"The Eve Of --- Annihilation"
Written by Stan Lee.
Drawn by Herb Trimpe.
Inked by Dan Adkins.
Lettered by Artie Simek.
Ambitions, we all have to have them. Mine's to get across those big red balls in Total Wipeout.
The Leader's is to start World War Three.
That's right. The only man you'll ever meet who can wear a top hat as a baseball cap wants to reduce the planet to a radioactive wasteland occupied only by himself and his giant humanoid. By these means will he at last rule the world. Given that ruling a radioactive wasteland without even a set of big red balls to its name seems a bit of a waste of time, I think my ambition's more viable.
At last, after last issue's preamble, the story kicks into gear as the Leader starts to take over the base, and Betty Ross and Glenn Talbot try to do something about it. Needless to say, General Ross is too dim to realise the wanted criminal's up to no good, and he won't hear a word of it until he accidentally blunders in and sees a bunch of his troops out cold on the floor as the Leader rants on about how he's going to destroy humanity. Given the way Ross has been acting lately, it's a wonder he doesn't immediately blame Bruce Banner.
Then again, despite his boasting, the Leader's not the sharpest knife in the drawer either. He decides to immobilise the entire base with his mental energy but, for no reason whatsoever, other than the plot needs it, the high-headed heel gives Betty a magic tiara to block out his mental emanations. He then lets her go running off to do whatever she wants.
Now, you and I can figure out she's going to head straight for the Hulk and free him. For some reason this never occurs to the, "world's mightiest mind." In other words it's an issue where no one acts even vaguely like a rational human being ever would. In fairness, none of these stories would be possible if they did, so, the unforgivable silliness of Betty Ross's tiara aside, maybe we have to turn a blind eye to such quibbles.
If it's a make-or-break day for humanity, it's another quiet issue for the Hulk. He's barely seen in it. Thanks to Betty, he escapes from his rubber cell for a few panels and then, thanks the Leader, he's back in it again. Rarely can a super-hero have been so comprehensively sidelined in his own comic. It is possibly a bit worrying that the strip really doesn't suffer from his absence.