Tales To Astonish #63 (Hulk)
Issue(s): Tales To Astonish #63 (Hulk story only)
Review/plot: An "ordinary laborer" became a big headed evil genius when an experimental gamma ray cylinder explodes.
Per min's comment below, here's a scan of him before he transforms. Note the lack of mustache.
He calls himself the Leader. He has decided to take over the government. To that effect he employed the spy that stole Banner's "robot" armor, and then the Chameleon, who was bothering the Hulk last issue but was defeated.
The Chameleon has apparently been sleeping under that rock disguised as Bruce Banner ever since the Gamma bomb went off last issue, which was the previous day.
The Chameleon learns that the military is moving one of Banner's inventions to another base, and he contacts the Leader who is determined to either sabotage or steal the device, i'm not sure. The Leader has created a "Humanoid" which is a pink skinned faceless golem that he controls mentally.
In the future, the Leader will create armies of these humanoids, which is cool. Often you'll see a mad genius type create some awesome thing and then abandon it just because a hero was able to defeat it once. Instead, since this thing is mildly successful, the Leader will rightly decide to move it from prototype stage to the assembly line.
Meanwhile, Major Talbot is suspicious of Banner, thinking he has links with the Hulk. He intends to keep his eyes on Banner the entire trip but he has to go off to attack when the humanoid arrives. Banner turns into the Hulk due to "strain and worry", and fights the humanoid, triggering the Leader's life-long obsession with the Hulk. After the Hulk defeats the humanoid and turns back into Banner, Talbot lot has him arrested for leaving the train he was left in.
The Leader is, of course, an important character in the Hulk's canon, and the "gamma rays turn a scientist into a big dumb guy" and "gamma rays turn a manual laborer into a genius" are hard to miss, but it's interesting to remember that the Hulk we're dealing with here isn't the fully "savage" or "child-like" Hulk. He has some basic intelligence and fully articulate speech patterns.
As the Hulk (d)evolves, the contrast will become even more obvious.
I'll also note, in passing, that a common criticism of Hollywood movies is the anti-intellectualism, where the villain is always the super-smart guy and the hero wins through sheer guts and a good right hook. Obviously Marvel has enough examples of science-heroes that they're immune to that particular criticism, but with the introduction of the Leader as an arch-foe, the Hulk book becomes a textbook example of it.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Hulk #400
Inbound References (4): showChameleon, General 'Thunderbolt' Ross, Glenn Talbot, Hulk, Leader
interesting - turn into a green, gamma-irradiated being, grow facial hair. turn into a red one, lose facial hair...
Posted by: min | January 16, 2013 9:08 AM
As a kid, I never quite understood why a super-intelligent guy with a big head was called "the Leader." Now I think I better understand why. I think he was called the Leader because that is the English translation of fascist and other dictatorial titles like Der Fuehrer, Il Duce, Caudillo, Vozhd, or Conducator. So the concept of the Leader seems more than just "really smart evil guy". He really wants to rule the world, which is not the foremost desire of most other evil smart guys in comics (Doom, Luthor, etc.). Those other guys seem to have more personal desires up front with world conquering down on their list.
Posted by: Chris | March 23, 2013 1:26 AM
Looking things over, I think the reason he got stuck with "The Leader" was probably just to make things all the easier after merely being called "the leader" by Chameleon the previous issue. Since the name wasn't taken for a character yet, they probably went: why the heck not?
As for "gamma mustache", someone once said that many times gamma radiation tends to turn you into some sort of mental image of the self. With Bruce, obviously its probably to do with just a lot of his own inner turmoils, while obviously Samson and Jen reflect it with more "positive" changes. My guess is Sterns probably had his own aspiration for power and thus he grew the "villain mustache" to go with his new oversized head...it just fits his role.
Posted by: Ataru320 | October 1, 2014 4:49 PM
There was a scene in this issue that was hysterical. While the Hulk is fighting the humanoid on a moving train, the Hulk leaps over a bridge that the train crosses under while tussling with the humanoid. They pass over a man in a convertible stopped in traffic. He sees them pass over and Stan's narration says "Note this man. He will soon be known as the biggest liar in his neighborhood." Hilarious.
Posted by: Bobby Sisemore | October 30, 2016 10:23 PM
I loved this story in the seventies in the netherlands. I was always fascinated by the fact that the Leader did not speak, but only thinks ...😊
Posted by: Martijn ohlenroth | January 20, 2017 8:26 AM
I've always found the Leader to be one of the more poorly developed archfoes. He doesn't seem to have any distinct motivation, unlike Dr. Doom or Magneto, for example, other than a vague interest in world conquest. A few Mantlo stories pitched the idea that he wanted to create a world of other gamma-irradiated beings like himself but that never really rang true to me. David sort of picked up on that idea with "Freehold" but he also had plenty of non-gamma beings there too.
I was always hoping for better development of the character with a stronger rationale/motivation, but I don't think it ever really came.
Posted by: intp | September 23, 2017 12:25 AM
INTP, that's a good comment. I don't think we need too much motivation. The Leader is literally a completely different character before the gamma accident. His motivations aren't based on his life while being an ordinary janitor. Overnight he becomes a peer or superior of established geniuses like Reed Richards, Dr Doom, Tony Stark, High Evolutionary, and many others. He can either use his genius on behalf of others, less worthy and less qualified than himself (in his mind), or for himself which he knows will pit him against the world, so he decides to rule it instead. However, it would be beneficial if we could see what kind of world the Leader envisions should he win. It would make him a lot more sinister and add more menace while distinguishing him from other world conquerors.
Posted by: Chris | November 28, 2017 2:30 PM
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