Real Name: Thaddeus Hatcher
Identity/Class: Human, civilian of the USA
formerly laborer at a saw mill
Group Membership: None
Affiliations: Billy & Nan, Hulk (Bruce Banner), John & Sandy
(two teens lost at sea)
Enemies: An unnamed gang of drug smugglers
Known Relatives: Unidentified wife (divorced), daughter
Base of Operations: Unrevealed,
formerly Paradise Acres on "Paradise Island" off the coast of Africa
formerly Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA
First Appearance: The Hulk!#18 (December, 1979)
Powers/Abilities: Thaddeus possessed no known
superhuman abilities, but was in more than fine physical shape for a man
in his mid 70s living on an abandoned tropical island. Thaddeus was
exceptionally knowledgeable on subjects like farming, wood cutting,
caring for livestock and construction techniques. On top of that, he was
also a capable instructor. An avid amateur carpenter, he built his own
home in Wisconsin and was able to build tables that he could sell for
profit. Tired of the modern world, he longed for the simpler times of
Height: 6'1" (by approximation)
Weight: 136 lbs. (by approximation)
Hair: Gray (black in youth)
(Hulk!#18 (fb) - BTS) - Thaddeus Hatcher was born in Wisconsin "before loud fast cars, jobs and television commercials." Though he always dreamed of becoming a carpenter, and even built his home in a suburb of Milwaukee, he eventually took a job at a local lumber mill to support his wife and their daughter.
(Hulk!#18 (fb) ) - Though he found the job at the mill rather dull, the pay kept Hatcher going back there for 40 years. At some point during these four decades, after their daughter moved out, his wife left him too. When he was 65 Hatcher was surprised to find a pink slip in his weekly salary envelope. With tears in his eyes, he learned the mill was forcing him to retire. In the months that followed, Hatcher indulged himself by taking up his old carpentry hobby, constructing tables he sold for a tiny profit. However, he was eventually forced to move in with his daughter and her husband when he could no longer afford the increased estate taxes on his home and the county assessor possessed it. Thoroughly demoralized by what had happened to him and unable to get another job or retire on his pension from the mill, Thaddeus sensed he was becoming a burden to his family. Lying to his daughter about going to visit a friend in Chicago, Hatcher actually cashed in all his savings and booked passage on a ship headed for Africa. Almost out of money by the time he arrived, he rented a small boat from the locals for a leisurely day of ocean fishing. Dozing off on the waters, Hatcher drifted off course and wound up in a storm that tossed him even further away from the land. Surviving on the seas for seven days on nothing but a thermos of soup, he eventually washed up on a horseshoe shaped island. The clean air and the fresh fruit did him a world of good and he soon found himself feeling better than he had in many a year. Thaddeus decided to build a home for himself, away from all the noise and pressure of the modern world. He began constructing a place for himself he called Paradise Acres, falling back on his skills as a carpenter to construct the tools and materials he needed for the job. He also located and captured two beasts of burden he nicknamed Billy and Nan. To note the passage of time, he carved a line in a palm tree stump on the beach, creating a "calendar pole". Hatcher also realized a band of drug smugglers were using the island to store their cache, returning about once a month to pick up or drop something off. He had learned to keep himself hidden during these times, but otherwise spent the next nine years in pure bliss.
(Hulk!#18 - BTS) - After waking up in a hospital in
Africa, Bruce Banner grew agitated and changed into the Hulk who tore
through the town, fighting the local military before deciding to jump
away to some place calm. His powerful leg muscles soon took him to the
coast and with one massive jump he eventually found himself landing on
horseshoe shaped island. Instinctly feeling he was safe, Hulk changed into
Banner who fell asleep on the beach from exhaustion.
(Hulk!#18) - Thaddeus discovered the unconscious Bruce
Banner during his morning fruit haul with Billy and Nan and wondered out
loud if he was a blessing or a curse. He nevertheless brought Banner
back to Paradise Acres where Bruce soon recovered. Over tea, Thaddeus
told Banner about himself, his past life in Wisconsin and how he wound
up on what he called "Paradise Island". He then took Banner along on his
daily routine, starting with carving another notch on the calendar pole
and gathering food for their evening meal. Over the course of the day,
Thaddeus explained he didn't miss his former home, save his childhood.
But the America of his later years had very little to offer and he was
far more content on the island. Over the next month, Hatcher and Banner
worked tirelessly to build up and improve Paradise Acres, using
Thaddeus' skills and Bruce's brawn to construct, among other things, an
irrigation duct, a barbecue pit and a pen for Billy and Nan. When Banner
inquired how Hacker knew so many diverse and esoteric things, the old
man lamented that, unlike him, the world was in a constant rush for
bigger and better things, with no time to remember the simple basics,
like tacking a roof. Hacket went on, claiming "they've
kinda forgotten that microwave ovens ain't gonna do nobody much good
on a desert island". He then showed Banner the last of his
money he'd kept in an empty sardine can, calling it the one thing in
this world that can get old and wrinkly without losing its value. After
thirty six days, the work was finished and Paradise Acres looked like "a
rickety palace", in Thaddeus' own words. However, later that day a freak
tropical storm surprised Banner so much he lost control and turned into
the Hulk. Confused and furious, the green behemoth started smashing most
of Paradise Acres, only stopping when he heard Thaddeus' pleas. Hulk
wandered into the jungle where Hacker found Banner the next day.
