Tales To Astonish #94-100
Issue(s): Tales To Astonish #94, Tales To Astonish #95, Tales To Astonish #96, Tales To Astonish #97, Tales To Astonish #98, Tales To Astonish #99, Tales To Astonish #100
He gets his wish as he is captured by some of the High Evolutionary's goons.
Why? Because the High Evolutionary's experiments are out of control again. And what better way to fix a problem than to bring the Hulk into the mix.
On the way to the planet, the ship is bombarded with cosmic rays, which kill one of the New Men (to be fair, the Hulk softened him up)...
...and transform the Hulk back into Banner. The Evolutionary quickly changes his plans and instead of using the Hulk to help crush his rebelling New Men, he decides to start experimenting on Banner. However, the New Men suddenly attack and the Evolutionary releases Banner and fights his creations hand to hand using a mace and a sword.
As Banner turns into the Hulk and defeats the New Men, the Evolutionary is mortally wounded.
Left with no other options, he turns his evolutionary ray on himself, and transcends his mortality, becoming a big floating, glowing head.
He de-evolves the New Men and teleports the Hulk home, erasing his memory of the entire incident.
Marie Severin does a nice job with art - she adds a medieval fantasy approach that makes these issues look like Prince Valiant except with animal men in the armor.
However, over the next two issues, the art gets kind of sketchy again; it may be the difference between drawing fantasy figures versus more realistic scenes involving soldiers. It could also be the inker because issue #99 looks pretty good.
Back on Earth, the Hulk accidentally destroys a plane. Worrying that this is going to get him in trouble, he goes back to rescue the pilot, who turns out to be a member of the secret organization known as the Legion of the Living Lightning. They befriend the Hulk and trick him into attacking the army base. With his help, the Legion takes over the base. The leader is a real thug; he's kind of like a Hell's Angel biker type and he's an interesting variation of the usual evil society bad guy.
The Hulk is knocked out and put in a cell with Betty in order to gain a negotiating edge over General Ross. But when the Hulk wakes up, he doesn't attack Betty, he attacks the Legion before turning back into Banner. Some of the Legion escape and Ross, who is acting almost rationally for a change, helps Banner turn back into the Hulk so he can destroy the Legion's base before they launch missiles. However, the explosion seemingly kills the Hulk.
In Atlantis, the Sub-Mariner is ready to declare war on the human race but gets side-tracked when an evil dictator offers an alliance. Namor decides to go tell the dictator in person that he's not interested but instead gets captured and winds up being under the dictator's control. He is employed in helping to crush a democratic rebel uprising, but Dorma shows up and helps him clear his head by shooting him with a water gun. Dorma uses a pill that allows her to breath out of water for one hour.
They head back to the dictator and Namor defeats him, revealing that the giant body of the dictator was actually a robot shell used by a tiny man who calls himself the Gnome.
Now that everyone knows the dictator is one of the wee little people, they are no longer afraid of him and his dictatorship is overthrown. "Even now, we prepare for free elections!" The small, unnamed country pledges to never do anything to endanger Atlantis.
On their way home, Namor and Dorma pass an undersea human city.
It was created by Dr. Walter Newell, who will eventually become Stingray.
Right now he's trying to solve the overpopulation problems of the surface-world by creating undersea cities. As Namor points out, he's just solving the surface-world's problems by creating more for Atlantis, and he tells them to get off his lawn or he'll kick them off. But then Parnival Plunder shows up and attacks the city - which has no defenses. Namor feels bad for the helpless humans and he attacks Plunder, who is still wearing his ridiculous luchadore costume...
...made worse in panels where his shirt has been miscolored to look like bare flesh (this seems to be a characteristic of the reprints, not the original). Plunder actually defeats Namor (very, very sad for Namor) and then lets him go. Plunder then destroys and loots Newell's city.
Namor wants to get back to his war but Vashti convinces him to go find the Plunderer first (possibly trying, along with Dorma, to indefinitely postpone the war), and Namor agrees. He winds up at the spot in the Antarctic water where the ruins of the original kingdom of Atlantis, where Namor grew up, still lay. The spot also happens to be in or near the Savage Land. Namor fights a sea monster and then both he and Lady Dorma (who was following Namor despite orders to stay behind) get zapped by Parnival. Namor is captured and Dorma returns to Atlantis, where she and Vashti watch on the Tracio-scope as Namor appears to ally himself with Plunder (which is not in fact the case). While Namor fights the Plunder and Savage Land natives...
...the Atlantean Council declares Namor banished from Atlantis until he renounces his war on the surface world. Quite a change from the earliest appearances of the Atlanteans, who were always mad at Namor for being too soft on the surface folk.
An American submarine gets caught up in the battle, and Plunder's attacks change the Atlantean's minds again, as they launch a war on the surface world. Namor tries to stop them, not because he's not all for a surface world attack, but because they plan on using an experimental weapon. He gets caught destroying the weapon, reinforcing the idea that he is a traitor. With their weapon destroyed, however, they turn their invasion fleet around. Apparently that weapon was all they had going for them. Namor then heads off to attack the surface world personally in order to regain his people's faith.
But while it looked like Namor was flying off in a rage, issue #100 starts with him calmly sitting in front of a computer monitor wearing a robe, watching the Hulk falling down the Legion of Living Lightning's mountain. Namor decides that if he rescues the Hulk he can convince him to become an ally and they can take over the world together. It seems to me he had this idea once before and it didn't work out very well. In fact, i remember him refusing to work with Magneto because his experience teaming up with the Hulk soured him on the idea of partnerships. Oh well, i guess with all the Atlanteans having turned against him, Namor is willing to reconsider.
