Tales to Astonish Issue 77- “Bruce Banner Is the Hulk!”
Published March 1966
Script: Stan Lee
Layouts: Jack Kirby
Penciling and Inking by: John Romita
Lettering b: Sam Rosen!
Before anybody can get to this starling revelation, we have to return our focus on the Hulk’s meeting with the Executioner. Still in the future, our green giant continues to find a way out of this hellish future world. He broke out of a castle, and now comes face to face with its invaders, led by a bald man with Mike Tyson tattoos on the back of his head.
The Executioner shrugs off the Hulk’s attack, declaring himself to be an immortal of Asgard in the face of this overgrown mortal. Why would a warrior from Viking Heaven be in the future conquering a wasteland unless he was either exiled or this world is not what it seems. We’ll have to just believe he’s exiled for now… The Hulk demands to be sent home, and the Executioner laughs at his opponent’s assault. The fight continues, Ole’ Goldilocks gets a good pounding, and continues to get up due to his immortality, as it replenishes him over and over. They fall out of the walking pillbox and still they keep fighting, while his forces lay waste to the castle.
In the past, Rick Jones is being interrogated on the location of the Hulk. Ross and Talbot do not believe the young man knows nothing about the T-Gun and keep pressing him. Jones is taken away, and Betty arrives to plead both his and Bruce’s innocence. There’s nothing anybody can do regarding the Hulk for now, and Talbot still has to find a way to get Betty to forget about Banner so she can focus her attention on to him.
The Executioner’s men get the Hulk in range and prepare to fire their stun gun at him. It hits him with a “foom,” in which the second “o” is silent, and the Executioner laughs at the ray’s lack of effect on himself. The Hulk gets up again and Evil Mr. Clean continues to lay the smackdown on our hero. The Emerald-Hued Gargoyle starts to get angrier and angrier until hate fills every fiber of his being, and starts ripping the ground to shreds, knocking the Executioner off his feet. Soon after, the pillboxes start shooting at the Hulk and lay waste to the city. The Hulk was too busy fighting instead of protecting the innocents, looks like he now has a hard job ahead of him.
In the past, Rick Jones heads to the cave to wallow in his misery. Banner is gone forever, and what can he do? He starts remembering sights and sounds from that fateful day, almost close to a mental breakdown, until Glenn Talbot arrives. Talbot understands what Jones is growing through and encourages him to let all those secrets out, but at the risk of betraying his best friend.
The Hulk seeing all this destruction, beings to attack the Executioner’s army, destroying those crawlers one by one, and wiping out a majority of the forces. The Executioner marvels at the brute’s strength, and this gives enough time for the Royal Army to begin their retaliate. The King tells the Hulk to surrender, but before he can respond he starts to disappear from existence. The T-Gun is wearing off.
Rick Jones finally lets it all out, Banner wasn’t a traitor, when in fact he was the Hulk! Talbot finally understands, after two years and what took the Gargoyle one hour!
Tales to Astonish Issue 78- “The Hulk Must Die!”
Published April 1966
Story by: Stan Lee (Certainly!)
Layouts by: Jack Kirby (Naturally!)
Artwork by: Bill Everett (Surprisingly!)
Lettering by: Sam Rosen (Inevitably!)
The Hulk returns, and in his cave in New Mexico! The T-Gun must have set this place as a return point, which helps the sake of plot. The Hulk leaves and the Army begins to take him down.
Back at the base, the military has hired a new head scientist who specializes in “organic energy,” who brags as it’s the most powerful energy source on Earth. Talbot gives him orders, and leaves upon hearing the news of the Hulk’s emergence. While the Goliath starts jumping around the desert aimlessly, the army begins to bombard him and sends him into a trap hole. The pit is filled with pore gas, which drains the oxygen out of his body, but he leaps up and falls into another hole. The Army Corps. of Engineers must have spent one hell of a weekend digging up hole upon hole in a grid-like configuration.
At home, Betty Ross cannot believe that Bruce is the Hulk, no matter how many times she is told. Rick Jones tries to comfort her and she grieves over her missing boyfriend, but Major Talbot arrives with the news that he’s captured the Hulk.
In the pit, the brute tries to break out but is confounded time and time again by the traps the Army planted. They even break out the Anti-Matter beams, which should be able to literally destroy the Hulk, but are just ordinary lasers. Dr. Zaxon arrives with his organic energy machine, analyzing the Hulk in a glorified X-Ray, and the machine practically breaks from overloading. Talbot, Rick, and Betty arrive to see him, and the Hulk smiles upon seeing his friend. His happiness quickly turns to anger as he realizes he must break free from his cage. Betty starts to cry as there is no trace of Banner in there anymore, and Talbot gives the orders to allow Zaxon to experiment on the Hulk.
In his lab, Zaxon reveals his ulterior motive for using “organic energy.” He intends to absorb all of the Hulk’s life energy for himself, so he can conquer the world, and the brute’s death will just be a mere side effect. Clad in Iron Man-like armor he begins to shoot the Hulk with “anti-matter rays” and so our story must be continued.
Did the Army really do a psych test on Zaxon? Taking over the world with organic energy? That’s just plumb insane, especially when you have no super powers!