The incredible Hulk would make his way around the length and breadth of the Original Marvel Universe in the next twelve months of the character’s life, a period in which his alter-ego Bruce Banner would first assume the role of “The Lonely Man,” cut off from all friends and resources and repeatedly left high-and-dry by the Hulk in remote places with only a pair of tattered pants to his name. Stan Lee and artist Marie Severin would finish up the Hulk’s run in the double-feature title Tales to Astonish before he was finally given his own book again. His new solo series would soon give rise to a landmark run by artist Herb Trimpe. Along with his regular recurring cast, the Hulk would cross paths with the Fantastic Four, the Avengers, the X-Men, the Inhumans, Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, the Sub-Mariner, Doctor Strange, the Silver Surfer, Captain Marvel, Nick Fury, Ka-Zar, Asgard’s Warriors Three, and even the Phantom Eagle. Not bad for such an ill-tempered, anti-social recluse.
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 1964 – Bruce Banner spends most of the month hiding out in a tenement in New York City, scrounging for components to build a gamma-ray bombardment machine to cure him of being the Hulk. He is aware of a nationwide manhunt for him and his green-skinned alter-ego, so he tries to disguise himself whenever he goes outside. Towards the end of the month, the device is finally ready and Bruce subjects himself to its rays, but the project is a failure. He turns into the Hulk and smashes up the place before leaping off into the night. Stalking the western banks of the Hudson River, Hulk spots a strange flying object flashing through the searchlights above the city. Hoping it is a flying saucer that will take him to another world, Hulk pursues it, only to discover it is the Silver Surfer. Angry that the Surfer refuses to take him to the stars, Hulk fights him until the NYPD moves in and tries to subdue the Hulk with flamethrowers. Moved by the Hulk’s plight, the Surfer grabs him and flies him to a remote wooded area upstate. Hulk attacks him again and tries to steal his surfboard, but the Silver Surfer easily stuns the Hulk with his power cosmic. Hulk comes to in time to see the Surfer looming over him and punches the alien in the face. Incensed, the Silver Surfer streaks off into the night sky, leaving the Hulk alone. Over the next few days, Hulk wanders northwest into Canada.
February 1964 – Hulk loses himself in the wilderness of central Canada for several weeks, having no contact with human civilization. When he does revert back to Bruce Banner, the stress of surviving in the harsh conditions soon changes him back into the Hulk.
March 1964 – Still in the Canadian wilderness, Hulk finally comes across two hunters, who happen to be in the employ of the High Evolutionary. They are provided with the means to sedate the Hulk and load him onto a transport ship to the planet that the High Evolutionary has colonized for his New Men, the Knights of Wundagore. En route, Hulk wakes up and knocks out the half-man/half-ram pilot. He then realizes that he is aboard a spaceship, and his wish to leave Earth has come true. Later, the pilot is killed when the ship passes through a cosmic storm, the radiation from which causes the Hulk to change back into Bruce Banner. Arriving on the planet Wundagore II, Bruce meets the High Evolutionary, who incapacitates him and places him in his evolution accelerator. The process is interrupted by the rioting Knights of Wundagore, who have reverted to their savage, animalistic natures. The High Evolutionary frees Bruce, hoping he’ll turn into the Hulk and fight them off. Bruce does change, but not before the High Evolutionary is mortally wounded. While the Hulk fights the animal knights, the High Evolutionary strips off his armor and climbs into the evolution accelerator himself. He is transformed into a godlike being who causes the New Men to devolve into their original animal forms. He then teleports the Hulk back to Earth before ascending to a new plane of existence. Hulk is sad that his dream of a new world has been lost.
April 1964 – Back in the western United States, Hulk falls in with a terrorist organization called the Living Lightning Legion, believing they mean to eradicate war and hatred from society. When they bring in their prisoner, Major Glenn Talbot of Air Force Intelligence, Hulk recognizes him as an enemy and agrees to attack Desert Base on behalf of the Legion. While the Hulk is smashing up General Ross’s defenses, the Living Lightning Legion seizes control of the base. The Air Force troops manage to knock out the Hulk with gas grenades, and when he comes to, he finds himself in a cell with Betty Ross. Betty convinces the Hulk to turn on his comrades, but during the ensuing battle, their lightning blasters cause him to change back into Bruce Banner. They are rescued by Talbot, who has escaped his captors and called in reinforcements. The Legion retreats, so Bruce uses his gamma-ray bombardment machine to turn back into the Hulk and pursues them to their hidden base. He smashes his way in and destroys their nuclear reactor, causing an explosion that shatters the entire mountainside. Hulk is buried under tons of rubble.
The next day, Hulk comes under the sway of the Puppet Master, who forces him to dig himself out from the collapsed mountainside. When he finally reaches the surface, Hulk finds General Ross, Major Talbot, and their Air Force troops searching for him. Rick Jones is also present and tries to reason with his old friend, but the Hulk carelessly swats him away, seriously injuring the teenager. Hulk then leaps away, following the Puppet Master’s commands, and makes his way to Florida. There, he encounters the Sub-Mariner, who tries to convince him to once more join forces against the human race. Goaded on by the Puppet Master, Hulk just attacks Namor, and their battle causes extensive property damage to downtown Miami. Finally, the Sub-Mariner gets the advantage when Hulk begins struggling to resist the Puppet Master’s influence. When Namor creates a water vortex strong enough to make the Hulk pass out, he changes back into Bruce Banner and falls unconscious on the beach. Not recognizing Bruce, the Sub-Mariner returns to Atlantis.
