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Jack McGee (Jack Colvin in The Incredible Hulk TV series) vintage

Jack McGee


Power Level:
Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game

“Woe. Mr. McGee, your newspaper is only interested in reporting murder, rape, horoscopes, UFO’s and Farrah Fawcett. I don’t happen to fit into any of those categories and I wish not to be interviewed.” […] “Mr. McGee, don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.”


Context

This profile is a companion entry to our larger Hulk (1978-1982 TV show) profile.

Ahd, seriously folks, McGee’s the forgotten third wheel of the show. Everybody refers to “The Hulk TV show starring Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno”. Well, no. It was actually “Bill Bixby in the Incredible Hulk. Also starring Jack Colvin and Lou Ferrigno”.

Sure, he’s just an ordinary guy trying to track down a super being and, when it comes to intrepid reporter skills, he’s no Carl Kolchak. But, within the story, once you take into consideration the conventions of the genre, he was supposed to be a good reporter that ended up working for a tabloid.

Just as Superman hid his identity by putting on a pair of glasses, David Banner became David B-something wherever he went. And yet, even hearing the voice, knowing these David B. guys showed up everywhere and once even seeing David’s face when David was wearing a little Robin the Boy Wonder style mask just around his eyes, McGee STILL could not recognize him as Dr. David Banner.

Ironically, the most comic book part of the show may have been the reporter who was an original character created for the show.


Background

  • Real Name: Jack McGee
  • Other Aliases: None
  • Marital Status: Single
  • Known Relatives: None
  • Group Affiliation: The National Register
  • Base Of Operations: Mobile
  • Height: 5’9” Weight: 150 lbs
  • Eyes: Brown Hair: Dark Brown


Video

Jack McGee doing legwork. It’s a hard job.


History

Born in 1934 in St. Louis, Jack McGee described his father as a failure at everything he ever tried, one small business after another, a “soft touch” always willing to render services on credit or to loan money. We can surmise that he graduated high school in 1952.

He stated that he was in the Air Force during the Korean War. So he was probably drafted straight out of high school and served during the last two months and the subsequent withdrawal and then stateside for the remainder. He then went to college, graduating in 1958, majoring in Journalism.

We know only that, when we were introduced to him, he was a reporter working for a supermarket tabloid named “the National Register”.

He was determined to get an interview with either Dr. David Banner or Dr. Elaina Marks of the Culver Institute because they were doing research into why some people, under extreme stress, exhibit superhuman levels of strength. This sounded like perfect fodder for tabloid sensationalism to him.

The incredible Hulk

When they both refused interviews, he bided his time. Then came reports of a hulking green creature sighted by a father and daughter who were camping. Dr. Banner’s car was found demolished very close to where the creature was sighted. McGee saw a connection and accompanied a police officer when he went to question David.

It was clear Banner was ad-libbing when he claimed his car had been stolen — or maybe taken by a friend who had his own keys — and that he knew nothing about the creature. So McGee hid his car and climbed a hill above the country lab where Banner and Marks were working. When they left, he jimmied a window and got in.

Jack McGee (Jack Colvin) with a cast of the Hulk's foot

McGee saw that the lab, including a thick steel pressure chamber, had been demolished and there was a huge footprint like one found of a large creature near the campsite. When he heard Banner and Marks returning, he hid in a closet, accidentally knocking over a bottle of chemical solution.

When Banner opened the door to get something, McGee was found out. Neither of them noticed the chemicals seeping into other chemicals and the machinery. As Banner escorted McGee out, the chemical fire caused an explosion. McGee was knocked out.

When he regained consciousness, Banner was gone and he saw a huge green creature carrying Dr. Marks out of the lab and into the forest.

At the funeral for Banner (whose body was never found) and Marks, he displayed a front page “National Register” story to a friend of theirs, Ben. He had named the creature the Hulk and he blamed it for the deaths of the two scientists, never realizing he was the cause of Elaina’s death.

He pointed out that the creature had a warrant for murder out on it thanks to his convincing the police that it was responsible.

Jack then began a quest to find and capture the Hulk. He rode around with sheriffs, visited boxing arenas, zoos, modeling agencies, anywhere that the Creature was spotted. He even chased the Hulk through Times Square.

