" The Stars, Mine Enemy!"
Written by Roy Thomas.
Drawn by Herb Trimpe.
Inked by Mike Esposito.
Lettering by Artie Simek.
Anchors aweigh, shipmates, it's another classic tale from a classic era as the Hulk finds himself as a crewman on an intergalactic whaling ship and we meet Captain Cybor, the half-man half-machine seeking revenge on the gigantic Klaatu for causing his unfortunate situation.
But first, of course, there's the murderous presence of the ship's first mate the Abomination to be dealt with.
I've written before about the challenges that must've faced the strip's writers for years, trying to construct compelling stories around a character with almost zero motivation and even less intelligence. One of the solutions to that problem was to make the Hulk at times a supporting character in his own book and that's what happens here. The truth is you could cut the Hulk out of this tale completely and the outcome would be precisely the same.
Still, if the Hulk hadn't been there we'd never have had the story, nor seen the return of the Abomination, nor gained witness to the strange visual poetry of the final few pages as Klaatu and his doomed nemesis drift, panel by panel, into the sun, while Xeron and his crew resign themselves to powerlessly circling that sun until their air supply runs out. It really is an oddly haunting ending and pushes the strip into the realms of art.
I am slightly confused though as to how Bruce Banner and then the Hulk and the Abomination survive adrift in space in the last couple of pages, let alone how they manage to speak in the airless vacuum. I can only assume the ship's atmosphere shell extends an awful long way into space.
I also wonder if Cybor was called Cybor before he became a cyborg. If so, he clearly had the most prescient parents of any captain this side of a man called Mar-Vell.