Bruce is then magically transformed back into the Hulk by Loki and transported to Asgard. Confused, Hulk battles with Heimdall, Hogun the Grim, Fandral, Volstagg, and the assembled warriors of the realm. Finally, the Warriors Three stop the fight before their city is destroyed, and defy Loki’s attempts to rekindle the conflict. Hulk agrees to accompany the Warriors Three on a journey to consult an oracle, but while leaping over a bottomless chasm, Loki causes him to change back into Bruce Banner. He plunges down helplessly, only to be saved at the last second by the Enchantress and the Executioner, who are meeting with the Trolls for a planned invasion of Asgard. He turns into the Hulk again and attacks them. The Trolls join in the fight, but Hulk causes a cave-in. He then follows the invasion force to the surface, and when he sees the Trolls attacking the Warriors Three, Hulk smashes their legions and opens a chasm in the ground that sends the Trolls back to their realm. Angry, the Enchantress strikes the Hulk dead as she flees, but Odin restores him to life out of gratitude for his service to the realm. Hulk thinks Odin is trying to attack him, however, so, at the behest of the Warriors Three, Odin sends the Hulk back to Earth.
May–July 1964 – Hulk wanders aimlessly around the North American continent, trying to keep a low profile. Bruce is frustrated that he keeps waking up in remote areas and is unable to pursue his research. He becomes more lonely and dispirited than ever before, and wonders if Betty Ross has finally moved on with her life. He learns that Rick Jones is living in New York City and tries to steer the Hulk in that direction, though his influence on the Hulk’s behavior is minimal.
August 1964 – Hulk finally wanders back into New York City, and, after terrorizing Times Square, he turns back into Bruce Banner. Stealing some clothes from a janitor’s locker room, Bruce makes his way to Rick’s apartment in the East Village. No one is home, but Bruce sees in the TV Guide that Rick is appearing on a local talk show. Bruce tunes in the show in time to hear Rick say that he now believes the Hulk is a menace and must be destroyed. Bruce is devastated that his only friend in the world has forsaken him. Suddenly, Rick appears in the doorway, holding a gun. Rick reveals that his views about the Hulk changed after the green monster nearly killed him back in April, and he realized that the Hulk is too dangerous to be allowed to exist. Betty Ross arrives at that moment and startles Rick, causing the gun to go off. The bullet hits the floor and Rick realizes he could never kill the man who saved his life.
Bruce and Betty are tearfully reunited, but they are suddenly interrupted by a powerful alien calling himself the Space Parasite, who demands that Bruce change into the Hulk and battle him. The stress does induce the transformation, and Hulk drives the Space Parasite out into the city streets. Their fight causes extensive damage to Yankee Stadium before moving onto nearby elevated train tracks. Hulk grabs a subway car and smashes the Space Parasite into the Harlem River. Defeated, the Space Parasite begs the Hulk to kill him, but Hulk refuses. Thus, the Space Parasite teleports back to his ship to die there. Before Hulk can leap away, he is gassed into unconsciousness by the NYPD. When he then changes back into Bruce Banner, he is quickly sedated and taken into custody. Bruce is transferred to Sing Sing Prison and kept in solitary confinement under heavy sedation.
September 1964 – While an unconscious Bruce is being transported to JFK airport for a flight back to New Mexico, the ambulance is attacked by the Rhino, who is attempting to kidnap Bruce for his employers. Bruce wakes up in time to turn into the Hulk and defeat the Rhino, leaving him for dead at the edge of Jamaica Bay. Hulk returns to the airport to find Betty Ross has become hysterical, so he grabs her away from General Ross, Major Talbot, and Rick Jones and leaps off into the city. They soon become separated and the Hulk is drawn into a battle with the radioactive monster known as the Missing Link. Meanwhile, Talbot and Rick contact Reed Richards at the Baxter Building, asking him to construct an anti-Hulk weapon from plans Banner had started working on last year. The device is hurriedly assembled, and when Talbot and Rick catch up to the Hulk, they find him standing in the rubble of a building he has just destroyed. Assuming he is on a mindless rampage, Talbot fires the weapon, causing the green goliath to change back into Bruce Banner. Then, the Missing Link rises from the rubble, having been protected by his aura of deadly radiation. Suddenly, Betty runs down the glowing monster with her car, but she is injured by the impact. Talbot gets her to safety, though the radiation from the Missing Link’s body counteracts the effects of Reed Richards’s device, causing Bruce to change back into the Hulk. The monstrous combatants continue their battle until the Hulk hurls the Missing Link through a building and is momentarily dazed when his foe hits him in the head with a chunk of masonry.
While searching for the Missing Link, Hulk encounters some National Guard soldiers, who blast him with an experimental ray gun. The ionic energy knocks the Hulk out for a moment, and when he comes to, he sees Captain America standing over him. They scuffle briefly, but then Rick runs up and tries to calm the Hulk down. Hulk grabs Rick before destroying the ray gun with a lamppost. The explosion causes a building’s façade to crumble, and the debris falls on Rick. Heedless of the teen’s injuries, Hulk discards Rick’s limp form and leaps away into the sky. Captain America takes the wounded youth to recover at Avengers Mansion.
Hulk rejoins the fight with the Missing Link, but the two combatants are suddenly caught in a vortex beam and lifted inside an airship that appears to be the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier. However, once on board, Hulk finds himself a prisoner of Nick Fury’s Soviet counterpart, Colonel Yuri Brevlov. The monsters are gassed into unconsciousness and imprisoned in separate cells as the carrier flies over the Arctic back to the Soviet Union. Hulk soon revives, breaks loose, and goes on a rampage throughout the ship. When he smashes through the hull, Brevlov and some of his men pursue the Hulk in a small saucer-shaped craft. Just then, the Missing Link reaches critical mass and explodes, breaking the flying fortress in two. As it crashes to earth, Brevlov continues to pursue the Hulk in his saucer, blowing up a farmhouse with his blasters. Hulk rescues a small boy from the wreckage, and watches as the saucer is attacked and disabled by a S.H.I.E.L.D. craft. When the saucer is forced to land, Hulk rips it to pieces with his bare hands. The S.H.I.E.L.D. ship rescues Brevlov from the Hulk’s wrath and disappears into the clouds. Deprived of his vengeance, Hulk takes the little boy to the nearest village and leaves him with the frightened townsfolk. As he is leaving, the Hulk suddenly vanishes into thin air.
