“A Titan Stalks The Tenements!”
Written by Roy Thomas.
Drawn by Herb Trimpe.
Inked by John Severin.
Lettering by Sam Rosen.
The Hulk gets “relevant” as his quest to kill Bruce Banner takes him to the tenements where he finds a new friend in homeless teenager Jim Wilson and meets an old ally in Iron Man.
Banner and Iron Man have decided the only way to stop the Hulk is to fire a Gamma gun at him to make he and Banner merge once more. But it seems there’s a problem, because, once it’s done, Bruce Banner appears to be permanently trapped inside the Hulk forever.
With Rick Jones off having adventures with Captain Marvel and having anyway outlived his useful purpose in the pages of The Hulk, we get to meet what’s effectively his straight replacement in Jim Wilson who, like the Hulk, is a homeless outcast and not white.
The fact he’s not white might not seem like it should be any big deal but this is the early 1970s, and so Jim can barely get through a sentence without mentioning his and other people’s skin colour. Looking at it through modern eyes, it’s a characterisation somewhat lacking in subtlety but I suppose we should at least credit Roy Thomas and Marvel for making an effort, and Jim’s humble origins do enable him to serve his purpose perfectly as the strip’s conscience.
His presence also does the comic a favour by bringing out the more human side of Thunderbolt Ross who, in his treatment of Jim in future issues, starts to reveal himself to be more than just the empty-headed blowhard he was once routinely depicted as.
So, John Severin's back on inks, the Hulk's got a new friend, General Ross is turning into a more rounded human being. It seems like everything's right with the world.
Apart from Bruce Banner being gone forever, of course.
Still, that can all be sorted out next issue.