Wednesday

OMU: Hulk -- Year Four

As Bruce Banner’s life continues to unravel, the Hulk starts to come into his own as a more independent entity. A star-crossed romance with the beautiful queen of an alien dimension gives Hulk a psychological advantage over his alter-ego, eventually wrecking Bruce’s relationship with the long-suffering Betty Ross. And even as Bruce finds himself alone and friendless, Hulk gains new comrades in the Defenders, a loose-knit association of outcast superheroes. But, interestingly, this is also the period when Bruce first meets the super-psychiatrist Dr. Leonard Samson, who will eventually help him reconcile his divided self. This intriguing psychodrama is hindered somewhat, though, by a revolving door in the writing department, with scripts provided by Roy Thomas, Gary Friedrich, Len Wein, Gerry Conway, Archie Goodwin, Steve Gerber, and Steve Englehart (with additional input from Harlan Ellison and Chris Claremont). Some stability was offered by artist Herb Trimpe, who drew most of the issues from this period.

Note: The following timeline depicts the Original Marvel Universe (anchored to November 1961 as the first appearance of the Fantastic Four and proceeding forward from there. See previous posts for a detailed explanation of my rationale.) Some information presented on the timeline is speculative and some is based on historical accounts. See the Notes section at the end for clarifications.


Continuing on with... The True History of the Incredible Hulk!


January 1965 – Bruce Banner wanders into a small town in New Mexico and reads in the newspaper that Betty Ross has been transformed into a crystalline statue as a result of the blood transfusion with the Sandman last month. Bruce is overcome with feelings of guilt, seeing that the people he cares about are continually being harmed by the Hulk and his numerous enemies. A few days later, Bruce changes into the Hulk and is lured to an installation at Hoover Dam on the Arizona–Nevada border. There, he is suddenly trapped within a magnetic force field and subjected to tremendous amounts of electricity. Through the haze of pain, Hulk can see Mister Fantastic and Professor Charles Xavier watching him, along with General “Thunderbolt” Ross and Major Glenn Talbot. The electric current is sufficient to knock Hulk out, and when he comes to, he finds himself in a different laboratory. Completely paralyzed and only semi-conscious, Hulk glares passively at his captor, a strange, one-eyed insectoid creature calling himself Psyklop. As Psyklop turns a shrinking ray on the Hulk in order to study his molecular structure, the Avengers—Thor, Iron Man, Captain America, Goliath, and the Falcon—burst into the lab and attack. Psyklop is too distracted by the fight to switch off the shrinking ray, causing the Hulk to be transported into the Microverse.

Hulk materializes in an alien jungle where the plants tower over him. After fighting off a gigantic animal that looks like a cross between a wolf and a boar, Hulk prevents more of the creatures from overrunning a nearby city. The green-skinned populace hails the Hulk as their savior, and their Pantheon of Sorcerers casts a spell that not only grants the Hulk the mind of Bruce Banner but enables him to understand their language as well. Their beautiful queen, Jarella, then welcomes him to the city-state of K’ai and introduces her cousin, the warlord Visis. Jarella announces that, since he saved them from the creatures, called warthos, Hulk has been chosen to be her royal consort. During a tour of the city, Bruce determines that K’ai has only very primitive technology, and certainly nothing that could transport him back to his home dimension. Thus, he realizes that he may be marooned among Jarella’s people for the rest of his life. After spending many days getting acclimated to his new surroundings, Bruce realizes he finds Jarella extremely attractive and agrees to marry her. He convinces himself that Betty and the world he’s left behind will be better off without him. However, wanting the throne for himself, Visis sends assassins to kill Jarella and her new paramour. The assassins are no match for the Hulk, though, and Visis is banished from the city. Bruce then announces to the citizens that he will marry their queen, only to be seized by Psyklop and transported back to earth. The sorcerers’ spell immediately wears off and Hulk’s savage personality reasserts itself. Enraged at being separated from Jarella, Hulk beats up Psyklop and storms out of the laboratory. Finding himself on an island in the Pacific Ocean, Hulk feels confused, then leaps away to search for Jarella’s kingdom.

Once back in the United States, Hulk encounters Major Talbot, who reminds him of Betty’s predicament and says the Hulk can save her if he comes along peacefully. Remembering his love for Betty, Hulk calms down and changes back into Bruce Banner. General Ross approaches and introduces Bruce to Dr. Leonard Samson, a slender psychiatrist who has developed a gamma-ray process that may cure both Betty and Bruce simultaneously. An Air Force transport plane takes them across the country to Samson’s research facility in New York City, where Bruce spends the next week undergoing a variety of medical examinations. Samson also conducts some preliminary psychoanalysis sessions with Bruce.

Finally, Samson is ready to attempt his cure. Bruce is taken into a laboratory, where he sees Betty’s crystalline form inside a protective capsule. He enters Samson’s “cathexis-ray” device and the psychiatrist activates it. The machine draws power from Bruce’s irradiated cells, causing him to momentarily transform into the Hulk, then beams it at Betty. She immediately changes back into flesh and blood, and all preliminary checks indicate the experiment was a complete success. Both patients are taken to separate rooms to recuperate, but as the hours pass, Bruce grows restless. Taking a walk outside, he finds Betty getting into a car with Samson, who suddenly has a large, muscular build and long green hair. Bruce deduces that Samson must have irradiated himself with some of the Hulk’s left-over energy, and decides that he has no right to interfere with Betty’s happiness.

As the days pass, Samson begins wearing a flashy superhero costume and referring to himself as “Doc Samson.” He continues dating Betty until Bruce is driven by jealousy to use the cathexis-ray device to turn himself back into the Hulk. The machine overloads and explodes, causing the laboratory building to collapse. Hulk emerges from the rubble and gets into a fight with Samson, who is eager to test his newfound strength. However, as Hulk gets angrier his strength increases, whereas Samson’s remains the same. Hulk is thus able to overpower his foe and defeat him. Betty runs up to Samson to comfort him, ignoring the Hulk. As the couple walks away, Hulk watches them with the vague feeling that he’s lost something. Afterwards, Bruce falls into a profound depression and takes a room at a flophouse in Harlem.

Late one evening, Bruce sees a flaming message in the sky urging him to contact the Fantastic Four. He takes a cab to the Baxter Building, but as they are passing Central Park, he sees the Thing battling the police. The stress causes Bruce to change into the Hulk. Recognizing his old foe, Hulk runs into the park and attacks the Thing. Their battle lasts for about an hour, during which they destroy several monuments, including Cleopatra’s Needle and the Central Park Carousel. Finally, the Thing’s girlfriend, Alicia Masters, appears on the scene and distracts him, allowing Hulk to land a crushing blow to the head. The Thing crashes to the pavement, apparently dead. Mister Fantastic and the Human Torch also arrive on the scene as Hulk wanders into a nearby alley and turns back into Bruce Banner. Thinking he’s killed the Thing, Bruce feels horribly guilty. The next morning, though, the newspapers report that the Thing has made a full recovery.

February 1965 – Fed up with New York City, Hulk swims out to Liberty Island and climbs up the Statue of Liberty. Finding a comfortable nook behind the tablet in the statue’s right hand, Hulk falls asleep and is discovered there the next morning by General Ross and Major Talbot. Refusing to deal with his foes, Hulk is finally convinced to come down off the statue by Samantha Parrington and her parents, Reginald and Malicia, wealthy Manhattanites who promise to help him escape from persecution. Hulk accompanies them back to their apartment on the Upper East Side, where they throw a fundraising gala that ultimately raises over $100,000. However, Samantha objects to her parents’ exploitation of the Hulk and organizes a protest march in the street outside. Hulk is confused by the whole affair and is already feeling paranoid when the Valkyrie suddenly crashes through the window and attacks him. Hulk refuses to fight with her, but she manages to render him unconscious with a nerve pinch. Hulk comes to just in time to find the Valkyrie tossing him off the top of the Empire State Building. After crashing through a building below, Hulk emerges from the rubble and scoffs at the Valkyrie’s attempt to kill him. Suddenly, a blast of eldritch energy hits them, transforming the Valkyrie into Samantha Parrington and turning the Hulk back into Bruce Banner. Disoriented, Bruce beats a hasty retreat as the NYPD closes in on the demolished building. The police nearly apprehend Bruce, but he is rescued by none other than Doctor Doom and taken to the Latverian Embassy. Doom makes a great show of being benevolent, and Bruce decides to play along and see what the notorious supervillain has to offer.

By dawn, the embassy building has been surrounded by the military, and Bruce sees General Ross and Major Talbot in the street outside, along with Betty and Doc Samson. Doctor Doom then unveils a lifelike Hulk robot that sends a chill down Bruce’s spine. Doom sends the robot out to attack the soldiers as a decoy, and it is soon vaporized by their weaponry. Thinking the Hulk has been killed, the soldiers withdraw. Bruce tries to trigger his transformation in order to escape, but Doom is ready with some knock-out gas. When Bruce comes to, he finds himself in Latveria and, having been brainwashed, believes himself to be a loyal subject of Doctor Doom. He immediately embarks on a project to build a gamma bomb to protect the tiny kingdom from its aggressive neighbors.

Some days later, as Bruce is making final checks on the gamma bomb, Doctor Doom and his paramour, Valeria, come to check on his progress. However, when Valeria reminds him that it was a gamma bomb that turned him into the Hulk, Bruce becomes so agitated that it triggers his metamorphosis. Doom immediately knocks him out with a tranquilizer ray. When he regains consciousness, Bruce finds himself strapped into Doom’s brainwashing machine, which Valeria has deactivated prematurely so that Bruce can overcome its effects. She warns him of Doom’s plan to have the Hulk carry the gamma bomb across the border and detonate it in the midst of the neighboring army. Bruce quickly reprograms the machine to make the Hulk take the bomb to an unpopulated area instead. Valeria activates the brainwashing device, causing Bruce to black out again. He is shocked awake later and immediately changes into the Hulk. With the gamma bomb strapped to his back, Hulk heads into Yugoslavia, but, following his post-hypnotic suggestion, he finds a deserted area and ditches the bomb. It explodes behind him moments later, driving Hulk to return to Latveria to take revenge on Doctor Doom. Hulk smashes into the castle and attacks Doom, and their battle carries them out to the nearby village, where they demolish several buildings. Finally, Hulk gets Doom into a bear hug and threatens to crush the life out of him, but even so, Doom refuses to surrender. Knowing he’s won the fight, Hulk drops Doom and walks away. Seeing Valeria rushing to comfort Doctor Doom reminds Hulk of when Betty ran to Doc Samson last month, and, feeling sad, he leaps off into the sky. Over the next couple of days, Hulk makes his way west across Europe to eastern Canada.

While stomping through a forest in Quebec, Hulk encounters the astral form of Doctor Strange. The sorcerer leads Hulk to a strange-looking lighthouse at Point Promontory, Maine, where they meet up with the Sub-Mariner and Strange’s physical body. Doctor Strange directs Hulk and the Sub-Mariner to smash their way through the lighthouse’s numerous defenses to gain access to the doomsday weapon hidden within, which he calls the Omegatron. The two titans succeed in breaching the lighthouse, but before they can attack the Omegatron, Doctor Strange casts illusions that cause Hulk and Sub-Mariner to fight each other. A minute or so later, the illusions fade and the sorcerer explains that if they had tried to destroy the Omegatron, the energy from their blows would have triggered it. Strange needed to keep them occupied so he could cast another spell to slow down time around the Omegatron to an imperceptible crawl. This will give him time to find a way to safely deactivate the device, which was built with a mysterious mixture of future technology and ancient magic. Annoyed at being tricked, Hulk rejects Strange’s proposal that they work together on occasion and call themselves “the Defenders.” The Sub-Mariner isn’t interested either, so the three men go their separate ways.