The Hulk Breaks Las Vegas

He was starting to obsess over the Hulk to the point of refusing other assignments. But then a friend of his called and Jack picked up on the hints that the other man’s phone was bugged. He was a fellow reporter who needed Jack to travel to Las Vegas and help him.

When Jack arrived, he found out his friend was in the hospital, having been victim of a hit and run. He received a call in his hotel room from a man who claimed he had a key and a “number” to give him and that he had left it at the front desk. Jack tried to get down to the lobby before the man left but he was gone when Jack got there.

He then visited the wife of his friend and found out the number was that of a locker in the airport and the key opened it. His friend had hidden all of the evidence to convict a Las Vegas mobster and casino owner in the locker.

However, when he went to get the evidence, he was confronted by a man with a gun under his coat and escorted out to a waiting car. He tried to fight back once outside the airport where people would not get shot, but the man hit him and knocked him out.

He awoke in a landfill to see two things above him that terrified him. One was a bulldozer pushing dirt down onto him. But what terrified him even more was that the Creature was standing over him. That it seemed to be saving him was beside the point. It lifted him and then leaped at least 20 feet up to where the bulldozer was.

He watched in awe as the Hulk demolished the bulldozer and defeated the thugs. As he stood watching, an emerald glow surrounded the Creature and he noticed that its face and body were starting to gradually change, becoming smaller, less muscular, the forehead losing its primitive look.

But then one of the mobsters fired two shots that penetrated a fraction of an inch into its shoulder and chest. Its rage caused it to grow and become massive again. It threw a boulder that hit a car and knocked it into the mobster, kayoing him. Then it ran off too fast for him to chase, leaping down a hill.

Jack McGee (Jack Colvin) tries to attack the Incredible Hulk from behind

McGee continued following up on every lead, traveling to the Nevada desert, later exposing a Black Market baby syndicate, being on the front lines to get the story of a nuclear plant built in an unsafe area and exposing criminal activities in a union. But all of these stories were just side effects of his obsession with the Hulk.

The chase

He briefly traveled to Hawaii following up on a sighting but failed to get an interview with Dr. Caroline Fields. He then went to Utah where someone was portraying a fake creature to bring publicity to a small town. This inadvertently helped a down on his luck ex-employee of the National Register get his job back.

His “chase” ironically led him next to a car-racing track and then to a horse-racing track but the Creature eluded him. He got a story about the Hulk beating up a woman and child only to later report that it was actually the husband/father who did it.

He interviewed an elderly martial arts master who, though blind, had heard the Creature and been carried by him. His journeys took him to disco clubs and to interviews with big-game hunters where he got the idea of using a tranquilizer gun on the Hulk.

Hunting the Hulk – literally

McGee got his chance when, for reasons he could not fathom, the Hulk appeared in National Register headquarters. Although he managed to shoot the Hulk, the Creature grappled with him while he was reloading and he was also shot with a dart.

Pursuing the Hulk, he thought he saw a man backed into a corner but his vision was too blurred to recognize him and then Jack fell unconscious.

He next followed rumors of the Hulk into an isolated region of Mexico where he made the choice to not follow the Hulk in order to help save an injured young man’s life.

Jack next heard about a sighting of the Hulk and a man with facial burns from a car crash found near where the Hulk was seen. The man had amnesia and Jack offered to charter a plane and take the both of them to see a specialist. On the way, a storm caused the plane to crash.

The pilot was killed and Jack got a broken leg. The other man, known only as “John Doe”, built a makeshift stretcher to get Jack to civilization. Jack uncharacteristically opened up about his life and his father, who he perceived as a failure (though “John” perceived him as a good man who wanted to help people).

Jack suspected that this man was also hunting the Hulk for some reason. Then they realized they were being surrounded by a forest fire and might not survive.

John Doe

The man helped Jack, who fell unconscious several times. They talked. Jack mentioned his stint in the Air Force in Korea although he admitted he never liked flying. The other man, “John Doe”, goaded Jack about how “The Creature” had saved his life.

He asked why Jack would want to capture it and destroy it by having it become a guinea pig for scientific experimentation which Jack admitted is probably what would happen.

But Jack angrily declared that the Hulk was his means of escape, to get out of working for the National Register and get hired by a real newspaper, maybe even win the Pulitzer. He declared that a person has to make a choice, to help himself or the other guy and he chose himself.

He called “John” an idealistic fool who would help his worst enemy knowing he would condemn himself in the process.

