“And The Measure Of A Man Is… Death!”
Plot by Roy Thomas.
Written by Gerry Conway.
Drawn by Herb Trimpe.
Inked by John Severin.
Lettering by Sam Rosen.
The Hulk goes Invasion of the Body Snatchers as Jim Wilson discovers the Leader’s been merrily replacing everyone who matters with killer androids. Meanwhile, the Hulk’s in the Middle East, fighting the Israeli army.
It’s all good stuff. While the Hulk’s busy doing his usual smashing and trashing, the focus of the story’s on Jim and his discovery of the Leader’s activities at General Ross’s spanking new base. As Jim’s the nearest thing to a normal person in the comic - and a natural outsider in such military surroundings - it’s pleasing to see him getting centre stage for the first time since issue #132, and he’s more proactive and resourceful than we’ve ever seen him before.
Granted he doesn’t exactly come across as Einstein in going back to the base to tell Thunderbolt Ross that the man he assigned to give Jim a lift has turned out to be an android but I suspect this is more down to confusion between artist and writer than anything else. I’m pretty sure Herb Trimpe’s pictures are meant to show Jim is aware Ross knew about the android all along. The look on Jim’s face throughout the scene where he and Ross discuss it in Ross’s office tells its own story but, for some reason, writer Gerry Conway’s captions and dialogue don’t have the youth become suspicious till after he leaves the building.
But that's not Conway’s main sin. He’s got Jim back to mentioning skin colour at every possible opportunity, and reveals the typical Marvel writer’s in-depth knowledge of black culture by having him gratuitously name-check James Brown, just to let us know Jim’s like, black, you know. Conway’s not alone in that. Superfly guy Roy Thomas was in the habit of doing exactly the same thing when he was writing the strip.
There’s also the sight of Conway putting the word, “Cripes,” into Jim’s mouth as he’s being shot at; something he used to do with Peter Parker in Spider-Man mags with a regularity that became laughable. I could be totally mistaken but I for one am not totally convinced people of any sort - let alone street kids - say cripes when confronted by life or death situations.
Still, it’s a well-structured tale, nicely balancing the twin story lines against each other, and the bit-by-bit reveal of what’s going on at the base is nicely handled. Let's face it, you can never beat a bit of good old-fashioned paranoia when it comes to story telling.
Highlight of the issue has to be the scene where the character we think is Glenn Talbot is revealed to be none other than the Leader in disguise. I assume this wasn’t just a matter of coincidence but is a visual pun on the fact that - green skin and huge forehead aside - the Leader and Talbot have always looked virtually identical.