Later, Hulk is lured to Garrett Castle in England, where he finds Thor, Iron Man, Ant-Man, Wasp, Captain America, Hawkeye, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, Black Panther, Vision, and the Black Knight. Angry and suspicious, Hulk is ready to leave immediately, but Cap convinces him to stay. They descend into the depths of the castle, where the Black Knight lights a large brazier, thus summoning the spirit of his ancestor, Sir Percy of Scandia. The original Black Knight then conjures up a vision that shows the Avengers how the Ebony Blade came into the possession of the Greek god of war, Ares, and his scheme to join forces with the Enchantress to conquer Earth, Olympus, and Asgard. Unexpectedly joined by the Swordsman, the Avengers decide to split into two squads. Hulk agrees to accompany Thor, Iron Man, Vision, and Black Knight to Olympus while the others remain to defend Earth. Once they’ve crossed the dimensional boundary, though, Hulk discovers Olympus to be a place of exceptional peace and tranquility. He wanders off into the countryside, following the sound of soft music. He soon finds a group of satyrs sitting around a dimensional portal to Earth, playing their pipes. Hulk joins them, oblivious to the battle the Avengers are fighting against a horde of demons on the other side of the portal. When the demons are routed, they come swarming through the rift, just as the Enchantress comes running up to escape from Olympus. Hulk is enraged that the peace has been disturbed and smashes the demons. He then grabs the Enchantress and forces her to sit and listen to the satyrs’ music. The Avengers arrive then, having rescued Hercules, and convince Hulk to return to Earth with them. Leaving the Enchantress in the custody of Hercules, the heroes pass through the portal and find themselves in London, England. Hulk goes off by himself, intent on finding his own way home.

March 1965 – Hulk makes his way south, but gets lost as he’s crossing Europe. After terrorizing a small coastal town in Italy, he wanders across Greece before wrecking a freight train in Bulgaria. While swimming across the Black Sea, he sinks a Russian naval vessel. Reaching land, he moves down through Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Israel, and into Egypt. Eventually reaching the Giza Plateau, Hulk disrupts a film shoot, but the cast and crew convince him to participate in some improvised scenes. However, when he grows bored, he changes back into Bruce Banner and refuses to cooperate further. Later that night, Bruce is kidnapped by four aliens disguised as Egyptian gods, who plan to settle a dispute with a gladiatorial combat between two giant monsters, one of which proves to be the Sphinx. Bruce manages to get the drop on his captors and prevent the Sphinx from reanimating itself. The stress causes him to turn into the Hulk, and when he starts tearing apart the ship, the aliens teleport Hulk back down to Earth. There, Hulk quickly reduces the second monster, a stone colossus, to a pile of rubble. The battle won, Hulk wanders off into the desert, heading east toward the rising sun.

Trudging across the Sinai Peninsula, Hulk gets caught in a fierce sandstorm. When the storm finally abates, Hulk finds himself face-to-face with the Israeli Army. Noticing that many of the soldiers are women, Hulk refuses to fight them. He leaps away, eventually coming to the Tel Aviv airport and hitching a ride on a DC-8 that is taking off. Under military escort, the plane carries Hulk directly to the U.S. Air Force’s new Hulkbuster Base, located in northeastern Doña Ana County, New Mexico. There, the soldiers open fire on Hulk with a new sonic weapon that drives him into a frenzy. He crashes into the administration building and grabs General Ross, crushing him. To Hulk’s surprise, Ross turns out to be a robot doppelgänger. Betty and Doc Samson then convince Hulk to help defend the base from an army of the Leader’s humanoids. As the Hulk approaches, the numerous automatons merge into a single giant humanoid, and it tries to blast the Hulk with high-intensity gamma rays. Samson leaps in front of him, shielding him from the radiation, but it causes the would-be superhero to revert to his normal slim form. Hulk then smashes the humanoid, which dissolves into a puddle of goo. The real General Ross and Major Talbot arrive and announce that the Leader has been defeated in his nearby lair. Amid the hubbub, Hulk feels he’s being ignored, so he yells at everybody before leaping off into the surrounding desert.

Hulk heads back to the wilderness in Catron County, which feels like home to him. Along the way, he stumbles into a telepathic mirage of an idyllic small town. Behind a white picket fence, he finds a girl in a wheelchair who wants to be his friend. Hulk is glad, but then the girl slowly fades away. The town itself quickly follows, disappearing without a trace, leaving Hulk to lash out in rage and pound his fists on the ground. Confused and upset, Hulk eventually takes refuge in a cave system he’s become familiar with.

April–July 1965 – Hulk spends the next four months hanging around the abandoned Desert Base, avoiding contact with the human race. When he turns back into Bruce Banner, he takes shelter at some of his old hidden laboratories in the area, which are still stocked with provisions. During this time, he is contacted by the astral form of Doctor Strange, who asks him about the woman who helped them escape the dimension of the Undying Ones last October. Unfortunately, all Bruce can remember is that her name was Barbara.

August 1965 – The Hulk is captured by the Air Force and returned to Hulkbuster Base, where he is subjected to a solar-bombardment procedure that changes him back into Bruce Banner. Groggy, Bruce is surprised when his old college roommate, Peter Corbeau, now a Nobel-prize winning physicist, enters the laboratory. Corbeau explains how he harnessed the power of the sun to cure Bruce, but it soon appears that the process has somehow caused solar flares to erupt that could threaten the earth. Bruce is willing to become the Hulk again if necessary, but Corbeau sends Bruce to his beach house near Big Sur to recuperate while they search for a better solution. A few hours later, while relaxing on the California coast, Bruce is startled when Jarella suddenly materializes on the beach. She has come to find him because the exiled warlord Visis has raised an army of mercenaries and is intent on conquering K’ai. They are interrupted by Major Talbot, who has been sent to bring Bruce back to Hulkbuster Base. Talbot agrees to let Jarella accompany them to New Mexico.

When they arrive, Corbeau determines that the sun is about to go nova, apparently due to a combination of his solar-bombardment procedure and the spacetime rift that brought Jarella from the Microverse. Bruce and Corbeau work through the night, conferring with Reed Richards and Hank Pym, to find a way to send Jarella home before the sun reaches the critical point. During their teleconference, Pym mentions the super-concentrated shrinking formula he used to help the Fantastic Four travel to the Microverse three years ago, but asserts that the chemicals would have become too unstable since then to use. Hoping to not have to separate Bruce from his green-skinned girlfriend, Corbeau commissions S.H.I.E.L.D. to build a Life Model Decoy android to take Jarella’s place. Constructed by Tony Stark himself, the LMD is delivered around noon the next day. Unfortunately, they are then attacked by an assassin sent by Visis, forcing Bruce to reverse Corbeau’s cure and become the Hulk again. Unable to stop Hulk with his blaster, the assassin blows up the lab, destroying the LMD. Believing Jarella is dead, Hulk grabs the assassin and kills him. Hulk is confused when the real Jarella enters with General Ross and Major Talbot, enabling two soldiers to sneak up behind the Hulk and knock him out with powerful tranquilizers.

After Jarella has been sent home, along with the assassin’s body, the sun quickly stabilizes and the crisis is averted. Hulk is placed in a holding cell and kept in a drug-induced stupor. When he finally changes back into Bruce Banner, Ross and Talbot convince him that the USAF’s Project Greenskin is his best chance of finding a permanent cure for the Hulk. Depressed and feeling a bit cynical, Bruce agrees to cooperate. When Betty comes to visit him later, Bruce decides not to tell her about Jarella, as he still hasn’t sorted out his own feelings. Suddenly, the base is attacked by one of the High Evolutionary’s New Men who has been banished for refusing to follow the chivalrous code of the Knights of Wundagore. Bruce turns into the Hulk and attacks the creature, and their battle tears up much of Hulkbuster Base. Finally, the creature accidentally triggers the radiation-neutralizing device Bruce had been working on and is changed back to its original form—a common cockroach. Hulk searches for his vanished foe for several hours before fighting his way past the soldiers to escape from the underground research complex. He spends the remainder of the night on a moonlit mesa, thinking about Jarella.

In the morning, the Air Force attacks again, but they suddenly withdraw before Hulk can retaliate. Hulk is confused by their retreat, but content to go back to daydreaming about Jarella. He is startled when he spots a car in the distance being driven by a woman with long green hair. The car is being pursued by a motorcycle gang, so, thinking the woman might be Jarella, Hulk leaps off to the rescue. However, when he catches up to the car, it has been abandoned and the woman has somehow knocked out all the bikers on her own. Hulk continues his search, and finally finds the woman arguing with a young man outside a remote adobe bungalow. Landing suddenly between the two, Hulk grabs the woman and carries her to the top of a nearby mesa, where he discovers she is not Jarella, but Lorna Dane. The man, Alex Summers, emerges from the house dressed in his Havok costume and attacks Hulk with his powerful energy blasts. Enraged, Hulk breaks off a huge chunk of the mesa, not realizing Lorna is standing on top of it. Havok focuses a narrow energy beam on Hulk’s forehead, until the pain makes Hulk set the rock down gently. Hulk then passes out and quickly changes back into Bruce Banner. The next thing Bruce knows, a woman is cradling him in her arms and, half-conscious, he whispers Jarella’s name. Unfortunately, the woman holding him is Betty Ross, who has arrived on the scene in a jeep with Glenn Talbot. As he comes to his senses, Bruce tries to explain to Betty about Jarella and his conflicted feelings toward her. Betty does not take it well, and tearfully asks Talbot to drive her back to the base. Berating himself for making a mess of things with Betty, Bruce becomes so angry at himself that he changes back into the Hulk. Focusing his rage on the jeep in the distance, Hulk goes after it, only to find it parked by the side of the road. Drawing close, Hulk is puzzled to see Betty and Talbot kissing. He decides to leave them alone and wanders off into the desert.

A day or so later, Bruce comes across a newspaper advertisement announcing that Hank Pym is scheduled to give a talk at George Washington University. Believing Pym is his best chance of returning to Jarella’s world in the Microverse, Bruce hops onto an eastbound train and makes his way to Washington, D.C. Unfortunately, when he finally arrives on the rainy campus, Bruce finds that the event has been cancelled. A janitor tries to throw him out, thinking he’s a vagrant, causing Bruce’s frustration and rage to boil over. The Hulk then goes on a rampage in downtown Washington, so the authorities call in General Ross and his Hulkbuster unit. As the thunderstorm intensifies, Ross tries to talk Hulk into coming along quietly, but they are interrupted when a limousine crashes into the base of a nearby statue and a strange, quivering, oozing mass slithers out of the wrecked car and goes after Ross. Not wanting some other monster to kill his arch-enemy, Hulk attacks the blob, only to find that it burns his skin like acid. Hulk’s fists prove ineffective against the gelatinous creature, and when he realizes the blob could very well eat him, Hulk feels an unaccustomed twinge of panic. Hulk breaks off a metal flagpole and stabs it into the middle of the blob, hoping to pierce its heart. Luckily, the flagpole is then struck by lightning and the blob is incinerated. Not wanting to fight the soldiers in his wounded state, Hulk limps off into a park and disappears into the night.

