Tales to Astonish Issue 59
Published September 1964
Rapidly Written by: Stan Lee
Dashingly Drawn by: Dick Ayers
Instantly Inked by: Paul Reinman
Lazily Lettered by: Art Simek
After a year and a half of Hulk guest-starring in other series such as Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, and the Avengers, the big wigs finally decided to bring back the Hulk for regular publication. This time he was paired with Giant Man in Tales to Astonish, offering two superhero stories for the price of one. This format would also happen in Tales of Suspense, as Captain America got his own regular series, sharing the spotlight with Iron Man (who premiered in this series the previous year). This was probably done so as a cost saving measure, considering it meant one less book to publish.
I’m actually not that much of a fan of Ant-Man, and I generally prefer the Wasp more. Sure he has the power to shrink and grow at ridiculously small and big heights rather quickly, an ability that lends itself to many groovy 50s science fiction stories, but all I can say is meh. It also doesn’t help that he has changed his identity almost as much as Iron Man does with his suits in the past fifty years. Luckily, this volume of Essential Incredible Hulk omits all of the non-Hulk stories, giving us twelve pages of our green giant, offering a serial approach to thrills and chills.
The story is entitled “Enter: The Hulk,” and begins with the a meeting of the “World’s Most Powerful Fighting Team- the Avengers!” as they assemble inside a gym somewhere in the middle of Manhattan, rather an a more formal base, such as I dunno… How about a Stark Industries park or something? I guess Iron Man didn’t want to spend the money.
While Giant Man does some weight training, Captain America and Thor practice their acrobatics, Iron Man is too busy showing off his “transistor-powered portable projector.” The subject of the film is the battle between Spider-Man and the Hulk out in the desert, as shown in the Amazing Spider-Man #14. The Avengers wonder what happened to their apish acquaintance.
Not far away, a man named Davy Cannon is at bed reading about Giant Man’s victory over Colossus back in issue #55. Colossus, not to be confused with the X-Man, was a 30 foot tall alien from the Planet Vegan who conned a group of natives in some far-off country. Cannon amuses over the story, and devises a plan to defeat his old friend, Giant-Man. It turns out he’s the Human Top, capable of spinning at ridiculously high speeds without throwing up, or having his brain turn to mush. Once again, confusingly he is NOT the Human Top that fights with the Defenders, named David Mitchell. To tell the difference between Cannon and Mitchell is that the latter is black. I really don’t know if the writers really had their stuff together…
With the meeting over, the Avengers leave their headquarters, while Giant Man remains pre-occupied with the Hulk. The Wasp tells her to leave the poor brute alone, and Giant Man decides to take her on a walk, only for it to be ruined by a bunch of gawkers. As Giant Man strings up those wolf-whistlers of Janet van Dyke, Cannon sees from his window a perfect chance to stalk the two. It turns out the walk wasn’t for a date, but an excuse for Henry Pym to take his girlfriend all the way to New Mexico. Gee, isn’t that what they call kidnapping or something?
They quickly reach General Ross’s base, and as they land he yells at them for parking their whirlybird on his field. Giant Man calls for Bruce Banner, but the milksop refuses to help Dr. Pym, thinking that the Avengers are out to capture him. Banner immediately commandeers a Jeep to ride out into the desert, and quickly turns into the Hulk. Here we learn that excited emotional states now turn him into the Hulk, as opposed to the night time or the gamma ray machines he used in the first series. All he needs is to increase his heart-rate and there you go the Hulk! If he were dating Betty in today, there’s no way in hell they’d have sex, which would make it pretty hard if she were Jennifer Connelly or Liv Tyler.
In a nearby town, maybe “Plainsville,” the Hulk arrives in a rage as usual, but as everyone in town runs away, Davy Cannon remains. His plan is nearing fruition, and all he needs is Giant Man to appear.
Betty catches up to Bruce’s Jeep, but only finds his glasses and the Hulk’s footprints. She bursts into tears, thinking that the brute took Banner away, even though by now she should at least think he and the Hulk are friends are something, not some serial kidnapper or second employer. Giant Man and the Wasp are conveniently there, and they tell Miss Ross that no matter what, Bruce is safe and that the Hulk won’t hurt him.
Meanwhile, the Human Top stalks the Hulk and tries to avoid the boulders that the Hulk keeps smashing. Sooner or later, New Mexico’s got to be a really flatland with all of the damage Hulk does. Maybe this universe has some kind of rock tower reconstitutor or something, or it’s the same way how islands keep reappearing in Dragon Ball.
Giant Man manages to see the Hulk in due time, and gets ahead of him by shrinking and riding a miniature carbon dioxide fueled rocket to town. The first thing he does when he reaches town, he turns a billboard into a megaphone, telling everybody to flee town ASAP. The place is clear for Giant Man to have a heart to heart with the Hulk, but the Human Top manages to catch up to the Hulk and tells him that Giant Man waits in ambush. The Human Top leaves to alert General Ross about the Hulk. Rather than arrest this spinning pest for trespassing on Army property, Thunderbolt gives the order to chase after the Hulk.
The Hulk reaches town to beat up Giant Man, unwilling to listen to reason. The most important highlight in the fight is that Giant-Man shrinks to avoid the Hulk’s assault. That’s it.
Outside of town, General Ross and his squadron prepare to shoot a “small bore atomic shell” from a tank. Yes, in order to kill the Hulk, Ross is going to explode an atomic bomb, never mind the damage that it will caused, even though the Hulk in his current state knocks down a few buildings, usually leaving the foundation stable. The Wasp worries that the bomb will kill Hank, so she flies toward the missile and attempts to disarm the detonation switch. Her small size makes it impossible to even open a hatch. If she only had a crowbar…
As the shell approaches town, Giant Man is warned in time about it, and the Hulk bravely goes after the bomb, knowing that it won’t be enough to kill him. In the sky, our green giant manages to catch it like a football and tosses toward some sand dunes, and the town is saved! That’s pretty messed up, a bomb that explodes on contact didn’t when it touched something as tough as the Hulk, only to explode after it hits the ground. Didn’t General Ross program the damn thing to kill the Hulk, or was the town the target all along, hoping that the shockwaves would just hurt him?
As the bomb explodes, the Hulk transforms back to Bruce Banner while reaching the ground. Betty is overcome with joy as Bruce returns, despite not wearing a shirt. General Ross remains grumpy about his daughter’s romantic prospects, though the sight of a shirtless Banner in the blazing sun should be enough for him. But, it looks like it’s not manly enough for a pencil pusher.
Back in New York, nobody has anything to report, even Giant Man who kept the fact that he whisked his girlfriend all the way to New Mexico yesterday.
I actually didn’t like this story that much, since it seems that Dick Ayers was trying really hard to get us to the action ASAP, even if he was using the Human Top as an excuse to bring the two together. The story demanded a super villain, and we didn’t get one. At least the next stories are all Hulk only.