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Saturday, December 3, 2016

MY TOP 20 GREATEST HULK STORIES EVER TOLD


  MY TOP 20 GREATEST HULK STORIES EVER TOLD



by
John "THE MEGO STRETCH HULK" Cimino 

Let's just make something clear from the very start, I HATE comic books today! I HATED them throughout the 2000s and I HATED them (the most) throughout the 1990s. In fact, I started collecting comics religiously in the early '80s and stopped in 2003, so I personally endured through the horrendous '90s. Don't get me wrong, some good stories and titles came out here and there, but for the most part if I needed to wipe my dirty tush with something and there was no toilet paper, the first thing I would look for is a box of Defiant or Valiant comics. Hell, almost anything out of these decades is a good enough for my tush, especially comics with those horrendous foil covers. 

Now to know me, one must understand that I'm also comics biggest fan!! That's right, after reading that little intro I just ranted, you probably would never know it. But show me a superhero comic from the late '30s until the mid '80s and I'm a happy, bouncing baby boy!! Yup, these are the comics I love to see, read and dream about. I worship them and LOVE them, especially their smell. I sniff em' just like a professional cocaine addict because the pages (especially those Marvel Comics from the '60s) smell like "CHILDHOOD" (or something to the extent of a mixture of old newspapers and Pillsbury chocolate chip cookie dough). And the biggest reason why I had such a love/obsession for these comics is because they gave me the ability to dream. It was a time when superheroes were "FANTASTIC" and did the right thing despite the odds against them. They made you want to be better in your own life as you cheered them on in their never-ending adventures of wonderment. You could pick any issue off the shelf and you instantly knew what was going on and you were inspired by it all. It was a glorious time.

Today, the market is so saturated with titles and limited series' that even the writers themselves lose track of what's going on. And oh, how everyone wants realism -- oooohh, make it real, make it accessible, make it politically correct -- blah, blah, blah!! How the hell can a fictional character that can fly and shoot thunder from his eyes be REAL?? Why the constant need for realism? Why would I want to read about how bad the economy is doing in the Marvel Universe when it sucks in real life? I need my comics to escape and enjoy! I don't want all this misery and gloom. If I wanted that I could just look outside my window and talk to overweight grown ups about the pussification of America.

But I love comics. Yup, I really do. In fact, I LOVE the Hulk. He was and still is my favorite comic character (even though Captain Marvel/SHAZAM creeps up in there every now and then). My first exposure to the Green Goliath was when my mother made me go to bed early because she thought I would be scared of an episode of The Incredible Hulk live-action series starring Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno. I secretly peeked in, watched the whole thing and then became a Hulk-addict before I went back to sleep.

Soon after that a whole new world was opened up to me on my birthday when I turned seven. My godfather Salvatore bought me a copy of The Incredible Hulk #247 (with a ten dollar bill in it). Everyone at the party thought he was cheap for getting me just a comic book (because he was very cheap), but little did my family know, he gave me THE BEST GIFT EVER!! My little hands could instantly feel the energy that radiated from this strange paper that had the Hulk on it. A comic book. It was like a colorful love letter from heaven that totally represented how my young mind saw the world. My addiction to this strange folded 4-color action-packed newspaper strip had begun!

The Incredible Hulk #247, the first comic I ever got! Man, it was a beauty.

I looked everywhere to find both Marvel and DC titles (I was a BIG Super-Friends and Spider-man 1967 cartoon fan at this time), I looked in barber shops, flea markets, grocery stores, newsstands, etc. I went everywhere and I wanted anything with superheroes, but my main focus was on the Hulk. I was so inexperienced that I didn't even know what the numbers meant on them. I would read the last page of the comic and hopefully the first page of the next one matched the same ending scene (hey, I was young and naive, but man, was I having fun). Once I started to understand the numbering system, I began to get them sporadically. Soon I became a "Marvel Zombie" and just collected the Marvel titles, but it was the Hulk comic that I started to get every month without fail starting with issue #289 (I still have that actual tattered copy today) and I never stopped until 2003. By then, my collection was boundless. I had EVERY key Marvel Silver and Bronze Age issue as well as the entire runs of The Incredible Hulk, The Amazing Spider-man, Fantastic Four, The Avengers, The Mighty Thor, Captain America, Sub-Mariner, The Defenders, etc. basically, I had it all (even a few key DC titles from this time period). My collection of comics, memorabilia and toys was pretty legendary. You can read about it here; "In Search of the Holy Grail of Hulk".

The Incredible Hulk #289, the comic that started my monthly addiction for over 20 years.

Now let's get back to the Hulk. When I got into him and really started to collect his comic every month in the early '80s he was actually losing his luster and becoming depowered (although I never knew it). He was talking like Bruce Banner and seemed more docile. As I became more of an educated reader (collecting and reading back issues to catch up on everything), I started noticing a BIG GAP in the Hulk's timeline. Anyone out there ever read The Incredible Hulk #272? For me, and a few Hulk-purists out there, believe that this is the last issue the REAL-DEAL-ONE-TRUE "SAVAGE" Hulk ever appeared in. Yup, that's right, waaaaaay back in 1982 was the last time anyone ever truly saw the "definitive" Hulk. The story itself was a pretty good read as the Hulk and Sasquatch beat up the Wendigo in a mega-brawl. But during the fight, the Hulk switches back and forth from Banner's mind to the Hulk's for control of the Green Goliath's body. Although things like this happened in the Hulk's past before, this time when Banner's mind wins out in the end, the character remained that way. And ever since that moment, the Hulk went into a direction he had never gone before and his entire history would change because of it.

The Incredible Hulk #272; say bye, bye to the REAL Incredible Hulk forever in this issue.

Writer Bill Mantlo had begun his Hulk run with a bang in The Incredible Hulk #245 and did "incredible" work up until issue #272. When The Incredible Hulk #273 started his "new" direction with a Bruce Banner controlled Hulk, it also started the foundation of all the horrible story lines that followed it. Mantlo (self-admittedly) was getting bored writing the Hulk and was running out of ideas which lead him to make Bruce Banner an abused child and gave him a hint of multiple personalities (or MPD). This all lead to his last Hulk story arch called "The Crossroads" (which was total and utter garbage). He then switched titles with Alpha Flight writer/artist John Byrne who looked promising but only worked his magic on the Hulk for 6 issues before leaving. Longtime Hulk cover artist, Al Milgrom would conclude the lingering story lines before a new Hulk-writer took over.

Then along came Peter David (and I say that in a hollow tone).

Peter David wrote the Hulk for the next 11 plus years and is considered by many to be the best Hulk-scribe ever. I gotta give credit where credit is due before I get real. Peter David is a great comic-writer and has to be commended for adding so much new characterization and depth to the Hulk's world and clearing up all the loopholes in its history. But everything he did was not always for the better (here comes the "get real" part). He changed up the Hulk's powers and made him less invulnerable but able to heal quickly (having a Wolverine-like healing factor was all the rage back then -- UGH). He took Bill Mantlo's MPD muck and went wild with it which introduced this new weak/bleeding and always crying Hulk personality called the "Merged" Hulk (later dubbed the "Professor" Hulk). Let's also not forget David's story lines where the "Grey" Hulk returns and becomes a mobster thug known as Mr. Fixit(?) and then becomes leader of the team known as the Pantheon. All these stories did was make the Hulk weaker than ever and dropped him a notch from his "Strongest One There Is" days. Despite his immense talent, Peter David did too many Hulk-history changing events that forever hurt the character and it can never be forgiven.

Unfortunately, more bad writing and ideas came along that added to Peter David's mess. Joe Casey and his Circus of Crime snake debacle horror, Paul Jenkins giving the Hulk thousands of new personalities (that's right, thousands of them including a Hulk-Clown and a Hulk-Demon???), Bruce Jones bald-mute Hulk and slow moving story line head-aches, Jeph Loeb's Red Hulk, (dubbed Rulk -- yes, I said Rulk!?!) and Red She-Hulk (talk about lazy creations)??? Greg Pak's colored Hulks, World War Hulks, Son of Hulks and "Brady Bunch" family Hulks (I guess anyone can become a "Hulk" now)?? Jason Aaron's bald Hulk run?? Mark Waid's armor-wearing(?) mute Hulk?? The Hulk paling around with the Avengers and SHIELD like it's no big deal?? Hulk's with crew cuts, mohawks, beards and nervous breakdowns??? There have now been so many incarnations of the Hulk over the years he is considered a shape-shifter. Yeah, I said a shape-shifter -- how pathetic is that??? And despite all the fans and creators who try to keep track of them, no one even knows what Hulk incarnation is currently around because it has become a complete convoluted mess. This just makes the Hulk more ridiculous and more out of touch than ever. And where the hell is Bruce Banner during all this? Is he even a character anymore? Let's give another thanks to Peter David for starting all this -- UGGHHH!!!

Think it'll ever end? No way! Now we have "Totally Awesome PC Generation Nothingness" Amadeus Cho Korean Hulk on the scene (written by Greg Pak and whoever Marvel decides to throw in there) and we come to find that Bruce Banner is dead from yet another mindless Marvel limited-series event (yeah, like death and story continuity mean anything in comics anyways -- sheesh), so the Hulk we all have come to know can be completely phased out for this new Chulk -- yes, I said Chulk and I see a ridiculous recurring theme going on! But let's be honest, does anyone even care? Not me. This horrible direction just keeps on going and going and is never-ending. There's so much more gamma-crap that I'm too embarrassed to write anymore about it.

The Hulk is so far gone from what he was originally intended to be -- a game changer and a force of freaking nature! When he shows up, it should mean something to the story. Today, he's just one of the gang who fights side-by-side with the Avengers, gets his ass-kicked and then needs them for back up to win the day (think I'm wrong, check out episodes of the Avengers Assemble cartoon that has been running since 2013, it's absolutely embarrassing). Let's just say that the Hulk hasn't been the Hulk for so long that I wish he would show up and SMASH ALL THIS STUPIDITY!! Hey, if some of you have no idea what I've been talking about all this time then consider yourselves lucky. Thank god I'm out of comics and never returning.

Oh, and yes, although I just slammed him, I do think Greg Pak is a great Hulk-writer and without a doubt the best Hulk-writer since Bill Mantlo's run on the Hulk from #245 - 272. And to make myself clear once again, you do get a good story or fight (that I'll even check out) every now and then today. But I just can't get into the stories as much, it's just too silly for me. I stay far away from the smell of this Hulk-trash or all comic-trash in general.

Say hello to The Incredible Hulk #273 and the Hulk's "new" direction, but expect nothing but disaster for the next 30 plus years.

So this lack of Hulk today got me thinking. If I'm such an expert or big-shot, can I come up with the tales that represents the Hulk and his world EXACTLY as it should be? Oh yes I can true believer because that's what this top 20 list is all about!!!

For me, the greatest Hulk stories I will present to you is what I see when I think about the Hulk. The art, the "Hulk" logo, the stories, the Army, the desert, the villains, the atmosphere, the action -- everything! It's pure Hulk-mythos the way it was meant to be; Bruce Banner on a relentless hunt for a cure of being this thousand pound rampaging brute who was the strongest being on Earth. He would just randomly wander around the world as a tragic loner, running from the explicable General Thaddeus E. "Thunderbolt" Ross and the Hulk-Buster Army who constantly hounded him. The Hulk would always find himself in another adventure with another adversary trying to get his power or to challenge his might. Even with having the greatest physical strength of all, the Hulk could never overcome his tragic and lonely life.

I think everything from the stories I've chosen represent the foundation of how the Hulk should act, speak, and be written. It all fits together so perfectly in these brilliant epics which I call -- MY TOP 20 GREATEST HULK STORIES EVER TOLD!