September 1965 – Throughout the month, Hulk evades General Ross’s forces as he makes his way back out west. The Hulkbusters are clearly making an all-out effort to capture him, giving Hulk hardly a moment’s peace. At some point, Bruce learns that the Hulk has somehow been implicated in the disappearance of Senator Morton Clegstead, whose limousine was carrying the blob-creature when the Hulk encountered it. As the weeks pass, Bruce also realizes that S.H.I.E.L.D. has joined in the nationwide manhunt. However, due to the stress of being relentlessly pursued, Bruce spends most of the month as the Hulk, getting into various skirmishes with military forces.

October 1965 – The Hulkbusters finally manage to capture the Hulk in a ghost town in Nevada, using S.H.I.E.L.D. LMDs to keep him busy while men in a hovercraft drop an electrified net over him. Knocked unconscious by the electric current, Hulk changes back into Bruce Banner, whereupon he is sedated and transported to a secure containment facility outside Las Vegas. When he comes to, Bruce is informed that he is to be prosecuted by the United States Attorney General on charges of conspiracy to destroy public property and endanger human lives. He asks to be represented by defense attorney Matt Murdock, having heard good things about him from Reed Richards. Murdock arrives later that evening and consults with Bruce in his detention cell. However, Bruce is kept so sedated that he is barely coherent.

The next day, Bruce is flown to New York to stand trial, accompanied aboard the Air Force 747 by Murdock and General Ross and his staff. Murdock and Ross argue about the high dosage of sedative administered to Bruce, as Murdock views it as a gross violation of his client’s civil rights. Ross finally relents and allows a stimulant to be administered to bring Bruce out of his stupor. However, Bruce becomes so agitated by the fear that the Hulk will destroy the plane in mid-air that his transformation is triggered. Luckily, Murdock is able to keep the Hulk calm until the plane lands. As soon as it’s on the tarmac at John F. Kennedy International Airport, though, Hulk smashes out through the fuselage, only to encounter the Fantastic Four. With some help from Spider-Man and Daredevil, the Fantastic Four manage to knock the Hulk out after a brief battle. Hulk is then taken into custody by S.H.I.E.L.D. and placed inside a special confinement chamber built by Tony Stark. Although he is unconscious, Hulk does not change back into Bruce Banner.

Hulk is kept within the confinement chamber for a few days while the courts rush the case to trial. He is then taken to the New York County Courthouse, gagged and bound to a wheeled titanium chair. The first day is devoted to jury selection, as Murdock faces off against the U.S. Attorney General, who is working with the District Attorney for New York, Franklin “Foggy” Nelson. On the second day, the prosecution presents its case, calling a few witnesses such as General Ross. The prosecution rests by lunchtime, and Murdock is given the afternoon to present the case for the defense. He calls the Avengers to serve as character witnesses, but the judge decides their testimony has no bearing on the case. Then, hoping to demonstrate that his client is mentally incompetent, Murdock calls the Hulk to testify on his own behalf. Even though Hulk admits he doesn’t know what’s going on, the judge orders that the case proceed. Stymied, Murdock rests his case, planning to appeal to a higher court. Suddenly, Mister Fantastic appears and convinces the judge to allow him to use a device he claims will change the Hulk back into Bruce Banner, whom he believes should be given the chance to testify. The judge gives his assent, but the energy rays merely give the Hulk the burst of strength he needs to break out his shackles and smash his way out of the courthouse. He leaps away into the sky, but, dazed by the effects of the device and nearly a week of sedated confinement, Hulk passes out and crashes into a building in the South Bronx.

Waking up in the morning, Hulk makes his way from the Bronx to Southampton on Long Island, as Bruce’s subconscious influence leads him to the laboratory of Hank Pym. Hulk breaks into the facility, knowing that something inside will help him find Jarella. A vague memory prompts Hulk to smash open the vault and expose himself to Pym’s super-concentrated shrinking formula. Due to its chemical instability, the serum first shrinks Hulk to the size of a doll, and he is captured by the Chameleon, who has been hired by a faction of HYDRA to steal Pym’s research on Virus Nine, one of HYDRA’s confiscated chemical weapons. The Chameleon takes Hulk to HYDRA’s secret base, where they decide to test Virus Nine on their tiny captive. Hearing this, Hulk breaks free and wreaks havoc throughout the base. Finally, Ant-Man arrives and helps Hulk defeat the HYDRA agents. Ant-Man then tries to convince Hulk to return to his laboratory for treatment, but Hulk refuses, intent on finding Jarella again. With a sudden spasm of pain, Hulk shrinks down to ant-size and changes back into Bruce Banner. The Chameleon tries to stomp on them, but the second before impact, Bruce shrinks again and crosses into the Microverse.

After a disorienting transdimensional journey, Bruce wakes up in the ruins of a New York City under attack by Nazis. When the street is strafed by a fighter plane, the shock causes Bruce to change into the Hulk. The Nazi forces are no match for the green goliath, though Hulk is confused when the soldiers he has killed transform into non-humanoid creatures. Wandering through the war-torn city, Hulk stumbles upon a patrol of U.S. soldiers. Recognizing Hulk as an alien, the soldiers explain that their planet has been taken over by a strange being called the Shaper of Worlds, who makes dreams come true. The war is the result of the Shaper bringing to life the dreams of another alien they call the Führer. Hulk decides to find this Shaper and force him to make Hulk’s dream come true by sending him to Jarella’s world. Thus, Hulk fights against the ersatz Nazis for many days until finally breaching their high command, where he finds the Führer, an earthman named Otto Kronsteig. Despite being transformed into the superhuman “Captain Axis,” Kronsteig is defeated by the Hulk, which causes his dreamworld to fade away. The Shaper of Worlds appears then, annoyed by this turn of events, and tries to lure the Hulk into providing him with dreams instead. Hulk proves too stubborn, though, so the Shaper grants his wish and sends him off to Jarella’s world.

As soon as he arrives, the spell previously cast by the Pantheon of Sorcerers is reactivated, causing the Hulk to have Bruce Banner’s personality. Bruce is overjoyed to be back in the one place where he and his green-skinned alter-ego can peacefully co-exist. However, when he reaches K’ai, he is shocked to find it a smoldering ruin. Attacked by warriors on strange flying creatures, Bruce learns that Visis has defeated Jarella and destroyed her kingdom. Enraged, Bruce unleashes the power of the Hulk and drives them off. A small band of loyalists emerge from the jungle, happy to see that their hero has returned to them. They inform Bruce that Jarella has been imprisoned in their enemy’s mountain stronghold. The next day, Bruce smashes into the fortress and rescues her.

Over the next several weeks, Bruce and Jarella rally her forces and strike back against Visis and his troops, slowly reclaiming the territory he has conquered. With each victory, the Hulk’s reputation grows as minstrels spread word of his mighty deeds, making him into a revered folk hero. Finally, their army reaches the plain at the foot of the hill where Visis’s castle stands, ready to make their final attack. That night, Jarella tries to get Bruce to sleep with her, but he refuses, believing she deserves better, something they can only have once the war is over. At daybreak, Visis sends a message challenging the Hulk to single combat. Jarella is sure it is a trick, but Bruce believes it is worth the risk, confident that Visis has no one to equal the Hulk. When he reaches the castle, though, Bruce discovers that Visis has the means to create a savage doppelgänger of the Hulk, who attacks Bruce in a murderous rage. Bruce soon realizes that he is no match for his berserker opponent and is about to fall when the sorcerers’ spell is lifted. Hulk’s personality resurfaces, causing the doppelgänger to dematerialize. Unfortunately, the shrinking formula suddenly wears off, causing Hulk to grow to gargantuan proportions. His foot utterly obliterates the castle, killing Visis and all his troops. Seeing Jarella’s tiny army in the distance, Hulk realizes he has found his true love only to lose her again. Before he knows it, Hulk crosses the dimensional boundary and materializes in a forest in New Jersey. Despite the Hulk’s long sojourn in the Microverse, only twelve days have passed on earth.

The next evening, Hulk vents his rage and heartache on the traffic on the New Jersey Turnpike until Jim Wilson shows up and leads him off to a nearby oil refinery. There, Jim manages to calm the Hulk down, and he finally changes back into Bruce Banner. Jim reluctantly tells Bruce that the world believes he was killed fighting HYDRA, and so Betty Ross and Glenn Talbot are planning to get married tomorrow. Bruce is upset, even though he knows he gave up any claim on Betty when he made the choice to stay with Jarella in the Microverse. Just then, the Rhino appears, though possessed by the mind of the Leader, and goads Bruce into turning into the Hulk by threatening to wreck Betty’s wedding. Their fight demolishes the refinery, at which point the Leader decides to retreat. Reaching his nearby shuttlecraft, the composite villain blasts off into the sky. Hulk leaps aboard the ship and is carried high into the atmosphere. As the shuttlecraft reaches the edge of space, the Leader abandons the Rhino’s body, leaving his henchman confused and disoriented. Hulk continues to pound on the ship’s hull, sustained by a thin envelope of oxygen artificially maintained around the craft. As the earth recedes in the distance, Hulk finally tears open the hull, and he and the Rhino spend the next three days trading punches as they fly through space.

Then, without warning, the shuttlecraft crosses a phase-shift barrier and appears in the skies over Counter-Earth, the artificial planet created by the High Evolutionary on the opposite side of the sun. Hulk and the Rhino assume they have been teleported back to Earth, and Hulk takes advantage of his foe’s astonishment to throw him off the ship. The Rhino falls into a forest below, but the Hulk’s moment of triumph is cut short when the craft glances off a mountain peak, causing him to lose his balance. He manages to cling to the ship for several minutes before losing his grip and crashing into Counter-Earth’s version of Los Angeles. Soon, Hulk finds himself embroiled in a war between rival factions of the High Evolutionary’s New Men. The leader of one group, Porcunius, takes Hulk to a nearby military base to prevent the crashed shuttlecraft from falling into the hands of his enemy, the snake-man Kohbra. Hulk is confused when he runs into Counter-Earth’s Bruce Banner with his wife Betty and toddler son Bobby. Deciding everything on this world feels wrong, Hulk abandons the New Men’s fight and determines to just get back home. Seeing the shuttlecraft starting to lift off by itself, Hulk knocks out the Rhino, who had been recruited by Kohbra, and throws him into the ship’s cargo bay. Climbing into the cockpit, Hulk looks back at the Banner family, feeling a twinge of empathy. As the shuttlecraft streaks off into space, the hum of the engines lulls Hulk to sleep, whereupon he changes back into Bruce Banner.

