Incredible Hulk Issue #3
Published: September 1962
Artist: Jack Kirby
Writer: Stan Lee
Inker: Dick Ayers
Letterer: Artie Simek
Sometimes with these old stories is that they usually get to a satisfactory ending by page 12. As Stan Lee’s writes in such a verbose manner where it would take 10 minutes to read through an issue, compared to a modern day’s five, one might wonder how do they fill up all 24 pages? The answer is simple, divide it up into sections. This third issue of the Incredible Hulk’s adventure has three stories, “Banished to Outer Space,” a retelling of the origin, and “Trapped by the Ringmaster.” Why in the third issue must they retell his origin again? I guess it was to stress the fact that the new Hulk is green, even if readers still had the idea that he was gray about four months ago.
The story begins in the same place where the last issue left off, the Hulk is trapped inside his concrete cage, demanding to be let out to run free. Banner’s underwater bunker is holding quite well, as it is assumed quite some time has passed since the battle with the Toad Men. Rick Jones stands outside making sure the solid steel pillar doesn’t break from the reinforced wall. It’s a bit funny to see that Rick, unlike most teenagers, spends most of his nights taking care of the Hulk. I wonder where are his parents, as surely a there’s no way a young man like him can do whatever he wants at anytime of the day or night. Such a topic is rarely discussed, though they did make him an orphan.
As soon as Rick reaches the Banner house, he is accosted by a group of soldiers who were told to bring in the young man. They have been keeping tabs on the house, all while armed to the teeth, as if the Hulk would bother to come. General Ross convinces Rick to bring in the Hulk, so they can not only test a new type of missile, but get rid of that pesky green giant. After a little chase, the Hulk is sent throttled into space, and Thunderbolt is so riddled with joy. It was a bad idea, as Banner is soon affected by pretty much the same Cosmic Rays that gave the Fantastic Four their powers.
On Earth, Rick has a change of heart and decides to save the Hulk from being burnt up by the sun. Tinkering with the rocket’s control panel, the radiation from the capsule causes Rick to create a psychic link through the wonders of an electric shock. The capsule returns to the Earth, and instead of Banner, it is the Hulk that emerges despite it being the daytime. Rick runs from the newly energized Hulk, but eventually finds that the giant now listens to his commands.
The two go back to Banner’s cottage to figure out what do do next, but when Rick falls asleep, the link between the two is interrupted, as the Hulk goes on a rampage. With no other solution, Rick leaves the Hulk in the bunker, for another day.
This new dynamic between the two could lend itself could lend itself to a few comedic stories, but such ideas are the work of sitcom writers.
The third story introduces a new villain, called the Ringmaster and his crew of circus freaks. Readers of the Spider-Man comic may find him familiar as our favorite neighborhood web-slinger teamed up with Daredevil to combat this menace.
The entire town of Plainsville has basically become a ghost town, as two detectives make their way around. Everybody has a blank stare, and everything has been ransacked. Stores shelves have no merchandise, registers are picked clean, even the bank vaults have been emptied. The only clue that the two cops find are that the circus has been in town recently.
In another town, the Ringmaster begins to hypnotize his entire audience, taking away their money and their valuables. Finding himself not satisfied yet, he decides to paint the town red, clearing everybody out of house and home with his accomplices. It is somehow quite surprising how much stuff the Ringmaster’s caravan can carry, especially since this isn’t even the second town they hit.
The next day, after good night’s sleep, Rick checks on the Hulk who remains stationary in his shelter. The boy leaves him in the bunker, and decides to go check on his Aunt Polly. I’m rather surprised that Polly doesn’t chastise the boy enough for leaving at all hours of the night. Aunt May looks scary when she goes off on Peter…
Rick goes the circus later, and unlucky for him it’s the Ringmaster’s circus. The Barnum wannabe does his spell again, and controls the entire audience. Right before he succumbs to the effects of the hypnotic hat, Rick calls for the Hulk to save him. In a matter of minutes he comes to Jones’s aid, but without the Hulk’s usual energetic willpower, he too is captured by the Ringmaster.
The Circus continues its journey across the states, but are finally thwarted by the two detectives from the beginning of the story. They turn out to be FBI agents who somehow have anti-hypnotic training. That’s J. Edgar for you! Rick regains his senses and the Hulk begins his rampage through the Ringmaster’s tent, beating up his performers until that hatted pest is caught. The Army arrives just in time to capture the villain, but General Ross also sets his sight on the Hulk. Our heroes jump away, evading capture once again.
After all this time, I guess Ross will forget to keep the Banner house under surveillance. More importantly, what did happen to Bruce Banner? Doesn’t anybody notice that he hasn’t showed up for work in days? What kind of operation are they running here, especially on the taxpayer’s dime. Aw well, next time!