Issue(s): Avengers #2
Note that the Hulk has only three toes in this issue (this was pointed out by commentor Gary Himes back when i had issues #2-4 in one entry and unfortunately i'm not able to move comments. See his comment on issue #4).
The Wasp moons over Thor. Meanwhile, a creature called the Space Phantom arrives from outer space in a giant egg.
He has been observing the Avengers from space, and if he can defeat them, then his people will invade the Earth.
He has the power to displace people into Limbo and take on their shape (note also in that last panel we learn that the Avengers are meeting at a mansion on loan from Tony Stark)...
...and he begins by replacing the Hulk, starting a minor scuffle with the rest of the Avengers...
...and then going on a rampage. Rick Jones catches up with the Hulk...
...and figures out that something isn't right, so he summons the Avengers (even Rick is getting sick of the Teen Brigade).
The Avengers aren't having an easy time of fighting the Phantom...
...but when the Phantom tries to replace Thor he gets thrown into Limbo himself because Thor is a a God.
At least the Wasp actually participated in the fight. The Hulk leaves because the rest of the Avengers were so quick to believe that the Hulk was bad (and because Thor was going to make him put a shirt on).
Here's a nice shot of the group fighting in the rain:
Very dynamic fight scenes and an interesting use of group conflict; a member of the group quitting the team in just the second issue. The Hulk's attitude is a little unjustified. Iron Man reveals that he "always thought we had made a mistake of allowing you to join the Avengers" but when Giant-Man shows up to break up the fight he admits that "we're making fools of ourselves! We're acting like kids!". And no one else has anything bad to say about the Hulk before he quits, at least on panel. After he quits, the Wasp says that he terrified her (the panel is two scans up). And that brings us to the McDuffie/Oeming back-up story, which starts right where this issue left off, except with the Wasp shouting "Hulk wait!" instead of "Thank heavens he's leaving!".
These back-ups are by two creators that i like very much, but they are on the pointless side. Aside from that opening panel, this story doesn't have much to do with the Avengers and mainly deals with Bruce Banner being interrogated by police after they found him covered in blood. It turns out that the Hulk helped to deliver a baby, and the police let Banner go.
Due to the haphazard formats of my early Avengers issues, i won't be covering all the Avengers Classic back-ups, but all the ones i've seen are designed to take place during or directly after the issue it's included with.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: In issue #2, Iron Man is still wearing his bulky gold armor. Pym is already Giant-Man (as we saw in Avengers #1.5).
Continuity Insert? P - minor back-up story is continuity insert
My Reprint: Avengers Classic #2
Inbound References (16): show
This story's establishment that physically identical beings can't co-exist in the same universe at the same time, was again hinted at with the Mr. Fantastic/ the Brute storyline and more recently in the Gatherers saga.
One of the most interesting but later ignored aspects of Proctor's tale was the idea that two alternative versions of the same character couldn't exist for long in the same reality. We'd had that hinted at before here and with the Brute, but the Gatherers saga looked for a while like it might use that front and centre; but it was forgotten in the chaos that came after.
As noted here though, the Avengers are here able to defeat the Space Phantom simply because Asgardians are immune to his powers, so that when he tries to duplicate Thor, HE gets sent to limbo instead.
Is the reason for this due to some heretofore unexplained relationship between the gods to time and limbo? The Space Phantom's power is to shift a body into Limbo and take its shape. Thor at least seems able to resist that pull, and demonstrates some control over the weft of Limbo in the story where Immortus has Thor use up the time/ space powers of Mjolnir. Time seems to pass differently in Asgard, and perhaps the other mythological realms, so that Thor and his generation are still relatively young despite a thousand or more years having passed since the Viking age on Earth. So there's plenty of material there to consider some basis for how gods relate differently to limbo - a timeless place - than mortals do.
Only problem with this "physical identical beings can't co-exist in the same universe at the same time" is why Madelyne Pryor wasn't sent to Limbo when Jean Grey returned from the dead. Oops she was. I wonder if anyone picked up on that before?
Posted by: Nathan Adler | January 11, 2013 7:28 AM
I assume that's just a Stan Lee glitch where Rick tells the Hulk that he transforms into Don Blake instead of Bruce Banner.
Posted by: S | April 5, 2013 4:02 PM
I don't like Henry Pym as a giant. He is not stronger than Thor or the Hulk, so what is the point? He is in danger of falling on his teammates and hurting them.
Posted by: Steven Printz | January 12, 2014 8:04 AM
So, they can't start the meeting until Ant-Man shows up. They do remember that Wasp is a member too, right?
Posted by: Erik Beck | December 10, 2014 9:30 PM
Actually the Wasp is not a full member yet.
Posted by: Leves | April 14, 2015 9:56 AM
Actually, yes she is. The Wasp is a founding member of the Avengers; she even named the team.
Posted by: Bill | April 14, 2015 10:49 AM
@Nathan Adler: Most of the examples you gave were about versions of the same person from different realities (Black Knight III and Proctor/Mr. Fantastic and the Brute) so that's why reality tends to "glitch" unless the double/original is sent to another actuality. With both Peter Parker/Ben Reilly and Jean Grey/Madelyne Pryor, one was a clone of the other born/created in the same dimension as the originator, in a way sidestepping the "multiple copy glitch" that was the crux of the Mr. Fantastic vs. The Brute and the Gatherers Saga storylines.
Posted by: D09 | August 3, 2016 10:59 PM
I'm glad recent discussion has put this issue back to the top - i alluded to this "doppelganger paradox" when Cable was introduced (comment six):
I knew I wasn't just making it up...
Now, maybe young Nate and old Cable are physically distinct enough to circumvent that rule... but how about Reed Richards, who co-existed with his self from a few minutes previous during the Korvac Quest? http://www.supermegamonkey.net/chronocomic/entries/fantastic_four_annual_24.shtml
Posted by: cullen | August 4, 2016 5:14 PM
I believe that Rick Jones might have already been testing the "Hulk" when he mentioned Don Blake. He might have already been suspicious in that panel, unbeknownst to the audience (us).
Posted by: Rick | July 14, 2017 9:46 PM
That was my interpretation as well.
Posted by: Baby | September 1, 2017 2:16 PM
Although if that is true Rick did give away a lot of information.
Posted by: Baby | September 1, 2017 2:20 PM
I dunno, I thought they treated Hulk pretty shabbily and were far too quick to think the worst of him. Iron Man does call him a "brainless gargoyle." I find Hulk's quitting so early to be a fairly natural way to react.
Joe Casey's Earth's Mightiest Heroes series later made a huge plot point out of Hulk's presence almost sinking the group's acceptance from the outset and Cap as basically saving the day for them. An interesting way of looking at it, but also further indication of how much almost everyone hates and fears Hulk (and not very long after his pardon in Hulk # 6).
Posted by: intp | September 21, 2017 5:17 PM
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