(Cover from October 1970.)
“In The Hands Of Hydra!”
Written by Roy Thomas.
Drawn by Herb Trimpe.
Inked by John Severin.
Lettering by Artie Simek.
“Many arms have Hydra! Cut off a limb and two more shall take its place!” which must come in handy if its members ever decide to take up chainsaw juggling.
Instead, the criminal organisation who can only afford one cape between them have decided to do something far more dangerous - capturing the Hulk. They want to use him as their new super-weapon, and so recruit the services of Jim Wilson by convincing him the US military, who currently have the green-skinned behemoth, intend their captive nothing but ill.
Jim Wilson is of course spectacularly stupid in this tale, helping Hydra even though they make no attempt to act like anything but villains in front of him. “Few could talk thus to the Supreme Hydra -- and survive!” The Supreme Hydra tells him during a trip to the pictures. You think that alone might be enough to warn Jim they’re not the good guys in this tale. But no, he just ploughs straight on and helps them, somehow thinking he’s aiding the Hulk by delivering them into their hands.
Despite this, I can’t deny I have a soft spot for Jim Wilson. He’s currently as thick as two short planks and guaranteed to make the wrong decision at every turn but at least his heart’s in the right place.
I also can’t deny I have a soft spot for Hydra. Of the three Marvel criminal organisations of the age, AIM, the Maggia and Hydra, Hydra are the only ones who’ve ever grabbed me. Maybe it’s the masks, maybe it’s the tendency to burst into melodramatic mottoes - like some gang of malevolent boy scouts - or maybe it’s just the fact they don’t wear beekeepers’ hats or sound like the Mafia. Needless to say their nefarious plan turns out to be a dud and, like the Mandarin before them, who also sought to use the Hulk as a super-weapon, all they succeed in doing is bringing him into their secret lair so he can smash it to pieces.
But this issue's not about the Hulk, who's really just a supporting player here. It's about new cast member Jim Wilson and, at the tale's end, Jim's hurt and possibly dying. Will we have to say goodbye to our new sometime-sidekick before we even got to know him properly?