Hulk finds himself teleported to the secret stronghold of the Mandarin in the middle of the Gobi Desert. After subjecting the Hulk to a series of diabolical tests, the Mandarin attaches a control device to the back of his neck, rendering the jade giant his helpless slave. Hoping to spark a war between the Russians and the Chinese, the Mandarin sends the Hulk on a mission of widespread destruction. However, while battling the Red Chinese Army, the control device suddenly shorts out and Hulk regains his senses. He returns to the Mandarin’s fortress intent on revenge. He smashes his way in to find both Nick Fury and Yuri Brevlov fighting the Mandarin. Hulk proceeds to demolish the fortress as the Mandarin flees. Fury and Brevlov are extracted before the Hulk levels the place. Satisfied, Hulk wanders off into the mountains.
While crossing the Himalayas, Hulk encounters Lockjaw and they get into a fight. Unable to defeat the Hulk, Lockjaw leaves him in another dimension, where six renegade Inhumans have been imprisoned: Aireo, Falcona, Leonus, Nebulo, Stallior, and Timberius. They are all soon brought to the Great Refuge of the Inhumans by Maximus, where the Hulk goes on a rampage that destroys several city blocks. Maximus befriends the Hulk and gets him to fetch a mysterious substance created centuries ago from its vault. The Hulk succeeds, and after testing it, Maximus broadcasts his ultimatum to the Great Refuge: proclaim him king or he will unleash the deadly substance on Attilan. Aireo tries to wrest the weapon from Maximus and it discharges, weakening the Hulk. Timberius grabs it and blasts the Hulk again, leaving him for dead. Suddenly, Black Bolt appears and confiscates the weapon, then arrests the traitors just as the Hulk revives. The green behemoth attacks his treacherous allies and battles them in the streets of Attilan until they are all defeated. Then the Hulk turns on Black Bolt and attacks him also, and Black Bolt only overcomes him by resorting to his devastatingly supersonic voice. Hulk revives moments later to find Nebulo menacing Black Bolt with the weapon, but Hulk leaps up and smacks him down. The weapon discharges, blasting the Hulk again. Nebulo is quickly arrested, and Black Bolt helps the Hulk to his feet. Hulk is confused as Black Bolt offers him the hand of friendship, even inviting him to remain in the Great Refuge. But, realizing the Inhumans would never accept him, Hulk decides to continue on his way.
Hulk eventually makes his way to a remote Chinese missile base, where the soldiers immediately attack him. Afraid that the Hulk will destroy the new missile they have been preparing, the Chinese soldiers initiate an emergency launch. Hulk thinks the missile might take him to another world, so he leaps up and grabs onto it. However, his weight causes the missile to go off course and it flies erratically south, all the way to Antarctica. There, Hulk tumbles into a chasm and, after a long fall, hits the ground in the Savage Land. Knocked out, the Hulk reverts back into Bruce Banner. When he awakes, he is taken prisoner by a tribe of primitive Swamp Men, but is saved from being their human sacrifice by Ka-Zar and Zabu.
Learning that Bruce is a scientist, Ka-Zar takes him to investigate the mystery of the Glowing Machine. Inside a cave, Ka-Zar shows Bruce a mammoth piece of alien technology, and Bruce spends nearly an hour examining it to divine its purpose. He finally determines that it is shifting the earth’s rotation on its axis in order to cause an environmental catastrophe to destroy all life on the planet. An attack by the Swamp Men causes Bruce to become the Hulk again, and he smashes his way out of the cave. Ka-Zar and Zabu follow, to try to convince the Hulk to become Banner again and stop the machine. Tired of the pair, Hulk grabs them and hurls them into the jungle and leaps away. However, he soon runs into a gigantic stone monster called Umbu that attacks him to protect the Glowing Machine. Hulk battles Umbu until the creature sprays him with a gas that weakens him, causing him to change into Bruce. While Umbu searches for the Hulk, Bruce runs back to the cave and deactivates the Glowing Machine. As the machine powers down, so does Umbu. However, Bruce has been exposed to too much of the machine’s radiation and he collapses on the brink of death.
Bruce wakes up to find himself a prisoner of gray-skinned aliens who have saved his life with their advanced technology. Their rough treatment of him soon causes him to turn into the Hulk, and he wrecks their spaceship, causing them to crash-land on their homeworld. There, he is confronted by the aliens’ leader, a powerful energy-based being called the Galaxy Master. Intrigued by the Hulk’s defiance, the Galaxy Master battles him by various means, finally gassing the green goliath into unconsciousness. When Hulk comes to, he sees an alien princess being drawn up to the Galaxy Master’s hideous mouth by a beam of light. Hulk leaps into the beam to save her and is pulled inside the Galaxy Master, where he goes berserk. Finally, he finds the creature’s electronic brain and smashes it, causing its energy form to disperse. Hulk catches the girl and brings her safely to the ground. He is celebrated as a hero, and given a spaceship to take him back to Earth. The ship eventually crash-lands near Desert Base in New Mexico, whereupon Hulk smashes the craft into a pile of scrap.