Three days later, Bruce makes a rough re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere, and the stress turns him into the Hulk again. A missile strike blows up the shuttlecraft, and the Hulk plummets down to the New Mexico desert. The aft section, containing the still-unconscious Rhino, tumbles away into the distance. Spotting some jet-helicopters speeding across the sky, Hulk follows them back to Hulkbuster Base. Before he can reach the base, though, an Air Force troop-transport VTOL jet lands nearby and disgorges a single passenger—the Abomination. As they fight, the Abomination taunts Hulk about Betty’s marriage to Glenn Talbot and their honeymoon trip to Niagara Falls. Enraged, Hulk knocks out the Abomination and sets off to find Betty. Having no idea where “Niagara Falls” is, Hulk searches vainly across the Southwest, reaching Oklahoma by nightfall. There, he changes back into Bruce Banner and, finding some traveler’s cheques pinned inside his pockets, is able to buy some new clothes and charter a plane to Buffalo, New York. The pilot agrees to take off at once and fly through the night. With only a vague impression of why the Hulk was intent on finding Betty, Bruce assumes she must be in trouble.

The plane reaches Buffalo in the morning, and while waiting for clearance to land, the pilot flies out over Niagara Falls to show Bruce the view. Finally realizing that Betty is not in danger but is there on her honeymoon, Bruce loses his cool and turns into the Hulk. Wrecking the plane, Hulk tumbles into the waterfalls. While climbing out, he spots Glenn Talbot on the observation deck and is about to attack him when he is suddenly ambushed by Tiger Shark. They battle for about forty minutes until Hulk finally knocks the villain out. At that point, the Hulkbuster jets arrive on the scene and, tired of fighting, Hulk escapes into the cave system hidden behind the falls. He emerges in the woods many miles distant and intends to hide out until the soldiers give up looking for him. However, he soon sees an image of Doctor Strange and realizes his friend needs help. Hulk leaps aboard a southbound train and arrives in New York City shortly before midnight. Heading into Greenwich Village, Hulk runs into the Sub-Mariner, who has also been summoned. They are met by the sorcerer’s associates, Clea and Wong, who explain that Doctor Strange has been kidnapped. Using hypnosis, Clea changes the Hulk back into Bruce Banner. The four of them then head to the bus station and board a coach bound for Vermont.

At dusk the next day, the bus brings Bruce, Namor, Clea, and Wong to Rutland, Vermont, where the annual Halloween Parade is just getting underway. They notice an eerie red glow atop Bald Mountain, just outside of town, and Clea realizes that is where they will find Doctor Strange. They climb the mountain and discover an occult ritual being performed by numerous cultists in dark hooded robes. They have already opened a portal into the Dark Dimension, through which Bruce sees an indistinct figure that Clea identifies as Dormammu. Due to Bruce’s clumsiness, the cultists discover their presence and attack them. Despite the tranquilizers he’s been taking, Bruce turns into the Hulk and helps Namor fight off their dagger-wielding foes. Doctor Strange’s body floats up into the portal, but then a powerful force shakes the mountain, causing an avalanche that wipes out the cult. Hulk and Namor shield Clea and Wong from the falling rocks until Doctor Strange swoops down from the collapsing portal and carries them to safety. Hulk and Namor are buried by the avalanche, but manage to dig themselves out. Confused and annoyed, Hulk heads off into the woods, heading north.

November 1965 – Hulk finds his way into Quebec again, where he runs into a detachment of Royal Canadian Mounted Police. After driving them away, Hulk starts to feel weak and sick. Wanting to find the source of this strange weakness, he heads in the direction that makes him feel the worst. Soon he comes upon a cabin where Hank McCoy, a.k.a. the Beast, is trying to cure Calvin Rankin, whose out-of-control superpowers are leeching off the Hulk’s lifeforce. Hulk is intent on smashing Rankin, but the Beast struggles to hold him off. Despite his weakness and nausea, Hulk defeats the Beast, only to be put into a chokehold by Rankin. To Hulk’s surprise, Rankin quickly succumbs to gamma-radiation poisoning and dies, using his last breath to credit himself with saving the world. Feeling his strength returning, Hulk leaves the cabin and wanders off into the woods.

A couple of days later, Hulk starts hearing a disembodied voice calling out for help. The voice identifies itself as Paul Cartier, but before he can learn more, Hulk encounters a hunting expedition led by Cartier’s sister Marie. They mistake Hulk for something called “the Wendigo,” but he corrects them. As Marie breaks down crying, Hulk promises to save Cartier from the Wendigo and heads into the woods to hunt the monster down. Before long, Hulk locates the Wendigo and his victim and, after a savage battle, drives the creature off. Hulk carries the injured man back to the hunters, only to discover he isn’t Cartier, but Cartier’s friend Georges Baptiste. Relating his harrowing experience, Baptiste reveals that Cartier was transformed into the Wendigo when he resorted to cannibalism during an ill-fated hunting trip. Realizing he hasn’t kept his promise yet, Hulk tracks down the Wendigo for a rematch. During the ensuing fight, Hulk hears Cartier’s voice in his mind, crying out that his consciousness is being dissolved by the curse of the Wendigo. As the voice finally fades away, the Wendigo goes berserk, overpowers the Hulk, and disappears into the woods. Dispirited, Hulk wanders off, realizing all his strength wasn’t enough to save Paul Cartier from the curse that made him monster.

A week or so later, Bruce Banner finds himself back in New England. A splitting headache leads him to a drugstore to buy some aspirin. He is alarmed when he sees a television showing a special live episode of a popular children’s show called The Astro-Nuts, in which the Hulk is clearly on hand at Cape Kennedy for the launch of a manned mission into space. The resulting anxiety causes him to turn into the Hulk and, after trashing the store in a fit of rage, he sets off to teach the impostor a lesson. When he reaches Cape Kennedy, Hulk finds Doctor Strange and the Sub-Mariner fighting a furry alien called Xemnu the Titan. General Ross and Jim Wilson are also there among numerous military personnel and TV news crews. Hulk and Xemnu fight a brutal battle until Hulk’s relentless pummeling causes his foe to dissolve into a gaseous state. Hulk is insulted when Doctor Strange suggests it was his lack of intelligence that enabled him to defeat the telepathic Xemnu. When the soldiers then train their weapons on the Hulk, he and Namor both exit in disgust, vowing not to aid Doctor Strange again.

A few days later, though, Hulk finds Namor unconscious on the New Jersey Palisades. Discovering his friend is encased in an invisible force field, Hulk heads into Greenwich Village to seek help from Doctor Strange. When they return, they are confronted by an ugly little wizard calling himself Necrodamus, who proclaims that he will sacrifice Namor to his demonic masters, the Undying Ones, in exchange for a powerful new body. He then teleports away, vowing to return in one hour. Hulk pounds on the force field for the next hour while Doctor Strange meditates. When the time is up, Namor is suddenly phased through the ground, prompting Doctor Strange to lead Hulk into a nearby cave. When they reach their foe’s subterranean altar, Hulk is startled to see the awful visage of the Nameless One forming amidst the smoke of the incense torches. Necrodamus suddenly transforms into a muscular powerhouse and Hulk attacks him, only to be beaten into unconsciousness. Hulk immediately changes back into Bruce Banner, and when he comes to a moment later, he scrambles to help Doctor Strange stop Necrodamus from killing Namor with a large dagger. Fortunately, they are able to delay Necrodamus just long enough for the mystic conjunction of stars to pass. Painfully reverting to his true form, the wizard teleports away in defeat. When Namor regains consciousness, he asserts that he was attacked by Necrodamus’ servant, the Silver Surfer. Doctor Strange insists that they work together to track down the Silver Surfer, and, unwilling to take no for an answer, declares the Defenders to be officially formed.

However, Hulk quickly loses interest in looking for the Silver Surfer and decides to go back to searching for Jarella instead. Two weeks later, Doctor Strange and Namor catch up with him and offer him a rematch with Necrodamus. Eager to get revenge for the beating he took, Hulk agrees to accompany them to the Himalayas. When they arrive, they are attacked by a group of Abominable Snowmen, so Hulk fights with them until the Silver Surfer intervenes. The Surfer believes the ape-men are harmless, but they suddenly transform into a cadre of Warrior Wizards, led by a warlock called Calizuma. However, the Warrior Wizards prove to be no match for the combined might of the Defenders and are soundly defeated. Doctor Strange then offers to help the Silver Surfer escape his exile on earth by transporting him to freedom through another dimension. Hulk reluctantly agrees to accompany them. Doctor Strange weaves his spell, but, to Hulk’s surprise, they suddenly find themselves back in the hellish realm of the Undying Ones. Seeing the poles of ethereal force, Hulk recognizes Barbara Norriss, whom they left trapped there a year ago. After freeing her, the Defenders try to escape, only to be caught in a violent maelstrom. When they break out of the vortex, Hulk is shocked to see Jarella trapped with three other women within the poles of ethereal force. However, Namor sees through this illusion and announces that Barbara has betrayed them. Sure enough, the Nameless One then appears, revealing that Barbara has chosen to merge with her demonic captor. The woman they rescued was merely an illusion. Undaunted, Hulk, Sub-Mariner, and Silver Surfer attack the Nameless One, giving Doctor Strange a chance to forcibly separate Barbara from the demon’s form. The sorcerer then casts a quick spell to carry them back into earth’s dimension.

Unexpectedly, the Defenders materialize outside Garrett Castle in England. Bitterly disappointed to still be trapped on earth, the Silver Surfer flies off in sorrow. Hulk becomes enraged when he realizes that Barbara’s mind was destroyed during her separation from the Nameless One, and he lashes out at his teammates. Taking Barbara, he leaps over the wall into the castle grounds, which he dimly remembers having visited back in February. Hulk feels compelled to carry her down into the cellar, where the large brazier flares up again—only this time the flames change him back into Bruce Banner. Several armored knights appear suddenly, led by the Asgardian villain known as the Executioner, and knock him out.

When he comes to, Bruce finds himself locked in a dungeon with Barbara. When the woman wakes up, Bruce realizes she is completely insane. Several minutes later, Doctor Strange and the Sub-Mariner are shoved into the cell as well. They then discover that the Black Knight and the Enchantress are trapped in a cell across the corridor and learn that they are all prisoners in the extradimensional realm of Queen Casiolena, a powerful sorceress. Seeing an opportunity, the Enchantress transforms Barbara into the Valkyrie, who smashes down the cell doors to free them. Bruce changes back into the Hulk as they attack Casiolena’s forces. When the Executioner enters the fray, Hulk recognizes him and they fight, but Hulk is overpowered by his foe’s enchanted battleaxe. However, with help from Namor, the Black Knight, and the Valkyrie, he is able to rally and defeat the Executioner. The Valkyrie and the Enchantress then knock out Casiolena, freeing the Executioner from her thrall. He and the Enchantress are reunited, and when the Black Knight objects, the Enchantress turns her pawn into a stone statue with a magical kiss. The two Asgardians depart together, and Doctor Strange finds he is unable to reverse the Enchantress’ spell. Thus, the Defenders take the Black Knight’s petrified form back to Doctor Strange’s Sanctum Sanctorum in New York City. Losing interest in the situation, Hulk then strikes out on his own.

