Sunday, March 23, 2014

Popeye versus Hulk by M. Rasheed


Popeye the Sailor and the Incredible Hulk are two of my all time favorite characters.  As a frequent visitor and member of the now sadly gone Herotalk message boards of the Museum of Black Superheroes, we comic fans would often engage in hypothetical “What If--?” battles.  And as a cartoonist who has often associated with other cartoonists as well as comic fans, I know for a fact that the Popeye versus Hulk one is a popular one.  With the publishing capabilities of the Internet at my disposal, as well as a game audience willing to receive it, this story pretty much poured out of me.  I kept it simple, but I also made sure I kept the two in character, and behaving/ responding the way they should.  

This tale was developed as fan-fiction, a labor of love, and is not intended for profit, or as any kind of competition against the companies that own them.  I only wished for other fans of the characters to enjoy the story.

Please note that the original working files and drawings were destroyed during a fire about ten years ago, so the story images below -- with their questionable resolution --  were cobbled together from old website files I was able to salvage. 

Popeye and the Hulk are registered trademarks of King Features Syndicate and the Marvel Comics Group respectively. In my artistic influences growing up, I favored the original Fleischer Bros animated-style Popeye and the 1980 Sal Buscema style Hulk reflected in the story. 


It all began on that fateful day upon a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier. The sailors aboard had no idea what they were carrying, nor did they know of their destination. But since this is the usual state of affairs within the lives of military personnel, no one was particularly disturbed by the situation. Nor yet was any sailor surprised when a military copter bearing the U.S. Army insignia landed aboard.

As they stood in formation to receive their guests (a hard as nails Major General with a voice like a thunderbolt, and three gawky... puny even... civilians in lab coats) the sailors merely waited for the boarding rituals to be over so they could go back to their duties.

Even the tightest secrets can spring a leak in such close quarters as the S.S. Eleanor's hold. Over the course of the next several months at sea, amidst glimpses of the three civilians working out their long-head equations, the sailors also managed to hear such phrases as "gamma bomb," "first strike" and "minimum safe distance."

In typical military fashion, the men swallowed any concerns they may have conjured and continued to do as they were told.

Although it began to seem impossible for the sea-weary crew, the mission was over at last. The mysterious cargo was taken off the carrier...

...and a company of salty sea dogs hurried ashore to enjoy some much deserved leave time.

But the sailors weren't the only ones who'd been working hard over the last five months. The mysterious civilian scientists also ached to leave their sea legs behind and enjoy some much needed R&R.

The sailors had pretty much decided that they didn't like the scientists on general principle. But one in particular named "Popeye" felt that anyone that was both physically weak and secretive could never be a friend of his. Call it superstition or just an ole sailor's hunch, but the three just didn't sit right with him. Or as he put it "I'se be disgustipated."

The sailors were further annoyed when they realized that the scientists' awkward insecurities encouraged them to follow the seamen around everywhere they went.

Popeye decided that it was probably best that they hung around, so he could keep his good eye on them in case they were up to no good...

...or so he thought before their weakness attracted the wrong kind of attention from one of the locals. Despite Popeye's personal feelings, he couldn't let any harm come to his fellow shipmates, civilians or not.

It was clear that the big galooka just wanted to win some cheap approval from the bar regulars by harassing some outsiders. Popeye figured since the three were scientists, naturally they'd come to the logical conclusion that they could run faster than the bully.

And right on cue the scientists high-tailed it out of there like their pants were on fire...

...except for one. The local tough guy was shocked. Was this little runt really going to stand up to him? It seemed impossible but it was true!

Even Popeye was stunned into immobility. Was nothing sacred??? If you couldn't count on gross stereotypes what could you count on?

The little guy certainly had a lot of courage! He told the bully that he had no right to this and that, and how dare he do what for...

It was all quite an earful, believe you me.

But not all the courage in the world is going to help you against a fist as big as a Christmas ham. Especially when you are a puny little bag of extra smart bones. The bully knocked the fellow out cold with one blow.

Popeye felt he'd given the long-head guy enough space to prove his manhood. Now it was his turn! How dare that big jerk pick on his shipmates? 

Spying an anvil in the Old West-themed bar and grill, the super-strong sailor grabs a hold of it...

And throws hundreds of pounds of iron up in the air like it was made out of marshmallow!

With a mighty blow, Popeye shatters the anvil into pieces...

...where they come raining down to stack up...

...into a fully-functional suit of medieval armor! 

Popeye's wondrous feat impressed his bullying foe in quite a different way! Churned into a murderous rage by his defeat, his eyes quickly searched around the room...