Almost immediately, Hulk is attacked by the Sandman, who quickly switches tactics and convinces the Hulk to help him attack Desert Base and steal an experimental spaceship. However, during the heist, Hulk turns on Sandman when his actions put Betty Ross in danger. Hulk defeats the Sandman by scattering his granules all over the countryside, then leaps off into the desert to be alone. Changing back into Bruce Banner, he makes his way back to the base to make sure Betty is all right. Their joyful reunion is interrupted by Glenn Talbot, who tries to arrest Bruce, but only succeeds in triggering his transformation again. Before the Hulk can begin fighting the soldiers, though, they are all rendered unconscious by a large gas grenade. The Hulk and Betty awaken to find they have been taken prisoner by the Mandarin and the Sandman, who have joined forces. Seeing Betty imprisoned makes the Hulk angry enough to break free of the Mandarin’s energy shackles. He attacks the villains, and when they fail to overcome him, the Mandarin decides to retreat. He knocks the Sandman into a giant pressure cooker and flees to his escape craft, just as Air Force personnel begin storming the cavern. The Sandman emerges from the machinery, his body turned to glass. Betty stops the Hulk from shattering him, so the Sandman shuffles off in defeat. Then, Talbot and his soldiers burst in and blast the Hulk with a neutralizer ray, knocking him out.
Hours later, Hulk makes an escape attempt, but is again felled by the neutralizer ray, which was developed by Stark Industries. The next time he awakens, Hulk finds himself imprisoned within a mound of unbreakable plasti-thene. A holographic viewscreen appears and reveals that the Air Force has trapped him with the help of the Leader, who managed to survive his last encounter with the Hulk over a year ago. Believing Betty has betrayed him, Hulk rages against his rubbery prison, but is unable to break free. Hours later, though, Betty releases him and tries to convince him she never betrayed him. Suddenly, the Leader enters and fires a weapon that encases the Hulk in a more form-fitting plasti-thene shell, leaving him completely immobilized. However, Hulk’s anger grows until he is strong enough to shatter the prison, freeing himself. He immediately attacks the Leader’s gigantic Super-Humanoid, but the villain teleports them away from the base. After destroying the Super-Humanoid, Hulk returns to save Betty from the Leader. He finds the criminal mastermind has already launched a nuclear missile to destroy Moscow. Betty manages to calm the Hulk down enough to trigger his transformation. Then Bruce is able to program a hunter missile to intercept the one the Leader had launched. Undeterred, the villain launches a second nuclear missile. As the Leader escapes, Bruce turns back into the Hulk and Betty convinces him to stop the rocket before it gets too high. Hulk leaps atop the missile and rides it all the way across the Atlantic. It enters Soviet airspace before the Hulk is able to throw it off course, sending it high into the stratosphere. Hulk jumps off the missile two seconds before the warhead explodes. The shockwave knocks Hulk out as he falls back to earth and lands in the ocean, where he changes back into Bruce Banner.
Bruce is rescued by Lady Dorma and taken to Atlantis for medical treatment. When he awakens underwater, he panics and immediately changes back into the Hulk. The Sub-Mariner attacks him and tries to drive him out of Atlantis. After an all-out battle that demolishes Dorma’s house, the combatants collide with a cataclysmic impact that knocks the Hulk out. Bruce wakes up the next morning to find himself in Costa Rica, where he discovers the entire population is in a strange hypnotic trance. A giant statue in the town square emits a mind-numbing energy, and Bruce’s struggle to resist its effects causes him to become the Hulk again. Hulk soon discovers none other than Maximus and his evil servants Aireo, Falcona, Leonus, Nebulo, Stallior, and Timberius are behind the scheme. Their fight has only begun when they are all attacked by the United States military under the command of General Ross. Maximus convinces the Hulk to join forces against the soldiers, but Hulk soon turns on his murderous allies. Maximus reveals that the giant statue is really a robot, which he activates to destroy the Hulk, but the jade giant quickly smashes it, destroying the evil Inhumans’ fortress in the process. Their plans wrecked, Maximus and his accomplices beat a hasty retreat in an escape rocket. Before the soldiers can regroup, the Hulk leaps away, heading north.
Hulk reaches Florida, with General Ross and his soldiers in hot pursuit, but a mid-air collision with a tactical missile being tested at Cape Kennedy causes him to crash into the Everglades and injure his leg. Hulk soon comes across a lonely shack filled with drums of radioactive and chemical waste and smashes the place up, releasing the toxic brew into the waters of the swamp. Hulk then wanders around the swamp the rest of the day, waiting for his leg to heal enough to leap away. After dark, the soldiers find him and attack, but Hulk repels them. Soon after, Hulk stumbles upon Betty being carried off by a brown, gooey swamp monster. The Hulk attacks, trying to rescue her, but his leg injury puts him at a disadvantage. The “Glob” carries Betty into the fetid waters of the swamp, which glow strangely. The muck monster immediately begins to disintegrate, but it holds Betty over its head long enough for the Hulk to get her to safety. As the soldiers arrive, Hulk leaves Betty on dry land and stalks off into the swamp, depressed that the Glob is gone, as he thinks they might have become friends. By the next morning, Hulk’s leg has completely healed and he makes his way out of the swamp.
While heading west through the Deep South, Hulk demolishes a freight train in a fit of rage. He then stalks off into the woods and falls asleep, changing back to Bruce Banner. Coming across the train wreck, Bruce finds a newspaper and sees a headline announcing that Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four believes he has developed a means to cure the Hulk once and for all. Filled with new hope, Bruce hops aboard a train traveling the adjacent track and makes his way toward New York City. En route, Bruce writes down some chemical formulas of his own for Richards to incorporate into his procedure, which Bruce believes will allow him to remain in control of the Hulk. He fears that losing the Hulk’s power completely would leave him vulnerable to retribution from either his enemies or the government. Finally, Bruce puts the paper in a pouch tied to his waist, so it won’t get lost if he should become the Hulk again before reaching the FF. When he arrives at the Baxter Building the next day, a security guard mistakes him for a vagrant, causing a scuffle. Bruce turns into the Hulk and storms the team’s headquarters. Mister Fantastic, the Thing, the Human Torch, the Invisible Girl, and Crystal battle the Hulk until Richards manages to subdue him with a special sonic blaster.
