Tales to Astonish Issue 63
Published January 1965
Only Stan Lee could have written this monumental masterpiece!
Only Steve Ditko could have drawn these powerful panels!
Only George Bell could have inked this sensational saga!
Only Sam Rosen could have lettered his name S. Rosen!
I haven’t yet reached the middle of the first volume of Essential Hulk, and I wonder if I’ll finish it in time to return it… Anyway, this issues begins a matchup that will last through the year of 1965, as the Hulk struggles to defeat his more intelligent opponent, the Leader!
Sitting in his hidden lab, the man in the odd worksuit remarks that his “humanoid” is ready for to carry out his plans. As he removes his strange garb, the Leader retells his origin story. It turns out he was a laborer working at some chemical research plant and got into an accident one day. A Gamma Ray cylinder exploded, and unlike the weak Banner’s transformation into the Hulk, the laborer started to change gradually. During his stay in the hospital, he read more and more books, and this one dull-brained man started to become a genius. Soon, his head grew three sizes and started to look like Peter Lorre. Disfigured by this accident, he left society and started building together a vast spy ring, one day becoming the mastermind we read about in this comic book.
While a technician searches for radioactive fallout at the Air Force base, the Chameleon awakes, as he was protected by a giant boulder. He decides to change disguises so he escape and return to the Leader.
Inside General Ross’s office, the two discuss today’s events, as one of Banner’s inventions is to be taken to the Pentagon by train. Major Talbot tells Ross that he will keep the scientist under surveillance. Later as the transport prepares to leave, the Leader tells the Chameleon to keep a watch on this shipment as well. He also sends his Humanoid, a man shaped robot made entirely of Bakelite or something. While the train rushes toward its destination, the Master’s plan is put into action, with the arrival of the Humanoid.
Banner is locked away, while the army prepares to deal with this new menace. Worrying about what will happen to his device, he transforms into the Hulk to fight this plastic person wannabe, but it’s too late. The Humanoid has unhooked the caboose carrying the military personnel from the train. The Leader commands his robot to open the covers, so he can spend some time studying the nuclear device. Just as it’s about to take a peek, the Hulk leaps atop of him only to bounce back. The Humanoid’s plastic shell seems to repel the Hulk’s attacks, and our green giant starts to get more and more frustrated. The Leader decides to speed it up this battle, and shocks the Hulk with high voltage electric shocks, and throws the Hulk off the train. The Hulk quickly recovers, and jumps over the bridge tunnel, and tackles the Humanoid once again. This time the electricity doesn’t work anymore.
In the struggle, Banner’s device is being loosened from its bolts. The Hulk notices what is happening and throws himself and the Humanoid off the train, shakes it off, gets up and leaps back. With the strength of one thousand tornadoes, he manages to move the nuclear invention to a safer place. However, the effort renders him transforming back into Bruce. Major Talbot arrives shortly and places Banner under arrest for apparently sabotaging the trip and trying to steal the device.
The Leader is suitably impressed with the Hulk’s strength, and now he seeks to learn more about his new enemy.
This was a pretty action packed episode, as the Hulk finally deals with a new enemy that cannot simply be destroyed by normal means. And this dolt-headed brute must somehow match wits against the mastermind behind these events, somebody who is affected by Gamma Rays. The new format begins to shine here as the short stories begin to resemble something like a tv program that you just can’t wait to see until the next episode.