However, Namor takes his time getting the the Hulk, so the Hulk winds up freeing himself. Instead Namor attacks a random boat out in the ocean, which is being piloted by a pair of dupes under the control of the Puppet Master, who is still wearing his weird medieval themed super villain uniform and doesn't have his trademark rosy cheeks.
Normally you bring in the Puppet Master when you want two super heroes to fight and you have no good reason for them to do so. In this case it seems unnecessary since the Sub-Mariner was already seeking out the Hulk. But in any event, the Puppet Master takes control of the Hulk this time and makes him fight Namor. While possessed, the Hulk also gives Rick Jones a good slap, which will have repercussions in coming issues for once (Rick gets slapped around all the time).
Namor puts up a good fight but i have to believe that the Hulk doesn't completely stomp him only because he is possessed.
Also interesting in light of theories put forth by Amadeus Cho during World War Hulk is that the Hulk resists the Puppet Master's controls only when he is ordered to kill. The two titans do a good job of tearing up Miami, and the fight only ends when the Hulk turns back into Banner, breaking the Puppet Master's control. Of course Namor can't put two and two together and realize that the unconscious man wearing torn purple pants on the unpopulated island is actually the guy he was just fighting on the same island. The Puppet Master is presumably killed by a tidal wave created by Namor but neither Namor nor the Hulk realize that he was involved.
This was a good end to the Tales To Astonish series (well, there's one more issue to go), with the two characters who shared the book meeting each other and having a big old fight.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: The problem with two characters sharing a book is that if either one of them has a continuing story, the books have to be grouped together. Doesn't cause a real issue, though, since bother characters are pretty isolated from the rest of the Marvel Universe at this point in time, and it does lead to the big meeting between the two of them in #100.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Marvel Super-Heroes #49, Marvel Super-Heroes #50, Marvel Super-Heroes #51, Marvel Super-Heroes #52, Marvel Super-Heroes #53, Marvel Super-Heroes #54 (Issue #100 is an original)
Inbound References (11): show
The Legion of the Living Lightning actually leave a legacy in the Marvel Universe many years later--Living Lightning, of the West Coast Avengers. He is the son of one of the Legion members, and gets electric powers by accident from leftover Legion equipment when exploring the ruins of the Legion's base from this story.
Posted by: Dermie | October 20, 2013 1:35 AM
Dermie, not enough alliteration. How about "The Legion of Living Lighting leave a larger legacy in later lore when Miguel Santos is altered into Living Lighting while exploring leftover Legion loot."? ;-)
Posted by: fnord12 | October 20, 2013 11:00 AM
LOL. Nicely done. I thought it was already too much of a mouthful the way I'd typed it.
Posted by: Dermie | October 21, 2013 12:24 AM
Fnord12, having read all of these wacky Hulk stories, does Amadeus Cho's claim that the Hulk's never killed anybody ring true for you? I confess I haven't studied any of that stuff carefully, but I bet neither did Pak when he wrote that line. It just seems like for a guy who can't go 12 hours without destroying property, usually in a catastrophic manner, there must be a stack of bodies going straight to the moon--not necessarily of guys the Hulk deliberately murdered, but just people caught in the wreckage.
Posted by: James Nostack | June 12, 2015 9:46 AM
In Hulk #316, during John Byrne's run, the Hulk rages through a town in New Mexico and a reporter says that "loss of life may yet to mount into the hundreds". Then in Hulk #317, they only mention the property damage, as if they were backing away from the idea that the Hulk killed anyone.
I was aware of Pak's story when i started reading through all those issues, so i did look for contradictions, and that was the only one that i remember standing out (and as Berend notes on the #316 entry, it may not "count" anyway since the Hulk was 100% mindless and Banner-less in that story). Beyond that, the idea that the Hulk never killed anyone is implausible, but only to the same degree that every major super-battle in Manhattan never resulted in deaths is also implausible. (On the other hand, i guess no one ever made the claim that all those other battles never resulted in deaths.)
Posted by: fnord12 | June 12, 2015 11:50 AM
Didn't the Illuminati send the Hulk in space exactly because he had killed lots of people in Vegas during a JMS FF story? Which then lead to Planet Hulk & WWH?
Posted by: PeterA | July 15, 2015 12:47 PM
Yeah, but in World War Hulk, Cho claimed the Hulk never killed anyone that didn't try to kill him or a civilian. So either those people that died were all serial killers or Cho or the Illuminati were wrong.
Posted by: Michael | July 15, 2015 10:23 PM
At the beginning of Hulk 145, there's a scene where the Hulk sinks a Russian destroyer. The ship's munitions explode on the way down, so there's no way the crew survived. That puts his body count in Magneto-in-the-eighties territory.
Posted by: Andrew | October 21, 2015 6:23 AM
Really love the cover to #98:
Posted by: Robert | March 1, 2016 4:23 PM
Marvel has always claimed that the Hulk had never killed anyone as absurd as that sounds. However I have to give them that for the simple reason that if he had littered the world with bodies as has been suggested, he would have never gotten not 1 but 2 presidential pardons and would be the single most hunted person on Marvel's Earth not just by our military but every military, paramilitary, police and intelligence agency on Earth along with all the superheroes and super-powered mercenaries in Marvel Comics.
Posted by: Bobby Sisemore | November 12, 2016 8:02 PM
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