(Cover from November 1971.)
Written by Len Wein.
Drawn by Herb Trimpe.
Inked by John Severin.
Lettering by Jean Izzo.
It seems like at some point every Marvel hero has to get signed up to do a movie - and this time it’s the turn of the Hulk who, after destroying large chunks of southern Europe, finds himself in Egypt and blundering onto a film shoot. The genius of a director decides the Hulk's just the thing his historical epic needs (Ancient Egypt presumably having been full of mono-syllabic green monsters) and so the Hulk finds himself on set and in costume.
There’s just one problem.
A bunch of aliens who resemble the Egyptian Gods have turned up, looking to animate two stone titans for a duel that could devastate the Earth. And one of those titans is the Sphinx!
It’s a strange tale, eerie in places, that feels more like a bizarre dream Bruce Banner’s having than any kind of reality. Little in it makes sense. It’s hard to see just why the aliens take Banner aboard their ship. They don’t seem to need him for anything. They just do it for purposes of exposition. Having read Banner’s mind and learned nothing from it that seems to be of any interest to them (even though they’ve learned he’s the Hulk), they then leave him unattended on their ship where he can - and does - sabotage their plans. Beamed back to Egypt, the Hulk then proceeds to routinely tear apart a giant living statue called Colossus who declares that nothing has ever faced Colossus before and survived, despite the fact he’s only just come into existence and therefore nothing has ever faced Colossus ever.
There’s also the problem of events early in the tale where the Hulk sinks a Russian warship and presumably drowns the whole crew then causes a tidal wave that destroys an entire town. Leaving aside the fact I’m not sure Soviet warships ever patrolled the Mediterranean, logically the Hulk must have caused hundreds and possibly thousands of deaths in these two incidents but the story takes no consideration of this at all and both events are instantly forgotten about by both writer Len Wein an artist Trimpe.
The tale also has a fair amount of padding, with a near four page recap of the Hulk’s origin and a three page scene where Thunderbolt Ross tells Glenn Talbot and Betty about his plans for his new Project Greenskin base.
So it’s a story that makes no sense, is arguably 33% padding, ducks the moral issue of the Hulk being a mass-murderer, has a set of villains who do things for no reason at all and, in Colossus, has a monster that poses no threat whatsoever to the Hulk. The Sphinx is a no-show thanks to Banner’s interfering.
The odd thing is that, having said all that, the sheer strangeness of the tale carries it along. And if its multiple flaws mean you couldn’t exactly call it a classic, it is at least odd enough to stick in the memory for as long as a story that was a genuine classic would.