Title: “And Now... The Space Parasite!”
Credits: Written by Gary Friedrich, pencils by Marie Severin, inks by Frank Giacoia, and letters by Artie Simek.
Supporting Cast: Thunderbolt Ross, Major Talbot, Rick Jones, Betty Ross
Villain: The Space Parasite
Guest-Stars: The Thing (cameo, in flashback)
Plot: The Hulk suddenly appears in Times Square, having been sent there from Asgard by Odin. Of course, his arrival causes immediate panic, and the police start to move in on him immediately. The Hulk leaps up to the top of a building, but as he looks around for his pursuers, he suddenly changes back to Bruce Banner! Meanwhile, at a TV studio, Rick Jones, Major Talbot, and Thunderbolt Ross are being interviewed on a popular talk show covering the Hulk. The host, Jack Klyne, starts out by implying that Ross has failed to defeat the Hulk, but Talbot insists that the public is unaware of how strong the Hulk is, and shows a few film clips as an example (including one of a battle with the Thing). Meanwhile, Bruce has made his way to the basement of the building the Hulk left him on, where he dons overalls from a maintenance locker.
Out in space, the Space Parasite approaches Earth, seeking the Hulk's power to absorb and add to his own! Back on Earth, Bruce finds Rick Jones' address from a telephone booth, and then heads there via the subway. In space, the Space Parasite prepares to teleport to Earth to engage the Hulk, but since the Hulk has changed back to Banner, he can't track him. He manages to tune in to the talk show, where Rick is being asked if he thinks the Hulk is a menace. Meanwhile, Banner's arrived at Rick's apartment, where he convinces the landlady he's Rick's uncle to be let him in. Bruce sees the Klyne show circled in the TV listings and tunes in just in time to see Rick say he thinks there's no hope for the Hulk, and that he considers the Hulk a menace that must be destroyed. This stuns Banner, who sits there, head in his hands. He finally decides he should leave, but by that time, Rick's returned home, and, holding a gun aimed at Bruce, he reiterates his decision about the Hulk. In space, the Space Parasite has learned that the Hulk is Bruce Banner, and that he must force Bruce to transform back to the Hulk.
At Rick's apartment, Bruce approaches Rick slowly, gambling that Rick won't shoot him. But as he nears, Betty Ross arrives, and barges in, just as Rick shoots! But at the last second, Rick aimed his gun at the floor (hope nobody was downstairs at the time). Betty embraces Bruce, but suddenly, she looks up at him and insists Bruce is a killer and must be destroyed! This sudden change of heart is due to the influence of the Space Parasite, who's somehow used a laser beam to project a hypnotic suggestion directly into her brain. He teleports himself to Rick's apartment, where Betty's collapsed. The sudden arrival of the Space Parasite causes Bruce to change into the Hulk, and he faces off against this new foe!
The Space Parasite leads the Hulk outside, where the battle begins! But as they begin to fight, millions of miles away, on the planet Xeron, the Space Parasite's been discovered by the people there. The Space Parasite used to be Randau, the leader of their world. He ruled wisely, and their society was perfect until one day, an alien invasion approached their world. Randau volunteered to undergo a transformation in their solar chamber to become the Space Parasite. He destroyed the invaders, and then continued to venture deeper into space, claiming that he would find potential threats to Xeron, and destroy them. However, his people realized that he was really fighting for the sake of fighting. Randau must die!
Back on Earth, the Hulk and the Space Parasite's battle has caused them to land in Yankee Stadium, where they continue to battle. The Hulk attempts to bury the Space Parasite under a mountain of debris, but the Space Parasite emerges, saying that with each blow the Hulk strikes, more of his power transfers to the Parasite. Stunned, the Hulk lies helpless as the Parasite prepares to strike the final blow, but at that very time, on Xeron, they prepare to activate the self-destruct mechanism on the Space Parasite's ship! The Hulk revives before the Parasite can kill him, and the fight continues on a nearby elevated train track! The Space Parasite cannot hold out much longer, as he's growing weaker while the Hulk is as strong as ever, if not more so. The battle has brought the attention of the army (or perhaps the National Guard), who move tanks in as the Hulk and the Space Parasite strike each other with train cars and whatever else they can grab. The Hulk wraps the Parasite in one train car and throws him into the river, but the Space Parasite shortly breaks free and swims to the surface, where he barely pulls himself to shore as the Hulk arrives. Demanding that the Hulk kill him, the request is denied! The Hulk will not hit someone who can't hit back. The Space Parasite teleports himself back to his ship, planning to return to his homeworld to die, but when he arrives there, his ship is blown up by the self-destruct device, and the Space Parasite drifts into space where he dies peacefully.
Back in New York, the police arrive with gas grenades, which they throw at the Hulk, and the gas not only knocks the Hulk out, but it also causes him to turn back to Bruce Banner!
Invention Exchange: Nothing invented by Bruce or anyone on Earth, but the Space Parasite's solar chamber, teleporter, and self-destruct mechanism count.
Reprinted In: Marvel Super-Heroes #57, Essential Hulk #2.
Notes: Wouldn't it have been nicer if Odin had sent the Hulk to the southwest desert instead, or perhaps to the old cave hideout? It would have been wiser if the Hulk had been able to battle the Space Parasite where there'd be no collateral damage or threat to innocent lives.