Then, as “John” tried to save Jack after a burning tree fell on him, Jack saw the eyes of “John Doe” turn white and he suddenly knew. He reached up but, before he could pull off the bandages, “John” had become the Hulk.

Leaving Jack with other people, the Creature ran off. But now Jack understood how the Hulk got from city to city, population center to population center, without being seen. Because a man turned into the Hulk.

Hulk groupies

He next tracked his “John Doe” when “John” and another man escaped from the police. McGee even grappled with a cop who was going to shoot the Creature. McGee was uncertain whether bullets could more than superficially hurt the Hulk since, the one time he saw the Creature shot, the bullets penetrated several layers of skin and drew some blood.

Although failing to get the Hulk, he got an interview with the other man who had been delusional and thought he was Ernest Hemingway until he was cured.

The Hulk was next sighted emerging from a cave that was an ancient Navaho burial ground. The locals believed it was an ancient spirit. McGee again had to deal with disbelief from fellow reporters and the general public.

[Another example of the Reset button where it is as if the Hulk had not, but weeks earlier, been sighted by thousands of fans in attendance and millions on television during a football playoff game though McGee was not personally involved in that sighting].

Jack McGee (Jack Colvin) discusses with a woman in red

Jack was then assigned to work with an apprentice. They encountered a lonely young man who claimed he turned into the Hulk. They tried to help when he attempted suicide by jumping from a Bell tower although it was the Hulk who saved him. A rare instance of McGee admitting there was anything that took precedence over getting the story on the Hulk.

Also interesting because it gave rare insight on the effect the Hulk was having on the world such as “Hulk groupies” and fan clubs existing and it not being uncommon for lonely people who needed attention to claim to be the man who became the Hulk.

The chase continues

He next did a story on a rock star when a girl was crippled during one of her concerts and inadvertently encountered the Hulk, exposed abuse in a prison work camp and got the story on some cattle rustlers though it was not the story he wanted.

He was on site for the story when a protection racket was brought down by the Hulk. He even visited David Banner’s father and sister. Though he was never able to prove it, he obviously realized that the Hulk appearing in the small town where David had grown up was too much to be a mere coincidence.

After trailing the Hulk to Mardi Gras, he then investigated a sighting in a garage. Interviewing a woman who saw the Creature, she told him her building’s janitor might know something. Going to his room, he found himself face to face with David Banner.

But Banner claimed to be a man named Mike Cassidy who later turned out to be a wanted felon and who was almost a total lookalike for David Banner except that he was perhaps ten years older.

Proof Positive

Things finally came to a head when the publisher of the newspaper retired and left his daughter in charge. Patricia Steinhauer wanted to turn it into a legitimate newspaper. Jack was completely for this because it fulfilled his goal of becoming a “real” and respected reporter without having to get hired elsewhere.

The only problem was it meant no more Hulk stories.

He quit and was going to track the Creature on his own but, not wanting to lose someone she knew was a good reporter, she went with him and promised he could stay on the Hulk story if he could prove to her satisfaction that he existed. In a factory, they saw a man in the distance. He saw Jack approaching and ran.

Along the way, he changed and they found themselves confronting the Hulk. He got away but she was convinced he existed. Unfortunately, her father decided he was not ready to retire and took over again. But that meant she was not Jack’s boss anymore which left them free to admit there was an attraction there and they started dating.

(This was the only episode of the series where Jack McGee was the main character. It’s unfortunate they did not make it an annual event because it was a very nice change of pace. It was also the only episode in which Bill Bixby did not appear as we only saw his stunt double as David Banner from a distance.)

McGee then exposed jewel thieves and con-jobs before encountering a young woman who claimed to know who “John Doe” was. Though she never delivered, he was shot and wounded while apprehending a murderer.

Then he confronted the masked “John Doe” at a Masquerade Ball, even scuba diving to get out to the island where the event was being held.

He admitted to his anger because the public, unless they had seen the Creature themselves, refused to believe he existed [did I mention the thousands at the Football Playoffs that count as having seen him and the millions watching on television?]. John Doe got away yet again, however.

Jack then tracked him into the backwoods while another fire was raging but the man got away again.