Bruce awakens the next morning to find that the experiment was a complete success, and he can now control his transformations and retain his own intellect while in the Hulk’s form. Mister Fantastic wants to run a battery of tests, but Bruce refuses and the Thing backs him up. Borrowing a new set of clothes, Bruce leaves the Baxter Building. He immediately phones Betty, and she gets on the next plane to New York. They have a joyous reunion at the airport followed by an exciting night on the town. The young lovers are determined to make up for lost time by enjoying every moment together to the fullest, without the specter of the Hulk looming over them.
October 1964 – After romping on the beaches of Florida, Bruce Banner and Betty Ross decide to get married as soon as possible.While still in Florida, Bruce is contacted by General Ross, who asks for help guarding a new weapon, nicknamed “The Murder Module,” during transport to its remote testing site. Ross is convinced the power of the Hulk would be proof against anyone who tries to steal the weapon, and Bruce agrees to do it. They return to New Mexico, where Ross admits he is impressed by Bruce’s guts and loyalty to his country. Sure enough, the truck is intercepted en route by the Leader, who tries to steal the module. Bruce becomes the Hulk to stop him, but loses control during the battle and reverts momentarily to the Hulk’s savage personality. While trying to get ahold of himself, Bruce allows the Leader to escape.
General Ross gives the couple his blessing to get married, but asks that they hold the ceremony in the Ross family home in California, where Betty was born. Happy to do so, Bruce and Betty fly out to California and make the necessary preparations. However, the ceremony is interrupted by the Leader and his new ally, the Rhino. The Leader uses an energy beam to force Bruce to become the Hulk and revert to his savage state immediately. The Hulk completely destroys the Ross homestead while battling the Rhino. Their plan goes awry when the Rhino and the Leader turn on each other, causing the Leader’s escape craft to explode high in the air. The battle over, Hulk leaps away, heading for the wilderness, leaving Betty heartbroken. Eventually, Hulk falls asleep at a picnic ground, lulled by the soft music playing on a radio abandoned by a fleeing couple.
The next morning, Bruce wakes up at the picnic ground, and is startled by news reports on the radio concerning a deadly comet on a collision course with Earth. He rushes to the Air Force base Ross and Talbot are visiting while in California. Finding Talbot, Bruce convinces the top brass to allow him to pilot an intercept rocket to neutralize the comet at the edge of space. Bruce successfully detonates a nuclear warhead and deflects the comet, but on the way down realizes he’s picked up a dangerous passenger: Crusher Creel, a.k.a. the Absorbing Man, who’s been stranded in space since his last encounter with Thor. Bruce turns into the savage Hulk and battles Creel as the rocket crash-lands near the California coast. The Absorbing Man proves to be a formidable adversary, but he is undone when he tries to absorb the Hulk’s power. As Hulk turns back into Bruce, Creel reverts to human form as well, though he’s holding an enormous slab of rock over his head. In a panic, he absorbs the properties of the rock, but his body shatters under the weight and he is buried in a pile of rubble.
The battle is witnessed by a group of cultists who worship the demonic Undying Ones under the leadership of a man named Van Nyborg. The cultists carry Bruce’s unconscious form to their mansion, planning to use the Hulk to defeat their masters’ greatest enemy, the Dark-Crawler, which would allow the Undying Ones to use his mystic realm as a conduit to Earth’s dimension. Bruce is sent into the Dark-Crawler’s domain by a ritual of black magic, where the sight of the fearsome creature causes him to become the Hulk. However, one of the cultists, Barbara Norriss, has a change of heart, so she is thrown through the dimensional portal as well. Hulk is willing to battle the Dark-Crawler to protect the girl, and their brawl releases catastrophic energies that rip the mystic realm apart. The weird being teleports the three of them directly to the Undying Ones’ dimension, where they find Doctor Strange imprisoned within poles of ethereal force. He is being tortured by the Undying Ones’ monstrous two-headed king, the Nameless One, but Barbara sacrifices herself to set the hapless sorcerer free. She becomes hopelessly trapped, but the traumatized Strange immediately casts a spell that returns himself and the Hulk to Earth. They materialize in the street outside his Sanctum Sanctorum in Greenwich Village, and the transit has caused the Hulk to revert to Bruce Banner. Strange helps Bruce inside, and offers him a fresh set of clothes and some food. As Strange announces his decision to renounce the mystic arts, Bruce thanks him for his kindness and leaves. However, several minutes later, Bruce is hit by a truck while crossing a busy street and turns into the Hulk. He encounters a powerful creature called Mogol, who tries to enlist the Hulk to the side of Tyrannus in the ongoing war in Subterranea. Vaguely remembering that Tyrannus was his enemy, Hulk at first rejects the proposal, but during their battle, Mogol eventually wins him over. Declaring Mogol to be his friend, Hulk accompanies him to the citadel of Tyrannus deep underground.
In Subterranea, Tyrannus treats the Hulk well and is appreciative of his efforts in preparing his forces for an attack on the Mole Man, who has seized the Fountain of Youth that Tyrannus relies on to sustain his life. During the ensuing conflict, however, Hulk discovers that Mogol is only a robot. Enraged that his friend is not real, Hulk destroys Mogol, then takes out his anger on the citadel of Tyrannus, leveling the place. Finally, he storms off into the seemingly endless tunnels, heading due west deep beneath the North American continent. Hulk wanders the dimly-illumined tunnels for the better part of a day, until he encounters a red-faced phantom in a green and gold costume, who taunts him into tunneling back up to the surface. Emerging into daylight, Hulk finds himself beset by a new team of Avengers: the Vision, the Black Panther, Goliath, Quicksilver, and the Scarlet Witch. They manage to maneuver the Hulk between the two nodes of the Air Force’s gammatron bombarder, but Hulk overcomes its effects and leaps away, losing himself in the forests in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. However, the gammatron’s effects were merely delayed, and Hulk soon turns back into Bruce Banner. Unaware of this, the Avengers assume the Hulk has gotten away, and they return to New York.
