Tales To Astonish #70-74 (Hulk)
Issue(s): Tales To Astonish #70, Tales To Astonish #71, Tales To Astonish #72, Tales To Astonish #73, Tales To Astonish #74 (Hulk stories only)
Review/plot: The army is still searching the Leader's lair after the Hulk/Leader fight from last issue. Meanwhile, Rick Jones has dragged Banner's injured body back to Banner's secret lab. Banner took a bullet last issue and only changing back into the Hulk can save him. Doing so has an interesting effect - he's now the Hulk but with Banner's brain.
He creates a potion that lets him stay in his Hulk form for 48 hours - this potion could be what changes his chemistry so that he doesn't turn back into Banner when he gets stressed out. He says this issue, i think for the first time, "And the madder I get, the stronger I get--!!". Update: Nope, the first time was in Tales To Astonish #59, but the phrase hadn't been used again until now.
Meanwhile, the Leader is negotiating with foreign leaders. The Absorbatron he was trying to steal was destroyed during the Hulk's rampage last issue, but now the Leader is selling a giant humanoid for one billion dollars. The communists say that they will pay if he can use the creature to destroy Ross' missile base. The army seems to be doing fine stopping the humanoid with missiles, but Banner decides to help out and instead blunders the whole thing, with his big win being not getting crushed to death.
The army of course thinks the Hulk is in cahoots with the humanoid. The Hulk escapes before they nuke the robot thanks to Rick Jones' warning (bet you wish you could just jump out of the way of a nuclear bomb) .
The Hulk uses his super-breath to keep Rick alive.
Banner is losing control over the Hulk's persona over the course of the story. The Hulk is surrounded by the army in Banner's secret lab, which is destroyed by missiles. The Leader (surprised by the Hulk's intelligence) offers to teleport the Hulk away, and Banner accepts because he needs the Leader's help to remove the bullet from his brain.
The Leader's help results in him permanently remaining as the Hulk, though.
The Leader sends the Hulk on a mission that Banner feels obligated to accept because the Leader saved his life. The Leader has discovered the blue area of the moon, and the Watcher, and wants one of the Watcher's gadgets.
He teleports the Hulk to the moon. The Watcher doesn't try to stop the Hulk, but a creature from another planet also happens to show up to try and take the same device, and he and the Hulk get into it.
The Watcher's home is probably a source of much disaster throughout the universe. He collects all these incredibly dangerous devices (The item the Leader wants contains all the knowledge of the known universe. During the FF's wedding issue, Reed grabbed a device from Uatu's house that could set back time and erase all the bad guy's memories.) People are probably constantly stopping by to pick things up, and since Uatu is "sworn to never interfere"*, he doesn't stop them.
The Hulk wins the fight, of course...
...and takes the orb of knowledge back to the Leader. But, again of course, the knowledge is too much for the Leader to handle and he goes into a coma (actually the Hulk diagnoses him as 'dead' but we know that can't be true).
For what it's worth, the Leader was also planning to take over the Sub-Mariner's domain. You have to respect a guy who figures the fact that he's gonna conquer the surface world is already in the bag so he might as well start thinking about next steps.
*Actually the Watcher interferes this issue by:
1) teleporting the Hulk and the other creature somewhere else so when they fight they don't mess up his house.
2) Bringing the Hulk to the place that has the item he's looking for so he doesn't have to tolerate people hanging around his home for too long.
3) Possibly doing something to the Orb so that the Leader goes into a coma. As the Hulk leaves, the Watcher thinks, "The Leader believes he has beaten me! So be it! I choose to allow him to keep that belief! But, the final gambit has not yet been played!". That could just mean he knows what's going to happen, but that "I choose" line leads me to believe he might have done something, or would have interfered more if things were going to turn out differently.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Hulk annual #3
Inbound References (6): show
Posted by: Ronaldo Merhaj | October 6, 2013 10:15 PM
Now that Submariner has replaced Giant-Man in Tales To Astonish, the Hulk stories that accompany it get better.
Posted by: Steven | May 16, 2015 8:15 PM
Although Banner does start to lose control of the Hulk, it isn't until after the bullet are removed that he moves toward becoming the Hulk in mind as well as body. For instance, after awaking from the gas, the Hulk tries to use the Leader's machines to stave off the change, a Banner approach. I agree it's a bit of a reach because the stories are paced so fast, there was never a chance for the Hulk with Banner's brain to establish a status quo. But I've always seen it the reversion to the Hulk's mentality beginning with the removal of the bullet and accelerating with the next issue.
Posted by: Brian C. Saunders | March 10, 2016 10:55 PM
I love how the watcher says he never interferes but always does! Hipocrite!
Posted by: Roy mattson | May 4, 2016 3:37 PM
Isn't the big red fellow Amphibian from IH #269-70?
Posted by: VtCG | July 13, 2016 2:59 AM
OH wow, anyone have this as a coloring book?
Posted by: Cecil Disharoon | July 13, 2016 10:42 AM
I suppose if you had any of the old Essentials books (printed in black and white), you could use them as coloring books...
Posted by: mikrolik | July 13, 2016 11:40 AM
I love the escalation of the Leader's threat.
"Nothing can stop my unbeatable humanoid!"
I'm not surprised they killed him here. Were do you go from there, but downhill?
Posted by: Benway | July 17, 2016 4:04 PM
@VtCG: his named is spelled "Amphibion" (and/or Qnax). He's listed as a Character Appearing and there's an Inbound Reference from Hulk #269-270.
Posted by: fnord12 | July 18, 2016 11:28 AM
I loved this whole storyline and the Orb of All Knowledge reminds me of the Great Teacher in the Star Trek episode "Spock's Brain."
Posted by: Bobby Sisemore | November 1, 2016 8:03 PM
To VtCG, yes, this is the big red amphibian from IH #269-270.
Also, is it noteworthy that it's mentioned here that the Hulk's strength gets increased due to the Leader giving him a big dose of gamma radiation?
Posted by: Dave B | September 13, 2017 10:26 AM
TTA # 73-74 was one of my favorite stories from this Hulk period. As a kid, I always took this story as semi-proof that Hulky was the strongest mortal being in the galaxy, as he defeated the former (unofficial?) title-holder, Qnax (his real name; see Hulk # 472-473, a sort of homage to this very story!)
Posted by: intp | September 14, 2017 10:53 AM
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