...he sends a giant crate of wood hurtling at the sailor with tremendous force! 

Still laughing at his reality-altering funny, Popeye is caught off guard. Tons of wood slamming into his head would've been lethal to a lesser man, but fortunately Popeye is made of far sturdier stuff! Even still, the impact leaves the sailor stunned requiring him to need a moment to clear his head.

A moment the blood-crazed bully is eager to deny! He pours down numerous blows preventing Popeye from getting his bearings... 

...then attempts to finish him off with his most vicious haymaker! 

The blow sends Popeye air born...

...and he comes to rest stuck within the wooden crate that he failed to dodge earlier!

The bully is angered further when he saw that his savage beating didn't finish the sailor off once and for all. He grabs a tool to enable him to accomplish what his fists didn't.

Showing a courage as great as any United States soldier, Doc Banner does everything in his power to stop the murderous behemoth in his tracks...

It isn't enough.

Meanwhile, the cobwebs in his head finally clear enough for Popeye to gain a measure of coherence.

The vitamin and iron-packed yummy, leafy goodness of spinach restores Popeye to full capacity, giving him the boost he needs to shake off his bonds!

Flexing as he feels his muscles rippling underneath his Navy issue like tons of dynamite...

...the sailor zips off to save Doc Banner from certain doom! 

Popeye tears into the shocked bully without mercy! This is what he should've done in the beginning, he thought as he showers the fiend in knuckle soup.

With one big mega-punch, Popeye finishes the fight but good!

Incredibly, the bully launches straight through the roof...

...and what's this?

He lands right on top of a truck!

The impact causes a titanic explosion of steel, rubber and novelty goods! Has Popeye gone too far and killed a man???

No. It was just an effect created by the sailor's spinach-enhanced reality-altering powers! Weird!

With the bully vanquished, the two continue to enjoy their shore leave... together! Even though the Doc Banner is a long-head scientist, Popeye values him as a good friend. The two spend the next few days tearing up the town like they were friends all their lives.

They stick together like glue, even during the inevitable fights that sailors always find. And even though the puny Doc Banner isn't much help in a battle, Popeye is comforted in the knowledge that his little friend still has his back.

Never before has either of the two men found such a loyal and reliable companion. It seems that nothing will ever come between this true friendship, that is until they see...


Hark! What truly blessed vision be this lovely maiden, who with such grace doth sun herself upon yonder rock? She is the very personification of beauty...

...nor are the intensity of her charms overlooked by the two friends.   Unfortunately, faced with such loveliness, even the strongest bonds of mere friendship...


...wouldn't stand a chance.

Ladies & Gentlemen! Let the Contest of Strength begin!!

Each contestant has to demonstrate four feats of strength to the utmost capacity of his individual musculature. But once the contest has been on its way, despite Olive's generous offer to grade on a curve to take into account the contestants' very different lifestyles...'s pretty clear from the beginning who is the strongest of the two.

Despite how entertaining and awe-inspiring, Popeye's demonstration was really little more than formality.

A formality...

...and perhaps a little showing off!

Unnoticed by the two love birds, something incredible happens within the depths of Doc Banner's body chemistry...

Heart racing...

...pulse pounding...

Triggered by his extreme rage, a startling metamorphosis occurs! 

Now during the original telling of this story, I considered Doc Banner's transformation to be a natural commercial break/stopping point so I could get some rest. I set the date for the main event a couple of weeks ahead, and created some material to help with the pre-fight hype.

It was very fun.

Popeye is stunned by the apparent loss.

But wait a minute... didn't HE win the contest of strength??? 

Popeye was the one who won the date with Olive fair and square!


Popeye's rage launches him towards the Hulk with a boiling fury!

The sailor's attack sends both combatants sailing over the cliff!

Falling from the sky... bouncing off the mountain, they continue to pummel each other!

But the Hulk falls from the sky and bounces off mountains as his mode of transportation! Using his aerial experience, he maneuvers himself into a position of advantage for the landing...  

Once again his beloved spinach snaps Popeye back into fighting shape!

He wastes little time releasing his earlier anger/jealousy onto the Hulk's grape. Popeye's reality-altering abilities manifest eerily as the Hulk's head literally whips around like a speed bag!

The Hulk throws his full might into a blow landing right on Popeye's chin... but fresh after Popeye's spinach boost, the punch has zero effect!

Unaware of the forces involved, a confused Hulk thinks his own considerable might has waned. He hesitates... Popeye more than enough time to unleash his devastating finishing move!

MEDIUM: Scanned marker cartoon drawing w/Adobe Photoshop color.

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