(Cover from May 1971.)
“Many Foes Has The Hulk!”
Written by Roy Thomas.
Drawn by Herb Trimpe.
Inked by Sam Grainger.
Lettering by Artie Simek.
Give them their due. Thunderbolt Ross and Glenn Talbot aren’t men who need a brick wall to fall on them twice.
They’re men who need a brick wall to fall on them a thousand times - and even then they might not get the message. After having seen proof, time after time, of the Leader’s pathological need for treachery, when he approaches them with his latest scheme, guess what? That’s right, they fall for it.
This time he wants to kill the Hulk by making him, in quick succession, fight imaginary recreations of his greatest foes, thus dealing him a fatal heart attack. To do this the Leader needs the military who just happen to have a machine lying around that’ll enable him to do it. Needless to say, having gained their co-operation, he then betrays them, just in time for the normally dim-witted Jim Wilson to show more sense than everyone else put together and sabotage the machine.
Despite the stupidity of Ross and Talbot it’s yet another of those tales I love. Granted its plot’s basically purloined from The Fantastic Four issue #100 in which the FF had to face a whole string of fake versions of their greatest foes but while that story was a bit of a random mess and a sad reminder of how far Jack Kirby’s run had declined since its mid-1960s’ heyday, this tale works beautifully because, unlike that outing, it has a defined endpoint to give it focus. Each of the Hulk’s “fights” brings him inexorably closer to the place where the now glass Betty Ross is, meaning that, when he gets there, the vitrified victim’s likely to be smashed to pieces by the tremors from his fighting.
It also boasts a much stronger and better thought-out climax in which, thanks to Jim Wilson’s tinkering, the Leader’s machine back-fires and leaves him thinking he’s being pursued by a whole bunch of Hulks until his mind snaps and he’s left in a vegetative state of total mental shut-down.
Of course, if the Leader had any sense, he’d have set all the Hulk’s imaginary foes on him at once.
But it seems the Leader has even less of that quality than Thunderbolt Ross and Major Talbot do.