December 1965 – Several weeks later, Hulk is wandering around in upstate New York when the Valkyrie and the Sub-Mariner’s young cousin Namorita approach him on the Black Knight’s winged horse, Aragorn. Annoyed that the Defenders won’t leave him alone, Hulk tries to drive them off, only to be teleported to the lighthouse at Point Promontory, Maine, and placed into a hypnotic trance by the Omegatron. The Sub-Mariner has been captured as well, and they are forced to attack the Valkyrie and Namorita when they arrive on the scene. However, the two men emerge from their trance when the Omegatron assumes a gigantic humanoid form, demolishing the lighthouse in the process. Hulk and Sub-Mariner attack the giant, but it is nevertheless about to execute its doomsday program when the Valkyrie swoops down and cuts off its head with the Ebony Blade. Hulk is not impressed and leaps off to return to his solitude in the woods. Over the next several days, he wanders north and crosses back into Quebec, Canada, keeping to the wilderness and avoiding contact with the human race.


Notes:

January 1965 – The Hulk is kidnapped by Psyklop in Avengers #88. The jade giant’s adventures then continue in Hulk #140 and following. The Hulk and the Thing have their second battle royal in Fantastic Four #111–113.

February 1965 – In Hulk #142, both the Hulk and Samantha Parrington remain unaware that she has been transformed into the Valkyrie by the Enchantress, who wants revenge on the Hulk after his visit to Asgard last year. Hulk teams up with Doctor Strange and the Sub-Mariner for the first time in Marvel Feature #1. He then reunites with the Avengers and travels to Olympus in Avengers #100.

March 1965 – Apparently, in the second story in Hulk #147, Hulk can see the illusory small town in the same way that he can see Doctor Strange’s astral form. The town is a psychic projection created by the girl in the wheelchair, who is actually terminally ill in a city several hundred miles away. Towards the end of the month, Hulk finds himself dealing with the end of the world—along with everyone else on the disintegrating planet—during Thor #185–188, but luckily Odin erases those events from the timestream, so they never happened.

October 1965 – As revealed in flashbacks in Hulk #155, Otto Kronsteig was banished to the Microverse about three years ago by Doctor Doom. In Hulk #159, General Ross recruits the Abomination to capture the Hulk before Betty discovers that Bruce Banner is still alive. In the next issue, Tiger Shark attacks because he assumes Hulk has been sent by the Sub-Mariner to capture him. On Halloween, Hulk and the Sub-Mariner join with Clea and Wong to rescue Doctor Strange, as seen in Marvel Feature #2. Hulk is certainly unaware of all the other weirdness going on in Rutland on that particular night.

November 1965 – The Defenders’ battle with Xemnu is seen in Marvel Feature #3, in which Doctor Strange masquerades as the Hulk. This is followed almost immediately by the events depicted in Defenders #1–4. Although Doctor Strange notes that they had been searching for the Silver Surfer for two months, this is merely a topical reference to the two months that had elapsed since the previous issue was published. During this period, Steve Englehart often wrote his stories as though they occurred in real-time.

December 1965 – This brings us up to Hulk #162 and Defenders #5.


Jump Back: Hulk – Year Three

Next Issue: Daredevil – Year Four


Monday

OMU: Spider-Man -- Year Four

The fourth year of Peter Parker’s career as Spider-Man nearly turns out to be his last—not because of some murderous super-villain, but due to his blossoming romance with Gwen Stacy. As their relationship becomes more serious and committed, we see Peter start drifting away from his costumed identity and looking forward to taking on more typical adult responsibilities. It is during this period that Stan Lee completes his run as scripter, with a little help from Roy Thomas, before turning the reins over to 19-year-old Gerry Conway. Paired with veteran illustrator John Romita, Conway gets off to an impressive start, staying true to the large cast of supporting characters, while also writing the new companion title Marvel Team-Up. Despite a few setbacks and hardships, this is clearly the best year of Peter Parker’s life so far, and perhaps the best for quite some time to come.

Note: The following timeline depicts the Original Marvel Universe (anchored to November 1961 as the first appearance of the Fantastic Four and proceeding forward from there. See previous posts for a detailed explanation of my rationale.) Some information presented on the timeline is speculative and some is based on historical accounts. See the Notes section at the end for clarifications.


Continuing on with... The True History of the Amazing Spider-Man!


January 1965 – Peter Parker starts the second semester of his sophomore year at Empire State University, along with his roommate, Harry Osborn. Peter is depressed about his failed relationship with Gwen Stacy, who has gone to live with relatives in London, England. Thus, Peter has little sympathy for Harry’s rocky romance with aspiring actress Mary Jane Watson, though he is concerned by Harry’s habitual over-reliance on prescription medicines. However, Peter is relieved that his aunt, May Parker, seems much happier after moving in with Mary Jane’s elderly aunt, Anna Watson. Too melancholy to go into action as Spider-Man lately, Peter has had no crime photos to sell to the Daily Bugle, and, as such, has little in the way of spending money. Learning that his friend is flat broke, Harry insists that Peter accept the part-time job his father, Norman Osborn, offered almost a year ago. Peter thinks it might enable him to earn enough money to fly back to London to find Gwen, so he accepts the position, even though he worries that associating with Norman Osborn might restore his memory of being the Green Goblin. Peter’s fears prove justified when Osborn’s memory does return while Mary Jane is performing in a theatre that used to be one of Osborn’s warehouses. After the audience has left, Peter changes into Spider-Man and tracks Osborn to a hidden storage room, where his old foe has retrieved his costume and weapons. Spider-Man and the Green Goblin then fight across the rooftops of the city, until Spidey becomes disoriented by the Goblin’s “sparkler spray” and hides under a ledge, waiting for his senses to clear. Assuming that Spider-Man has fallen to his death, the villain flies away on his goblin-glider. Peter heads home, worrying that Osborn will expose his secret identity. When he arrives, Peter finds Harry agitated and paranoid, and they argue about Mary Jane’s incessant flirting with Peter.

After spending a day and a night searching for the Green Goblin, Peter returns home to discover that Harry is in need of medical attention due to his drug abuse. Suddenly, the Goblin crashes through the window, intent on killing Peter, but when he sees the unconscious Harry, the villain retreats. Relieved, Peter calls an ambulance and goes with Harry to the hospital. On campus later that day, Peter runs into the pusher who sold Harry the drugs he overdosed on. Enraged, Peter beats up the pusher and his thugs using simulated karate to protect his secret identity. He then changes into Spider-Man and resumes his hunt for the Green Goblin. Soon, his foe finds him and launches a vicious attack, using a chemical mist that partially neutralizes Spidey’s powers. Nevertheless, Spider-Man is able to force the Goblin to fly his glider up to the window of Harry’s hospital room, where Norman Osborn’s personality reasserts itself. Osborn passes out from the mental strain, so Spidey takes him home and throws his Green Goblin costume in the incinerator. After changing back into his civilian identity in an alley near his apartment, Peter is about to head inside when Gwen Stacy comes running up to him. Peter and Gwen embrace and kiss, then spend the rest of the night talking. Peter is relieved that Gwen has worked through most of her bitterness over Spider-Man’s involvement in her father’s death, and he feels they can finally move forward in their relationship.

Wanting to be in a position to ask Gwen to marry him, Peter resolves to improve his situation at the Daily Bugle so he can support a wife. Meeting with editor-in-chief J. Jonah Jameson and city editor Joe “Robbie” Robertson, Peter successfully negotiates his way into a part-time job as a staff photographer. His first assignment under the new arrangement is to cover a riot at the city jail, where the inmates have taken the warden hostage. After changing into Spider-Man, he heads to the jail, rescues the warden, and helps resolve the situation with a minimum of violence. Pleased with himself, Spidey swings back toward the Daily Bugle, only to be flagged down by Johnny Carson, who books him on The Tonight Show. However, Peter’s plans to take Gwen out on the town are frustrated when Robertson informs him that, since he now has a staff job rather than working freelance, he won’t get paid until the end of the week. Peter is left depending on the money from his television appearance, but unfortunately the police chase Spider-Man out of the studio before he can collect his fee. Dejected, Peter goes to Gwen’s new apartment and apologizes for not having the money to take her out. Gwen reassures him that she’s already made them dinner and planned an evening in so they can be alone together. That night, Peter and Gwen have sex for the first time, losing their virginity to each other.

Soon after, Spider-Man gets some spectacular photos of the Human Torch and the Thing brawling in the city streets. When he arrives at the Daily Bugle, Peter finds Jameson and Robertson arguing about whether the Fantastic Four are menaces to the city. Peter is impressed that Robertson stands up to his bellicose boss and refuses to write an editorial excoriating the FF.

In the days that follow, Peter realizes that being Spider-Man has lost much of its appeal, and he attributes this change of attitude to having grown up and started to look forward to a life with Gwen. Knowing he can’t reveal his secret identity to Gwen without risking their relationship, Peter decides to use the untested formula he created with help from Dr. Curt Connors to get rid of his spider-powers permanently. Back at his apartment, Peter uses the formula to create a serum, willing to risk it for Gwen’s sake. He drinks the serum and immediately falls into a hallucinogenic fugue. When he comes out of it, Peter is horrified to discover that the serum has not removed his powers, but has instead caused him to grow four extra arms. While trying to figure out what to do, Peter receives a phone call from Gwen. She suggests they go see a movie, but Peter is forced to decline, saying he may be out of town for quite a while. He can hear in Gwen’s voice that she is crushed, and he realizes she must think he’s giving her the brush-off now that she’s had sex with him. Teetering on the brink of despair, Peter then gets a call from Joe Robertson, offering him a new photo assignment. Peter claims to be ill with mononucleosis, then phones Dr. Connors at his lab in Florida. After securing permission to hole up in Connors’ summer home in Southampton, Spider-Man heads out to Long Island, though web-swinging proves difficult with his extra limbs flailing around. Arriving at the break of dawn, Spidey then works for two days straight in Connors’ lab trying to develop an antidote.

Finally, exhausted and frustrated, Spider-Man begins to lose hope of finding a cure for his bizarre mutation. Suddenly, he is attacked by a vampire-like man calling himself Morbius. Barely able to stand, let alone fight, Spidey is quickly knocked out. When he comes to, he finds Morbius locked in a savage battle with the Lizard. Morbius ultimately triumphs and bites the Lizard’s neck, but Spidey kicks the vampire off before he can drink any blood. Morbius decides to find easier prey and soars out a window, disappearing into the gathering dusk. Luckily, Spider-Man is able to tag the vampire with an electronic spider-tracer before he escapes. The Lizard then partially transforms back into Curt Connors due to some mysterious enzyme secreted by Morbius’s fangs. This allows Connors to work with Spidey to isolate the chemicals from the vampire’s bite and prepare an antidote. Needing more of the enzyme to complete the formula, Spider-Man and the Lizard track down Morbius in Manhattan. Taking the vampire by surprise, Spidey pummels him into unconsciousness, allowing Connors to prepare an injection using a sample of Morbius’s blood. Administering it to himself first, Connors immediately reverts to his fully human form. Unfortunately, Morbius recovers and snatches the remaining serum, forcing Spider-Man to pursue him across the city. The web-slinger finally retrieves the antidote, but loses Morbius in the river. Assuming the vampire has drowned, Spidey returns to Connors, who uses the serum to cure Spider-Man’s metamorphosis. The next day, Peter finally works up the nerve to call Gwen. Not wanting to lie to her, Peter just apologizes but says he can’t explain where he’s been the last four days. Happy to have him back, Gwen accepts his non-explanation graciously.

