"At The Mercy Of -- Maximus The Mad!"
Written by Stan Lee.
Drawn by Herb Trimpe.
Inked by Herb Trimpe.
Lettered by Artie Simek.
Bruce Banner has to be the unluckiest man alive. Admittedly the fact that he once opened his wardrobe and found it filled with nothing but purple trousers is a king-sized hint but, beyond that, it seems like he can't go anywhere without blundering into trouble. No sooner has he arrived in the little known country of Costa Salvador than he finds its people in a trance, controlled by a giant statue in the nearest town square.
It's all the work of Maximus the Mad and his band of Evil Inhumans. Being the modest soul he is, Maximus has a plan to take control of the world and has started with this town. Just to up the Hulk's bad-luck quotient for the day, as his fight with the Inhumans approaches its climax, the American military turn up and he has to decide what to do. Who does he side with? The Evil Inhumans or the soldiers who seek to destroy him?
Of course, there's the third option; that he just leaps away and leaves the Inhumans and the military to slug it out without him.
Sadly, such thinking's beyond our "hero" and we finish the issue with him getting distinctly confused about it all.
There's actually not that much I can say about this tale. It's nicely drawn and it does what you'd expect the first part of a Hulk story to do. But then again, the Evil Inhumans are clearly not within a million miles of being a match for the Hulk and the fight'd clearly have been over very quickly had it not been for the arrival of the US forces. Most of that problem's down to the fact that, amazingly, Maximus doesn't seem to have any tricks up his sleeve, no ray guns, no machines, no hostages. He just keeps ordering his Inhumans to attack the brute. We're so used to Marvel arch-villains like Dr Doom and Kang the Conqueror having more tricks than a bag full of weasels that, bearing in mind his Inhumans have no way to best the Hulk, it's an oddly futile version of Maximus we're getting and makes him and his gang feel like they're on a par with such second-raters as the Ringmaster and his Circus of Crime.
Highlight of the tale has to be Falcona setting her birds of prey on Maximus' lackey for daring to point out his mind-control robot isn't infallible. It's genuinely nasty and highlights the would-be dictator's megalomania that he'll have his most faithful servant killed for trying to warn him that his plan's in danger.