Tales to Astonish Issue 97- “The Legions of: Living Lightning”
Published November 1967
The latest, the greatest: Smilin’ Stan Lee and Madcap Marie Severin. Literary and artistic smasheroo!
Inked by: Howlin’ Herb Trimpe
Lettered by: Scowlin’ L.P. Gregory
In this issue, it seems that Marvel Comics is either done with Soviets or are saving them for some other series. This time the villains are called the “Living Lightning,” who dress in German World War One gear, and are as bonkers as Captain America’s Nazi foes. If the Reds couldn’t stop them, what chance to these blitzkrieg blunderheads have on the green-hued titan?
The story begins with the Hulk going about his daily routine of leaping from mountain to mountain, and he collides with a strange looking jet plane. It crashes and the Hulk rescues the pilot landing somewhere relatively safe. The man eventually awakens and instead of running away, he pleads to the Hulk that the Living Lightning can do something for him. The Hulk takes the pilot upon his shoulder and jumps according to the puny human’s directions. They eventually reach a mark on the ground with a lightning bolt symbol. They soon see a giant cave on the side of a mountain, and its doors open.
During the Hulk’s trip into space, it seems that the media is still using the fact that he’s still “missing” as a hot topic or else it would be “no news is good news!” With all of the other super heroes, there wouldn’t be more interesting news? Anyway, Rick Jones and General Ross, separately, are still wondering where that gigantic misanthrope is at the moment, however Thunderbolt decides to give up on his search. A new mission is about to start for Talbot and co. and it is called “Operation Lightning,” which targets a terrorist group called… you guessed it, “The Living Lightning.”
Back at that weird cave, the Hulk gets zapped by the contraption inside with a lightning bolt. The Hulk destroys part of the machine, but is no match for the deadly voltage that it emits. Soldiers dressed like stereotypical WW1 Germans with the pointy hats appear out of a door rank and file and take the Hulk and the pilot away. The pilot recovers and is addressed by the leader, “the Lord of the Lightning.” The pilot pleads that the Hulk would make a fine ally, and the Lord thinks it would be a great idea to use the dimwitted brute.
The leader visits the Hulk, and although he is met with hostility, he quickly convinces his new friend that with the Living Lightning, he will be free to live in peace with them. The other soldiers are commanded to treat the Hulk like an honored guest and give tea and a little song & dance routine. The Hulk is impressed and like that he helps the Living Lightning with various tasks around the base and whatnot.
Outside, Major Talbot is studying the movements the LL Brigade and is soundly ambushed by soldiers. The Hulk is there, and Talbot outright calls him a traitor for aligning with these terrorists. The Hulk responds how the Army has always tried to kill him, but here they treat him like a friend. And he smashes his way out, leaving the story to be “Hulkinued!”
Tales to Astonish Issue 98- “The Puppet and the Power!”
Published December 1967
Stan (the Man) Lee and Marie (the She) Severin have come up with another smasheroo!
Ably Aided by: Herb Trimpe, Inker || Artie Simek, Letterer
The easily fooled Hulk is thus commanded to engaged in armed interventions around the world, and he is on a mission to destroy any weapons used in warfare, starting with General Ross’s Air Force base! “Now world will see that Hulk is good– Hulk fights for peace!” he shouts as he leaps out into the open. Back at the LL base, the Lord of Lightning takes pleasure that they have captured a valuable spy, Major Glenn Talbot. An armed fleet prepares to take off, following the trail of the Hulk’s destruction.
The Hulk goes and destroys the military’s weapons, shouting that he fights for peace. Nobody cares what he is saying, and General Ross and the rest of the base are in panic, ready to shoot him down. Betty acts her melodramatic self and begs her father not to shoot Bruce Banner. She is locked in an office and kept under lock and key, while the rest of the men try to deal with the situation.
The Living Lightning strikes down upon the base, taking control of what is left of the missiles. Everybody is besieged by these neo-Deutsches Heer and Betty emerges from her room, and gets shot by a bolt. Elsewhere, General Ross manages to take down the Hulk using specially made gas canisters. Soon he is alerted to the fact that his daughter is now another hostage, goes to confront the Lord of the Lightning. The big cheese tells Thunderbolt that he left the Hulk with Betty, and somehow the reader is supposed to believe that she’s in trouble! General Ross is now in a predicament, either surrender the base to the Living Lightning, or allow the Hulk to kill Betty. What a dilemma!
Where’s Captain America?! Isn’t he better suited against these wannabe terrorists?