February 1965 – Spider-Man is suddenly accosted by the Human Torch one night, causing him to lose hold of his web-line and fall. Though he easily saves himself, Spidey is annoyed by the Torch’s clumsy attempt at being friendly and tells him to get lost. Soon after, though, Spider-Man is ambushed by the Sandman, the Wizard, and the Trapster and placed in a hypnotic trance. They lead him to the Baxter Building and force him to attack the Human Torch. Once the Torch has been taken prisoner, the villains break into the laboratory that houses the portal to the alternate universe known as the Negative Zone. When the Wizard tries to harness the energies of the strange dimension, it draws the attention of an armored creature called Annihilus. The villains panic as Annihilus nearly breaks through the dimensional barrier to earth. Luckily, Spider-Man shakes off the mind-control in time to help the Human Torch defeat their foes and prevent Annihilus’s invasion. Later, Spidey and the Torch do hang out and talk about their recent travails.

Mary Jane visits Peter to apologize for her recent behavior, feeling partly to blame for Harry’s breakdown. However, Peter hurries her out of his apartment so he can change into Spider-Man and investigate a disturbance in Central Park. When he arrives, Spidey finds Daredevil brawling with Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner. A large, glowing, metallic object is levitating nearby, and Spidey assumes it is some sort of Atlantean weapon. He joins the fray, but succeeds only in driving Namor into a rage. The fight is interrupted when the object emits a blinding radiance, from which a beautiful woman emerges and commands Spider-Man and the Sub-Mariner to follow her back to her own dimension. There, Spidey learns that Namor’s true love, Dorma, has died and Namor has abdicated the throne of Atlantis. The beautiful woman identifies herself as Princess Tuvia of the Black Sea People, a race known in Atlantean legends for their formidable psychic powers. She calls on Namor to fulfil his debt of honor to defend her people from a usurper named Turalla, who would lead them into a disastrous war with earth. Spidey is determined to help Namor defeat Turalla, but their foe proves to be more powerful than expected. Turalla unleashes a blistering telepathic attack that knocks both heroes unconscious. However, when they come to, they find that Turalla has been struck dead by a psychic blast from somewhere in the vicinity of New England. Grateful for their help, Tuvia sends Spidey and Namor back to earth. Namor decides to head for New England to investigate, and Spidey wishes him luck. They part on friendly terms.

Soon after, Harry is released from the hospital, but his father sends him to an exclusive rehab facility for six months. Peter continues to feel guilty about living in the apartment while Norman Osborn pays the rent, especially with Harry not even being there.

March-April 1965 – Wanting to spend as much time with Gwen as he can, Peter decides to focus on finishing up his sophomore year in college, and as a result does not go into action much as Spider-Man. He also starts to feel a bit ill a lot of the time, which contributes to his decision to put being a superhero on the back burner.

May 1965 – Peter and Gwen take their final exams and wrap up the academic year. Peter is pleased to get much better grades than he did his freshman year, which he attributes to his happy relationship with Gwen. Soon after, Peter receives a surprising offer from Joe Robertson at the Daily Bugle: J. Jonah Jameson is planning to lead an expedition to the Savage Land—the hidden prehistoric jungle in Antarctica ruled by Ka-Zar—to search for a gigantic monster that attacked a scientific research station, and he’s looking for an adventurous photojournalist to cover the trip. Aside from paying top dollar for the photos, Jameson is also offering a hefty cash bonus. Peter agrees immediately, thinking he could make enough money that he and Gwen could get married. However, Gwen is not keen on the idea of Peter traveling around the world without her, so Peter takes her with him to the newspaper offices, intending to make a grand gesture out of turning down the assignment. When they arrive, though, Jameson has a brainstorm and offers to pay Gwen handsomely to join the expedition. Excited by the prospect, Gwen agrees, over Peter’s objections. Jameson then introduces them to the inspiration for the trip, a naturalist named Richard Calkin who witnessed the monster’s attack.

Over the next couple of days, Peter and Gwen make their preparations for the long journey, while Jameson makes all the necessary arrangements. They visit Aunt May, who worries about the dangers involved but also feels proud of Peter for having landed such a high-profile assignment. Finally, Peter and Gwen meet Jameson and Calkin at John F. Kennedy International Airport and take a jet down to Rio de Janeiro. The next day, they board a ship which then sets sail for Antarctica. Early in the voyage, Peter celebrates his 20th birthday with Gwen. He feels unwell much of the time aboard the ship, but merely chalks it up to seasickness.

June 1965 – Five weeks later, Peter, Gwen, Jameson, and Calkin arrive at the scientific research station in Antarctica. After checking in with the base personnel, Calkin flies them over the mountains, through the thick cloud cover, and down into the Savage Land. They are amazed to suddenly find themselves in a primeval rainforest, complete with dinosaurs. Jameson has Gwen change into a red bikini, then tells Peter to take some cheesecake photos of her in front of a large stone idol shaped like a lizard. Assuming the idol was built by Ka-Zar, Jameson strikes the gong built into it, only to draw out a group of angry Swamp Men. Before they can attack the expedition, though, the Swamp Men are chased off by the appearance of Calkin’s giant monster, which the savages call “Gog.” The monster grabs Gwen and carries her off into the jungle. Peter tries to stop him, but the monster knocks him off a cliff into a fast-flowing river. Several minutes later, Peter finally manages to haul himself out of the water and, heedless of his secret identity, changes into Spider-Man and sets off in pursuit of Gog. Unfortunately, he almost immediately gets himself trapped in quicksand and has to be rescued by Ka-Zar and his saber-toothed tiger Zabu. Working together, Spidey and Ka-Zar track Gog to a clearing, where they find Kraven the Hunter ranting to Gwen about his plans of conquest. Before Gwen sees him, Spidey lures Gog away, leaving Ka-Zar to attack Kraven. In the jungle, Gog gets into a fight with a Tyrannosaurus Rex, and is then too tired to save himself when Spidey leads him back to the quicksand. Feeling guilty since Gog appeared to be in some way intelligent, Spidey tracks down his friends and finds that Ka-Zar has reunited Gwen with Jameson and Calkin. After changing back into Peter Parker, he joins them and claims to have been unconscious the whole time. Ka-Zar makes no mention of Spider-Man’s involvement, to Peter’s great relief, but does inform them that Kraven apparently fell to his death. After hiking back to their helicopter, Calkin flies Peter, Gwen, and Jameson back to the research station, where they begin the month-long journey back to New York.

August 1965 – Spider-Man arrives at the Daily Bugle building to find a group of protestors led by Randy Robertson and Josh Kittling. They’re angry that the newspaper is running stories about Ka-Zar and giant monsters rather than the serious social issues facing the people of New York City. When Joe Robertson arrives, he proves to be accepting of his son’s actions, so long as the protest remains peaceful. Jameson, however, is less tolerant and nearly comes to blows with Kittling, prompting Spidey to intervene. Leaving Jameson dangling from a second-floor fire escape, Spidey swings off, heading back to his apartment to help Aunt May set up for Harry’s coming-home party. Soon after Peter gets there, Gwen arrives with a bunch of friends from school. Among them is Flash Thompson, who has ended his tour of duty in Vietnam and returned to civilian life. Peter and Flash agree to forget about their high school rivalry and try being friends. Then, Norman Osborn brings Harry home from the rehab facility, and Harry is genuinely touched that so many friends have come to welcome him back. Peter spends most of the rest of the month hanging out with Gwen, and consequently spends little time as Spider-Man. Working part-time as a staff photographer for the Daily Bugle, Peter draws more mundane assignments than he is used to. Also, his bouts of illness occur with increasingly frequency, but he dismisses it as merely the flu.

September 1965 – Peter continues to feel worse and worse as he starts the first semester of his junior year at Empire State University. He and Gwen take another class with Professor Miles Warren. Due to a scheduling problem, Peter has to take his upper-level biology seminar with Professor Hans Jorgenson as a night class. Harry also returns to school, though he is now a semester behind. Peter is surprised that Flash elects not to return to college, and worries that the reclusive former soldier is having readjustment problems. When he gets too stressed out about school, Peter makes time to do some night patrols as Spider-Man.

October 1965 – While web-swinging toward the college campus, Spider-Man suddenly has some kind of spasm and barely saves himself from a deadly fall. He presses on to make Professor Jorgenson’s night class, though he feels sicker than ever before. When he arrives on campus, Spidey finds the Human Torch questioning Jorgenson about his former colleague Michael Morbius. Spidey insists that Morbius drowned in the river months ago, but discovers he was wrong when the vampire kills a man in a nearby park. Drawn by the victim’s screams, Spider-Man and the Torch attack Morbius, but their fight is interrupted by a group of college students who think the two superheroes are trying to murder someone. Morbius kills one of the students and flees the scene. The Human Torch tries to comfort the dead student’s brother, but Spider-Man can only stagger off into the darkness, feeling shaky and exhausted.

The next day, Peter accompanies J. Jonah Jameson to JKF Airport, where the military is bringing the Hulk into New York City to stand trial. Jameson tries to bully his way past the police line, but the officers on the scene are not impressed by his bluster. Peter notices the Fantasti-Car landing nearby, bringing the Human Torch, Mister Fantastic, the Invisible Girl, and the Thing to witness the Hulk’s arrival. Shortly after the Air Force 747 touches down, though, the Hulk smashes out through the hull, prompting the Fantastic Four to rush in to confront him. As Daredevil also suddenly appears, Peter rushes into a nearby maintenance building and changes into Spider-Man. Due to his illness, Spidey isn’t able to offer much help, but Mister Fantastic soon brings the Hulk down with some kind of ray gun. As S.H.I.E.L.D. takes the unconscious Hulk into custody, Spidey slips off and changes back into Peter Parker, feeling pretty useless. Jameson then chastises Peter for accepting an assignment he’s clearly too ill to complete.

Still horribly sick the next morning, Peter begins to wonder if Morbius is the cause of his chronic illness. He goes out as Spider-Man to pay a visit to Professor Jorgenson. Unfortunately, the professor is missing and his apartment has been ransacked. Finding several pages of Morbius’s formulae, Spidey gathers them up and takes them with him as he searches the city for Jorgenson. Eventually, he is forced to give up and return to his sickbed. After sleeping through most of the following day, Peter drags himself out of bed to resume his search for Jorgenson. Still dizzy and feverish, Spider-Man is caught off guard by Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Angel, and Iceman, who suddenly attack him. He tries to fight them off, but quickly passes out.

When he regains consciousness, Spider-Man finds himself in a laboratory in the X-Men’s secret headquarters, and he is shocked to find an unconscious Morbius strapped to the examination table next to him. Hans Jorgenson is there, along with the mutants’ mysterious leader, Professor X. They explain that the serum Curt Connors injected Spidey with back in January interacted with his mutated biochemistry to produce a toxic byproduct that built up in his body over time, making him sicker and sicker. The X-Men had attacked Spider-Man because the Daily Bugle blamed him for Jorgenson’s disappearance, but in the course of events, they realized that Morbius was the true kidnapper. After rescuing Jorgenson and capturing Morbius, the X-Men brought Spidey back to their headquarters to try to save his life. Using Morbius’s papers that Spidey had been carrying, Jorgenson was able to develop a cure. Overwhelmed with relief and gratitude, Spider-Man plants a kiss on Marvel Girl’s lips, smashes through a window, and swings off into the night. When he reaches Manhattan, though, Peter realizes he can’t remember where the X-Men’s headquarters was and thinks that they must have somehow messed with his mind.

