Title: “The Hulk Vs. The Thing”
Credits: Written by Stan Lee, Illustrated by Jack Kirby, Inking by George Bell (a pseudonym for George Roussos), Lettering by Sam Rosen
Supporting Cast: Alicia Masters
Villain: The Hulk
Hulk Intelligence: Thug... not really cunning, just a thug.
Guest-Stars: The Avengers, Rick Jones
Plot: The tale begins as Reed's trying yet another cure out on the Thing, but Ben doesn't want to take it, thinking that his girlfriend Alicia prefers him as the Thing, and Ben won't take any formula unless it lets him change back and forth between his human and Thing forms. Alicia shows up about that time, carrying a newspaper that tells how the Avengers are returning to the US to seek the Hulk. Meanwhile, the Hulk has dropped a massive boulder on a highway, forcing two truckers to stop, and demanding they let him ride in the back of their truck, which the Hulk empties out in seconds. As the truck leaves, the Hulk starts to rest in the back, and changes back to Banner. When the truckers are stopped at a road block, Banner flees the truck, and the police aren't concerned about him. Banner makes his way to the hidden cave lab, but en route, he changes back into the Hulk again, and it's in that form that he arrives at the lab. Meanwhile, the Avengers are investigating where the Hulk had emptied out the truck (the team currently stands as Thor, Iron Man, Giant-Man, the Wasp, and Captain America, with Rick Jones along for the ride). Rick opines that the Hulk must be heading for his secret lab, and when pressed further, he shuts up. At the lab, the Hulk trashes the equipment there, and empties out his pockets to rid himself of any traces of Banner. The Hulk finds a newspaper clipping telling that Captain America has joined the Avengers, and realizes that Rick is with them. This enrages the Hulk (who figures Rick deserted him), and he decides to head to New York to destroy the Avengers! 24 hours later, the Hulk arrives at the city! Meanwhile, at the Baxter Building, Reed Richards has collapsed in his lab, and the FF take Reed to a doctor in the Fantasti-Car. On the way, they spot the Hulk rampaging through part o the city, and the Human Torch decides to go after the Hulk. The Torch seems to have the upper hand, but the Hulk shocks him with some high voltage wires, stunning the Torch. Word of the Torch's defeat reaches the Thing, who's at FF HQ with Sue and the bedridden Reed. The Thing isn't sure what to do – he doesn't want to leave Reed – but Reed awakens for a few moments and orders Sue and the Thing to attack the Hulk. As Sue and Ben head to the scene in a police car, the Torch has recovered, and the Hulk picks Johnny up to throw him. Before he can succeed, however, Sue throws an invisible force field around her brother, which the Hulk can't easily break through. The Hulk grabs the force field around Johnny and leaps into the air, making the strain on Sue too hard, causing her to pass out. When the Hulk lands, the Thing engages him in battle! As the two titans clash, buildings are destroyed, along with buses and other items. At the Baxter Building, Reed hears about the battle on the TV, and tries to make his way there, but he's too weak. At the battle, the assistance of the Yancy Street Gang buys the Thing a minute of breathing space as they send a truck down the street that hits the battling titans, knocking them into the bed as the truck rolls down the street, to the end of a dock, and into the water! Ben tries to get away from the Hulk by climbing aboard a speedboat and heading back to shore, but the Hulk catches up and destroys the boat. The battle then continues as the two climb up a bridge (causing all sorts of structural damage there, by the way). Meanwhile, at the Baxter Building, Sue's brought the doctor, who gives Reed a sedative, which is all he can do, since Reed was working with unknown, dangerous, strange microbes and untested formulae. At the battle, the Thing is heavily stunned, and the Hulk leaves him to search for the Avengers (who are in the southwest looking for the Hulk). Ben gets up, beaten but still not defeated, and he chases off after the Hulk vowing that the only way the Hulk will stop him is by killing him!
Invention Exchange: Nothing of note here, unless you count Reed's latest attempt to cure the Thing.
Reprinted In: Fantastic Four Annual #4, Marvel's Greatest Superhero Battles, Marvel Treasury Special – Giant Superhero Holiday Grab Bag (1974), Marvel Masterworks #13, Hulk Vs. Thing, Essential Fantastic Four #2, Marvel Masterworks: The Fantastic Four #3, Fantastic Four Omnibus #1.
Notes: Throughout this issue, Stan referred to Banner as being “Bob” Banner, which led to the later “Robert Bruce Banner” naming.