Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Indexible Hulk #3

Hulk 003Issue: The Incredible Hulk #3

Title: “Banished to Outer Space,” “The Origin of the Hulk,” and “The Ringmaster.”

Credits: Written by Stan Lee, Pencilled by Jack Kirby, Inked by Dick Ayers, Lettered by Artie Simek.

Supporting Cast: Rick Jones, General Ross.

Villain: The Ringmaster and his Circus of Crime – The Clown, Bruto the Strongman, Teena the Fat Lady, the Human Cannonball (in third story)

Hulk Intelligence: Angry Savage, his grammar is starting to break down.

Guest-Stars: None

Plot: “Banished to Outer Space” – After imprisoning the Hulk in the hidden lab's cell, Rick Jones runs into some MPs on his way back to base. The bring him back, and General Ross tells him that a new missile needs to be tested, but only the Hulk could survive the G-forces involved. Rick is convinced to bring the Hulk there and trick him into the missile. Rick returns to the lab and starts to release the Hulk, but before the door is completely cleared, the Hulk smashes the rest of the way out, and follows Rick to the base (very slowly, mind you). Rick tricks the Hulk into the missile, which then launches the Hulk into space, although once the rocket gets into the sunlight, the Hulk turns back to Banner, just before the ship hits a “vast radiation belt.” Below, Rick learns he was tricked into helping get the Hulk into space forever, and he tries to bring the missile back, but somehow he creates a circuit between himself and the Hulk before the missile returns to ground. Rick makes it to the landing point (it's daylight now), and the Hulk breaks out of the missile, and starts to rampage after Rick. Finally, Rick's cornered, but when he desperately tells the Hulk to stop... Greenskin stops!! Rick soon figures out he can somehow control the Hulk now, but soon learns he can only control the Hulk when Rick is awake, as the Hulk has gone on a rampage while Rick slept. Rick finds the Hulk and commands him to take them away, and they return to the lab, where Rick was able to replace the shattered steel ramrod and put the Hulk back in the cell again. “The Origin of the Hulk” retells the Hulk's origin (this is the third telling in as many issues). “The Ringmaster” – Plainclothesmen (FBI?) investigate in Plainville, where the entire town is hypnotized, and the entire town looted. The only clue? A poster for a circus, same poster they've found in every town that the same thing's happened in. Meanwhile, this circus is performing in a different town, and the Ringmaster is using his hat device to hypnotize the entire crowd (apparently the whole town showed up). While they're out, the entire town is looted. Later, as the troupe moves on to another town, we go to Banner's cave lab, where Rick's been up all night so the Hulk doesn't run loose. Rick leaves the Hulk there while he runs to his Aunt Polly's house to clean up, and then he decides to visit the circus. Just as the Ringmaster is hypnotizing this town, Rick sends a mental distress call to the Hulk, who comes leaping to the scene. Amazingly, the Hulk is knocked out by a high-pressure water hose, and then netted and chained up... or is he? No, he's merely motionless because Rick is hypnotized (although I would've thought that would've freed the Hulk from Rick's control). A day later, the circus goes to a new town, with the Hulk as their featured attraction! Just before he's going to put this crowd under his spell, he's interrupted by the FBI and Rick! When the Hulk hears Rick's voice, he breaks free and piles into the Circus of Crime, defeating them easily. Just then, soldiers burst in, and Rick and the Hulk flee the scene (oddly enough, in two of the three final panels of this story, speed lines clearly indicate the Hulk's path through the air curving to the left or right, as opposed to up or down – a soldier remarks that the Hulk is flying). Ross appears in one panel to shake his fist and swear he'll get the Hulk.

Invention Exchange: Banner's Gamma Bomb (in flashback), the Ringmaster's hypnotizing top hat.

Reprinted In: (“Banished to Outer Space”) Marvel Collectors' Item Classics #3, Giant-Size Defenders #1, Marvel Masterworks #8, Essential Hulk #1, Essential Defenders #2, Marvel Masterworks: The Defenders #2, and Hulk: Transformations. (“The Origin of the Hulk!”) Incredible Hulk Special #2, Marvel Treasury Edition #5, Marvel Masterworks #8. (“The Ringmaster”) Marvel Tales Annual #2, Marvel Masterworks #8, Essential Hulk #1, Hulk: Transformations.

Notes: Oddly, the cover shows the Hulk leaping over a missile base, with a soldier shouting “Look!! Nothing can stop him now! HE CAN FLY!” Of course, as we all know, the Hulk does not fly (although some of the speed lines on his jumps might give you that impression). Also, note that for the third time in a row, space flight was used to effect the Banner/Hulk change. I also have to wonder why the heck Rick fell for the whole “We need the Hulk to test the missile” bit... how useful is a manned missile if only the Hulk could survive being in it? “The Ringmaster” was adapted (very loosely, with extra plot added and references to Rick's control of the Hulk more or less eliminated) as Episode 28-30 of the 1966 Hulk animated series.

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