Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Indexible Hulk #18

Tales to Astonish 062Issue: Tales to Astonish #62

Title: “Enter... The Chameleon!”

Credits: Written by Stan Lee, Pencils by Steve Ditko, Inks by George Roussos (as George Bell), Letters by Sam Rosen

Supporting Cast: General Ross, Betty Ross, Major Talbot, Rick Jones

Villain: The Leader (not clearly shown), The Chameleon

Hulk Intelligence: Brute, but still with a decent command of the English language, even if he still speaks of himself in the third person.

Guest-Stars: Captain America (cameo)

Plot: As General Ross taunts the captured Hulk (who is certain he'll break free before he changes back to Banner, as the transformation works both ways triggered by extreme stress), in a hidden laboratory, the Leader takes a break from working on his humanoid creation to contact The Chameleon, ordering the master of disguise to find out what happened to the spy he sent to Ross' missile base (oh, so that's where that guy came from!). Meanwhile, Rick Jones tells Captain America (who he's been hanging around with since Avengers #4) that he needs to fly back west and try to help his big green buddy. Ironically, Rick is seated next to the disguised Chameleon on the plane ride! Back at the base, Talbot reports to Ross that he has found no trace of Bruce Banner, and that he remains convinced that Banner is a security risk, a sentiment Ross agrees with. Outside, the captured Hulk feels that the chains are beginning to weaken, and he continues to strain against them! Apparently, Rick (and the Chameleon) were on an exceptionally fast jet, as Rick arrives on the base while the Hulk is still straining against his bonds! Somehow, Rick knows that the strain will make the Hulk change back to Banner! Meanwhile, the Chameleon gets a good look at Ross (Talbot is supposed to be head of security, but he's awful at the job, as Rick Jones and the Chameleon easily get on base) and then disguises himself as Ross! He approaches the Hulk in disguise and says if Greenskin takes orders from him, he'll set the Hulk free! The Chameleon realizes that the guards present makes it difficult to plot freely, so he dismisses the men (remember, he's disguised as Ross). While this is happening, the Hulk finally changes back to Banner, who's too puny to be held in those oversized chains, and he flees! Bruce runs into Rick shortly afterwards, and is able to get changed into some extra clothes Rick happened to bring along. Later, Ross (the real one) is angry because he never ordered the guards away, and wants his imposter discovered! Bruce shows up at that time to offer his help (his excuse for his long absence is that he was doing research in the nearby caves and lost his way for a while). Talbot basically tells Bruce he's there to investigate rumors about Banner (blabbermouth), and Banner leaves. However, he's knocked out and replaced by the Chameleon, who searches Banner's lab and finds a formula for a grenade-type gama bomb, as well as a working prototype! He's about to leave when Betty arrives, but she quickly sees through the Chameleon's disguise! Meanwhile, Bruce wakes up, and the stress causes him to change into the Hulk! The Hulk smashes his way into the lab, and is about to strike the Chameleon when he sees the Gamma Grenade, and realizes what it can do! Pausing, the Hulk then notices a patrol coming, and not wanting to be captured again, flees the scene! Meanwhile, the Chameleon, still disguised as Bruce, takes Betty away, and finds the rocket speed velocity test sled (at least that's what he calls it – it appears to be the same vehicle that Reed Richards help perfect and Ben Grimm test-piloted a few installments of this index ago). He puts the unconscious Betty inside and fires it up to keep the Hulk occupied, but the Hulk stops it, then pursues the Chameleon! The Chameleon is about to set up the Gamma Grenade when more soldiers arrive, and the Hulk rips up the tarmac to shield himself! The Chameleon, meanwhile, throws the grenade at the Hulk, who throws himself on top of the grenade before it blows! The gamma rays from the explosion cause the Hulk to change back into Banner, and Bruce sneaks off. Later, at a board of inquiry, thank to Betty testifying that it wasn't really Banner who stole the Gamma Grenade, Bruce is cleared this time, but Ross and Talbot still suspect him (and still keep on telling him they suspect him). Meanwhile, the Leader, finding out the Chameleon failed, has completed his humanoid creation, and is about to use it on the Hulk!

Invention Exchange: Bruce Banner's Gamma Grenade... when did he have time to build this? We never see him starting any of these projects), the Leader's Humanoid.

Reprinted In: The Incredible Hulk Special #1, The Incredible Hulk (Simon & Schuster), Essential Hulk #1.

Notes: As noted on the Grand Comics Database, both Rick Jones and Major Talbot call Betty “Miss Brant” in this story. Obviously Stan was getting his Bettys mixed up! As noted in the plot summary, Major Talbot and General Ross just can't stop telling Bruce that they suspect him – which is really bad security work! Why put him on the defensive? If Bruce really was the traitor he was believed to be, he could've just disappeared and built all his inventions for the other side!

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