Characters Appearing: Betty Ross, Chameleon, General 'Thunderbolt' Ross, Glenn Talbot, Hulk, Leader, Rick Jones
Tales To Astonish #64-66 (Hulk)
Issue(s): Tales To Astonish #64, Tales To Astonish #65, Tales To Astonish #66 (Hulk stories only)
Rick Jones figures out a way to help. He's got an Avengers priority card, and he uses it to get a meeting with President Lyndon B. Johnson, where Rick reveals Bruce's secret ID and in return LBJ secures Banner's release.
We may know that the Hulk is (usually) a misunderstood but (mostly) good guy, but i'm not sure this was the right move for LBJ. Getting Banner some serious scientific help, sure. But not just releasing him. Or maybe LBJ did have a plan. Because immediately after his release, Banner is whisked away to an island to perform a bomb test that, if it fails, will kill him.
Suspicious Major Talbot accompanies Banner to the island and harasses him to the point where Banner has to run behind a rock to transform into the Hulk.
Meanwhile, the Leader has been mass-producing his Humanoids.
As i mentioned in the previous entry, i'm really pleased with this. So many times, a villain comes up with some awesome scheme that fails just due to some random bit of luck, and yet you never see the villain trying it again. But the Leader clearly saw the potential in his Humanoid, so now he's releasing a horde of them.
A note tells us it takes a laborious four minutes for the Hulk to figure out that what he's fighting are unliving machines.
The Hulk's fight with the Humanoids is the cliffhanger for issue #64, but in #65 a grenade thrown by the surrounding military troops knocks all the fighters into the ocean and the plot quickly shifts into a story about Banner getting abducted by Communists.
The next issue and a half are basically Banner seeing how horrible Communists are and then deliberately provoking a transformation into the Hulk...
...and going on a rampage that will continue into the next set of issues (see note below).
The Hulk does make one friend...
...but he is killed.
Of interest is the fact that the Leader learns from the Chameleon that Banner is thought to have defected and he reaches out to his contacts in the Soviet Union...
...but ultimately decides he'll let things run their course.
We see the Hulk's rage a lot during his rampage in the USSR, but he's still limited by the fact that when he gets overexcited he transforms back into Banner.
I made a big stink over the fact that Hulk was in "Madder I Get, Stronger I Get" mode in the Hulk Smash The Avengers #1 continuity insert, and this is why. Yes, the Hulk did make that statement in TTA #59 but we've seen repeatedly in the following issues that in fact when he gets too angry, he turns back into Banner. Of course we know that the rules around the Hulk's transformations have changed enough times that we can't really call anything a continuity error.
The Hulk's extended romp through the USSR is an interruption to the Leader's attack, which is actually an interesting way of building the Leader's Humanoids up as a threat. So far there hasn't been a clear victor.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: Bruce Banner ended Tales To Astonish #63 a prisoner of the military. This three issue run is a continuous story that continues directly in Tales To Astonish #67 but in the next entry we check in on the Giant-Man/Wasp side of TTA before getting back to the Hulk. The Hulk is basically occupied and shouldn't appear in other titles from TTA #63-69.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Essential Hulk vol. 1
What's interesting is that Tales to Astonish 66 is really the first time the Hulk starts speaking in Hulk Speak.
Posted by: Michael | December 12, 2012 7:58 PM
Thanks for pointing that out, Michael. I've bumped up the Historical Significance a bit for that.
Posted by: fnord12 | December 12, 2012 10:45 PM
I've already stated that this whole run was one my favorites from the Hulk series.
Posted by: Bobby Sisemore | November 1, 2016 7:25 PM
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