20.) THE INCREDIBLE HULK #182 (1974)


Writer: Len Wein  Artist: Herb Trimpe

Having failed at stopping the Hulk and Wendigo's rampage through Quebec, Wolverine's superiors have come to take matters into their own hands. Arriving in a helicopter, they knock the Hulk out with a gas bomb and contain him in a cage that is airlifted out of the area. Coming around, the Hulk is furious to find himself in captivity once more and breaks free, fleeing into the country side. As he tramples through the forest he overhears music and smells food, following the senses he comes across a traveling hobo named Crackerjack Jackson. Jackson, a former professional harmonica musician who invites the Hulk to sit down and keep him company and offers him some of the beans that he is cooking up. The Hulk accepts the invitation and the two become quick friends.
 
Elsewhere, two escaped convicts; the racist Johnny Anvil and the white-hating "Hammer" Jackson are fleeing from the authorities following their dramatic escape from their chain-gang. Coming across a crashed alien ship, they run into a member of the Glx race. Fearing the strange creature, Hammer fires bullets at the creature, and surprisingly saves the metal-based life form's life. In thanks, the creature replaces the chains that they are shackled together with a power enhancing umbilicus that connects the two men together. At first furious that the creature has permanently fused them together, they soon realize that this new "chain" actually has given them super-powers. They decide to put aside their racial differences and work together in a life of crime. Their first stop is to get revenge on the officers at the prison they just escaped from.

The next morning Crackerjack Johnson takes the Hulk out and teaches him how to fish, while telling Hulk about his musical career and how he is on the road to go and visit his son. Later that evening Crackerjack teaches the Hulk how to write his own name, much to the creatures delight and the two form a strong bond.

While on the road, the Hulk hides while Crackerjack approaches a police barricade. When they will not let Crackerjack pass, the Hulk intervenes smashing their way through and carrying Crackerjack where he intends to go: The nearby prison. Crackerjack embarrassingly explains that his son has been a prisoner there for over five years. Nonjudgmental of his new friend, the Hulk carries Crackerjack over the prison wall to meet his son. They land in the middle of a fight with Hammer and Anvil, who are getting revenge on their former keepers. As it turns out, Hammer is Crackerjack's son and he is less that ecstatic to see his father, whom he accuses of abandoning him as a child.

Reaching out for his son, Crackerjack touches the coil that attaches Hammer and Anvil together, the resulting jolt kills Crackerjack on the spot. Furious that the son of his only friend had just murdered his own father, the Hulk savagely attacks the duo. Although the Hulk can withstand the jolts from the coil, it's strength keeps him off guard until he gets angry enough to resist the pain. As they battle on, the Hulk ultimately rips the coil in half, which causes both Hammer and Anvil to pass out. As prison security surrounds them, the Hulk scoops  up the body of Crackerjack Jackson and leaps away. Far off into the wilderness, the Hulk buries his dead friend and, with his crude writing skills writes a tomb stone marking the final resting place of someone who called Hulk his friend.


19.) THE INCREDIBLE HULK #142 (1971)
 

Writer: Roy Thomas  Artists: Herb Trimpe and John Severin
 
The Hulk has returned to New York City where he decides to sleep tucked in the arms of the Statue of Liberty. His choice of sleeping space does not go unnoticed and it soon makes the front page of the newspaper. This story attracts the attention of socialites Malicia and Reggie Parrington who decide to try and do a benefit for the Hulk, believing that the monster has been persecuted and discriminated against. When their daughter Samantha suggests that they do a benefit for her Women's Lib movement, they decline since one of their associates had done one previously.

The Parringtons then use their influence and money to get a boat to Liberty Island, where Samantha trips up the military security guard they have posted there to keep the public away. Samantha then travels to the top of the Statue where she convinces the Hulk to leave with them and participate in the benefit. When they bring the Hulk to the mainland, Reggie takes all the credit for getting the Hulk much to Samantha's chagrin.

As the socialites have their rich friends over for a cocktail party with the Hulk as the guest of honor, Samantha decides to ditch the party to participate in another Women's Lib protest. Witnessing this tableau unfold, the Enchantress decides to use it as a means of getting revenge against the Hulk. She uses her magic to change Samantha into a host body for the Valkyrie, and sends her after the Hulk.

Back at the party, the Hulk is given a large sum of money that has been collected on his behalf. The Hulk, having no use for money, simply dumps it on the ground, finding the whole experience exasperating. Just then the Valkyrie smashes through the wall and attacks the Hulk. Their battle rages out into the streets where the Hulk refuses to fight back against a girl and wants to leap away. Valkyrie then tricks the Hulk and knocks him out by pressing a pressure point on his neck. She then carries the brute to the top of the Empire State Building where she tosses him to his doom. Going down to check the body, she is shocked to find that the Hulk is still alive and unhurt. The Hulk still not wanting to fight a woman begins to get angry and warns her to leave him alone. Just then the Enchantress' spell wears off changing Samantha back to normal. 

As a side effect of the spells reversal, the Hulk is also transformed back into Bruce Banner, who is exasperated by the whole experience and leaves the confused Samantha to wander off wondering if she dreamed the whole thing, leaving behind the staff of Valkyrie in the rubble.


 18.) THE INCREDIBLE HULK ANNUAL #7 (1978)


Writers: Roger Stern and John Byrne  Artists: John Byrne and Bob Layton

Although Bruce Banner may have voluntarily turned himself in to the authorities at Gamma Base, the Hulk has no such predilection for staying. Doc Samson tries to keep him from leaving, but the Hulk literally pounds him into the ground until his young friend Jim Wilson manages to calm him down.

Meanwhile, Bobby Drake, aka Iceman, brings his girlfriend, Terri Sue Bottoms to the Rocky Mountains chalet of his friend and team-mate, the Avenging Angel, Warren Worthington III. As the friends are relaxing by the pool, they find themselves suddenly attacked by a disguised Master Mold. Master Mold captures Iceman, while the Angel flies off hoping to lure him away from Terri and his own girlfriend, Candy Southern.

Master Mold flies after him and before long, they reach the airspace over top of Gamma Base. The klaxons sound and Doc Samson runs out to face Master Mold. Master Mold quickly dispatches Doc Samson by slamming him into the side of one of the buildings, disrupting a formerly resting Hulk. The Hulk rampages outside just as Master Mold captures Angel. The giant robotic Sentinel then flies off, but the Hulk leaps onto him and piggybacks on Master Mold's foot.

Master Mold finally reaches his space station planetoid where he places Angel, Iceman and the Hulk into special tubes designed to dampen mutant powers. As the Hulk is not a mutant, he easily breaks free and releases the other two. The Hulk follows Master Mold back to his command center and lays into him. Master Mold tries to keep the Hulk at bay with a million volts of electricity, but this only stuns the Hulk momentarily who then proceeds to tear Master Mold into pieces. Afterward, the three heroes get into an escape pod and return to Earth.


17.) THE INCREDIBLE HULK #179 (1974)


Writer: Len Wein  Artists: Herb Trimpe and Jack Able

Following the resurrection of Adam Warlock and the defeat of the Man-Beast on Counter-Earth, the Recorder puts the Hulk on a rocket back to his own Earth. While the Hulk departs as friends, he soon forgets why he is in the rocket and beginning to think that he is being held captive and tries to break out. He manages to do this just as he is entering Earth's orbit. The military picks up both the Hulk and his rocket in free fall and fire missiles at them. While the rocket is destroyed, the Hulk is merely knocked out, and crashes to the ground. There while unconscious he reverts back into Bruce Banner. 

Banner revives unsure of where he is, but soon learns that he is in the Appalachia mountains when he is found by Clay Brickford and his family. Taken into their home and given clean clothes and some food, Bruce is surprised when another member of the Brickford family comes home from the mines for dinner: A creature named Lincoln. Bruce doesn't recall that as the Hulk he met this creature in the past -- a creature known as the Missing Link, which seemingly died in when it's body hit critical mass during it's previous battle with the Hulk. However, it's fragments reconstituted and he was taken in and raised by the Brickfords, taught how to speak English and put to work in the mines.

Bruce also takes up a job there, and he soon becomes close friends with Lincoln. When watching the creature playing with the Brickford children, both Bruce and Lincoln become concerned when Jimmy-Jack Brickford suddenly collapses from stomach contractions. After the boy is put to bed, Bruce privately comes to the conclusion that Jimmy-Jack must be suffering from radiation sickness. Secretly going into town, Banner buys a Geiger counter and takes it back to the Brickford home. Waiting for nigh fall Banner checks the family while they are sleeping and realizes that they are all suffering from radiation exposure and that the source of the radiation is coming from none other than Lincoln. Banner's heart sinks upon the realization that such a loving and peaceful creature is unknowingly killing the people that he loves most. 

Bruce tries to explain to Lincoln of the danger he poses to everyone in town. Not understanding, and thinking that Bruce is trying to drive him away maliciously, Lincoln swats him away, accidentally knocking Bruce down a mine shaft. But before he hits the ground, Bruce transforms into the Hulk, who can only understand Lincolns reaction as an attack to the innocent people of the town and jumps back to the surface and begins a fight with him. The two brutes fight across the mining pit, and as the battle rages on the radioactive energies within Lincoln begin to surge out of control. Realizing what Banner had said to be true, Lincoln cannot jump away before he once more reaches critical mass and explodes.

In the aftermath of the blast, while in the rubble, the Hulk thinks the locals are coming to help him out of it because he was trying to protect them. To his surprise, they dig Lincoln out and carry him off, telling him that they are helping him out of friendship and love. The Hulk, now digging himself out silently watches and is unable to understand why he is always alone.


16.) THE INCREDIBLE HULK #239 - 243 (1979/1980)






Writer: Roger Stern  Artists: Sal Buscema, Mike Esposito and Joe Sinnott

The Hulk is sleeping atop Mount Rushmore, but his peaceful slumber has not gone unnoticed. The Park Rangers have called Gamma Base and Clay Quartermain has brought a Hulkbuster squad to confront the brute. Monitoring from Gamma Base are Senator Andrew Hawk, Dr. Maxwell, Diane Perrywinkle, and Captain Bowman. Maxwell comments about how they could use Doc Samson's expertise on this mission and that it's too bad that he quit Gamma Base. Hawk points out that Samson left willingly.

As the Hulk continues to sleep, some soldiers are sent up the side of the national monument unaware that the villain Goldbug is approaching to take the Hulk for his masters; "They Who Wield Power." He fires a laser that awakens the Hulk just in time to see the arriving soldiers. Thinking the soldiers had attacked him, the Hulk attacks. When he disables their gas guns, the two soldiers surrender. Just then, Goldbug shows up and offers to help the Hulk escape. To convince the gamma-spawned monster that they are allies, Goldbug seals the two soldiers in gold and then pulls the Hulk aboard his ship. Offering the Hulk a means to escape, Goldbug convinces the brute to grip two cables that channels the Hulk's strength into the ship's power supply. With a sufficient power boost, Goldbug's ship is able to speed away from the arriving Hulkbuster jet. However, this also incapacitates the Hulk and makes him incapable of moving.

Soon, Goldbug takes them to El Dorado, the headquarters of "They Who Wield Power." Detecting Goldbug's arrival, They decide that Goldbug's usefulness has worn itself out. They activate a device that allows the Hulk to break free. Furious at being used again, the Hulk goes on a rampage aboard the ship. The Hulk demolishes the ship, and the pair land on the ground. The Hulk is about to pummel Goldbug but he is stopped by a man named Tulak who welcomes the Hulk to El Dorado and bows before him, calling the Hulk their savior. Tulak explains that his masters "They Who Wield Power" claim that the Hulk will save their people. This comes as a shock to Goldbug. The Hulk, meanwhile, thinks is certain that this was a trap but decides to go along with Tulak and see what happens. 

