Incredible Hulk (Vol. 1) #4

Credits:

“The Monster and the Machine!” & “The Gladiator From Outer Space!”

Cover Date: November 1962

Writer: Stan Lee

Penciller: Jack Kirby

Inker: Dick Ayers

Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Dick Ayers

What’s Going On?

In “The Monster and the Machine,” Rick uses Banner’s gamma device to successfully change the Hulk back into Bruce Banner.

The transformation left Banner exceptionally weak, though. His solution to his weakness — combined with the belief that the Hulk could be a force for good if he wasn’t such a threat — led Banner to exposing himself to gamma radiation again, but with a specific dose. The end result was a smarter Hulk that was reckless enough to still be a danger to others.

This led to the Army trying to hunt the Hulk again, so he used the gamma device again to transform back into a weakened Bruce Banner. In “The Gladiator From Outer Space,” an alien comes to Earth and issues a challenge: if Earth’s mightiest person can beat the alien in combat, then it’s race will not try to conquer the planet.

The Hulk answers the challenge, only the battle is not what he expected.

Is It Good?

It’s a little better than the past few issues. The origin story wasn’t rehashed again, and I think the plot moved toward a more workable status quo for the character than the whole “monster is controlled by a teenager” idea. I don’t like that there are two separate stories here, or that the second story is so dumb, but still…baby steps.

Sub-Plots:

  • Remember Betty Ross? She was sympathetic to Bruce Banner a few issues ago? Well, that appears to have blossomed into a crush while he has been gone.
  • The Hulk apparently has a small part of Bruce Banner’s personality hidden within.

Continuity:

  • The Hulk performs his first “power” hand clap in this issue; this later becomes a regular offensive move for the Hulk.

  • The Hulk debuts his leaping skills in this issue, although they seems to be treating it more like flying than jumping.
  • The Hulk now has a semblance of Bruce Banner’s intelligence.
  • Rick Jones no longer has mental control over the Hulk.
  • The “alien” that wanted to challenge the planet’s strongest warrior was actually a Soviet agent trying to capture the Hulk. The Hulk handles the Soviets as easily as you might expect.

Comics Are Goofy:

  • General Ross is treating the idea of a Rick Jones/Hulk connection like it’s a new idea here, instead of a connection he exploited just one issue earlier.
  • It’s back to the hash house for that chef!
  • Is this the only time Bruce Banner actually wants to be the Hulk?
  • Wouldn’t it be cool if this transformation scene was intended to hint that the Grey Hulk is sort of in-between Banner and the Green Hulk? I mean, it’s certainly not intentional, but it would be interesting if that was something that Peter David picked up on for his run in the 80s/90s.
  • I’m actually really happy that this alien turns out to be a Russian in a robot suit, because that is less silly than an alien whose first words on a new planet are these:
  • Rick Jones charters a plane for the Hulk? And notice that the plane didn’t come with a pilot. Who is flying the plane? The Hulk or the idiot teenager?

 

Well, That Aged Poorly:

  • To be fair, “Vodka-Land” sounds pretty cool. It still probably wouldn’t make it to print nowadays.

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