(Hulk!#18 - BTS) - Caught in the storm as well, young teen couple Sandy and John were lost at sea on their ship the Fisher Wright. They spotted the horseshoe shaped island and laid in a course.
(Hulk!#18) - Thaddeus informed Banner about the monthly
visits of the pirates, claiming he was expecting them any minute, when
they spotted John and Sandy's ship coming in just as the pirates did as
well. After welcoming the two teens, Hacker quickly explained to the
incredulous couple their arrival had tipped off the smugglers to their
presence and that they were already on their way to kill them. John
didn't believe Thaddeus and actually ran up to the criminals, figuring
they were really a rescue party. One of the gang shot the boy through
the chest, which caused Banner to turn into the Hulk and chase off the
smugglers. As John lay dying, Hacker pleaded with Hulk to go get a
doctor. However, the Hulk didn't want to leave the island (subconsciously
remembering how much Banner loved its peaceful surroundings).
Eventually, the simple minded powerhouse came up with a straightforward
solution. He dove underwater and smashed his way across the bedrock that
connected Paradise Island to the ocean floor. He then pushed the
horseshoe shaped isle to the nearest harbor. When Thaddeus spotted the
shore, he realized his quiet, contented life of the past nine years was
over and wistfully cut down the calendar pole. After they arrived on the
beach, Thaddeus located the Hulk who was so exhausted from his feat of
might he slumped over and shifted back to Banner.
(Hulk!#18 - BTS) - Hatcher made sure Banner and John got the medical help they needed. He then took the sardine can with the last of his money and managed to take off in a nearby fishing boat, leaving the tin behind as payment. Banner later explained to the police and the confused fisherman that he figured Thaddeus was out on the sea, looking for a new paradise for himself.
Comments: Created by Doug Moench (writer), Ron Wilson (pencils), Alfredo Alcala (inks) and a special tip of the hat to Steve Oliff (color).
It's more than a little obvious Doug Moench wrote the story of Thaddeus Hatcher in the mold of the Hulk live TV series which was immensly popular in those days. Just like an average episode of the show, the emphasis is on the interaction between Banner and Hatcher, their (albeit slightly melodramatic) personal histories the focal point of the tale. The Hulk is rarely seen, only showing up when there is danger.
Of course it's easy to poke holes in the logic of this
story. It's unlikely a 65 year old man could survive on the ocean for 7
days on one thermos of soup... Not to mention that he managed to spent
another 9 years on a deserted island with no access to medical
facilities and yet be healthier than ever. Walking barefoot through a
jungle is bound to leave you with little cuts that are bound to get
infected without proper sterilization or antibiotics. But then again,
Thaddeus might have been able to cultivate fungus to make penicillin.
That still doesn't explain how after 9 years with no one to talk to, he
still spoke perfect English. Maybe Billy and Nan were wonderful
conversationalists, but I kinda doubt that.
Yours truly first read this issue when he was about eight
or nine. My mom bought it for me at a local convencience store to keep
me quiet during shopping. Back then, the irony of a social commentary on
how society tends to treat the elderly as useless outcasts delivered by
a man who literally became an outcast went right over my little head.
Rereading the issue over two decades later, well in the age of the
internet, one can only conclude old Thaddeus was a visionary for warning
us of the dangers of losing
ourselves and all that came before in our seemingly relentless pursuit
of the next big thing. With a little more life lived, I can relate. Though
I was raised on a farm, I can't build a holding pen for livestock to
save my life... I could google it for ya, tho.
Profile by Norvo.
Thaddeus Hatcher should not be confused with
Hatcher found two oxen type beasts he called Billy and Nan when he first arrived on "Paradise Island". Managing to gain their trust and confidence, he slowly but surely domesticated them to the point he could use them as beasts of burden. Hatcher used Nan's milk to live off and managed to weave both their thick, furry coats into protective gear. He also created primitive but functional harnesses that allowed the two beasts of burden to carry whatever bounty he'd managed to forage from the jungle.
A gang of drug dealing smugglers, operating like modern day pirates, had set up a safehouse in the mouth of "Paradise Island". They'd return to the island roughly every 30 days by speedboat, to either collect drugs or deposit some of their profit. Thaddeus Hatcher, the hermit stranded on the island too, knew best to give them a wide berth and go into hiding whenever he spotted the gang's approach. Right around the time the smugglers made their monthly run, Hatcher had Bruce Banner and the lost teens John and Sandy to deal with. Hatcher, familiar with the criminals' modus operandi, tried to get Banner and the others to safety. However, the smugglers had already caught up with them. John still figured they were a rescue party, running towards the thugs who shot him through the chest. This angered Bruce Banner to such a degree he turned into the Hulk and chased the gang. When they tried to escape on their speedboat, he hurled a rock that disabled the craft and stunned all those involved long enough for the police to apprehend them.
images: (without ads)
Hulk!#18, p27, pan1 (main image)
Hulk!#18, p17, pan2 (closeup)
Hulk!#18, p15, pan2 (fired)
Hulk!#18, p23, pan5&6 (on the knowledge of the world)
Hulk!#18, p18, pan 2&3 (and the calendar pole)
Hulk!#18, p13, pan 4&5 (Billy and Nan)
Hulk!#18, p34, pan1 (Smugglers gang)
The Hulk!#18 (December, 1979) - Doug Moench (writer), Ron Wilson (pencils), Alfredo Alcala (inks), Richard Marschall (editor)
Last updated: 05/03/14
Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.
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