Bruce soon wakes up and wanders cross-country until coming upon a lonely road. To his surprise, an old pick-up truck soon rumbles up, and the driver offers him a ride. The driver introduces himself as Sam Sterns, and claims to be suffering from amnesia. Still, Bruce rides with him as they drive through the night to Los Angeles. They check into a hotel and go to breakfast, but Sterns suddenly has some kind of attack and runs off, disappearing into the back alleys of the city. After a sleepless night on the streets of L.A., Bruce turns into the Hulk again and goes on a rampage in the city. Alerted to his presence, the military mobilizes to capture him, but Hulk evades them by taking refuge in the sewers. Turning back to Bruce, he decides he’d better stay in the sewers to escape the city-wide dragnet.
Two weeks later, after building a raft to navigate the putrid waters, Bruce is suddenly attacked by the Glob, the muck monster Hulk fought in the Everglades last month. After a rapid transformation, the Hulk fights back. Though he soon tires of fighting the silent muck monster, Hulk is unable to give him the slip. Their battle takes them from the sewers to a tower high above a power plant, where Hulk finally manages to destroy the Glob with a massive charge of electricity. The next day, the Hulk makes his way back towards New Mexico, but runs into the X-Men while passing though Las Vegas. Cyclops, Beast, Angel, and Marvel Girl battle him briefly, managing to knock him out so he’ll turn back into Bruce Banner. Unfortunately, Major Talbot and his soldiers catch up to the Hulk at the same time, forcing a standoff. Gradually, with the X-Men’s prompting, Bruce remembers the gamma-ray treatment for mental exhaustion he developed in collaboration with Charles Xavier many years ago, and that a prototype device is stored in one of his secret labs out in the desert. The X-Men ask him to lead them to it, but when Talbot refuses to back down, Bruce turns into the Hulk again and attacks the soldiers before leaping away. The X-Men pursue him in their special aircraft and, reaching the New Mexico desert, Hulk tries to drive the mutants off, but to no avail. Their battle causes a cliffside to crumble, revealing Bruce’s secret lab. While Cyclops keeps the Hulk busy, Angel flies in and grabs the device they are after. The X-Men quickly depart, leaving the Hulk in peace. Later, he turns back into Bruce Banner and sets about repairing the damage to his laboratory.
The next day, Rick Jones arrives at the secret lab looking for Bruce, and reveals that he has been merged with the alien superhero Captain Marvel, who is trapped in the Negative Zone and can only exist on Earth by trading places with him. Bruce agrees to try to create a portal to that dimension so Captain Marvel can escape. They work on the project all day and through the night without stopping. By morning, Bruce is overtired and becomes extremely angry when he hears a report on the radio of a student protest at his alma mater, Desert State University, that’s targeting his former mentor, Dr. Josiah Weller. The stress of worrying about Dr. Weller, who has a heart condition, triggers Bruce’s transformation into the Hulk. Rick switches out with Captain Marvel, who tries unsuccessfully to restrain the Hulk. The jade giant smashes out of the lab and makes his way to the campus in Las Cruces, where he frightens away the protestors. Captain Marvel attacks him again, but after a brief, intense battle, he unexpectedly changes back into Rick Jones. Nonetheless, Rick convinces the Hulk to abandon the fight and go back to the desert.
An hour or so later, the Hulk calms down and reverts to Bruce Banner. Worried about Dr. Weller, Bruce walks back to Desert State University to check on him. He runs into his old classmate, Dr. Raoul Stoddard, who’s now on the faculty. Stoddard takes Bruce to a secret lab outside of town where he and Weller have conducted their own gamma-ray research. Stoddard believes their gammatron device may cure Bruce of being the Hulk. The two scientists spend several hours preparing the device, but when Stoddard finally activates it, the treatment has an unexpected effect—the Hulk and Bruce are split into two independent entities. Bruce is shocked as he stands face-to-face with the Hulk for the first time.
Hulk threatens Bruce, causing him to flee in Stoddard’s car. Though the Hulk soon catches up to him, Bruce is rescued by the Air Force. Hulk again overwhelms the soldiers and escapes. Bruce is flown back to Desert Base for a meeting with General Ross, Major Talbot, and Betty, who are incredulous at this latest turn of events. Ross suggests that this is their best chance to destroy the Hulk once and for all, but Bruce theorizes that they are still linked somehow, and killing one would probably destroy the other. They soon receive a report that the Hulk is on a rampage in Albuquerque, but in no time at all, he’s stormed the base and found Bruce, led to his alter-ego by some strange sixth sense. Bruce makes a run for it, takes a military truck and speeds back to Stoddard’s lab outside Las Cruces. Bruce wants to use the gammatron to merge the Hulk back into him, but Stoddard betrays his old friend, threatening to shoot Bruce dead and thereby end the threat of the Hulk forever. Suddenly, the Hulk smashes into the lab, ready to murder Bruce himself. Trapped in the gammatron device, Bruce saves himself by leading the Hulk to believe it is some kind of weapon set to trap or kill him. The green-skinned brute slaps down the gun-wielding Stoddard and takes off. Finally, Air Force personnel arrive to free Bruce and take Stoddard into custody.
