Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Indexible Hulk #24!

Tales to Astonish 068Issue: Tales to Astonish #68

Title: “Back From the Dead”

Credits: Written by Stan Lee, Penciled by Jack Kirby, Inked by Mike Esposito (as Mickey Demeo), Lettered by Art Simek.

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

Villain: Leader

Hulk Intelligence: Dumb but Strong

Guest-Stars: None

Plot: Last issue, Bruce Banner and Major Talbot were fleeing the camp of Kanga Khan (which had been attacked by rivals) when the outcropping they were on collapsed, sending them plummeting down a cliffside. While Talbot blacks out, Bruce transforms into the Hulk and not only grabs a handhold on the cliffside, he also catches Talbot! Since Talbot's passed out, the Hulk sets him down and leaps away, going towards what he feels is home, letting nothing stop him – not mountains, not the Pacific Ocean (Stan tells us the Hulk leaps from island to island – he must've crossed around the Bering Strait)! Meanwhile, the Leader is finishing his latest variation on his Humanoids, having reduced them to the size of living cells! His plan is to dust Astra Isle (where Banner's Absorbatron is located) with the Humanoids and then send a radio impulse to cause them to grow to “life size” (the Leader's phrase, not mine). The Hulk, meanwhile, eventually finds his way to Bruce Banner's home, and since he's tired from leaping half a world to here, he lies down and falls asleep, turning back to Bruce. Fortunately, it's after the transformation's occurred that General Ross, Betty, and a whole mess of MPs show up to arrest him! Days later, after Talbot's been rescued by the Air Force and returned to the USA, he meets with the President, where he insists that Banner couldn't have escaped without the Hulk's help. Of course, the President knows that Bruce and the Hulk are one and the same, but he is committed to keeping that secret. A call comes in to alert the president that the Absorbatron is again ready for testing, so he sends Talbot to accompany Banner to conduct the test (gee, and that worked out so well last time, didn't it?). Meanwhile, the Leader dusts Astra Island with his miniaturized Humanoids, leaving just as the task force arrives to guard the test (at least they included a task force this time to guard the area – why they weren't there any earlier is anyone's guess). Meanwhile, at a military compound, Bruce is visited by Rick Jones, but their uncomfortable conversation is cut short when Talbot arrives to taunt Bruce. Bruce starts to stress out, but before he can change into the Hulk, Rick gets Bruce to take a tranquilizer. Bruce and Talbot head to Astra Island, where Bruce notices the strange powdery substance on the ground, but Talbot won't listen to him, naturally. Once the two men go underground to the control room, the Leader sends the impulse that causes the Humanoids to return to normal size. Talbot and Bruce hear the noise from inside, and Talbot goes to investigate, but he's overwhelmed by the Humanoids. Then, the Humanoids enter the control area and pile on Banner, who of course changes into the Hulk! But before the Hulk can start kicking Humanoid butt, two of them start emitting gas vapors that knock the Hulk out! With the Hulk unconscious, the Leader heads to Astra Isle in his flying craft!

Invention Exchange: Miniaturized Humanoids.

Reprinted In: Marvel Super-Heroes #27, The Incredible Hulk (Simon & Schuster, 1978), Essential Hulk #1.

Notes: Adapted as episode 12 of the 1966 Hulk animated series. Things are really starting to heat up here, and Stan seems to have a better idea of where he wants to go, but still – why does the Leader want the Absorbatron? Can't he invent one himself with his gamma-spawned intelligence? This story basically is a return to the tale in issue #64 – Bruce is in jail, Talbot doesn't trust him, orders come for Talbot and Bruce to go to Astra Isle to conduct tests, the Leader sends Humanoids to attack. The only real change is that this time, the Hulk's knocked out.

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