Title: “The Coming of the Avengers!”
Credits: Written by Stan Lee, Drawn by Jack Kirby, Inked by Dick Ayers, Lettered by Sam Rosen
Supporting Cast: Rick Jones, Teen Brigade
Villain: Loki, God of Evil
Hulk Intelligence: Crafty Brute
Guest-Stars: The Fantastic Four (cameo)
Plot: In far-off Asgard, Loki, God of Evil, is a prisoner on the dreaded Isle of Silence, plotting revenge against Thor. Since only his body is imprisoned, he uses thought projection to see what Thor's doing (kind of like astral projection, except the only thing we see on the page is a pair of disembodied eyes surrounded by a glow). Loki decides he needs a menace to make Dr. Donald Blake become Thor, and he finds it when he spots the Hulk leaping across the desert. To get the Hulk to appear as a menace, Loki causes an image of lit dynamite to appear on a railroad trestle. The Hulk sees it, and tries to snuff it out, but causes the trestle to be shattered. Of course, a train is approaching, too fast to stop before it hits the damaged trestle, but the Hulk puts it back in place again until the train passes. Later, Rick Jones reads a newspaper story about the Hulk trashing the trestle, but doesn't believe the Hulk would've done it, so he calls on the Teen Brigade (introduced in Incredible Hulk #6) to alert the Fantastic Four, asking them to contact him. Loki doesn't want the FF involved, so he sends the radio waves to be intercepted by Don Blake instead, who transforms to Thor. But what Loki doesn't realize is that the diverted message was also received by Ant-Man and the Wasp, who also head off in response, as well as Tony Stark, who dons his golden Iron Man armor to respond. Meanwhile, the FF finally get the message, and contact Rick to let him know they're on another case, but that others have responded who will help. At that moment, Thor, Iron Man, Ant-Man and the Wasp enter the Teen Brigade HQ. Loki, seeing this, causes a mental projection of the Hulk to appear to draw Thor away, since he only wants Thor involved. Thor follows the projection for some distance before discovering it's an illusion. Back at the Teen Brigade HQ, Iron Man notices Thor has left, but assures Rick that he, Ant-Man and the Wasp should be able to find the Hulk. Meanwhile, the Hulk has shown up... at a circus, of all places, where he's being called Mechano, a lifelike robot, and is juggling a horse, a seal, and an elephant! Despite the panel saying this was “meanwhile,” it must've been a few days at least, as the ringmaster/owner remarks that they've been sold out every night this week, thanks to this robot he “found” (why the heck the Hulk figured he'd disguise himself as a robot is beyond me). Unfortunately for the Hulk, an ant spots him and reports to Ant-Man, and he plus the Wasp head out in response. When they arrive, Ant-Man commands his ants to dig beneath the Hulk to cause a cave-in. The Hulk busts out, spotting Ant-Man and the Wasp, and decides to leave. Ant-Man tries to stop him by having his ants dropping a steel cylinder over the Hulk (don't ask me how they could possibly carry it), but the Hulk breaks free of it, too. When the Wasp starts to buzz around the Hulk, the Hulk uses a bellows to blow her away. At this point, Iron Man shows up, and between the three heroes, the Hulk is caught in a safety net, but he rips out of it and flees, pursued by Shellhead, Ant-Man and the Wasp. The Hulk tricks Iron Man so he can attack from the rear, damaging Iron Man's armor. As the Hulk leaps off, Iron Man asks the Hulk to trust him – but the Hulk trusts nobody! Meanwhile, at Asgard, Thor gets permission from Odin to go to the Isle of Silence to confront Loki, facing a few minor threats en route. When Thor confronts Loki, Loki uses a few spells to try to hold the Thunder God off, then calls on a troll to battle Thor. Thor defeats the troll and turns to attack Loki, but is fooled by a mental image. Thor generates a whirlwind to blow all the multiple images off, learning which is the real Loki, and then uses his hammer to soak up magnetic currents in order to draw Loki to its head, vowing to bring Loki to Earth. In the meantime, Iron Man pursues the Hulk to an automobile factory, where they battle some more until Thor arrives on the scene to tell them they have no reason to fight, revealing that it was all trickery on Loki's part. Suddenly, Loki makes himself radioactive, telling the Hulk and Iron Man to leave in ten seconds so he can renew his battle with Thor. But Loki isn't aware of a horde of ants moving over a switch, causing a trapdoor to open, dropping Loki into a lead-lined tank (why there's a lead-lined tank at this automotive factory – told that it's where trucks that carry radioactive wastes from atomic tests dump their loads – isn't really logical. For that matter, neither is the idea that Loki can't escape from it). Ant-Man and the Wasp propose that the five of them team up, and Iron Man and Thor readily agree. The Hulk, tired of being hunted and hounded, agrees as well, and the Wasp comes up with the name “The Avengers.”
Invention Exchange: No real inventions featured here, other than Iron Man's armor.
Reprinted In: Marvel Tales Annual #2, Son of Origins of Marvel Comics, Marvel Masterworks #4, Avengers Classic #1, Avengers: Assemble (Family Dollar Exclusive, 2005), Essential Avengers #1, and Avengers: I am an Avenger (one-shot, 2010).
Notes: There's no mention of Bruce Banner in this story at all that I noticed... obviously something happened between the guest-appearance in Fantastic Four #12 and now to have the Hulk hounded the way he is, either unable to get back to Banner's hidden underground lab to change back to Banner or not wanting to!