Tales To Astonish #78-81
Issue(s): Tales To Astonish #78, Tales To Astonish #79, Tales To Astonish #80, Tales To Astonish #81
The Hulk shows only the barest glimpse of recognition for Betty, which drives her to tears.
Then Dr. Zaxon is shown to be a lunatic. He wants to drain the Hulk's organic energy so that he can power himself and become king of the world. Crackpot.
You have to wonder - Zaxon is a bit of a joke when going up against the Hulk, but if he hadn't run into the Hulk in his formative days, could he have been something bigger? Do one-shot super villains sit around and say, "Dammit, i could have been the next Dr. Doom if i had run into Daredevil instead of the Hulk when i was first getting started!"?
The Hulk actually kills Zaxon (the dialogue tries to make it look like it's Zaxon's fault for jumping in front of the heavy object that the Hulk sends ricocheting off a wall, but we all know what really happened). After taunting Zaxon's lifeless corpse a bit ("You can't escape like that! Get up!! Get up!!"), Hulk jumps off as the army shows up.
Meanwhile, Hercules is traveling out west by train with his Hollywood agent after having been solicited to star in a film in Thor #127. How cool is that?
Hulk tears up some train tracks in order to destroy some army planes, and Hercules gets off the train for some mindless brawling. Throughout the course of this story, the Hulk transitions from talking in the first person to the fully child-like "Hulk Smash!" mode. I've never seen this issue acknowledged in any way but right here after years of variations we are finally seeing the 'classic' Hulk.
The Herc/Hulk fight is inconclusive (but awesome, despite some shaky inks by Bill Everett or half-hearted pencils by Kirby) as the army interferes with a barrage of missiles, and after it is over, Hercules carries his train across the broken part of the train tracks car by car.
The Hulk is then transported underground by Tyrannus, who is now a shriveled old man.
Hulk only vaguely recollects Tyrannus, but, offered a place where he can live without being hounded by humans, Hulk agrees to help him re-capture the fountain of youth, which is now in the Mole Man's possession. The Hulk, however, is an unreliable ally, and he spends his time napping and lounging about instead of fighting. Therefore Tyrannus reveals his ace in the hole: he has captured Betty, Rick, and Glenn Talbot. However, Hulk doesn't recognize these people, and he would have attacked them if the Mole Man hadn't chosen this moment to launch a pre-emptive strike. The Hulk defeats the Mole Man's octo-sapien (no, really) robot but gets turned back into Bruce Banner in the process.
While Banner wanders through the underground, a group called the Secret Empire...
...hires an agent named Boomerang to acquire the Orion Missile from Ross' missile base. Boomerang is suave and sophisticated in his civilian identity, but he wears a ridiculous clown suit when he is Boomerang.
Glenn, Betty, and Rick are teleported back to the surface, and Boomerang attacks, kidnapping Betty. Banner also manages to fight his way to the teleporter, turning into the Hulk in the process.
He chases their boat out of his waters, but while he's on the surface he's possessed by the Puppet Master, who is wearing a really weird costume and has gained a lot of weight.
He's talking like he's never possessed the Sub-Mariner in order to defeat the FF before, but he has, in FF #14. Of course, he's kinda nuts so the inconsistency isn't a problem.
The Wasp heads for New York to warn the Avengers that Namor is riled up, leading to a completely tangential cross-over with Avengers #26.
For me, it's the little things like that that, and the Hercules appearance in Hulk, that make me a "continuity" fan and are the drivers behind this project.
Namor shows up at the Puppet Master's place and is assigned the job of... robbing banks.
Way to think big, Phillip. Like you couldn't have just possessed a bank manager. Namor's involuntary actions get him surrounded by the military. The Puppet Master seems to have no comprehension of the Sub-Mariner's power level as he orders Namor to fight to the death, not realizing the Namor can take out a bunch of soldiers (especially a bunch of dumb ones who can't remember that he can fly) without even thinking about it.
My original comment here was "The art in issue #79 looks a lot like Gene Colan art even though it is credited to Adam Austin" but i've subsequently found out that Adam Austin was Colan's pseudonym brag> . It's pretty good, and quite a contrast from the Hulk stories.
