Tales to Astonish Issue 68- “Back from the Dead!”
Published June 1965
Story: Stan Lee
Art: Jack Kirby
Inking: Mickey Demeo
Lettering: Artie Simek
This issue, Jack Kirby returns to drawing the Hulk and remains the primary artist for quite a while, and what a return it is as last issue, Steve Ditko sent Bruce and Talbot falling off the side of a cliff. Banner transforms into the Hulk on time and rescues Glenn, carrying him to safety. Unconscious from the shock, Talbot doesn’t respond to the Hulk’s actions and so our jolly green giant leaves and leaps all the way back to America, the same way he did back in issue 5. How he clears the Pacific Ocean? Well, Stan Lee outright says he even leaped onto planes. What?!!!
In his secret base, the Leader prepares his latest scheme, shrinking his Humanoid army to the size of cells so they can infiltrate Astra Island. He still hasn’t given up on the Absorbatron.
The Hulk arrives home and rests, turning back into Banner. When he wakes up, General Ross, Betty and an entire team of Military Police stand waiting for him. Betty is overjoyed to see her beau safe and sound, but Thunderbolt arrests him for his alleged crimes.
Days later, Talbot returns to the base after being rescued by the Air Force. He tells the President that there is a connection between Banner and the Hulk, just as he is convinced that Banner is a Soviet Spy. LBJ wonders what to do without betraying Rick Jones and Banner regarding their secret. He suddenly gets a call, and informs Talbot that the Absorbatron is ready for testing once again. Meanwhile, the Leader prepares his flying vehicle and drives it to Astra Island. He sprays his Humanoid Horde on to the Island, while nobody notices and plans to observe today’s events from above.
At the Military Compound, Rick Jones tells Bruce that his case is in trouble, especially with his unexplained disappearances which leads many to suspect he’s a Communist Agent. Talbot arrives and brags to Banner that he is alive and well, despite leaving him to die in Mongolia. Banner yells at the Major, pleading his innocence. Rick pulls his friend away from the bars, telling him to calm down or else his secret will be revealed. Banner takes a tranquilizer, and cools off. Talbot returns with some MPs and escorts our hero to Astra Island, as it is time to begin testing of the Absorbatron. As much as it pains the Army, only Banner can operate the machine.
Arriving, Banner finds a strange powdery substance lying around, though he doesn’t realize it’s the work of the Leader. With only Banner and Talbot on the Island, hopefully the test can go smoothly. But as soon as the testing chamber is sealed, the Humanoids grow to actual size and begin laying siege to the island. They quickly restrain Talbot, but Banner runs away like a chicken. He turns into the Hulk and begins fighting the androids. It’s too late, as the Humanoids begin to emit a knockout gas strong enough to knock out or hero. The Leader is ecstatic now that he has captured the Hulk, and brings him back to his secret laboratory.
This is one fine return to form, and what will happen next in this saga?