Hulk hides out in the slums of Los Angeles, where he meets 15-year-old orphan Jim Wilson, who’s living alone in his family’s burnt-out tenement. Meanwhile, receiving intelligence on the Hulk’s whereabouts, General Ross sets up a temporary command post at the Los Angeles Air Force Station. Hulk intimidates Jim into bringing Bruce to him, so, as evening falls, the youth sneaks onto the base and finds Bruce conferring with General Ross and Betty. When Bruce volunteers to merge with the Hulk again to spare the lives that would be lost in an all-out conflict between the military and the Hulk within the Los Angeles city limits, Jim decides he can’t go through with it. When he gets caught by a sentry, Jim agrees to lead General Ross to the Hulk’s hiding place. Just then, Iron Man arrives at the base, responding to a request for aid General Ross had sent to Avengers Mansion. They load the gammatron into an unmarked truck and drive it to Jim’s neighborhood. When Jim then brings the Hulk out into the street, Iron Man tries to get a clear shot. Unfortunately, Jim is too close to the target, so Iron Man attacks the Hulk directly. Hulk gets the better of the armored Avenger, so in desperation, Iron Man blasts the burned-out tenement building with his repulsor rays, causing it to collapse on top of the Hulk. When Hulk emerges from the rubble, the gammatron is activated, and Bruce runs up to the Hulk to be merged back into one being. Unfortunately, it is Bruce who disappears into the Hulk’s form. The unconscious Hulk is taken into custody by the Air Force.
General Ross, Major Talbot, and Betty are concerned when the Hulk remains unconscious for many hours without changing back into Bruce Banner. Betty fears the man she loves has been lost forever. Finally, the Hulk wakes up and breaks his chains, but is blasted back into unconsciousness with a souped-up tranquilizer gun. He revives later that night to find he and Jim Wilson have been taken prisoner by HYDRA. He breaks free and battles the HYDRA agents, but Jim is badly wounded in the melee. Hulk smashes up the HYDRA ship, grabs Jim, and bails out, landing safely in a wooded glade far below, where he helplessly watches over the unconscious Jim until dawn, when Air Force helicopters locate them. General Ross approaches on foot and talks the Hulk into letting them take Jim back to the city for medical treatment. Hulk allows Jim to be lifted into one of the helicopters on a stretcher, but when Ross tries to convince the Hulk to surrender, a trigger-happy pilot blasts the green behemoth with a rocket. Enraged, Hulk takes down the chopper with a huge boulder and Ross calls a full retreat. That night, Hulk makes his way to a Los Angeles wharf and hides inside a large crate. In the morning, the crate is loaded onto a cargo ship, which then sets sail. Hulk decides to stay put and see where the ship takes him—hopefully somewhere far away from the soldiers who persecute him.
November 1964 – The ship, the S.S. Conrad, is at sea for three weeks as it sails down through the Panama Canal and crosses the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea. Through it all, Hulk enters a form of hibernation. He is finally awoken when the crate he is hiding in is unloaded from a truck at its final destination. He smashes his way out and finds himself in the fortress of the notorious dictator Draxon, surrounded by soldiers. When Hulk refuses to serve Draxon, the despot orders his men to open fire, but Hulk merely smashes the soldiers and their weapons. He then grabs Draxon, who stands frozen with fear, so Hulk decides the puny man is not worth the effort to smash him. Throwing the dictator to the floor, Hulk warns Draxon to leave him alone, then leaps away into the Moravian countryside. A few days later, after a young girl mistakes Hulk for the Golem of her father’s legends, the jade giant adopts an abandoned, burnt-out town as his new home. Later, his solitude is interrupted when the underground resistance movement tries to recruit him to their cause. Hulk rejects their plea, but later the little girl’s tears move him to help her father against Draxon. Within minutes Hulk has routed Draxon’s forces and destroyed the dictator’s new super-tank, with Draxon himself perishing in the battle. The girl’s father offers Hulk the throne of Moravia, but Hulk turns him down and stalks off into the countryside again.
The next day, Hulk suddenly finds himself teleported to the high-tech citadel of Kang the Conqueror in the 41st century. Kang convinces Hulk to undertake a mission that will destroy Bruce Banner once and for all. Remembering Banner only as his mortal enemy, Hulk agrees. Kang transports the Hulk back to 1917, depositing him in the midst of World War I, with orders to stop the Phantom Eagle’s airplane before he can destroy an advanced super-cannon. Hulk leaps at the plane as it approaches its target, causing the Phantom Eagle’s mission to fail. However, when the German troops open fire on the Hulk, he destroys the cannon himself in a rage. The resulting explosion causes the cavern to collapse. By the time Hulk has dug himself out of the rubble, the Phantom Eagle has landed his plane and come up to investigate. Hulk warns him to stay away, but then is suddenly yanked back to the present day. He rematerializes at the very spot from which he had left, but the energies of the time vortex have caused him to finally change back into Bruce Banner. Soon discovering he’s in Central Europe, Bruce tries to keep a low profile.
December 1964 – Bruce Banner finally flags down a NATO truck and is taken to their base, where arrangements are made to return him to the United States. While flying over New York City, a strange energy field causes Bruce to change into the Hulk despite the tranquilizers in his system. Hulk breaks out of the aircraft and makes his way to the top of the Empire State Building, where he is soon drawn into conflict with an alien hunting party led by Xeron the Star-Slayer and his quarry, the skyscraper-sized behemoth known as Klaatu. The monster causes a city-wide blackout by absorbing the energy of the power grid into itself. Hulk attacks Klaatu, but is sent crashing into a building, which collapses. Hulk emerges from the rubble to find Klaatu has disappeared and he has become Xeron’s new target. Using his energy harpoons, Xeron captures the Hulk and takes him aboard his starship in high orbit. When he comes to, Hulk discovers that the ship’s first mate is none other than the Abomination.
