"And In This Corner... The Avengers!"
Written by Roy Thomas.
Drawn by Herb Trimpe.
Inked by Herb Trimpe.
Lettering by Sam Rosen.
Following his recent encounter with Tyrannus, the Hulk's still roaming the nation's underground caverns. You might think out of sight out of mind, but there's only one problem.
He's heading straight for the San Andreas Fault.
If he decides to use that as his punch bag it's bye bye California.
Happily, General Thunderbolt Ross has a plan. He calls in the Avengers to lure the Hulk above ground so he can try out his latest super-weapon on him.
I suppose it was always the danger, given his style, that Herb Trimpe would have trouble drawing the Avengers. Costumed adventurers were never his strength. But the truth is, for some reason, in this issue, he seems to be having trouble drawing everything - even the Hulk. His artwork looks terrible; not just his pencilling and inking but his layouts too. It's like he's trying a whole new way of drawing the strip, and failing. Gone is the heightened visual drama we're used to, replaced by a form of story-telling that seems both flat and juvenile.
He's not the only one. Whatever malaise is afflicting Trimpe seems to have overcome Roy Thomas too. A man more used than anyone to writing the Avengers seems to have lost all feel for them. Apart from the Hulk and Goliath no one in this story seems to be speaking the way they should be.
To make matters worse, the Avengers are plain useless. They're just there to divert the Hulk so he'll step into the path of some beam or other that Thunderbolt Ross and his men have whipped up. When the Hulk finally obliges, the beam doesn't work, so the Avengers simply give up and leave, congratulating themselves on the fact they've proven they can work as a team, seemingly not caring for one moment that the Hulk's still on the loose. The various Avengers' dialogue as they depart is like some sort of parody of how super-heroes speak.
I really don't know what was going on with this issue. The impression you get is it was knocked out in a hurry under pressure of a tight deadline. Then again, maybe everyone's brains just sprang a leak during the making of it but it really is one of the few tales from the era that you'd avoid letting anyone see if you were trying to turn them on to the Hulk.
It's a shame because it's the Hulk, and it's the Avengers and it should be great. But sadly that's the one thing it isn't.