When they arrive in the city proper, the Hulk is taken aback when the people of El Dorado celebrate his arrival. When they get too close to him, the Hulk panics and begins to lash out. Tulak tells the people to give their savior his space. Goldbug is then taken away while Tulak brings the Hulk to a feast while he waits for "They Who Wield Power."

Meanwhile, hundreds of miles away at Gamma Base in New Mexico, Clay Quartermain learns that there have been no sightings of the Hulk since he escaped with Goldbug. He is surprised when a fighter plane carrying Betty Ross lands at the base. He is happy to see her, but soon learns about her recent divorce from Glenn Talbot. Betty explains that she has returned to Gamma Base after hearing about her father's mental breakdown. That's when Senator Hawk tells her how Doc Samson recently left the base with her father to treat him. Betty also learns that Fred Sloan has been calling for her recently. In San Francisco, Fred Sloan and Trish Starr are working on a book about the Hulk. The two are reaching out to associates and friends of the Hulk so that they can get their unique perspective on the brute.

Back in El Dorado, the Hulk feasts on food. Although Tulak is confident the Hulk will be the savior of his people, the other citizens of this hidden city are unsure that the one to save them is a monster like the Hulk. The Hulk is still suspicious that he is being set up for a trap. Soon, "They Who Wield Power" arrive and reveal themselves to the Hulk: They are Prince Rey and his Keeper of the Flame as well as an elderly man named Dez. When Lann, the Keeper of Flame, insults the Hulk, Dez manages to calm the Hulk down. The Hulk demands answers and Dez shows him a special globe that reveals that the military has been holding the body of Jarella since her death. This causes the Hulk to lash out and go on a rampage, however, the brute is emotionally exhausted and eventually reverts back into Bruce Banner.

Banner is shown every amenity and the following day, Bruce is asked to see "They" at the Temple of the Flame. There, Dez explains the origins of the people of El Dorado, how they fled to this region centuries to escape the Spanish conquistadors. They discovered the ancient Cobalt Flame which led to wars over its power. After interference from the Avengers, Prince Rey and Lann discovered Dez in the tunnels beneath El Dorado who convinced them of a way to revitalize the now waning flame. When Banner offers his scientific expertise, Dez explains that the only thing they need is the Hulk's raw power and uses a device to  capture and bind Banner.

Elsewhere, Goldbug wakes up to find himself still alive and inside El Dorado. He is not happy that "They Wield Power" have played him. Even more so, when he takes a look outside at the city of El Dorado, he is shocked to see that the legends are true and it is a city made out of gold. This upsets him even more as this much gold on the market would render the metal worthless in the outside world. Goldbug then begins plotting against both "They Who Wield Power" and the Hulk.

Back in the Temple of the Flame, "They Who Wield Power" explains that for quite some time they have been manipulating heroes and villains into battles in order to absorb the energies to empower the flame. They eventually discovered that only the Hulk had enough power to fully restore the Flame. Hearing this, Banner is furious and purposely triggers a transformation into the Hulk. However, the device he is strapped into begins absorbing his energy, causing the transformation to be incomplete. Banner finds himself trapped in mid-transformation between his human and Hulk forms.

With the power of the Cobalt Flame being restored, Prince Rey and Lann are too distracted that they don't see Dez removing a vial filled with fluid, or that Goldbug has arrived at the temple. He then uses the restraints to bind both Rey and Lann. Activating a device that drains the energies from both of his men until they crumble to dust. When Banner/Hulk asks Dez why he killed his allies, the elderly man drinks the contents of his vial which causes the man to reduce in age, revealing him to be the Hulk's longtime foe, Tyrannus! Tyrannus explains how his Tyrannoids attempted to revive him in the Fountain of Youth, but while he was healed, his body began to age rapidly. Tyrannus explains how his "recent" appearance was that of a Tyrannoid who he took control of and reshaped his form. When his attempt to cause Earth tremors to boost the power of the flame was foiled by Nova, Tyrannus abandoned the Tyrannoid body.

It's at this point that Goldbug tries to attack Tyrannus, but the villain traps him in a net. Seeking to get the Hulk to help, Goldbug tosses one of his devices that coats Banner/Hulk with gold. The sudden panic causes the transformation into the Hulk to finally complete itself. Although the Hulk breaks free, Tyrannus is not without defenses. He explains that the Cobalt Flame was invented by the Deviants centuries ago and that it is armed with many weapons. A blast from a cannon knocks the Hulk out of the temple and into the streets below. Tyrannus then announces to the people of El Dorado that he intends to use the power of the Cobalt Flame to take over the world.  

The Hulk smashes against the remains of the Temple of the Flame, revealing the ancient machinery. As the Hulk tries to destroy the device, Tyrannus laughs because this ancient Deviant machinery is indestructible. He also gloats how easily he defeated Goldbug for trying to betray him. The Hulk then tries to leap on top of the tower, but Tyranus erects an energy barrier to try and block the Hulk. However, the Hulk is plenty mad enough to force his way through to his foe. Tyrannus unleashes more Deviant weapons, ultimately incapacitating the Hulk with a Brain Mine.

Tyrannus gloats his victories and then offers the people of El Dorado an opportunity to bow to him and be his subjects. However, speaking for his people Tulak refuses to bend knee to the tyrant. Tyrannus isn't moved by this in the slightest and commands the flame to summon armor for himself. Then through willpower he has the flame transform into a massive metal arm. The arm reaches down and grabs Tulak and drains the life out of him. Tulak's final words to his people is that they flee into the underground caverns and escape. When Tulak crumbles to dust, the people of El Dorado flee as they are instructed.

While Tyrannus is distracted, Goldbug frees himself from the net he has been trapped in. Seeking to free the Hulk in order to save himself, Goldbug uses a vial of Aqua Regia on the Brain Mind, succeeding in removing it. The Hulk snaps back and more furious than ever before, the man-monster rushes at Tyrannus. Tyrannus unleashes the metal arm on the Hulk, but the monster breaks free from its grip and then smashes it to pieces. The destruction is transferred to Tyrannus as pain. Tyrannus decides to stop fooling with his foes and merges himself with the Cobalt Flame. This doesn't even phase the Hulk as he does the impossible begins to rip apart the the tower that contains the flame and was designed to withstand the power of the space gods known as the Celestials. This unbelievable, almost unfathomable strength feat causes a massive explosion.

With the containment of the flame now destroyed, Tyrannus feels his consciousness slowly coming apart. He attempts to use the last of his control to try and destroy the Hulk. Undaunted, the gamma-spawned monster continues ripping apart the ancient Devian machine. With nothing to contain the Cobalt flame, Tyrannus and the flame shoot up into the air where it dissipates in space. This is briefly witnessed by the Celestial known as Gammenon. After a passing interest, the Celestial goes back to its task of judging the fate of life on the planet Earth.

With Tyrannus defeated the Hulk still rages on, furious at being attacked once again. Goldbug tries to convince the Hulk to help them get out of there. Remembering how Goldbug initially tricked him into coming to El Dorado, he lashed out against the costumed villain. He knocks Goldbug onto a teleportation platform which raises a dome around them. This makes the Hulk remember that Tyrannus showed him that the body of Jarella was still in the possession of Gamma Base. He demands that they go there, and the teleportation device suddenly activates. Meanwhile, deep below the ruins of El Dorado, the people who once lived there decide to venture deeper into the underground cavern to form a new life of peace and justice.

At that moment, the Hulk and Goldbug materialize in the sewers of New York City. Happy to be back in the United States, Goldbug quickly climbs up to the surface. There he bumps into his old foe Power Man, who introduces Goldbug to his new partner Iron Fist before carting him off to jail. Goldbug's claims that he helped save the world with the Hulk are ignored. Moments later, the Hulk rips his way to the surface. Unimpressed to find himself in the city that he dislikes the Hulk bounds away. Meanwhile, in San Francisco, Fred Sloan continues his research for the book he wants to write about the Hulk. He is finishing up his interview with Betty Ross, his assistant Trish Starr manages to get Fred on a national talk show on the same day that Rick Jones will be on the show. This is great news as Fred hopes to get plenty of insight from the Hulk's one-time sidekick. However, Sloan wishes where he could only find where the Hulk is. As Sloan wonders about this, the Hulk is involved on a series of missions with his teammates in the Defenders which he fought in Valhalla, stopped the Omegatron, the Anything Man, traveled to Tunnelworld and clashed with Daredevil.

Back at Gamma Base, Clay Quartermain's tenure at that facility is coming for an end. As he checks out, he meets with the new commanding officer at Gamma Base: Colonel Glenn Talbot. Talbot worked on this promotion since General Ross had his breakdown and got it thanks to his past experience. He is determined to find and take down the Hulk. As Quartermain leaves, he can't help but wonder if his personal vendetta against the Hulk will prevent him from doing the job. After the SHIELD agent leaves, Talbot summons Lt. Perrywinkle and Dr. Maxwell so they can start planning how they are going to stop the Hulk anyway they can.  


15.) THE DEFENDERS #46 - 51 (1977)







Writer: David Kraft  Artists: Keith Giffen, Klaus Janson, Dan Green and Mike Royer

With the announcement that Dr. Strange plans to leave the Defenders for personal reasons, Power Man, and Red Guardian also pay their leave to the group. However, Hellcat decides to join the group, and Val and Nighthawk manage to convince the Hulk to stay. Deciding that they should no long use Dr. Strange's Sanctum as a headquarters anymore, Nighthawk suggests they use his riding academy as a base of operations.

Meanwhile, Jack Norris is finally caught by his pursuer, who turns out to be none other than Nick Fury. When the Defenders arrive at their new base of operations, they find that it has been broken into by Scorpio who has come seeking Kyle Richmond. Scorpio is soon overpowered by the combined might of the Defenders and is forced to retreat.

As the Defenders part company to spend some R&R time, Jack Norris is being carted away by men hired by Nick Fury. Moon Knight, watching the whole incident finds it fishy and saves Jack and the two escape. Valkyrie makes a stop to Dr. Strange's Sanctum to have Clea fix the spell Stephen cast on her to make her costume appear so that it will manifest her new costume instead of her old one.

Hellcat makes a stop at Avengers Mansion, and soon finds herself being attacked by Wonder Man who doesn't recognize her as a member of the group, while Jack Norris and Moon Knight arrive at Dr. Strange's Sanctum for help. There Clea uses her magics to learn what happened to Jack shortly after the incident with Ruby Thursday, Jack was confronted by apparent SHIELD agents about the candidate and he refused to speak not wanting to reveal the secret behind the Defenders, they eventually let him go but still hound him.

Going to retrieve Hellcat, the group hear commotion coming from Avengers Mansion and Val breaks them in. Hellcat is saved by the combined efforts of Valkyrie and Moon Knight who manage to fight Wonder Man until Hellcat can activate the Avengers logs that prove to Wonder Man that she has membership with the Avengers. After all is sorted out, a message from Nick Fury comes over the Avengers computers informing them to seek out and capture Jack Norris.

The Defenders decide the best thing to do is to turn Jack Norris over to SHIELD in order to straighten things out, however they soon find out that the Nick Fury they turned Jack over too was an impostor working for Scorpio who has demanded Kyle Richmond (Nighthawk) pay a random so that he can have the funds necessary to complete his army of Zodiac androids. 

First Moon Knight tracks Scorpio down to his "theater of genetics" and is captured and left to die in a tank filled with water. While Kyle gives in and arrives in High Point, New Jersey, to hand over the ransom to Scorpio, who reneges on the deal. When Kyle tries to attack, Scorpio blasts him with the Scorpio Key and takes him as a hostage. 

