Incredible Hulk Issue #4
Artist: Jack Kirby
Writer: Stan Lee
Inker: Dick Ayers
Letterer: Artie Simek
Here we are in the fourth issue in the continuing saga of our misunderstood hero who struggles to find a place in a world that fears him. As I said last issue regarding the Hulk stories being rather short at times, this one also gives us two powerfully packed yarns, always a deal at 12 cents.
We begin with “The Monster and the Machine,” as Rick Jones tries to operate one of Banner’s convoluted contraptions to turn the Hulk back into his milksop self. Luckily, the boy still has mind control over the Hulk so that he may not break free and go on a rampage. Just as he is about to pull the lever, a flashback begins in the traditional manner of moving away from the splash page.
Days earlier, Betty Ross is looking at a photo of Bruce Banner, reminiscing about the events that led up to the emergence of the Hulk. In their first meeting, Betty becomes enamored at first sight with Bruce, even flirting with him right before a very important test, the Gamma Ray Bomb test. Readers may think that Banner and Miss Ross were familiar with each other for quite some time, but this flashback may say otherwise. Anyway, after a little bit of soul searching, she realizes the connection between Rick Jones and the Hulk, despite the poor boy obviously shouting at the Hulk in just about every adventure so far. It must take a huge leap of intuition to think there’s an actual connection between Bruce Banner and the Hulk, even through the logic of substitution.
She decides to go see her father, who is currently testing an “iceberg rocket.” on a mere doll shaped like the Hulk. The rocket fires, turning the facsimile into an ice cube, and General Thunderbolt is giddy with joy with his new toy. After the test, Betty tells her father to search out Rick Jones, even though the Army did try to arrest the lad a few times before. Gen. Ross tries again and even though he manages to get Jones, the Hulk jumps away in secret. Thunderbolt tells Rick to confess where Dr. Banner is, and Rick worries about what to do, as the Army may even accuse the young man of murdering him.
Meanwhile, as the Hulk flies due to the propulsion caused by his very toned legs, he does the decent thing of saving a trapped school bus from being crushed by a train. As news travels all over about a mysterious force that saved the school bus, our malachite-colored mammoth crashes the set of a B-movie. Ain’t this being meta, as the Incredible Hulk is practically in the same genre as the Astronauts of Planet S. The Hulk smashes the lights and camera at the sight of a bunch of screaming crewmen, and decides to get dinner instead a short distance away. The impatient Hulk decides to cut out of line and ends up eating the gruel. Using his patented Thunder Clap, he gets away once again, flying into the city for the heck of it.
On route to the Army prison, Rick Jones calls for the Hulk, and our gargantuan flier picks him up out of the jeep and keeps flying in a similar manner to Superman. They go back to the bunker, and we are now in the present, where the splash page began the story. Banner turns back to normal, and adjusts his gamma ray machine to have the Hulk have the scientist’s intelligence instead of running around like a child with very bad tantrums. It works, but the Hulk/Bruce now has a tendency to be brutish and violent.
Later that evening, on his stroll through the countryside, the Hulk spots a burning cabin. Doing the right thing, he saves the family inside, but instead of gratitude, all he gets is a few shots fired at him. The Hulk flees the scene, angry that these “brainless idiots” don’t know what he did for them.
Returning back to the bunker, the gamma ray machine is activated and the Hulk morphs back into Bruce. Another adventure has finished, and the duo must take their rest.
From the beginning, Bruce usually transformed at night, like Mr. Hyde emerging out of Dr. Jekyll. In this issue, Banner hopes that the Hulk can be controlled simply by shooting gamma rays at his body. How the Hulk keeps his cool, despite being an overly excited creature is still explained by the events of last issue, as the psychic bond between the Hulk and Rick is still relatively strong. It’s just a little longer until we see Banner transform the “traditional way,” through an excited emotional state.
In the B-story, another alien menace has descended upon the Earth once again. IN- THE- FORM- OF- MONGU! His spaceship is in the form of some kind of gross between a maraca and a hairdryer. He announces to the world that he seeks to combat Earth’s mightiest mortal, and if he wins, he obviously subjugates the the planet. As Banner and Rick watches this on the screen, he knows there can only be one thing to do… call the Fantastic Four and ask for Ben Grimm. Well he doesn’t, and he activates the machine he built in the previous story. With the intelligence of Bruce Banner, and the strength of the Hulk, nothing can go wrong?
Rather than using the Hulk’s incredible leaping technique, the two decide to charter a plane to find Mongu. And in the middle of a bunch of rock formations, right nearby the epic battle between Goku and Vegeta (not!), they find Mongu and his space ship. The Hulk finds something fishy about the club Mongu holds, and he is right! Rick and his friend are soon surrounded by a pack of Russians. Mongu is actually a prosthetic suit, and the shocker is that the man inside it is actually named Boris Monguski! The Hulk makes short work of the little squad, and even wrecks their MIG of a spaceship. (A MIG is apparently a slang term for a Russian plane, and there is actually a company called Mikoyan, a soviet design bureau.)
The Hulk ties the whole gang together by their belts and levels them flying around their supposed escape helicopter. Later on, the battle site becomes a “beehive of activity,” as people marvel and wonder at the elaborate hoax of Mongu. Another day ends for our heroes.
Well, that was a waste of time, instead of going around the country on a stroll as usual, the Hulk fights a bunch of commies and there’s nothing to show for it. He probably could’ve stolen the cool spaceship, but where would he hide it?