Realizing it would do him no good to smash his way out of the ship while it’s in space, Hulk grudgingly agrees to join the crew. He soon finds that the aliens accept him without fear or prejudice, so Hulk decides that life on the ship is not so bad. After the Abomination tries to kill him by throwing him overboard, Hulk finally meets the ship’s commander, Captain Cybor. Hulk is startled to find that the entire right side of Cybor’s body is mechanical, owing to an accident he suffered during an early attempt at hunting Klaatu. Cybor warns them that brawling on the ship is strictly forbidden, then orders Hulk back to his bunk. Finally falling asleep, Hulk changes back into Bruce Banner, much to the astonishment of the crew. Bruce convinces them he is the Hulk so they don’t kill him on the spot, but they are suddenly called to battle stations as the ship has located Klaatu. Bruce struggles to man his oars, wishing he could change into the Hulk at will, but finding he has lost that ability. While Cybor and Xeron are busy with Klaatu, the Abomination grabs Bruce, meaning to kill him. Bruce turns into the Hulk just in time and battles the Abomination while they drift in space. The hunting party speeds off, leaving them behind, and they are soon caught in the Earth’s gravity and pulled down through the atmosphere. Though re-entry is painful, Hulk survives and finally splashes down in the Pacific Ocean. The Abomination is nowhere to be found.
Hulk swims to shore and collapses in exhaustion, turning back into Bruce Banner. He then makes his way to Los Angeles to visit Betty in the hospital. He finds Jim Wilson sitting outside, and speaks with him briefly. Bruce then sneaks into the hospital, steals an intern’s uniform, and wakes Betty up from a nightmare. She is overjoyed to see him again, and he tells her that he has realized he must solve the problem of the Hulk on his own, without the involvement of the Air Force. They are interrupted by the Sandman, who forces a doctor to perform a total blood transfusion with Betty to cure him of the “glass” condition he’s been plagued with since fighting the Hulk back in September. The procedure cures the Sandman, but his radioactive blood adversely affects Betty, and the stress causes Bruce to change into the Hulk and attack. In the middle of the ensuing battle, they are both captured by General Ross in a cage mounted to an airplane. Their attempts to escape threaten to crash the plane, so Ross orders them dumped into the ocean. Hulk and Sandman resume their fight amidst the waves, until Hulk manages to generate a whirlpool strong enough to scatter his foe’s sandy particles too far apart for him to immediately reform himself. Hulk then swims for shore.
Over the next few days, Hulk makes his way across Mexico and into the Caribbean Sea, where he swims nonstop until coming to shore on the small island of San Pablo. After a skirmish with the local militia, he moves into the jungles and discovers some ancient ruins where he decides to make his home. His solitude is soon disrupted by the Sub-Mariner and the Silver Surfer, who lead him into further conflict with the armed forces of the small island nation, enabling a band of rebels to overthrow their dictator. The Sub-Mariner then convinces the Hulk to join them on a mission to save the world from destruction, and the unlikely trio leaves the island at once atop the Silver Surfer’s board. They fly to another Caribbean island where the United Nations is about to test a new weather-controlling device that Atlantean scientists have determined will cause environmental chaos. After their negotiations with UN personnel break down, the trio is confronted by a contingent of Avengers—Thor, Iron Man, and Goliath—who demand an explanation for their actions. Hulk runs out of patience and attacks Thor, causing the other Avengers to counterattack. Hulk and Thor battle for several minutes. Finally, Namor’s scientists signal that they are ready to conduct their test, which proves the device is too dangerous to use. The UN agrees to shelve the project until more research can be done, but Hulk is ready to smash the machine anyway. Namor and the Silver Surfer restrain him, and so, feeling betrayed, Hulk heads back to the mainland.
On his way back to Los Angeles to find Betty, Hulk is attacked by several of his old foes in rapid succession, each one fading to nothingness as soon as he is defeated. He encounters the Rhino, Xeron the Star-Slayer, the Sub-Mariner, the Missing Link, the Dark-Crawler, the Mandarin, the Sandman, the Glob, Iron Man, the Absorbing Man, and finally, the Abomination. The Abomination vanishes suddenly in the middle of their fight, and the bewildered Hulk leaps away, forgetting about Betty and heading back towards the New Mexico desert that is his home.
January 1964 – The Hulk’s adventures resume in Tales to Astonish #92 and following.
April 1964 – With issue #102, Tales to Astonish was re-titled Hulk, as the split-book format was abandoned. Due to favorable business conditions at the time, Marvel was able to expand their line. Sub-Mariner was spun off into a brand-new series.
September 1964 – In the middle of his fight with the Missing Link, Hulk makes a brief appearance in Captain America #110. He first meets the Inhumans in their Great Refuge in Hulk Annual #1. When he meets Maximus the second time, the name of the Central American country is obfuscated as “Costa Salvador,” but it seems to lie on the Atlantic Ocean, suggesting it is actually Costa Rica.
October 1964 – The Dark-Crawler was originally called the Night-Crawler, but his name was later changed to avoid confusion with the X-Men’s Nightcrawler. Bruce Banner remains unaware that Sam Sterns is really the Leader. The Hulk encounters the original X-Men in Uncanny X-Men #66, which was the last issue to feature non-reprinted material for many years. Next, Hulk runs into Rick Jones again and battles his Kree-born alter-ego in Captain Marvel #20–21. In the Marvel Universe, just as Empire State University stands in for NYU, Desert State University takes the place of New Mexico State University.
December 1964 – The Hulk, the Sub-Mariner, and the Silver Surfer team-up for a dry run of the concept that would evolve into the Defenders in Sub-Mariner #34–35. The illusions of the Hulk’s many recent foes are generated by the Leader, and this brings us up to Hulk #139.
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