Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Indexible Hulk #4

Hulk 004Issue: The Incredible Hulk #4

Title: “The Monster and the Machine” and “The Gladiator From Outer Space”

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

Supporting Cast: Thunderbolt Ross, Betty Ross, Rick Jones

Villain: None in first story, Mongu in the second

Hulk Intelligence: Broken English, although he's not yet referring to himself in the third person all the time, nor is he using child-like grammar... and then he's smart!

Guest-Stars: None

Plot: “The Monster and the Machine” – In Bruce Banner's hidden cave lab, the Hulk is strapped into a gamma-ray machine operated by Rick Jones, who is desperate to turn the Hulk back to Banner. In Flashback, we see Betty pining over the missing Banner, a recap of the Hulk's origin, and then an army test of their new Iceberg Rocket, which releases a burst of a special chemical that instantly turns its target into a solid cake of ice. Betty urges the General to find Rick Jones, who she believes can find Banner. Meanwhile, Rick is in Banner's cottage/house with the Hulk (how did he sneak in there? For that matter, who paid for the repairs from the last time the Hulk smashed his way out?) when soldiers arrive, so of course Rick orders the Hulk to flee. The soldiers bring Rick to see General Ross, who demands to know where Bruce is, but Rick won't answer. While this goes on, the Hulk's aimlessly leaping, although he isn't mindless enough to miss spotting a stuck schoolbus on a train track, moving it out of the way before it can be struck by a train (the art clearly makes it appear that the Hulk's able to control the path of his hurtling through the air, as if he were flying). Later, at a movie set, the Hulk arrives and heads to the studio commissary demanding food. After this incident, Rick finally calls the Hulk mentally, and Greenskin soon shows up to take Rick away (more art that has the Hulk altering his flightpath). The duo arrive at the hidden lab, where Rick considers using the machine, though he can't understand all the instructions, to change the Hulk back to Banner. The Hulk tells him to try. Now the flashback is done, and Rick fires up the machine, which turns the Hulk back to Banner, but Bruce is strangely weakened, and now must be pushed around in a wheelchair. Bruce then makes some adjustments on the machine, and fires it up again, hoping to give himself the Hulk's body with Banner's brain. The experiment works, to his delight, although Bruce's personality appears to be a bit more aggressive than normal. A few minutes later, as Banner Hulk and Rick walk to a nearby town, they find a house on fire. The Banner Hulk easily tosses away the burning portion, but scares the owners of the home, who start shooting at him. Banner Hulk and Rick leave quickly. They return back to the lab, where the machine is used again to change Banner Hulk back to Banner. This leaves Banner exhausted, and as he starts to fall asleep, he worries that the Hulk may turn on himself... or mankind.
“Gladiator from Outer Space” – A strange spacecraft lands in a city, and out comes a massive alien, who calls himself Mongu. Word gets out on TV, and in another part of town, Rick sees this and alerts Bruce about it. Mongu challenges Earth's mightiest mortal, and if Mongu wins, his warriors will attack the world. He'll wait in the Grand Canyon for his challenger. Since Captain Marvel (known in his own Fawcett title as “Earth's Mightiest Mortal,” naturally) isn't available, Bruce uses his machine to change himself into the Hulk! They don't bother mentioning why the machine is in this building Bruce and Rick are operating from in town, naturally. In minutes, the Hulk and Rick are off in a chartered jet to the Grand Canyon to face Mongu, but when the Hulk approaches, he realizes something's up... the weapon is cardboard and cork! Mongu is a fake, but the trap is real, as Red troopers surround the Hulk. Inside the Mongu suit is Boris Monguski, on a mission to capture the Hulk in order to duplicate his strength. The Hulk easily battles the soldiers until a sound-gun sends him to his knees, but the Hulk merely burrows underground and comes up underneath the operator of the sound gun, knocking him out. The spaceship is revealed to be a disguised MIG (unlikely as it seems), but Boris doesn't believe he's defeated yet, as there's a helicopter on the way... too bad for Boris that the Hulk disables the craft's landing gear with a chunk of the fake spaceship! The Hulk then ties the soldiers together using their belts and hauls them to the copter, tieing them to it and sending them away. Hours later, soldiers arrive at the scene, realizing the Mongu hoax, but recognizing the Hulk's footprints, figuring that the whole thing was the Hulk's plot! Miles away, in the underground lab, the Hulk changes back to Bruce Banner, still weakened by the transformations.

Invention Exchange: Iceberg Rocket (inventor unknown... it could be Bruce, or could be Tony Stark, or someone else entirely), Jet-Powered Hulk Copy (used to test the Iceberg Rocket), Gamma Ray Machine (in Banner's cave lab), Sound-Gun (invented by a Red scientist)

Reprinted In: “The Monster and the Machine” – Marvel Collector's Item Classics #4; “The Gladiator From Outer Space” – Marvel Collector's Item Classics #5; both – Marvel Masterworks #8, Essential Hulk #1, Pocket Books Incredible Hulk #1

Notes: As you've no doubt noticed, the status quo for the Hulk was being changed just about every issue... even if some of the plot elements didn't change too often! Stan seemed stumped as to what to do with the Hulk, if you ask me! I'm not sure how smart the Mongu plan was... were the Reds completely unaware how big a menace the Hulk was considered? If they had a platoon of Hulks, how did they figure they'd control them?

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