Project Prometheus

He then investigated a sighting of the Hulk in a small town in Utah. While he was there, a meteor crashed. McGee investigated when an elite military unit called Prometheus set up camp nearby. He found and put on a uniform to infiltrate the camp. He was on hand when they did what nobody had been able to do before: capture the Hulk.

Contained in a thick steel vault, the Creature was taken to a secret facility in Colorado, inside of a mountain. Jack managed to explore the facility in all the excitement. He found evidence that the project existed:

  • to investigate the possibility of extraterrestrials
  • to study and use any scientific or technological knowledge that might be gleaned from such beings

They assumed the Hulk was some sort of extraterrestrial that may have been inside the meteor but Jack convinced them otherwise.

They made the mistake of trying to recapture the Creature by force though he warned them of the consequences. As a result of their attempt, most of the facility was destroyed and the Hulk escaped.

Jack McGee (Jack Colvin) tries to get past police officer

In the aftermath, McGee was warned to not print the story due to national security but he was told that some compromise might be made, a less sensational story allowed to see print in return for silence on some details.

(Alas, the nature of episodic television being what it was in those days, we never saw what that story might have been or any future reference to Project Prometheus or consequences of the military knowing about the Hulk’s existence.)

Mercenary man

When a mercenary visited the National Register and offered to kill the Hulk for a million dollars, McGee explained that they did not want him murdered but captured. However, another tabloid took the deal. McGee investigated and tracked the paper trail to a compound the merc had purchased.

He arrived just in time to see the man was going to kill the Hulk with a bazooka. He drove his car between them just as the man fired. McGee dove out of the burning car and watched as the Creature subdued the merc and then ran away. For once, it was McGee who saved the Hulk.

He then investigated a sighting of the Hulk in a small town. He stumbled onto a story about another creature that appeared there 30 years earlier and then reappeared. Although he again failed to capture the Hulk or find out who he was, he did get the story on the similar creature and how it was a man subjected to radiation treatments from a doctor back then.

This fit in with his theory that Dr. David Banner and Dr. Elaina Marks had been conducting some sort of experiments on a man McGee called “John Doe” causing that man to also become such a creature.

Jack was infuriated when another National Register reporter who used to write for a scientific journal stole one of his Hulk leads, got the entire story on who the Hulk really was and what happened, and then refused to reveal the information and hurt the man who became the Hulk.

Endless Pursuit

Jack continued pursuing his “John Doe”, encountering the Hulk in a mining town. He kept following up on reports of the Hulk well into the mid-1980s.

But, somewhere around 1986, reports of the Creature stopped coming in. With no leads to pursue, he finally had to go back to the standard tabloid stories.

Then, in 1988, a report of the Hulk came in and he felt elated. Free of the standard trash stories, he followed the lead on the Hulk. This led him to an encounter with a huge blond man who liked like some sort of modern day Viking. But, again, John Doe eluded him.

There were at least two other Hulk sightings after that but Jack never showed up or, if he did, it was after the Hulk was gone.

We were never told whether the death of Dr. David Banner in 1990 became public knowledge or not. So we do not know whether Jack McGee’s quest was fulfilled in some way or if the Hulk vanished and Jack had to assume he had been killed, his questions forever unanswered.


Alternate History

Although this is labeled an alternate history, it is really the history that was originally envisioned by Kenneth Johnson, Executive Producer, head writer and creator of the series. He had an idea of how it would end though the story was not written down.

It would end in such a way that most of the audience would find emotionally satisfying after following these journeys for 5 years. David Banner would finally find his cure and the reporter would get his story, but only as Banner was cured, and there would be at least some degree of reconciliation between them.

Unfortunately, the series along with several other shows, was, according to Johnson, canceled abruptly by a man who was in charge of CBS programming for about “20minutes”.

This person was reportedly a conman who wheedled his way into the position with promises of cutting the budgets of all shows by half and, with typical conman skill, avoided anyone ever asking him how he could ever really do that. They got rid of him within months but the damage was already done with a number of shows that still had reasonable ratings canceled.

Johnson had nothing to do with the 3 television movies that followed the series. As stated, he had an ending in mind that would give closure to all of the main characters, McGee as well as Banner.

Barring that, he preferred to envision them in a timeless realm where the story never ended with David Banner still somehow out there, traveling from town to town, righting wrongs as the Hulk, and Jack McGee still after him in an endless pursuit.