Namor's fight with the army eventually winds up with him back in the water, which breaks the Puppet Master's power. However, Krang has been observing the whole thing, and he heads to the Puppet Master's place and forces him to create a puppet of a big red humanoid Behemoth that has recently broken loose in Atlantis.
Namor and Dorma fight it, not realizing that it is mind-controlled by Krang. When she finds out, Dorma agrees to marry Krang so that he will release his control of the Behemoth, not knowing the Namor has already defeated the creature.
Namor of course flies into a rage when he hears that Dorma has left with Krang. He even imprisons Dorma's cousin simply for being related to her.
Krang escapes by having himself and Dorma inhale a gas that turns their skin pink and allows them to breathe air so that they can hide in the surface world.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: The Wasp leaves this book to go to Avengers #26, so this needs to be placed soon before that. Hercules is traveling across the country in between his appearance in New York in Thor #127 and California in Thor #128. Sub-Mariner next appears in the Iron Man half of Tales Of Suspense #79-80.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Marvel Super-Heroes #33, Marvel Super-Heroes #34, Marvel Super-Heroes #35, Marvel Super-Heroes #36
Inbound References (13): show
The Sub-Mariner story is also the debut of Gene Colan's main weakness: he's not very good at designing costumes.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | August 3, 2011 12:11 PM
"Organic energy" is probably a reference to "orgone", a pseudoscientific concept of life energy that was prominent in counterculture circles of the time and earlier.
Posted by: Chris | March 23, 2013 1:16 AM
Somehow Boomerang's "over-Kirby" outfit reminds me a bit of the "over-Kirby" outfit that Sandman gets stuck with. Sometimes simple is better for some sorts of characters.
Posted by: Ataru320 | December 11, 2014 12:20 PM
Puppet Master is still in his Uncle Fester form here, I see. Love the Hulk/Herc fight, imperfect art and all. The Colan art is saving the Subby stories as the initially interesting underwater kingdom drama begins to wear a little thin (for me, at least).
Posted by: Robert | February 21, 2016 6:36 PM
I love the dialogue in that last panel! ("The color of one's skin is but an accident of fate...") Quite revolutionary for 1965!
Posted by: Haydn | March 9, 2016 11:00 PM
Jack Kirby doesn't do pencils on the Sub-Mariner stories listed here. He does do pencils on the Hulk covers for #79 and #81, with Bill Everett inks.
Jack is credited with layouts only for the Hulk stories listed, with Bill Everett on finished artwork (finish pencils if any, plus inks).
Bill Everett is also the 1939 creator of Namor the Sub-Mariner, the first Timely/Marvel super-hero.
Posted by: James Holt | August 26, 2016 9:53 PM
Thanks James, i think i had the Kirby credit mixed up with the Hulk portion.
Posted by: fnord12 | August 27, 2016 1:26 PM
I've always wondered if Zaxon was really the duplicate for Dr. Zaxton from Thor in Journey into Mystery#95. The fight with Hercules was excellent. (I lived Herc's comment "A Brute with Green skin. No wonder Thor loves this world.) I also liked the concept of Tyrranus and the Mole Man warring for control of Subterranea. The Puppet Master story was kind of weak and I've never understood why the Puppet Master has had two separate physical appearances. You said that these sort of connection between stories is what made you a chronology buff. The same for me. I used to wonder about how these stories all sort of fit together and started working on my reading order in the early 70's while I was still in high school. I have worked at it off and on ever since.
Posted by: Bobby Sisemore | November 4, 2016 9:37 PM
I thunk the submariner really shows his true self, when he cant even realize that theres maybe another reason for dorma to go with kang. What a child!
Posted by: Roy Mattson | June 5, 2017 3:42 PM
Wow, looks like Kirby was giving a nod to Gil Kane with the Hulk's nostril shots. Plus, being accustomed to Boomerang's "classic" costume, his introductory threads are actually worse than those of his DC counterpart/inspiration, Flash Rogues' Gallery charter member Captain Boomerang, who I always thought was dressed like a mascot for a fast-food chain.
Posted by: Brian Coffey | December 25, 2017 10:51 PM
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