Incredible Hulk Issue #2
Published: July 10, 1962
Art: Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko
Words: Stan Lee
On the cover of the second issue, you might notice that the Hulk is now green, a different color than the gray in the last issue. If you were reading the Essential volume like me, you wouldn’t really notice the difference. Kirby’s art is pretty amazing that even if the book were printed in black and white, you wouldn’t really notice, letting your imagination paint the Hulk and his scenery. In some issues, where the Hulk releases his anger, you’d might think that the Hulk could change color regarding his emotions, if this was only black and white.
The story on why the Hulk was first gray then green does vary quite a bit. Stan Lee claims in a 2006 Comic Buyer’s Guide that he wanted to place no ethnicity on to the Hulk, making him gray. But there were problems regarding the gray color, and here’s where it differs officially and for me. I read in those big Marvel books that there was a problem with the printing process regarding the Hulk. The colorist for the comic, Stan Goldberg, stated that he could never get the shade of gray that Lee wanted, and eventually it was decided that the Hulk should become green. Stan Lee claims the Hulk became green because he wanted somebody like Frankenstein, and that there weren’t enough green super-heroes, at least for Marvel anyway.
In the Hulk’s second issue, he faces his first, and obviously not last, alien menace, the Toad Men, who are colored brown, making them look like apes. The story begins at night, where the Hulk takes his nightly strolls, emerging from the swamp, emphasizing his new green color. Townspeople are rushing indoors to hide from his menacing visage, while the local Sheriff’s department tries to restrain him. Rick Jones arrives on time to stop his rampage, and a flashback containing the Hulk’s origin is cued.
Meanwhile in outer space, a ship in the shape of a toad strapped with rockets travels the stars to arrive at their destination, Earth. They shoot a beam directly into the desert region of the United States, searching for “the most brilliant scientific brain on earth.” Unlucky for them, the person the beam chose is none other than Dr. Bruce Banner. Apparently the toad men need him to tell them how advanced the Earth’s sciences are, though with magnetic powers and space travel in the Toad Men’s possession, and not in the earthlings, isn’t it clear?
On Earth, Bruce Banner and Rick Jones are about to go on an expedition, being greeted off by General Ross and Betty. Banner and Jones are off to the lake to find a place to contain the Hulk during his peak hours in the night. In an underground cave, they build a bomb-proof bunker, even managing to bring a giant steel pillar that will shut the door. Just as they complete their task, the Toad Men arrive and kidnap the two to their spaceship. After some rather lengthy exposition about their plan to increase the gravity of the Earth, thus controlling it, they finally decide to conveniently send Rick back to the Earth in a hyper-sonic pod.
By the time the Toad Men finish with Rick, the Hulk emerges from Banner and starts tearing up the place and takes command of their spaceship. On Earth, General “Thunderbolt” Ross tells his men to start firing missiles at the Toad ship , bringing down the Hulk’s short-lived wild ride. Who emerges from the debris of
the ship is none other than Bruce Banner, as daybreak begins. Banner is quickly arrested for treason, after being found inside the alien ship with barely an explanation.
As Ross and the top brass figure out what to do with Banner, the Toad King begins his invasion of Earth. Why would he do it now? Because he feels like it.
While ships attack major cities, another part of the Toad Men’s fleet begins to pull the Moon toward the Earth, causing coastal cities to be flooded and soon the destruction of our planet. His only condition, complete surrender.
A day already passes, and the Hulk awakens in Banner’s cell. Hearing the name General Ross, he goes charges toward him in revenge for locking him up. At the General’s home, he finds Betty, and conveniently the Army is not too far behind. He takes the young woman to Banner’s lab, and he tells her of why he hates mankind, because they hound him, because they hurt him. Despite being only one person, the Hulk tells Betty that he will fight any of his enemies on his own terms.
While the Moon gets ever closer and closer to the Earth, and only two pages left!, Banner builds a machine that can harness the magnetic energy of the Toad Men to be used against them. Using one big cannon found in his lab, Banner shoots at the Toad Fleet, sending all of them back to wherever they came, saving the Earth.
For an epilogue, Betty tries to comfort her father regarding Banner, but the General remains convinced that there is a connection between the two, wondering what new dastardly plans the Hulk has in mind next time. Meanwhile, the underground bunker Banner and Jones built is working quite well.
It was a rather zippy and complete story this time around compared to the last issue which crammed two or three in one. I’m surprised at how the Army would let Banner keep a big honking cannon in his laboratory if they have been suspicious of him for quite some time.