As Moon Knight makes his escape to inform the Defenders of his findings, they decide they need the Hulk's power to help free Nighthawk and Jack from Scorpio's base. However, when they find the Hulk, the green goliath is reluctant to fight for them and wants to be left alone. They now resort to bringing the Hulk into a rampage and tricking him into following them to Scorpio's base. However they arrive too late, as Scorpio has just activated his android LMD Zodiac army. The Hulk sees this army and attacks them with reckless abandon. The rest of the Defenders and Moon Knight join in and help the crazed brute battle the army to even up the odds. During the melee the Hulk gets blindsided by the LMD of Aries from behind, who manages to knock him through a wall and into the ocean below. This causes the Hulk to go absolutely ballistic (he hates the water) and he goes on a volatile rampage to find the android smashing everything and everyone in sight!

Nighthawk finally manages to get free and helps the Hulk out as Aries was preparing to blindside the brute again from behind. This makes the Hulk happy to see "bird-nose" as all the heroes begin to gain the upper hand and seemingly destroy the Zodiac androids set against them. Wrought with despair over his loss, Scorpio orders the LMD of Nick Fury to hand him a gun, and promptly shoots himself in the head.

Following their battle, SHIELD arrives on the scene and the Defenders bid farewell to Moon Knight while Jack Norris is offered a job by Nick Fury. The Hulk, now in a playful mood after all the utter-destruction he caused wants to have some fun but unfortunately no one is listening to him.
 
 
 14.) THE INCREDIBLE HULK #24 - 25 (2001)



Writer: Paul Jenkins  Artists: John Romita Jr., Dick Giordano and Tom Palmer

While in my introduction I stated my hatred and frustration with contemporary comics, this Hulk-story is an exception to the rule. This story had all the elements of the "classic" Hulk-mythos that I know and love. Even the art of John Romita Jr. (especially with Dick Giordan inking him) in issue #24 had the Hulk looking, well -- incredible! Reading these issues back in the day was truly an exciting experience and brought me back to a time when the Hulk was at his peak. However, after issue #25 things went tragically back down into the gamma-toilet.

Bruce Banner writes a letter to his beloved wife, Betty Banner, in hopes of obtaining closure in regards to her death. Meanwhile, Emil Blonsky (aka the Abomination) is seen teaching an English class at a library. Each details their own respective origins. Bruce confronts Leonard Samson about the "Merged" Hulk incarnation (aka the "Professor" Hulk) and Samson justifies lying to Bruce in terms of Banner's mind being in control of the Hulk. Banner also tells Samson that the "Professor" Hulk forgave Emil, yet Banner had not. Emil is shown phoning his wife, Nadia, and is unable to talk to her. She thinks it is a stalker. General Ross shows Bruce that Betty is not buried, but her body was held in stasis in a secret chamber. Ross manipulates Banner into changing into the Hulk to obtain revenge for Betty's death. The Hulk leaps out of the stasis chamber and goes to confront the Abomination.

When the Hulk reaches the Abomination they have a tremendous, bloody brawl to the finish. While destruction is left in their wake, the Hulk eventually overwhelms his arch-foe with his ever-increasing strength and endurance. Now almost beating the Abomination to the brink of death, the Hulk changes back into Banner and shows Emil mercy and lets him live. While Emil continues to taunt Bruce for his failure to kill him, the Abomination is put in a holding cell where he has to watch a video of him proclaiming his love to his wife Nadia Blonsky during a moment in his past on a continuous loop. This causes the Abomination to scream in pain begging Banner to shut it off.


13.) THE INCREDIBLE HULK ANNUAL #8 (1979)


Writers: Roger Stern and John Byrne  Artists: Sal Buscema and Alfedro Alcala

Hulk was sent flying through the skies by the power of Machine Man, and he crashed in Northeastern British Columbia. After feeling the shock from the impact a woman nearby, named Maureen Mores Friesen, went outside to see what happened. She found Hulk down with his head buried and she tried to help him so he won't suffocate. When Hulk wakes up, he sees her and thinks she is an enemy but the girl explains to him what happened and Hulk calls her a friend. He take Maureen to her home where the brute calmed down and becomes Dr. Bruce Banner.

In the meantime the Canadian army is trying to find someone who is capable to fight with the Hulk. But the only active member of the Alpha Flight is Sasquatch. After a conversation they call him. When Dr. Langkowski learns of the situation he accepts the mission and becomes excited because he wants to know if he is more powerful than the Green Goliath. At the arrival point he transforms into Sasquatch and lands in the area searching for the Hulk.

Maureen Mores Friesen, after a conversation with Dr. Banner, has gone out. After some time Bruce Banner hears a scream and goes out with a shotgun to find Maureen in the hands of Sasquatch. When Bruce calms down, he tries to communicate with Sasquatch, but Dr. Langkowski wants to fight with the Hulk so he tries to enrage Banner by tossing him around. After pushing Banner off a cliff by mistake, it's the Hulk who returns back up the mountain and is ready to smash. As the two monsters fight, Langkowski soon realizes it's hopeless to slug it out with the Hulk because he just keeps getting stronger with each passing second. Unfortunately from their battle a rocky avalanche starts and rocks begin to fall on Maureen. Sasquatch sees this and leaps to save her but the Hulk follows because he thinks Sasquatch is trying to attack her. When the avalanche finally stops, Sasquatch manages to rise from the rubble with Morse in his arms safe. Then the Hulk rises from the rubble and becomes consumed with anger and wants to kill Sasquatch for trying to hurt the girl. But the brute stops when he sees that Maureen is more terrified of him than of Sasquatch. This will cause him to leap away and while in the air the Hulk begins to cry.


12.) DAREDEVIL #163 (1980)


Writer: Roger McKenzie  Artists: Frank Miller, Klaus Janson and Joe Rubinstein

While this is more of a Daredevil story, the Hulk's appearance in this issue was simply one of his greatest guest appearances. Not only was the brute written perfectly, but he was also drawn to look absolutely terrifying by Frank Miller that it actually scared me when I was a kid reading it. The story itself reads like a heroic-horror story that put me on the edge of my seat and made me really care about the characters, especially Daredevil, who tried so hard to help Bruce Banner and stop the Hulk's crazed rampage. It was one of the only times I rooted against the Hulk in a fight. The beating he gave Daredevil was painful to watch (this was the first time I ever saw a super hero bleed). It had such an impact on me during my youth that it remains one of my absolute favorite stories ever.

While attending a party, Daredevil detects that the Hulk is loose in New York City. In his civilian attire, Matthew Murdock leaves his friends and approaches the Hulk. Matt coaxes the Hulk into turning into his human alter ego Bruce Banner. Matt takes Bruce into his home and lets him rest. Later Banner goes on his way to leave the city thanking Matt Murdock for his help. Unfortunately a chaotic and crowded subway agitates Banner enough to transform back into the Hulk. Again, Daredevil confronts him only to be ineffective and slapped away by the Jade Giant. Badly beaten and bloodied, Daredevil realizes that he has done his part to stop the Hulk's rampage and should stop, but thinks to himself that he can do more for the city and that if he quit he would've always known he quit. Like a man possessed, Daredevil tracks down and confronts the Hulk again, but after another horrible beating he collapses. Rather than killing Daredevil, a confused Hulk leaps out of the city crying because he thinks he has lost another friend.


 11.) THE INCREDIBLE HULK #252 - 253 (1980)



Writer: Bill Mantlo  Artist: Sal Buscema
 
Some of the best dialogue and quotes the Hulk ever had are written here in these two issues by Bill Mantlo. And as I stated above, his run on The Incredible Hulk #245 - 272 are some of the best and most consistent Hulk stories ever produced with these two issues being at the top.

The Hulk reaches the cabin where Doc Samson and General "Thunderbolt" Ross are staying. He finds the super-hero psychiatrist injured lying on the floor. Samson tells the Hulk that the Changelings kidnapped Betty Ross, Rick Jones, Fred Sloan and General Ross. Hulk goes looking for his friends because he knows he has the power to stop the kidnappers while Samson couldn't. Meanwhile, Woodgood, the Changeling's father and leader, tries saving Centaurus. But the elixir was secretly poisoned by Leoninus, another Changeling who wants to take over as leader. The Hulk shows and overpowers the Changelings but is not welcomed by his friends whom he came to rescue. Feeling betrayed, the brute sadly leaves.

When Centaurus is pronounced dead, the Changelings claim for the captive humans lives in justice. It's when Leoninus shows up with the evil Changelings demanding the same. Just then Woodgood discovers that Leoninus was behind of all this to challenge his rule. A great rift now divides the Changelings and the two groups stand ready to face one another.

The Hulk meanwhile comes upon the dried out body of the Changeling, Neptunus, and helps to replenish him by diverting water into the dried riverbed. Moments later, the Hulk encounters Doc Samson in the middle of the forest. Samson is angry, and baits the Hulk into a fight. The two begin trading blows, causing all wildlife in the immediate vicinity to scatter.

In the Valley, the feud between the Changeling factions reaches a fever pitch, and Leoninus' followers attack Woodgod. Siren flies off and returns to her cottage, where she discovers that it was actually Leoninus who killed Centauron by poisoning his medicine.

Flying back to the scene of battle, she witnesses the Hulk's battle with Samson. She lands between the two and convinces them to stop fighting one another. The Hulk and Samson follow Siren back to the others. When Siren informs the Changelings of Leoninus' duplicity, several of his followers turn against him. Elephantine however, remains loyal to Leoninus and fights with the Hulk. Doc Samson battles against Pantherus while Rick and Fred double-team Viperus. Ultimately, those loyal to Woodgod prove triumphant and the fight concludes.

When everything settles down, Betty Ross, Rick Jones and Doc Samson apologize to the Hulk for misjudging him. General Ross however, reminds everyone that the Hulk is an irredeemable monster. Frustrated with all of them, the Hulk leaps away.


10.) THE INCREDIBLE HULK #157 - 158 (1972)



Writers: Archie Goodwin, Roy Thomas and Steve Gerber  Artists: Herb Trimpe and Sal Tapani

Having returned from the Microverse, the Hulk just barely recalls his reunion with Jarella and its abrupt ending and struggles to understand why he is so sad. His return has not gone unnoticed as there is a ship in space piloted by some being that is very interested in what the Hulk is up too and begins initiating a plan of attack.

Meanwhile, at Project: Greenskin, Betty Ross and Glenn Talbot begin rehearsing their wedding, with General Ross hoping that Glenn has better luck with Betty than Bruce Banner did. Jim Wilson is also in the audience, however he feels like a traitor to Bruce by participating in Betty and Glenn's wedding and decides to cut out and hitches a ride with the next craft out off the base, destination: New Jersey.

While on the west coast, the unconscious body of the Rhino suddenly comes to life and smashes it's way out of the mental hospital he has been left in since his last defeat at the hands of the Hulk. The comatose body is drawn to a ship and is carried out to the station high above Earth. As it turns out, the station is controlled by the Leader, who is now immobilized following his last encounter with the Hulk. Hoping to get revenge against the Hulk once more, the Leader takes full control of the Rhino's body and has it dawn a new suit of Rhino armor and sends it out to destroy the green-skinned goliath.

The Hulk meanwhile has let his grief give into anger and he starts to go on a rampage through the area. His tantrum causes a traffic jam on the highway into Newark, New Jersey. Hitching a ride into the area, Jim Wilson spots the Hulk and manages to calm him down and stop his rampage long enough to get him hidden at an oil refinery. There the Hulk calms down enough to revert back into Bruce Banner. Jim tells Bruce the bad news about Betty and Glenn's upcoming wedding. Although Bruce accepts the reality, he can't help but feel a sense of loss and blames the Hulk for messing up his opportunities with Betty, and struggles to maintain control of his life.

They are then interrupted by the Leader controlled Rhino, who taunts Bruce and tells him that he intends on crashing Betty and Glenn's wedding. Bruce, not wanting to ruin the wedding by showing up as the Hulk tries to resist the urge to change into the Hulk. The final straw is when Jim attempts to stop the Rhino and is swatted aside does Bruce allow himself to transform into the Hulk.