The next evening, Spidey is attacked by the latest Spider-Slayer robot, built by Spencer Smythe and remote-controlled by J. Jonah Jameson. While fighting the robot in a computer lab on the east side of town, Spidey is knocked out and doesn’t come to until the next morning. He returns to the rooftop where he left his clothes and starts to change back into Peter Parker. However, his spider-sense alerts him to a network of surveillance cameras the NYPD has installed on rooftops across the city. After pulling off a complicated scheme to protect his secret identity, Spidey swings over to the Daily Bugle building, where he is surprised to find Jameson now leading a group of college students in protesting the surveillance cameras. That evening, Gwen convinces Peter to pay a visit to Flash Thompson, who, though clearly disturbed about something, is very evasive. After dinner and a movie, Peter drops Gwen off at her apartment, then changes into Spider-Man and heads back to talk to Flash alone. Unfortunately, he is captured along the way by an even larger Spider-Slayer robot, this one controlled by Smythe himself. Spidey is taken to the scientist’s lair, where he learns that Smythe is now trying to set himself up as a major crimelord by hijacking the city’s network of surveillance cameras. After being held captive for several hours, Spider-Man breaks free, alerts the police to Smythe’s plan, and sabotages the Spider-Slayer robot. Smythe and his accomplices are taken into custody, forcing Jameson to swear he’s done trying to use Smythe’s robots to capture Spider-Man. In the days that follow, the police dismantle all the surveillance cameras.

Heading home from his night class, Spider-Man comes across the android Avenger known as the Vision. Seeing the hero is having some kind of seizure, Spidey takes the Vision back to his apartment. Luckily, Harry is sound asleep in his room. Spider-Man convinces the Vision to go to the hospital, and they depart before Harry wakes up and sees them. Sneaking into a diagnostics lab, Spidey cobbles together some hospital equipment and determines that the Vision has two separate brainwave patterns, one of which is being broadcast from the vicinity of the Fantastic Four’s headquarters. They head over to the Baxter Building to investigate, only to be attacked by a large, murderous robot. Spidey at first assumes the robot was built by Mister Fantastic, but the Vision determines it was created by aliens called Skrulls. Having found a way to disable the robot, thereby solving his seizure problem, the Vision flies away. Spidey enters the Baxter Building and discovers the unconscious Puppet Master, who was controlling the robot. However, the Thing soon enters and yells at Spider-Man for trespassing. While interrogating the Puppet Master, the Thing learns of a possible cure for his girlfriend Alicia’s blindness, so he invites Spidey to accompany them to the villain’s old laboratory in Pennsylvania. En route, the Puppet Master tells Spider-Man of how he accidentally killed Alicia’s father some fifteen years ago and caused the explosion that blinded her. Afterwards, he married Alicia’s mother and tried to be a good step-father, devoting himself to searching for a cure for Alicia’s condition. But when his wife died a few years ago, he was twisted by grief into a super-villain. Spidey is sympathetic until they reach the abandoned laboratory and the Puppet Master suddenly betrays them, blasting Spider-Man and the Thing into unconsciousness with a hidden energy cannon. The two heroes track their foe into an underground bunker and split up to search for him. After escaping from a death trap, Spider-Man discovers the Puppet Master conspiring with the criminal mastermind known as the Mad Thinker. Webbing up both villains, Spidey then sees on the surveillance monitors that the Thing is trapped in an airless room and Alicia is being menaced by another giant robot. Knowing he can only reach one of them in time, Spidey races to save Alicia. However, when he finally makes it to the surface, he discovers that the Thing has escaped and defeated the robot himself. Suddenly, the bunker is destroyed by a powerful explosion. Alicia fears her step-father triggered a self-destruct mechanism in order to commit suicide, driven by guilt over his various crimes. On the way back to New York, Spider-Man decides the Thing isn’t such a bad guy after all, and realizes he may have misjudged the Fantastic Four.

Several days later, Peter runs into the thunder god Thor after stopping a mugging in a dark alley. Thor is impressed with Peter’s act of heroism, but while they are speaking, a strange effect washes over the city that turns the world into a living photographic negative. Thor generates a protective vortex with his enchanted hammer, and when he and Peter emerge from it, they find that time has stopped. As an army of Asgardian trolls invades the city, Peter surprises Thor by changing into Spider-Man. Thor recognizes the trolls’ leader as Kryllk the Cruel, an old foe of his. Spider-Man and Thor fight with the trolls until the creatures suddenly dematerialize. The two heroes then race to Avengers Mansion, where they find Thor’s teammates likewise frozen in place. Spider-Man rewires the Avengers’ monitoring systems so that, with a little help from Thor’s hammer, they are able to track the mystic energies of Kryllk’s Dark Crystal, which created the “negative time” effect. Seeing the trail leads to both Asgard and an asteroid orbiting Jupiter, Thor creates a dimensional vortex that transports Spider-Man to Asgard. As he materializes, Spidey sees that the legendary realm has also fallen prey to the weird “negative time” effect. Quickly finding Kryllk and his legions, Spider-Man tries to attack them, but they dematerialize once again. Suddenly, the Watcher appears and introduces himself, saying that he is the rightful owner of the Dark Crystal. The enigmatic alien then teleports himself and Spidey to join Thor on the Jovian asteroid, where the thunder god has defeated Kryllk. The Watcher explains that Spider-Man was fighting a mere “temporal echo” of the trolls. Taking possession of the Dark Crystal, the Watcher then teleports the two heroes back to New York City. Peter returns home, trying to make sense of the bizarre experience.

The next evening, Spider-Man is on his way to Gwen’s apartment when he witnesses an attempt to kidnap Flash Thompson by a gang of Asian assassins. Spidey rescues Flash and carries him to a nearby rooftop, where the former soldier explains that he has been blamed for the destruction of a hidden temple in Vietnam. After dropping Flash off with the military police for protection, Spidey swings back to his apartment to meet Aunt May for dinner. Soon after Peter’s arrival, though, Gwen enters, frantic about Flash’s situation. Aunt May suggests Peter and Gwen try to visit Flash and offer their support. The young couple agrees and heads over to the Federal Building, arriving at dusk. The assassins attack again, knocking out the power and plunging the building into darkness. Thinking Gwen would be suspicious if Spider-Man suddenly showed up again, Peter tries to fight off the kidnappers without changing into his costume. Unfortunately, he is kept busy by a seven-foot-tall bruiser in a chauffeur’s uniform while the others make off with Flash. Gwen is hysterical, which delays Peter from following them until he can stage a convincing exit. Then, Spider-Man swings across the city, only to have a mental summons divert him to Greenwich Village for a meeting with Doctor Strange. The sorcerer divines Flash’s location through mystical means and leads Spider-Man there in time to prevent his old rival from being beheaded. Doctor Strange then casts a spell that brings the high priest of the ruined temple out of his death-like trance, thereby exonerating Flash. The sorcerer departs, and Flash thanks Spider-Man for coming to his rescue and reuniting him with Sha Shan, a woman from the temple who nursed him back to health after he’d been wounded in combat. Nevertheless, Peter spends the rest of the night worrying that Flash will try to steal Gwen away from him.

Shortly after dawn, Spider-Man meets an ape-like young man named Martin Blank, who considers himself a freak despite his superhuman acrobatic abilities. Too tired to do more than offer a few bromides, Spidey returns to his apartment building, changes back into Peter Parker, and stumbles inside to find that Aunt May and Gwen have waited up all night for him to return. Although they’re both clearly upset, Peter passes out on the couch and sleeps for twelve hours. When he wakes up and is unable to reach Aunt May by phone, Peter becomes worried and changes into Spider-Man to go looking for her. He soon comes across Martin Blank in an ape-suit, who announces that he is now to be known as “The Gibbon” and wants to be Spider-Man’s partner. Spidey laughs at the idea, which enrages Blank. After a brief scuffle, Spider-Man swings off and heads over to Aunt May’s home, where he finds a note indicating she’s decided to leave town for a while. Even so, Spidey persists in his search through most of the night, before finally returning home and collapsing into bed.

The next morning, Spider-Man continues to look for Aunt May. He is attacked again by the Gibbon, who appears to have taken some drugs that make him angrier and stronger than he was yesterday. The Gibbon tries to choke the wall-crawler to death, but Spidey defeats him and drops him off at the nearest hospital. Spidey resumes his search until lunchtime, ignoring any crimes he happens upon so as not to be distracted. Then, he changes into Peter Parker to try a different tack, and eventually winds up at the offices of the Daily Bugle. Joe Robertson, Betty Brant, and even J. Jonah Jameson are sympathetic about Aunt May’s disappearance, though Jameson is angry with Peter for not bringing in enough newsworthy photos to justify his salary. Outside, Peter runs into Mary Jane and her Aunt Anna, who suggests that May might have been forced to write the note. Not having considered the possibility, Peter changes back into Spider-Man and shakes down some mobsters for information. He learns that a gang war has erupted, which leads him into a battle with Doctor Octopus. Spidey is forced to abandon the fight when Doc Ock rips his mask right off his head. Slipping away into the darkness, Peter is relieved to have preserved his secret identity, but is then incapacitated by terrible stomach pains. Eventually, he drags himself back to his apartment.

When Peter wakes up, he finds that Harry has called in Dr. Bromwell, who diagnoses Peter with a duodenal ulcer and writes him a prescription. Later, Peter returns to the Daily Bugle offices, where Jameson shows off his latest trophy—Spider-Man’s bloodstained mask, which Randy Robertson found in an alley last night. Ned Leeds offers Peter some information on his aunt’s disappearance, sending him to a domestic employment agency on the Lower East Side. Peter changes into his costume and swings over there, stopping at a costume shop to steal a cheap cellophane Spider-Man mask. When he arrives, Spidey is immediately attacked by Doctor Octopus, but, despite his abdominal pain, manages to knock the villain out. Unfortunately, Doc Ock’s rival crime boss, Hammerhead, turns up and holds Spidey at gunpoint. Doc Ock suddenly revives and attacks them, causing Hammerhead to fire his gun wildly. A bullet grazes Spider-Man’s temple and he blacks out. He wakes up at Hammerhead’s base of operations, where the strangely flat-headed criminal tries to force Spidey to join his gang. Hammerhead then receives a phone call from one of his men, who reports that Doctor Octopus is holed up at a mansion in Westchester County with an old woman. Spidey wonders if it could possibly be Aunt May, as she knows Doc Ock from when he was a boarder at her house about a year and a half ago. He worries that Doc Ock may have discovered his secret identity and kidnapped his aunt as part of a revenge scheme. Thus, when Hammerhead and his men move out to hit Doc Ock’s headquarters, Spider-Man breaks free and follows them. When they arrive at the Westchester mansion, Spidey sneaks inside, only to have Aunt May crack him in the back of the head with a vase. As an all-out gang war erupts inside the house, Spider-Man desperately searches for his aunt. Coming across Hammerhead, Spidey tries to capture him, only to get pummeled by the crook’s weird anvil-like head. With his ulcer flaring up, Spidey decides to let Hammerhead escape so he can focus on finding Aunt May. Doctor Octopus then appears with Aunt May at his side, driving Spider-Man into a paroxysm of rage. Overcoming his foe’s metal tentacles, Spider-Man savagely beats Doctor Octopus into unconsciousness. He then realizes that Aunt May is holding a gun on him and shouting at him to stop. Startled by police sirens, Aunt May closes her eyes and fires blindly, allowing Spidey to leap out a window into the shrubbery. As the police round up the rival gangs, Spider-Man changes back into Peter Parker and heads outside, where Robertson, Leeds, and Gwen have arrived in one of the newspaper’s radio cars. Seeing Aunt May, Peter runs up to her, but she tells him she’s accepted Doc Ock’s offer to remain there as his housekeeper while he’s in jail. Peter is too stunned to react as Aunt May goes back inside the house. He finally rides back to Manhattan with the others in the Daily Bugle car.