Description

Jack McGee is a man of average build, perhaps a bit slump shouldered. He is almost always dressed in a suit and tie though his suits often look rumpled. He keeps his hair on the long side in the style of the 1970s.


Personality

Jack McGee is a gruff individual who is often callous. But when he finds something to be absurd or “an old song and dance played over and over”, he is honest about what he really thinks. He is driven to prove himself and break free of the tabloid journalism he is trapped in.


Quotes

“I am willing to admit that my paper has a borderline reputation for mild sensationalism.”

Jack McGee: “You could be a good reporter. You’re smart enough. But you always take the cheap shot.”
Joe Arnold: “Let me tell you something, McGee. There’s only a handful of reporters in this country that make big money and I intend to be one of them.”
Jack McGee: “So that’s it. Go for the bucks.”
Joe Arnold: “Yeah.”
Jack McGee: “No matter who it hurts.”
Joe Arnold: “Right. You want me to go it straight the way you do and end up with nothing ?”
Jack McGee: “Oh, well. I sleep good. I shave with my eyes wide open. I have friends.”

Jack McGee: “I’ve got work to do.”
Sam the Guard: “Okay, this ’Hulk‘ is more important than your health.”
Jack McGee: “Sam, thanks anyway.”

Jackie Swan (Hard Rock Promoter): “I don’t care to deal with your paper, Mr. McGee. It caters to the baser instincts and I don’t want this matter exploited.”
Jack McGee: “And what sort of instincts do you cater to, Miss Swan ?”

(On why most people don’t believe the Hulk exists): “It certainly is a comment on our society, isn’t it ? They all think he’s part of the show. Or they don’t want to get involved. It’s strange, isn’t it, how people manage to ignore those things that they can’t understand.”

“I gave up everything in my life outside of this story. There was a girl. And when she left me, I just barely noticed. I haven’t voted in two years. Damn thing runs my life…”

“If I hadn’t made so many mistakes during the last couple of years, who knows, the Hulk could be history by now. It’s all right. Gives me something to look forward to.”

“We don’t want the Creature killed, just captured. See, if you kill the Creature, you also kill a man.”


DC Universe History

This is a character for whom existence in the DCU would be particularly interesting because his entire reason for existing would be non-existent in the DCU. He is driven to prove the Hulk exists.

In the DCU, a place where the general public accepts the existence of numerous super beings, the Green Lantern Corps and an endless variety of unusual things, a place where the “Laws” of Physics are merely “suggestions”, the Hulk would be accepted as a fact.

Jack McGee’s abiding motivation would be to be the first person to get the full inside story on this particular super being.

Most likely, Jack McGee would make several attempts to get on at the Daily Planet. He might try to get Jimmy Olsen to travel around with him as a photographer to get shots of the Hulk. Whether or not Lois Lane would get along with him is debatable.

At times, he seems a good reporter (given the absurdities of the setting where he cannot figure out that the Hulk is David Banner and people can’t figure out that Clark Kent is Superman) but perhaps a bit ruthless in getting his story.

I could well imagine McGee pursuing the Hulk through Metropolis only to have Superman figure out who the Hulk is and help him escape.

Jack meeting Lex Luthor is almost frightening because McGee is a bit blunt about what he thinks and could end up killed. But then, just for the fun of watching, Luthor might give Jack the power to have a real chance of discovering the Hulk’s identity, maybe even the power to personally capture him, at the price of becoming- an abomination.


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

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Jack McGee

Dex: 02 Str: 02 Bod: 02 Motivation: Getting that big story and the fame and respect that goes with it
Int: 05 Wil: 03 Min: 02 Occupation: Tabloid Reporter
Inf: 04 Aur: 03 Spi: 02 Resources {or Wealth}: 007
Init: 011 HP: 003

Skills:
Artist (Writer)*: 04, Detective (Clue Analysis): 01, Thief (Locks and Safes, Security Systems, Stealth)*: 02, Vehicles (Land)*: 02

Advantages
Credentials (Media), Expertise (Journalism)

Connections:
National Register (High)

Drawbacks:
Catastrophic Irrational Attraction toward Hunting down the Hulk, Unluck

By Doug Mertaugh

Source of Character: The television series The Incredible Hulk with Jack McGee played by Jack Colvin. The character was created by Kenneth Johnson.

Writeup completed on the 1st of July, 2013.

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