Issue: Tales to Astonish #83
Title: “Less Than Monster, More Than Man!”
Credits: Written by Stan Lee, Layouts by Jack Kirby, Pencils and Inks by Bill Everett, Letters by Sam Rosen.
Supporting Cast: Thunderbolt Ross, Glenn Talbot, Betty Ross, Rick Jones
Villain: Boomerang, The Secret Empire
Hulk Intelligence: We're ptetty much at dumb brute Hulk here.
Plot: Having rescued Betty from Boomerang, the Hulk stands over her, brooding, while Betty wonders if she's gone from the frying pan into the fire. The Hulk starts to walk by her, to the side of the mountain they're on, and digs himself a handy cave, which he carries Betty into to get her out of the rain. Betty asks him to take her to her father, but the Hulk refuses, because he knows her father hates him. She starts believing that the Hulk is really Bruce, and asks what could have transformed him into the Hulk, but of course, there's no answer. Meanwhile, the Secret Empire isn't happy with Boomerang, but when they catch a radio report that a task force is being gathered to track down the Hulk, Boomerang takes off again for another try at the Orion Missile, which he was supposed to steal for the Secret Empire. Ross is determined to find the Hulk, meanwhile. At the cave, the Hulk notices the rain has stopped, and gathers up branches for a fire, which he starts by smashing two rocks together with such force it ignites them. He then leaps off in search of food, but is soon spotted by the soldiers, who fire on him. Back at the base, Talbot's been left behind to guard the Orion Missile, but then Boomerang attacks, causing an explosion in the warehouse the missile's being kept in! To keep it away from the flames, Talbot orders the missile removed from there, which is what Boomerang wants! Meanwhile, at a meeting of the Secret Empire, Number Two is accused of trying to rise to number one, no matter who gets in his way, but when he's confronted, he throws a stun grenade, which he's immune to thanks to wearing armor under his robes. Meanwhile, the Hulk attacks the soldiers who were shooting at him, but Rick shows up, and kind of calms the Hulk down; the Hulk stops his rampage, and instead grabs Rick and General Ross, and leaps off with them, taking them to Betty! When Betty tells her father she wasn't afraid, that she really believes he is Bruce Banner, he can't believe it. The Hulk gets angry at this interchange, and leaps away, despite Rick trying to get him to stay.
Invention Exchange: Number Two's Stun Grenade and Armor.
Reprinted In: Marvel Super-Heroes #38, Essential Hulk #1
Notes: Adapted as episode 39 of the 1966 Hulk animated series. There's a lot of different plots going on in this issue, isn't there?