Two days later, Peter throws Gwen a party to celebrate her 20th birthday. They have a good time, though Peter can’t help wondering if Gwen is more attracted to Flash, now a war hero, than to him. During the party, talk turns to the upcoming mayoral election, with Mary Jane throwing her support behind Democratic candidate Richard Raleigh.

A week later, Peter finally gets around to delivering his photos of the Doctor Octopus–Hammerhead gang war to the Daily Bugle. While swinging across town as Spider-Man, he gets into a fight with the Smasher, a ten-foot-tall muscle-man in body armor who is destroying a Raleigh campaign billboard. The Smasher escapes, so Spidey continues on his way. Arriving at Jameson’s office window, Spidey retrieves his mask from the publisher’s bulletin board and finally discards the cheap cellophane replacement. He then enters the offices as Peter Parker, but Jameson rejects the photos as old news and tells him to bring in pictures of the Smasher. Frustrated, Peter leaves, changes back into Spider-Man, and spends the rest of the evening searching the city for the Smasher, without success.

Spider-Man continues his search for the Smasher the following evening, but realizes he’s actually procrastinating about confronting Gwen about her feelings for Flash Thompson. Reaching Gwen’s apartment building, he changes back into Peter Parker and decides to ask her flat out if she’s in love with Flash. Gwen is actually relieved to learn that this is what has been bugging Peter, as she was afraid he was mad at her for arguing with Aunt May the night before she disappeared. She assures him that she is not at all attracted to Flash, and they have make-up sex. As a result, they are late for the Raleigh campaign event Mary Jane has invited them to. During dinner, Peter’s spider-sense alerts him that the banquet hall’s cement ceiling fixture has been sabotaged and is about to collapse onto the crowd. Feigning stomach trouble, Peter excuses himself and kills the lights, plunging the room into darkness. With no time to change into his costume, he webs up the crumbling ceiling fixture long enough for everyone to get clear. Peter then slips out a window and rejoins the crowd as they evacuate the building. After walking Mary Jane and Gwen home, Peter is frustrated to learn that Raleigh has gone on TV implicating Spider-Man in the attacks on his campaign.

The next evening, while looking for the Smasher, Spider-Man saves a Raleigh fundraising party in a penthouse apartment from three gunmen. He returns home to call Aunt May, trying in vain to convince her that Doctor Octopus and his “business associates” are all very dangerous men. Harry then invites Peter to accompany him to a youth rally for the candidate, where they meet up with Gwen and Mary Jane. Suddenly, an armored sedan appears, shooting tear gas into the crowd, and smashes into the grandstand. The mastermind behind the attacks on Raleigh’s campaign finally shows himself, a man in a mask and cape who calls himself the Disruptor. Peter changes into Spider-Man and tries to prevent the Disruptor’s henchmen from burning down the voter registration booths. Although Spidey is successful, the Disruptor manages to get away.

In the morning, Peter heads out to Southampton on Long Island to work as a laboratory assistant to the eminent biochemist and former Avenger Hank Pym, who has been collaborating with Dr. Curt Connors on a new research project. However, their work is interrupted when gangsters kidnap Connors’ son Billy in order to force Pym to surrender the experimental drugs they are studying. Pym changes into his original superhero identity of Ant-Man to accompany Peter to meet the kidnappers at the drop-off point. Ant-Man attacks the gangsters, but their leader, a French drug lord known as M’sieu Tête, reveals that Billy has been injected with a deadly virus and will soon die unless given the antidote. Ant-Man surrenders, and he and Peter are taken to M’sieu Tête’s hideout, where Peter is impressed by their highly advanced technology. Unexpectedly, Billy slips away, steals a car, and drives off into the night. Realizing he won’t get what he wants if Billy dies, M’sieu Tête sends Ant-Man to bring him back, while holding Peter hostage. Unwilling to trust the superhero not to betray him, M’sieu Tête injects Ant-Man and Peter with the same deadly virus. Once Ant-Man is gone, Peter changes into Spider-Man and defeats M’sieu Tête’s henchmen. Their boss nearly escapes with the antidote, but Ant-Man returns just in time to stop him. Peter changes out of his costume before Ant-Man sees him, then administers the antidote to himself, Billy, and Pym. Leaving Ant-Man with the captured criminals, Peter drives Billy to the nearest hospital, where the boy is reunited with his mother. Peter is relieved when the doctors confirm that Billy should make a full recovery.

November 1965 – On Election Day, Spider-Man saves Joe Robertson from the Smasher and leads the villain away from the Daily Bugle building. When the Smasher mentions that he works for the Disruptor, Spidey tags him with a spider-tracer and lets him go, hoping he’ll lead him to the criminal mastermind. Peter then joins Gwen, Harry, and Mary Jane in the streets as they try to get out the vote for Raleigh. Unfortunately, the Smasher appears again and attacks their campaign van, tearing it apart with his bare hands. As his friends flee, Peter races into an alley and changes back into Spider-Man, then tracks the Smasher to a penthouse apartment uptown. There, Spidey finds the Disruptor with a scientist named Thaxton. The Disruptor reveals that he’s controlling the Smasher with some kind of electronic brain implant, activated by a handheld device. Despite Thaxton’s warnings, the Disruptor overloads the control device and it shorts out. The Smasher goes berserk and kills the Disruptor with one punch. The force of the blow causes the walls and ceiling to collapse, and Thaxton is killed by the falling debris. The Smasher then turns his rage on Spider-Man, who manages to evade his foe’s attacks until the brain implant shorts out and electrocutes him. The Smasher falls on his face, dead. Spidey then unmasks the Disruptor and is shocked to discover he is Richard Raleigh himself. The Smasher’s attacks on his campaign were clearly a scheme to garner the sympathy of the voters. However, realizing that the legend Raleigh had built around himself was too inspiring to be tarnished by the sordid, murky truth, Spider-Man disposes of the Disruptor’s costume. With Richard Raleigh dead, his Republican challenger, John V. Lindsay, wins the mayoral election.

A week after the assassination of Chicago mayor Richard J. Daley, Spider-Man is recruited to help capture the killer by a superheroine calling herself the Cat. After demonstrating her fighting prowess, the Cat explains that the assassin is former Olympic downhill skier Katrina Van Horn, now calling herself the Man-Killer. The Cat has tracked the Man-Killer from Chicago to New York and wants help bringing her in before her actions stain the cause of feminism. Finding the Cat extremely attractive in her slinky gold-and-black costume, Spidey agrees to help. They soon find their quarry attacking a power plant in Harlem with some kind of flying tank. While the Cat battles the Man-Killer one-on-one, Spider-Man captures her squad of underlings. Unfortunately, the Man-Killer manages to escape with a highly radioactive prototype generator, so Spidey pursues her while the Cat interrogates her accomplices. As dawn breaks over the city, Spider-Man catches up to the Man-Killer and they brawl in an alley. Finally, the Cat arrives and informs their foe that she’s been duped by the very men she hates, for the militant feminist organization that gave her superpowers is merely a front for Advanced Idea Mechanics. Stunned by this revelation, the Man-Killer suffers a complete psychotic break. Spidey returns the generator to its rightful owners while the Cat turns the Man-Killer over to the police.

As the school semester goes on, Peter finds less and less time to go out as Spider-Man, and finally admits to himself that he would rather spend what free time he has hanging out with Gwen. When Thanksgiving arrives, Aunt May is busy serving a turkey dinner to Doctor Octopus’s “business associates” in Westchester County, so, since all their other friends are spending the day with their own families, Peter and Gwen celebrate the holiday together in her apartment.

December 1965 – Busy with finishing up the semester and studying for his final exams, Peter does not become Spider-Man at all, and is surprised to realize that he doesn’t miss it. Finding fulfillment in his relationship with Gwen, he envisions a future without his costumed alter-ego. He continues to worry about Harry, though, as his roommate falls into a depression again once the semester ends. Harry starts spending a lot of time at his father’s house, but Peter is hesitant to go over there, as he’s trying to avoid Norman Osborn. Peter and Gwen are happy when Aunt May agrees to come down to Manhattan to spend Christmas with them. Peter buys Gwen a new handbag for one of her Christmas presents, and they all have a very enjoyable holiday. As the year draws to a close, Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy look forward to spending the rest of their lives together.


Notes

January 1965 – Spider-Man’s adventures continue in Amazing Spider-Man #96 and following. Peter Parker makes a brief cameo with J. Jonah Jameson and Joe Robertson in Fantastic Four #111.

February 1965 – Spidey and the Human Torch prevent ¾ of the Frightful Four from unleashing Annihilus on the world in Marvel Team-Up #2. He then joins Daredevil in brawling with the Sub-Mariner in Daredevil #77. The story continues in Sub-Mariner #40, where Namor and Spider-Man join forces against the extradimensional warlord Turalla.

March 1965 – Towards the end of the month, Spider-Man finds himself dealing with the end of the world—along with everyone else on the disintegrating planet—during Thor #185–188, but luckily Odin erases those events from the timestream, so they never happened.

June 1965 – In Amazing Spider-Man #104, Ka-Zar is smart enough to put two and two together and figure out that Peter Parker and Spider-Man are the same person.

October 1965 – Spider-Man and the Human Torch battle Morbius the Living Vampire in Marvel Team-Up #3, then Peter appears briefly in Hulk #152–153. Following that, Spidey encounters the X-Men, the Vision, the Thing, and Thor in Marvel Team-Up #4–7. While telepathically scanning Spidey’s memories to know more of his history with Morbius, Professor X probably couldn’t help but learn that his real name is Peter Parker. Soon after, the Vision finds out where Spider-Man lives, and then Thor discovers what Spidey looks like out of costume (but doesn’t learn what his name is). Secret identities are certainly hard to maintain. The date of Gwen Stacy’s birthday was established in Amazing Spider-Man #87. Peter and Ant-Man work together in Marvel Feature #4, in which Curt Connors’ son Billy is erroneously called both “Timmy” and “Bobby.” M’sieu Tête’s technology has been provided by A.I.M., though Peter remains unaware of this.

November 1965 – The failure of Richard Raleigh’s scheme to become the next mayor of New York City brings us up to Amazing Spider-Man #118. Spider-Man then meets the Cat in Marvel Team-Up #8.


Jump Back: Spider-Man – Year Three

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