The two brutes clash, and the Leader's superior intellect controlling the Rhino's body appears to grant him the upper hand. Battering the Hulk aside, the Leader/Rhino boards his ship with the intent of crashing Betty's wedding. The Hulk is about to pounce after him when Jim warns him not to follow, however the Hulk doesn't listen and jumps after the ship anyway.

Jim has no other choice but to call General Ross at Project: Greenskin and warn him of the Hulk's approach. Although this greatly upsets Ross, he hides the truth when Betty comes to express her excitement of the coming wedding. 

As the rocket controlled by the leader streaks towards the wedding of Betty Ross and Glenn Talbot, carrying the Rhino inside to crash the nuptials, the Hulk smashes the ship from outside causing the Leader to loosen his hold on the Rhino's body. With no memory of how he got aboard the ship the Rhino is confused as to why the Hulk is attacking him. Putting on a space helmet, the Rhino exits the ship and battles the raging brute. With the elimination of both the Hulk and the Rhino (whom the Leader assumes will only attempt to betray him again) the Leader decides to let the two duke it out as their ship spirals out of control into the furthest reaches of space.

This battle is also being monitored by General Ross and his men, who inform the General that the ship is spiraling toward the sun and ultimate destruction, much to the General's relief. However, such is not the fate of the Rhino and the Hulk. The ship instead orbits around the sun until it passes through the atmosphere of the High Evolutionary's Counter-Earth. The Hulk knocks the Rhino off his ship and then lands in a city where he interrupts a battle between Kohbra's beast men and Porcuninus' rebellion group. The Hulk's interruption causes Kohbra and his minions to flee. As Porcuninus offers the Hulk friendship and sanctuary they are spotted by the military who are being led by Counter-Earth's versions of General Ross and Glenn Talbot. However they flee the scene, leaving Ross and his men to wonder just what the heck happened.

Aboard his space station watching over his creations, the High Evolutionary muses grimly at the discovery of his New Men on Counter-Earth, even though he knew it was going to be an eventuality. When Ross is harassed by newspaper reporter Jason Anders, Ross tells him to get lost, however sticks around long enough for the arrival of Counter-Earth's versions of Bruce Banner and Betty Ross to arrive and report to General Ross about an alien ship that the military has seized. Anders rushes off to report this story and it makes all the papers. The story gets into the hands of both warring factions of New-Men who seek to claim the shuttle.

At the military base, Bruce Banner examines the ship and is surprised to learn that it is powered by Gamma Rays, and recalls his close encounter where he saved a young boy named Rick Jones from the explosion of his experimental Gamma Bomb. On Counter-Earth, instead of being caught in the explosion and being turned into the Hulk, Bruce Banner managed to get to safety.

When the Hulk and Porcuninus' New-Men arrive, the Hulk recognizes Banner, but since the Hulk considers Bruce Banner to be a separate being, he doesn't realize that this Bruce Banner is a duplicate. Before the Hulk can attack Banner, Bruce's son Bobbie tries to hit the Hulk demanding that the Hulk not hurt his father. The Hulk, confused by all this and unable to strike a child stops his attack. This lets his guard down to be struck by the Rhino who has teamed up with Kohbra and his minions to begin the battle to see who gets control of the ship.

Watching this from his space station, the Leader attempts to call back his ship in the hopes of stranding the Hulk and Rhino on Counter-Earth. However, during the rumble, the Hulk manages to knock the Rhino out and noticing that the ship is about to take off boards it carrying the unconscious Rhino with him. As the ship blasts off, both gangs of the New Men retreat and the Hulk reflects on his hatred of Bruce Banner, and realizes that he cannot hate a man who has a good son. As the ship flies away from Counter-Earth, the relaxed Hulk transforms back into Bruce Banner. As Banner reflects on what he can recall, he begins to wonder if the Betty of his Earth has a future with him as well.
 

9.) THE INCREDIBLE HULK #215 - 216 (1977)


  
Writer: Len Wein  Artists: Sal Buscema and Ernie Chan

On board of a big SHIELD heli-carrier, General Ross, Clay Quartermain, Professor Gaffer and several agents become prisoners of an alien being they rescued from the ocean floor which happens to be the Bi-Beast! In order to confront him, Ross pulls Bruce Banner from the streets with a pulling beam. Banner gets excited and turns into the Hulk before he reaches the heli-carrier. With a raging mad-on, the Hulk chases his old-enemy General Ross through the corridors until he shows up in front of the Bi-Beast, who greets ol' greenskin with powerful laser beams.

Despite the Hulk's awesome endurance and invulnerability, the attack cannot penetrate his skin but manages to boil his blood from within and knock him out. Watching via monitors, General Ross orders to rescue the Hulk and Gaffer opens a secret floor gate. The Hulk plummets through a tunnel until he reaches the chamber where Ross, Gaffer and Clay Quartermain are located. The Hulk quickly recovers and at the sight of the general, Green Goliath lifts him and prepares to smash him to the floor. But Gaffer dissuades the Hulk by telling him that Ross just wants his help. Amazingly, they convince the brute and all four reach the main computer room and the Hulk breaks the primary circuits seconds before the Bi-Beast could launch the atomic missiles.

The SHIELD heli-carrier's emergency power systems hold the ship in the air but they won't last long. Gaffer starts working on reactivating the primary systems when the Bi-Beast shows up wearing a battle vest which enhances his strength. The Hulk attacks the alien and they both brawl it out ending up at the ship's roof. They continue to go back and forth but the sudden ship's turn makes both combatants loose feet and fall towards the Earth. In the biggest surprise of all, General Ross actually sheds a tear, when he believes that the Hulk just plummeted to his death.


8.) THE INCREDIBLE HULK #136 - 137 (1971)



Writer: Roy Thomas  Artists: Herb Trimpe, Sal Buscema and Mike Esposito

Having revived from his adventure through time somewhere in modern day Europe, Bruce Banner hitches a ride to a NATO unit and is personally escorted back to the United States under the supervision of General Ross and Glenn Talbot, on a steady dose of tranquilizers to keep him from transforming into the Hulk. Along the way, Ross tells Bruce that both Betty Ross (who suffered a nervous breakdown) and Jim Wilson (who was injured by Hydra) are recovering well together.

As they fly into New York and pass the Empire State Building, some invisible force near it causes Bruce to suddenly transform into the Hulk, smash out of the plane, and climb up the Empire State Building. As this is happening the same force appears to be draining all the electricity out of the city. Suddenly in space, a giant space vessel appears and Xeron the Star-Slayer is dispatched to Earth. This alien being has been dispatched by his masters to destroy a creature known as Klaatu, an energy creature that is "from beyond space."

When the Hulk reaches the top of the ESB, he is shocked by the arrival of Xeron and the sudden appearance of the gigantic Klaatu. Confused by the whole tableau unfolding the Hulk decides to attack Klaatu, however he is beneath the creature's notice and it simply swats him out of the way before disappearing again. 

Furious over the Hulk's involvement, Xeron has his slaves "row" his hunting ship toward the Hulk so that they may capture them. The Hulk has revived and tries to fight off Xeron and his men. Xeron however uses his energy harpoon to incapacitate the Hulk, draining him of enough energy to knock the green giant out and make him easy for capture. Taken aboard the ship, the Hulk revives and learns that his old foe the Abomination has a high ranking position aboard the ship.

Naturally, the Hulk and Abomination begin fighting, however the fight is soon broken up by Xeron who tells the Abomination that the Hulk will be useful in their hunt of Klaatu. An alien named Cerexo takes the the Hulk with him and explains that they have been all consigned to hunt down the elusive Klaatu and that they had found the Abomination in their chase, and since his addition to the crew the monster has killed his way into the position of First Mate. 

The Hulk spends his time thereafter being forced to row the giant space ship, and live and work among the aliens, all the while the Abomination is plotting his revenge on the Hulk. One day the Hulk is out watching the Earth in the distance when the Abomination attacks him from behind, knocking the Hulk into space, Xeron and the others pull the Hulk back aboard the ship and Xeron warns the Abomination not to try another attempt on the Hulk's life. Just then they are summoned to meet the captain of the vessel, an alien named Cybor. 

In Cybor's presence, the Hulk is told by the half alien half machine that he has been on a quest to destroy Klaatu ever since the creature destroyed half his body. The Hulk is then sent back to his room where he suddenly reverts back into Bruce Banner. Although he is without the Hulk's great strength, Banner is put aboard one of the hunting vessels to row with the other aliens on their next trek to hunt down and kill Klaatu.

During the hunt, Banner is knocked loose and attacked by the Abomination, causing him to transform back into the Hulk and begin their inevitable slugfest. Cybor meanwhile harpoons Klaatu, but gets pulled and gets stuck on the creature as it flies into the sun killing him and seemingly destroying itself. Xeron and the others, on a damaged vessel, realize that their fate is numbered as well, with no means of returning to their ship and their artificial atmosphere on a limited supply, they too will meet their eventual end. 

Forgetting about everything that is going on around them, the Hulk and Abomination drift through space slugging it out, their blows now bringing them close to Earth's atmosphere. Eventually the Abomination begins to succumb to the Hulk's increasing strength and endurance and is sent rocketing down towards the Earth humbled and defeated.


 7.) THE INCREDIBLE HULK #193 - 200 (1975/1976)









Writer: Len Wein  Artists: Sal Buscema, Herb Trimpe and Joe Staton

Following his adventure in Scotland, Bruce Banner manages to get cheap fare back to America aboard the RMS Black Wraith provided that he stay below deck and keep a low profile. However, Banner decides to go up to the deck and think about his current plight. This angers the crew, who are very strict on their rules for Banner's passage. Banner soon realizes why: the crew of this vessel are illegally dumping radioactive waste into the ocean. Furious at being discovered, the crew attacks Banner prompting him to transform into the Hulk once more. He easily over powers them and smashes the ship, causing it to sink. As the crew gets to life boats, the Hulk jumps into the ocean and swims away.

At Hulkbuster Base, Leonard Samson prepares the base for the eventual capture of Bruce Banner/the Hulk so that they can use him to restore Glenn Talbot's mind (which was messed up when he was a prisoner of the Gremlin). To this end he is running a test on the Gammatron device however, it reaches critical mass. Pushing General Ross, Betty Talbot and Clay Quartermain to safety, Samson is too late to protect himself when the device explodes and bombards him with gamma radiation. Instead of killing him, the exposure causes him to mutate back into his gamma ray powered form, heralding the rebirth of Doc Samson.

The Hulk meanwhile has managed to swim back to the shores of Manhattan where he is spotted and attacked by police, he destroys their weapons before bounding off into the city. With reports of the Hulk's return to America, they decide to send the empowered Samson out to try and capture the Hulk personally. Traveling to New York aboard a SHIELD robot helicopter, Samson orders the Hulk to surrender, however the Hulk refuses and smashes the remote controlled device. This distracts the Hulk long enough for Samson to get close enough to strike him. 

The Hulk and Samson engage in battle across the city, however the Hulk gets mad and gains the upper hand and defeats Samson, knocking him into the middle of a nearby sand lot where children are playing baseball. As the Hulk leaps away, Samson pulls himself up and demands to capture the Hulk if it's the last thing he does.
 
Wandering in the wilderness, the Hulk is attracted by the smell of cooking food, he comes across a group of hobos. When they detect the Hulk's presence they attempt to attack him but the Hulk scares them off. Inspecting their food, he finds that they were cooking up his favorite food: beans. He chows down on the beans and then falls asleep, reverting back into Bruce Banner. Banner wakes up the next morning wondering where he is and goes out to hitch hike on the streets. There he is picked up by Bob Hickman and his wife Carol. Despite their warnings that riding with them would be trouble, Bruce hops in anyway. They soon come to a town that is barricaded off. Allowed access into the town, Carol explains to the confused Banner that this is all their fault. 

