I can complete believe that. It seems like inking similar to that was pretty common at DC at the time, and while both companies had good artists, it seems like the inking was better at Marvel at the time. A lot of the DC stuff seemed to look…alike, with that style of inking pretty common over there. Some did it better than others, but there was a generic feel to a lot of the DC art back then.

There’s a weight to the ink lines there in the Hulk pages that just aren’t there for the Titans page.

But look at that face on Dick in the middle of the page. That looks like a face that Mike Allred would draw! Too bad that Jaaska didn’t have Allred inking him. Shame about how things turned out for Jaaska.

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