Sunday, January 15, 2017

The Incredible Hulk - The Monster And The Machine!

In the fourth issue of The Incredible Hulk by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Dick Ayers, we are treated to a pair of stories which again alter the status quo of the character.

In the first tale we see Rick Jones administering more gamma radiation to the figure of the Hulk in an effort to return him to his Bruce Banner state and that works, but it comes with a side effect that the Hulk, who had for a short time been essentially an automaton under the direction of Rick acquires some degree of intellect from the Banner side of his existence. But it's clear that while the Hulk retains some degree of intelligence, there is also a hostile and antagonistic aspect to his personality. In the story the Hulk ends up helping out some folks in emergencies but his bellicose attitude is not especially that of a humble hero.

In the second tale this new Hulk encounters an alien invader named Mongu who arrives dramatically and calls for a champion to appear and represent Earth in a battle for its very freedom. Bruce Banner sees this and transforms into the Hulk and challenges Mongu. It is quickly revealed that Mongu is a sham, a robot operated by a Soviet operative named Boris Monguski and it is revealed that this all was a rather unclear scheme to capture the Hulk and return him behind the Iron Curtain. The Hulk though is able to pretty much mop up the soldiers who try to capture him and the military soon arrives to take charge of the Russian soldiers and the  MIG fighter which they had disguised as a spaceship. Meanwhile Rick helps Bruce Banner back to the underground cell to keep him safe.

So within a mere four issues the premise of the series had been altered up in each issue, as Stan and Jack seemed clearly to be uncertain what they wanted the Hulk to be. The tone of this issue at least was consistent with the previous one, though unlike both the first two issues. The role of Rick is somewhat diminished in this issue after his dominant role in the third issue.

But it's not over. To be Hulkinued next week as this new somewhat smarter Hulk goes beneath the Earth .

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