While back in New Mexico, Doc Samson returns Hulkbuster Base where Clay Quartermain mocks him for being unprofessional in his attempt to capture the brute. As Samson loses his temper, a soldier on site  for repairs tells Ross, Samson and Quartermain that there is something that they have to see.

Back in the Midwest, the Hickmans explain to Bruce that they married without Carol's permission while he was in jail and upon hearing of their marriage, and after destroying Bob's farm he has been causing a path of destruction across America's farmlands. Just then, a swarm of locusts begins to head toward the town and Bruce allows himself to transform into the Hulk in order to defend it from the locust attack. As the Hulk attempts to fight them off, he is confronted by Carol's father, a villain named the Locust. He sees the Hulk as a threat and attacks him with his ionic gun before using his devices to grow a giant insect army.

The Hulk fights off the insects, crushing them all one by one, but when a giant-preying mantis threatens Carol's life, the Locust realizes what he's done and goes to his daughters aid, and gets knocked aside by his mad creation. When he witnesses Bob come to his daughters rescue, he realizes that he is truly worth of his daughters love. The Hulk, having crushed the remainder of the bugs destroys the preying mantis saving Bob and Carol from danger. The Hulk then turns around to resume his anger towards the Locust, however he is stopped by Carol who tries to explain that she still loves her father and that he needs help. Confused, the Hulk expresses frustration and wanders off to leave the Locus to his fate.

While back on Hulkbuster Base, Samson, Ross and Quartermain stand before the Abomination, who was found in the rubble of the damaged base. When the Abomination revives they tell him that they have planted a bomb inside his head and that in order to have it deactivated he must hunt down and capture the Hulk. The Abomination agrees to help them.

A young boy named Ricky is running away from the orphanage that he lives in order to escape the taunting of his peers. Stowing away in a freight car, Ricky encounters the Hulk. At first Ricky is frightened of the Hulk, but the two become fast friends. However, when the train stops at a station a bunch of rail yard workers attempt to throw them out, the Hulk easily fights them off, grabs Ricky and then leaps off into the sky.

While at Hulkbuster Base, Betty Talbot tries to get through to the mind of her catatonic husband Glenn. Blaming herself for what happened, she is interrupted by her father who tells her not to blame herself for what's happened to Glenn and focus her energies on finding a cure for his condition. They are interrupted by Clay who enters and tells him that intelligence reports have located the Hulk in Florida.

Back in Florida, Ricky has the Hulk don a crude disguise and visit Wonderland, an amusement park that the boy was seeking to reach after running away. With the Hulk helping him sneak in, Ricky soon finds trouble when he's hassled by a park employee who tries to sell him a hat. This prompts the Hulk to lose his temper and blow his disguise, causing a panic. With police arriving on the scene, the Hulk leaps away from young Ricky, having grown weary of the day's constant harassment. The Hulk then climbs atop a Ferris wheel and demands that they give Ricky back to him, or he will go on a rampage. This threat-making lasts long enough for the Abomination to arrive and attack the Hulk.

Their battle rages across the amusement park, with the Abomination using his superior mentality to trick the Hulk into entering various rides, such as the hall of mirrors, which he utilizes to trip up the Hulk. Ultimately, the Hulk's punches deactivate the bomb inside his head (in reality it was not a bomb at all but a monitoring device Ross and the others were using to trick the Abomination into subservience.) Free from the military's control, the Abomination tries to reason with the Hulk, deciding to make him an ally in his plot for revenge. The Abomination succeeds in doing so, but Ricky grabs a police officers gun and attempts to shoot the Abomination. Noticing this attempt, the Abomination slams his fist into the group, causing the shot to go off target and strike the Hulk. Convincing the Hulk that Ricky shot him on purpose, the Abomination gains the Hulk's allegiance, and both brutes bound off to get revenge against the army. Watching the Hulk jump away, Ricky futility pleads with Jade Jaws to come back because they're friends. His cries fall on deaf ears, however.

With the two brutes heading toward Hulkbuster Base, much to the dismay of Doc Samson, General Ross, Clay Quartermain, and Betty Talbot. This creates yet another obstacle for them capturing the Hulk so that they might use Bruce Banner to restore Glenn Talbot from a catatonic state. 

The Abomination leads the Hulk to a Florida Space Station and the two easily smash through the defenses and take the station under their control. The Abomination takes to their broadcasting capabilities and televises his demands: He is ransoming the entire space station for 100 million dollars in uncut diamonds to be given to him by midnight or he and the Hulk will destroy the base.

Holding the base staff hostage, the Abomination demands meals from them, when one of the employees attempts to electrocute the Abomination, he orders the Hulk to kill the man. When the Hulk finds that his intended victim is not afraid of death, he loses interest and earning the ire of his would-be partner who is beginning to realize that the Hulk is not as ruthless as he appears.

With time running out, the US Government leaves it up to Hulkbuster Base to deal with the crisis and General Ross decides to attack their weakest link: the Hulk's apathy for his daughter Betty. Having Betty appear on television  screens pleading for the Hulk to remember who she is. Her pleas to get the Hulk to stop his attack confuse the brute, prompting the Abomination to smash any televisions that are broadcasting the message.

Deciding that the government has not played ball with him, the Abomination leads the Hulk out to destroy the base. When the Abomination smashes another television screen playing Betty's message, the Hulk finally remembers who she is. When the Abomination refers to her as "just another puny human", this angers the Hulk. No longer considering the Abomination a friend, the Hulk angrily attacks him.

Their battle takes them to a nearby rocket that was scheduled for launch before their invasion of the base. During the fight the Abomination attempts to escape inside. As it is blasting off, the Hulk jumps onto the exterior hull and attempts to smash his way in. However, the Abomination kicks him loose sending him crashing back into Earth's orbit. The Abomination's get away isn't quite so clean however, as the damages caused by the Hulk make the rocket explode seemingly killing him. The Hulk meanwhile crash lands somewhere in the Florida swamps. When news reaches Hulkbuster Base, they all assume that the Hulk had perished in he battle, sending Betty into a torrent of tears.

Now in the Florida Everglades, the Hulk is not happy. As he tromps through the swamp his is completely unaware that his presence has attracted the attention of the Man-Thing, who watches the brute silently. The Hulk is attacked by various alligators and snakes, prompting the Hulk to angrily ball them up and toss them away. He then stumbles across the ruins of Omegaville. Weary from his ordeals, the Hulk finds a bed and goes to sleep, reverting back into Bruce Banner. As he slumbers a figure appears in the shadows and watches over him.

Back at Hulkbuster Base, Doc Samson and Betty Talbot take a stroll around the base, talking about Glenn's catatonic state and how she can cope with the situation. In a moment of despair and loneliness, Betty allows herself to be kissed by Samson, completely unaware that they are being spied upon by Clay Quartermain.

In Florida, Bruce Banner awakens and realizes that he is within the remains of the failed Omegaville commune and spots the man who has been watching him sleep. When the man flees the area in fear, Banner chases after him and convinces him that he is not a threat. However, Banner soon learns whom this strange mute man had been fleeing from: A band of pirates led by Captain Horatio Cutlass. When the pirates attack them, they cause Bruce to transform into the Hulk, who easily makes short work of the pirates. The Hulk and his companion are soon greeted by the Collector, who tells him that the pirates are in his command. When the Hulk attempts to attack the Collector, he unleashes his latest slave to fight for him, The Man-Thing.

As the Hulk battles the Man-Thing, he is distracted enough to allow the Collector to blast the mute man with the Philosopher's stone, reverting him into his true form -- The Glob. With the Glob now under his control, the Collector orders him to attack the Hulk as well. The Hulk is over-powered by the two muck-monsters because he can't seem to hurt them. Eventually the monsters manage to defeat the brute by shoving his face into the Man-Thing's mire-made body until he passes out from lack of oxygen (due to the fact that he forgot to hold his breath). With the Hulk humbled, he orders the pirates to carry the Hulk back to his base in order to be added to his collection.

Taken to the Collector's ship, the Hulk is placed inside one of his habitats and is shackled with a device that prevents him from escaping. He is put on display in a swamp like environment with both the Glob and Man-Thing. In "payment" for helping the Collector capture the Hulk, Captain Cutlass and his pirates are returned to the miniature ship in a bottle they have been prisoner in for hundreds of years since the Collector first captured them. 

Left to slumber in his new habitat, the Hulk reverts back to his Bruce Banner form. Since the leg shackle were designed to fit the Hulk, Banner easily slips them off and escapes and begins exploring where he is. Banner finds to his horror that the Collector has captured an enslaved many beings from Earth and other worlds from various points in history and has made them all his slaves for his own personal museum. Listening to their pleas, Banner agrees to try and free them from their captivity. As Banner rushes off, he runs into the Collector who recognizes the Hulk's alter ego and offers him a proposition.

Back at Hulkbuster Base, General Ross meets with Clay Quartermain to tell him that the base has been officially retitled and reclassified as Gamma Base where they would expand their focus on trying to cure all creatures mutated by gamma radiation, and not just hunt down the Hulk. Ross happily informs Clay that he has been appointed SHIELD liaison at Gamma Base. Looking out the window, Clay spots Doc Samson out on another walk with Betty Talbot, and comments grimly that he finds his new assignment is "just swell."

Back aboard the Collector's ship, the Collector shows Banner around his ship and shows him his first line of defense should any of his prisoners escape: Akbar, former bodyguard of Kubla Khan. The Collector explains to Banner that his travels have been lonely and that he seeks a companion to travel the stars with and offers Banner that position, offering to cure him of being the Hulk. Deciding that he has nothing to hold him on Earth, Banner accepts. When the Man-Thing and Glob manage to escape from their cells (their shackles slip off their mailable forms) it sets off an alarm. Hearing the Collector refer to the people he has captured as merely "exhibits", Banner changes his mind on his offer forcing the Collector to set Akbar on him.

Banner transforms into the Hulk and easily fights off the barbarian warrior, and sets his sights on the Collector. When the Collector offers the Hulk the serum to change him back into Bruce Banner, the Hulk angrily smashes the vial and continues his advance. The Collector seals the Hulk in a powerful force field, and when the Glob and Man-Thing arrive on the scene, sends an army of various creatures and humans from different time periods under his control against them. As the battle rages on, the Hulk manages to free himself and join the fight, causing damage to the controls that kept the Collectors prisoners trapped. In the confusion, the Collector makes his escape and the princess that convinced Banner to try and free them manages to talk everyone into stopping the fight. They all leave as the Collector flees to repair his ship and prevent his captives from escaping. The Glob follows after him and seemingly kills him, ending his efforts to stop them.

As the captors escape the ship, the many years of captivity catch up with them as they begin to rapidly age once outside. As the princess thanks the Hulk for freeing them -- death was a better choice than eternal slavery -- the Man-Thing shambles off into the swamp leaving the Hulk to try and make sense of what he has just witnessed. 

Now the Hulk finds himself in Citrusville, Florida where the population approach the creature with interest. This causes the Hulk to become angry and demand that people leave him alone. His presence in the town attracts the attention of Gamma Base's SHIELD liaison Clay Quartermain who convinces Nick Fury to allow him to use SHIELD weapons to capture the Hulk before he can get away again.

Flying out to Florida, the opening salvo is made when Doc Samson jumps from a SHIELD chopper and attacks the Hulk directly. As the Hulk is distracted, the helicopters use neuro-clamps to bind the Hulk. However before they can pump anesthetic into the Hulk's system, the brute breaks free crashing into the nearby swamp. Samson rejoins the others and they continue on to capture the Hulk.

Back at Gamma Base, Betty Talbot visits with her catatonic husband Glenn. Betty is wracked with guilt over his marital transgressions with Doc Samson while Glenn has been in his current conditions and asks her oblivious husband to forgive him.

