Title: “The Incredible Hulk Vs. the Metal Master!”
Credits: Story by Stan Lee, Art by Steve Ditko, Lettering by Art Simek.
Supporting Cast: Thunderbolt Ross, Betty Ross, Rick Jones, Teen Brigade (first appearance)
Villain: The Metal Master
Hulk Intelligence: Clever Savage
Plot: All is ready for the launch of a space probe designed by Bruce, but since Bruce is nowhere to be found, the countdown is being held at 15 minutes. Ross is furious, of course; Rick thinks Bruce has had plenty of time to change back from the Hulk. Unfortunately, the Hulk is being cut off from his hidden lab by soldiers, but fortunately the soldiers are recalled to the base, allowing the Hulk to get to the lab, where he changes back to Bruce – except that it's a mighty strong Bruce he changes into! He sits down and turns on a TV viewer, where he sees his space probe being melted! On the base, the Metal Master introduces himself, and tells that he's from Astra, where all can shape metal via mental commands, but he was the only criminal, so they sent him into space, where he waited until he found a world worthy of being ruled! Ross doesn't believe his power, so the Metal Master causes helmets and tanks to melt and reshape themselves into a cage to trap Ross, Betty, Rick, and some soldiers temporarily. The Metal Master leaves so they can discuss his terms, and Ross decides to shoot a missile at MM, but MM merely redirects it back to the base. Rick heads off to the lab to get the Hulk, but Bruce is already using the Gamma Ray Machine, but although he changes to the body of the Hulk, his head is still Banner! Fortunately, Banner had made some plaster casts and molds of the Hulk's head for study (I'm not sure what good it would've done... unless he was planning to sell a line of Hulk masks), and uses it to protect his other identity. The Hulk confronts the Metal Master, and they fight almost to a draw, when the Metal Master offers an alliance, which the Hulk turns down. The Metal Master, infuriated, manages to stun the Hulk and leaves. Soldiers arrive at the scene and find the stunned Hulk, and realize he's wearing a mask, but when they remove the mask, they only see the Hulk's face! The Hulk is delivered to a special building Ross prepared to hold him in, but Rick tries to convince Ross that the Hulk is the only one who could defeat the Metal Master... but Ross isn't buying it. Rick manages to get to a window to talk to the Hulk, but the Hulk is convinced Rick betrayed him, telling the army about the mask, and swears revenge on everybody when he gets out! Rick walks away, wondering what to do next. Meanwhile, the Metal Master roams the Earth demonstrating his power! Later, Rick is talking to some friends of his, and learns one of them has a ham radio – this inspires Rick to form the Teen Brigade to be ready to help out when needed. Back at the Hulk, the constant pounding of the massive fists of the Hulk finally break through the wall, and the Hulk heads to Banner's lab to change back. Just after the change, Rick enters, finding the weakened Bruce, and realizing that Bruce isn't responsible for the Hulk's actions. Bruce says he has a way to defeat the Metal Master, but he needs help, so Rick calls on the Teen Brigade! Instantly (or nearly so), the Teen Brigade gathers items Bruce needs from all over (it must've taken days to get it all shipped out to where all this takes place!). Bruce decides he's rested enough, and changes back into the Hulk, who finishes preparing the machine Bruce designed,and takes it to Washington, DC, where the Metal Master is preparing to take over the USA! When the Metal Master spots the Hulk, the Hulk taunts him, saying that MM can't destroy his weapon! No matter what he does, the Metal Master doesn't seem able to affect it! Unaware of this development, the Army advances on the scene! Then the Metal Master decides since he can still control the steel plate he's been standing on, he'll use to attack, but the Hulk is too fast, and grabs the Metal Master and forces him to undo everything he's done. The Hulk lets the Metal Master escape the planet, and then some of the kids on the scene ask the Hulk what kind of metal the weapon was made of, and they discover that it was a fake weapon, made of plastic and cardboard and painted to look like metal (this despite the fact that a few pages back, the Teen Brigade was sending condensers, tubes, and circuits to Bruce – all of which contain at least some metal in them). Just then, the Army moves in, and Rick and the Hulk leave, returning to Bruce's hidden lab, where they use the Gamma Ray Machine to turn the Hulk back to Bruce, but it doesn't seem to work! Then, minutes later, a delayed effect happens, and he is Bruce Banner once more. Later, at his home, Bruce is called upon by Betty and Ross, both of whom wonder about Bruce!
Invention Exchange: Bruce Banner's Space Probe, Ross' custom-built Hulk holding cell
Reprinted In: Marvel Collector's Item Classics #11-13, Marvel Masterworks #8, Essential Hulk #1, Pocket Books Incredible Hulk #1, Marvel Visionaries: Steve Ditko, and Hulk: Transformations.
Notes: This issue was adapted as episodes 25-27 of the 1966 Hulk cartoons. It's amusing that the Hulk borrowed a plan that was used against him in issue #4 by the Russians! I know an episode of the 1970s Fantastic Four cartoon used a similar gambit to defeat Magneto. This issue ended the first Hulk series.