Back in Florida, the SHIELD unit sent to capture the Hulk decide to try another tactic on him, a paralysis gas. However, the Hulk's titanic leaps keep them from getting close enough to use it. Doc Samson decides to go against orders and engage the Hulk physically one more time in order to keep him in one spot so that they can use the gas on the green giant.

As Samson battles the Hulk, Quartermain and his SHIELD unit get up close with the gas ready. Unable to break off his fight with the Hulk for fear the brute might escape, Samson orders them to gas him as well as the Hulk in order to capture them. Although Quartermain has reservations, unsure how the gas might effect Samson, he orders his men to fire. The gas manages to knock out both Samson and the Hulk, and they are gathered up and taken to a transport to be taken back to Gamma Base.

With the Hulk now captured, and thanks to an encephalo-helmet designed by Doc Samson, Bruce Banner's mind now operates in the Hulk's body. Using a shrinking device, they intend to send the Hulk into the brain of Glenn Talbot and repair the damage caused to his mind by the Gremlin and revive him from his catatonic state, as the Hulk's unique physiology would protect him from the harsh electrical activity in Glenn's brain. After being wished luck and promising everyone that he will do his best to restore Glenn to normal, Banner/Hulk gets shrunken down and implanted inside Talbot's brain.

Almost immediately from his arrival, Banner is assaulted by the electrical fields of Glenn's brain, and tries to adjust his helmet to deal with them. He is then attacked by manifestations of his old foes the Missing Link, Juggernaut and Abomination. Although these phantom versions of his old foes try to stop him, the Hulk manages to fight them off, causing them to dissipate into immaterial smoke. He is next attacked by phantoms of both the Rhino and the Leader, an attack that slightly damages his helmet, causing Banner to slowly begin lose his temper.

During a fight with phantoms of the Mandarin and Sandman, Banner cannot take the feedback from the helmet and rips it off, submerging his consciousness and releasing the Hulk's mind. The Hulk is then attacked by more constructs based on Iron Man, the Sub-Mariner, Hercules, Silver Surfer and Doc Samson. These he just as easily fights off, even as they are joined by illusions of MODOK, the Harpy and the Gremlin. The Hulk smashes them all until he comes across the creature in Glenn's mind that is keeping him in his catatonic state.

When the creature attempts to consume the Hulk, he easily rips it apart killing it. The creatures death causes Glenn to suddenly sit up and belt out a scream before passing out again. Before they can see if Glenn is okay, an alarm goes off warning Doc Samson that the Hulk is beginning to grow, threatening to kill Talbot in the process. With no other choice, Samson fires the shrink ray, targeting the Hulk and causing him to shrink so small that he disappears from their readings. Glenn awakens alive and well and is reunited with his wife Betty. Samson informs them that while they have saved the life of Glenn Talbot, it seems they have done so at the expense of the life of Bruce Banner.


6.) THE INCREDIBLE HULK #162 (1972)


Writer: Steve Englehart  Artists: Herb Trimpe and Sal Trapani         

The Hulk continues to rampage through Canada in search for Betty Talbot, leading the Canadian military to call in General Ross to discuss the matter. After going over the situation the Royal Canadian Air-Force and the Prime Minister of Canada allows for Ross and his Hulkbusters to operate in Canada to capture the Hulk and extradite him back to the United States.

The Hulk meanwhile continues North through the Canadian wilderness, becoming more muddled and confused as to why he is there and where he is going, holding onto the dim remembrance that he's trying to find Betty. The Hulk begins to have a tantrum until he is contacted by a voice of a man called Paul Cartier who is begging for help. Before the Hulk can make sense of the eerie voice from nowhere, he is attacked by a group of hunters. The Hulk easily swats them away and is about to pummel them when a girl named Marie begins attacking. She has confused the Hulk with a creature called the Wendigo that has apparently attacked and killed her brother, Paul Cartier. The Hulk, touched by the woman's sadness doesn't fight back and explains who he is and promises to go looking for whoever harmed her brother.

The Hulk hunts across the Canadian wilderness searching for the Wendigo, however the giant creature finds him first and attacks. Apparently the Hulk has stumbled upon the creature just as it was about to feed on a man. The man begs the Hulk to save him from the Wendigo's cannibalistic hunger. Thinking this man is Paul Cartier, the Hulk attacks the Wendigo, and the two appear to be evenly matched. The Hulk is knocked off a cliff, and the Wendigo tosses the man off the cliff as well, however he is saved by the Hulk.

The Hulk takes the injured man back to the logging camp where Marie Cartier and the others recognize the man as Georges Baptiste, Paul's friend. There George explains that he and Paul were out hunting with their friend Henri Cluzot. They were attacked by wolves and were forced to hide out in a cave where Henri died. With no food, they eventually began to starve and Paul would commit an act of cannibalism on Henri's dead body. They explain to the Hulk that Paul became victim of the curse of the Wendigo and became the Wendigo himself.

Understanding in his own naive, innocent way, the Hulk goes back out into the wilderness to try and find the Wendigo and help Paul break the curse. The Hulk finds the creature at a logging camp and their fight resumes. Paul's spirit calls out to the Hulk telling him that his mind is dissolving and that the Wendigo is taking full control. But try as he might, the Hulk is unable to stop the Wendigo who appears to be an even match for him. In the end, Paul's mind completely dissolves and the Wendigo, now in full control kicks the Hulk away and runs off into the wilderness. As it runs off, the Hulk remarks that no matter how strong he was, there was nothing he could do to save Paul.


5.) THE INCREDIBLE HULK #1 (1962)


Writer: Stan Lee  Artists: Jack Kirby and Paul Reinman

At an Army base in the desert, Doctor Bruce Banner is readying the first test of his invention, the G-Bomb. General "Thunderbolt" Ross wants to know why Banner keeps delaying the test. His daughter Betty tries to calm him down, with little success. Banner tells Ross that the final countdown has begun. His assistant, Igor, demands that Banner share his work so that someone may check his calculations. Banner takes a last look at the bomb with binoculars when he notices a teenage boy in a car. Banner tells Igor to halt the countdown, and hurries after the boy in a jeep. But little does everyone know that Igor is actually a Russian spy and continues the countdown hoping Banner will die in the explosion. Bruce gets the teenager into a trench, but before he can jump in himself, the G-Bomb explodes! Gamma rays saturate Banner's body and his life will forever change..

Hours later, Banner regains his senses. The boy, Rick Jones, brought him back to the base. When night falls, Jones turns on a "radio," which actually is a Geiger counter. Its clicking increases as Banner changes into a huge grey hulking brute that shoves Jones aside. The brutish humanoid pushes through the wall, wrecks a jeep full of soldiers when it hits him, and wanders off into the night. Jones makes haste and follows.  

The thing that was once Banner, with Jones trailing him, sneaks past the soldiers trying to find him and finds Banner's cabin. Inside Igor is trying to find Banner's notes of the secret to the G-Bomb. When he sees the massive brute looming before him, he shoots at it without any effect. The Hulk takes away his gun and crushes it with one hand. He then picks up Igor and slams across a table. Jones notices a folder taped to the bottom of a large beaker, labeled "Top Secret: Report on Gamma Ray Bomb," and takes it. The Hulk picks up a photo of Banner and says, "I -- I know that face!! But it is weak -- soft!! I hate it! Take it away!" Jones reminds him that he is Banner. The Hulk briefly remembers what happened, then says, "I don't need you! I don't need anybody! With my strength -- my power -- the world is mine!" But before the Hulk can finish off Jones, the sun sets and the man-monster changes back into Bruce Banner. 

In his cell, Igor uses a transmitter overlaid on his thumbnail. The message finds its way to the Gargoyle, who travels by submarine and short-range missile to the desert. Banner and Jones take a jeep out into the desert before night falls, in case he changes again. But suddenly he does change, and the Hulk wrecks the jeep. The brute recognizes the area near Ross's house and decides to visit Betty. At the same time, Betty decides to take a walk. She encounters the Hulk and faints in his arms. Soon the Gargoyle appears.

The Gargoyle shoots the Hulk and Jones with drug-filled bullets, putting them under his control. They follow him to a truck, whose driver also gets shot. Ross finds Betty, who was frightened by her encounter but says, "In spite of everything, there was something -- something sad about him!! Almost as though he was seeking -- help!" Ross says, "If it takes an eternity, I'll find that monster!" And so begins the General's implacable journey to capture the Hulk. 

The Gargoyle and his captives reach a sub on the coast and get into a jet. As they streak towards the USSR, the sun rises on the Hulk, who changes back into Banner. Upon landing, the Gargoyle is astounded to find a man instead of a monster. He begins to cry because he wants to look normal too. Banner treats him with radiation, which makes him look human but the change takes away his super intelligence. The man who was once the Gargoyle realizes how the state had used him, so he puts Banner and Jones on a jet for home and blows up his base along with himself.


4.) FANTASTIC FOUR #112 (1971)
 
 Writer: Stan Lee  Artists: John Buscema and Joe Sinnott

The Thing's rampage through New York City is suddenly interrupted when he is attacked by the Hulk. As the two monsters battle it out in Central Park, Reed Richards is hard at work to try and find a cure for the Thing's personality disorder. Johnny briefly interrupts Reed to show him a televised editorial by Daily Bugle owner J. Jonah Jameson, who is calling out to the people of New York to rise up and crush the Fantastic Four. Just as Reed finishes telling Johnny that they cannot deal with that problem at the moment the electricity in the building is suddenly cut off. Suddenly they get a phone call from Walter Collins, the owner of the Baxter Building who once more demands that the Fantastic Four vacate immediately. Reed hangs up on him and when Johnny tries to run off to join the battle alone, his leader pulls him back in, pointing out the throng of panicked people protesting outside the Baxter Building who are now trying to break in now that the power is out. The two then begin thinking about how to restore the power so that Reed can finish his work.

Meanwhile, back out in Central Park, the Thing and the Hulk continue their brawl as the authorities close in with heavy artillery. These weapons hardly phase the two combatants who send the police fleeing in the ensuing chaos. As the fight brings the two into the city streets, the press continues to record events as they happen. Listening to developments at the home of Agatha Harkness in Whisper Hill, Sue begins to worry over her husband. Offering her aid, Agatha Harkness conjurers up an image of Reed from her crystal ball. Realizing that Reed is working hard at solving the current crisis, Sue decides to be by her husband's side and leaves baby Franklin in Agatha's care and flies off in a ship. Also hearing developments over the radio is Alicia Masters who decides to go into the city and find Ben and try to convince him to stop his battle. Being a blind woman among the chaos in the streets makes this a daunting task.

Thing and the Hulk's battle has taken them back into the heart of the city where the pair continue to cause untold property damage as they fight each other. Alicia manages to find the pair and begins calling out to her estranged boyfriend. While back at the Baxter Building, Reed has found a solution to their electricity problem: With Johnny channeling his flame into an energizer device, Reed has enough power to begin completing the device that will allow him to cure the Thing. However, back at the battle, Alicia is struck in the head by flying debris distracting the Thing long enough for the Hulk to land a powerful blow. Reed and Johnny soon arrive in the aftermath of the battle. As the Hulk begins to revert back to his human form of Bruce Banner, Alicia and Johnny make a horrifying discovery -- the Thing is apparently dead!


3.) JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #112 (1965) 


Writer: Stan Lee  Artists: Jack Kirby and Chic Stone

While flying through the city, Thor happens upon two groups of teenagers arguing over the who is the stronger between Thor and the Hulk. Interested in the debate, Thor lands to see what all the commotion is about, and they ask him if he knows who is the stronger of the two. Thor recounts for them his last encounter with the Hulk that had taken place in Avengers #3. He goes into a part of the story that was not previously recorded.

In Thor's recounting of the events, he and the Hulk are separated from the Avengers and the Sub-Mariner during their battle. Realizing the Hulk's great strength, Thor asks Odin to lift the enchantment that forces Thor to change to Donald Blake after being kept from his hammer for sixty seconds so he can pit his strength against the green-skinned brute. Odin grants Thor's wish, giving him five minutes free of the enchantment that binds his power to his hammer. However, it makes Thor's hammer vulnerable to damage and able to be picked up by anybody, which causes the Hulk to attempt to destroy it, keeping Thor on the defensive during the battle.

During their savage slugfest the integrity of the cavern the two Super-Heavyweights are fighting in caves in, covering the Hulk with tons of rock. About that time the five minutes Odin granted Thor are up. Thor smashes through the rubble to continue his fight but discovers that the Hulk had already escaped. Thor attempts to follow the brute but cannot find a trace of him. The test to see who is the strongest is inconclusive. Thor rejoins his comrades and battles Namor until the Hulk arrives again to resume their fight (and the story continues into the final moments of Avengers #3).

Thor stops his story there explaining that there is nothing more to tell, and explains that he has no proof that he is stronger than the Hulk and therefore won't make such a claim and flies off. Meanwhile elsewhere the Hulk turns his thoughts to Thor as well wondering when next they'll meet again.


2.) FANTASTIC FOUR #12 (1963)
 

Writer: Stan Lee  Artists: Jack Kirby and Dick Ayers

The Thing and Alicia Masters are exiting a symphony auditorium at the end of their date when they notice soldiers marching on the streets. Someone panics as they see through the Thing's disguise and calls him a monster. The soldiers attack Ben -- mistaking him for the Hulk. After they subdue Ben, they realize the error an apologize for the unprovoked attack. Alicia calms Ben down and he returns to the Baxter Building. There he complains about being mistaken for the Hulk to his teammates.The Fantastic Four are soon visited by General "Thunderbolt" Ross, who has come to ask for the Fantastic Four's assistance in destroying the Hulk. 

Ross then shows them footage of the Hulk as well as the recent destruction of various military test weapons that are being designed by Dr. Bruce Banner. Ross tells them that the military believes that the Hulk is responsible for the destruction of these devices. After coming up with various theories on how to take down the Hulk, the Fantastic Four bring Ross to their newest model of the Fantasti-Car that was designed by Johnny and they all fly to New Mexico to Gamma Base. When they arrive they find that the military's prototype anti-gravity missile has been wrecked. Ross introduces Reed Richards to Bruce Banner, his young assistant Rick Jones, and another scientist named Karl Kort. When Ross tells them that the Fantastic Four will be going after the Hulk, Banner tells his employer that he believes that someone is framing the Hulk for these acts of sabotage. Kort then excuses himself from the meeting and on his way out he bumps into the other members of the Fantastic Four who have been waiting impatiently outside. Kort is frightened by the Thing and flees the hallway, dropping his wallet as he goes, and it is picked up by the Torch. 

Having become fed up with waiting, the Thing comes bursting into the office with the other members of the Fantastic Four, angering Ross, especially when the Thing picks up an entire bookshelf of phone books and rips them in half. Reed calms down the General and Banner goes on to explain that he believes that someone, whom he and Rick have dubbed "The Wrecker," is really responsible for the acts of sabotage. The Human Torch then introduces himself to Rick, showing off his flame powers before handing over Karl Kort's wallet asking Jones to return it to him. Banner and Jones then leave and go to their secret cave hideout. There Bruce shows Rick a scale model of his next invention a device that could erect a force field around a city in order to protect it from a nuclear attack. Bruce vows to stop the Wrecker as the Hulk before he can destroy his invention. Meanwhile, Rick goes to return the wallet to Karl Kort and seeing a card sticking out of it, he is shocked to find that it is a membership card to a communist organization. Kort, having sneaked up behind the boy gets the drop on Rick and takes him prisoner at gunpoint.  

Later the Fantastic Four are testing out a new one man, rail-driven rocket car using the Thing as a test subject. As the Thing rockets down the rails they notice that the rails had been crushed. Ben's rocket car is quickly derailed, but he is saved from a nasty fall by his teammates. When Bruce arrives on the scene and tells them that the Wrecker kidnapped Rick Jones, the Fantastic Four dismiss this, convinced that the Hulk is responsible for the sabotage and Rick's disappearances. Bruce leaves, not revealing to them that a note was left for the Hulk from the Wrecker ordering him to send the Fantastic Four away in order to save Rick's life. Knowing that there is no way he can make the Fantastic Four leave, Banner goes back to his secret lab and uses his Gamma Ray Projector to turn into the Hulk so he can capture the Wrecker himself.

The Wrecker meanwhile takes Rick through a series of underground passages to an abandoned frontier town. Also searching the various tunnels are the Hulk and the Fantastic Four. When the Hulk crosses paths with the FF, a fight soon breaks out between him and the Thing. Unable to fight in such closed quarters, the Hulk forces his way to the surface where the fight rages on in the old ghost town. The Hulk manages to incapacitate Mr. Fantastic and the Human Torch, but as he struggles with the Thing again a beam is fired through the ground below and strikes the Hulk from behind. Seeing this, the Invisible Girl points it out to the Thing who digs through the Earth to find its source. Below he finds a robot, confirming the existence of the Wrecker. Ben easily demolishes the robot and then breaks through a metal door. On the other side he finds Kort holding Rick prisoner. Before Kort can blast Ben with a atomic-powered weapon, Sue invisibly sneaks around Kort and knocks the gun out of his hand. The Thing then apprehends Kort and frees Rick. They return to the surface to reveal the truth to Reed and Johnny and while they are comparing notes the Hulk recovers as well and bounds away for his secret lab to change back into Bruce Banner. Bruce is waiting at the military base when they arrive and he thanks Reed Richards for his help. The FF are then celebrated by the military before they head back home for New York. As they fly away, the Hulk watches from the distance as they depart, but the Hulk has a feeling that they will meet again someday.


1.) FANTASTIC FOUR #25 - 26 (1964)



Writer: Stan Lee  Artists: Jack Kirby and George Roussos

Reed Richards has once again created a formula he believes will cure the Thing. However this time Ben is uninterested in a cure because his girlfriend Alicia Masters loves him the way he is. When Reed presses the issue, the Thing destroys the beaker containing the cure, much to Reed's frustration. When Alicia later arrives she informs the group of the latest news about the Avengers manhunt for the Hulk. 

Meanwhile, in the New Mexico, the Hulk flees from the authorities. With a cordon surrounding the area the Hulk forces some truck drivers to stow him in the back of their truck. As he sleeps the Hulk reverts back to Bruce Banner and when the truck is later stopped at a check point Banner flees into the desert. Banner seeks shelter in a nearby cave, hoping that he can find Rick Jones and get some help. Unfortunately the stress causes him to transform into the Hulk once again who then seeks shelter in his cave. Elsewhere the Avengers and Rick Jones search nearby wreckage for clues to the Hulk's whereabouts. As their search turns up nothing, the Hulk learns that the Avengers have replaced him with Captain America and decides to get revenge against them; the Hulk then leaps off to New York City to face them.

Back at the Baxter Building, Reed suddenly collapses while working on an experiment and Johnny Storm is sent out in the Fantasticar to fetch a doctor. Along the way he spots the Hulk trashing the streets and flames on to face the Green Goliath. The Torch is no match for the Hulk, and is quickly defeated and his flame smothered. As the news of the Hulk reaches the Baxter Building, Reed tells Ben and Sue to deal with the Hulk instead of him, leaving them to worry that his sudden illness is grim and their leader might die. When they arrive at the scene Johnny is still fighting a losing battle against the Hulk. Sue protects her brother with her invisible force field, but soon passes out from the strain. That's when the Thing steps in for a rematch against the Hulk (they first locked horns in Fantastic Four #12). As the Thing and the Hulk battle it out throughout the city, Reed tries to leave his bed to help the team, but finds that his malady has made him too weak to do anything. Ben and the Hulk's battle take them out into the Hudson River and onto the George Washington Bridge. The ongoing battle exhausting him, Ben tries to get a reprieve by trying to bind the Hulk in one of the bridge's tension cables. 

Meanwhile, Sue returns to the Baxter Building with a doctor and the prognosis is grim: Reed has been afflicted by an unknown virus, likely from his own experiments and all the doctor can recommend is bed rest. Meanwhile, the Hulk breaks free from the cables and unmercifully pounds the Thing thus defeating him and moves on, seeking to get his revenge against the Avengers. Left behind, the Thing picks himself up and follows after the Hulk, intent on stopping him even if it kills him.

Following his defeat while battling the Hulk, the Thing manages to pull himself back up and start the fight anew as an army of soldiers and reporters watch on. Watching this on television is Mr. Fantastic who tries to go into action but is still too weak from his illness to do anything. Out of concern Sue calls for an ambulance and hands over the formulas that Reed had been working on so the doctors can try to cure him. Also at the hospital is the Human Torch who has been patched up following his failed battle with the Hulk. Realizing that the Hulk is still out on a rampage, Johnny flames on and heads back out into battle despite the fact that his is injured.

He catches up to the Thing and the Hulk who are still brawling and tries to lend Ben a hand. When the Hulk swats the two away, the soldiers step in by firing a mortar shell at the Hulk, but he easily deflects the shot. Johnny is winded after the conflict and Ben tells him to stay put while he continues on after the Hulk. As he plods along, Ben shrugs off an attempt by reports to interview him. Meanwhile, the Hulk has retreated into the subway where he hijacks a subway train to ride it toward Avengers Mansion. When he arrives there, he finds that the Avengers are already home waiting for him and a battle breaks out. The Hulk steamrolls into the heroes and grabs Rick Jones and then flees the scene, unaware that the Wasp is following him.

Back at the hospital, the doctors have succeeded in formulating an antidote that instantly cures Reed. The Fantastic Four then regroup and head out to try and stop the Hulk once and for all. They spot the brute on the street as he is stunned by the Wasp who is using her Wasp's sting inside his ear. Distracted, the Hulk is ambushed by the Avengers and the Fantastic Four at the same time. However the two groups are uncoordinated and get into each others way. During the confusion, the Hulk manages to leap onto a nearby construction site. After a brief squabble about who is best suited for stopping the Hulk, both the Avengers and the Fantastic Four agree to work together. This time the two teams attack the Hulk and a battle royal for the ages breaks out. In the ensuing chaos, Rick manages to toss a gamma-ray treated capsule into the Hulk's mouth. This triggers a transformation back into his alter-ego as he falls into the Hudson River trying to get rid of the clusters of ants all over his body. It's Bruce Banner who surfaces from the water and is swept away by the current.


HONORABLE MENTION

THE INCREDIBLE HULK ANNUAL (2001) 




Writer: James Kochalka  Artist: James Kochalka

NUFF SAID.  


"Within each of us, ofttimes, there dwells a mighty raging fury."

NUFF SAID. Let me hear what you guys think!!


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   John "The Mego Stretch Hulk" Cimino
John Cimino is a Silver and Bronze Age comic, cartoon and memorabilia expert that runs a business called "Saturday Morning Collectibles". He buys, sells, appraises and gives seminars on everything pop culture, so if you got something special, let him know about it. He contributes articles to ALTER EGO, BACK ISSUE and THE JACK KIRBY COLLECTOR from TwoMorrows Publishing and has appeared on the AMC reality show Comic Book Men. He also represents some of comicdoms biggest stars and brings them to a Comic Con near you. John still thinks he's really Captain Marvel, people just don't have the heart to tell him he's just an obsessed fanboy that loves to play superheroes with his daughter Bryn. Contact him at johnstretch@live.com or follow on twitter at @Elastic_Hulk and have some fun.
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