Wednesday

OMU: Hulk -- Year Five

The Hulk continues to wander far and wide over the next twelve months in the character’s life, making his way from the frozen wastes of the Arctic to tropical islands in the Atlantic and from Montreal, Canada, to Sydney, Australia—not to mention visits to other planets, dimensions, and time periods. In fact, Hulk largely loses touch with his supporting cast, seeing them only briefly here and there in the course of his adventures. As such, his book follows two mostly separate tracks during this period, with a new character, Colonel John D. Armbruster, added to the mix but remaining just another anonymous soldier as far as Hulk is concerned. Artist Herb Trimpe continues his landmark run here, working primarily with writers Steve Englehart and Roy Thomas (with some assistance from other members of the Marvel Bullpen), giving the book a nice, consistent feel.

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 1966 – The Hulk wanders the snowy forests of Quebec, Canada, keeping a relatively low profile. Early in the month, he takes refuge within a cave and finds a newspaper on the ground. The headline announces a “battle of the sexes” in New York City between the Thing and a mystery woman called Thundra. Hulk recognizes his old foe, the Thing, but is confused as to why he would want to fight a girl.

February 1966 – Hulk is about ten miles north of Montreal when he stumbles upon a military convoy and assumes they have come to attack him. He flips over the last personnel transport truck, sending it sliding into a ravine. Spider-Man appears a moment later and helps the soldiers as they open fire on the Hulk. Enraged, Hulk leaps away, landing at the Maskattawan Dam several miles down the Saint Lawrence River. There, Spider-Man attacks him again, then enters the control tower and causes water to start streaming through the dam. Frustrated by the “leaking wall,” Hulk smashes the control tower, causing a rain of boulders to carry him and Spider-Man into the ice-cold water. Hulk throws some of the boulders back to shore, then creates a large wave that swamps the convoy on the riverbank. Tired of fighting, Hulk leaps off to the south and soon comes upon a construction site on an island in the river, which is to be the site of next year’s International and Universal Exposition. Since the workers have all gone home for the evening, Hulk decides to spend the night there. A little later, though, a taxi nearly crashes into him as he is wandering around. Annoyed, Hulk rips up the road surface, flipping the taxi over. Almost immediately, Spider-Man turns up again and they continue their fight, causing tremendous damage to the fairgrounds. When some military helicopters arrive and start shooting at him, Hulk leaps away, losing his enemies in the darkness. Fed up, Hulk makes his way back to the wilderness.

March 1966 – Hulk moves north through Quebec, circling around Hudson Bay, then continues on into the Northwest Territories and soon crosses the Arctic Circle. Though he enjoys the peace and quiet, the harsh conditions prevent the Hulk from changing back into Bruce Banner.

April 1966 – Hulk is taken by surprise when a trio of U.S. Air Force fighter jets finds him wandering around the Arctic. While trying to escape the jets’ missile barrage, Hulk crashes through the polar ice cap and finds himself within a huge cavern. He is shocked to see a small city, with towers the size of office buildings, completely hidden under the ice. Five Russian soldiers in bulky suits of armor fly out of one of the buildings and attack the Hulk, managing to knock him out with a powerful sedative gas. When he wakes up, Hulk finds himself a prisoner of the Gremlin, a deformed genius who explains that his father was the Gargoyle, whom the Hulk encountered four years ago. Blaming the Hulk for his father’s death, the Gremlin intends to get revenge, but only after conducting a battery of tests on the Hulk for his own super-soldier project. However, a couple days later, the Gremlin administers too high a dose of the gas that was keeping the Hulk docile, causing him to change back into Bruce Banner. Confused and disoriented, Bruce is led to a holding cell, where he discovers that General Thaddeus E. “Thunderbolt” Ross is also being held prisoner. Bruce is struck by the irony when Ross insists that the Hulk is their only hope for escape. The next day, Bruce starts a fight with the guards when they escort him back to the Gremlin’s laboratory, and, as he hoped, the stress triggers his transformation again. Unfortunately, Hulk then refuses to break Ross out of his cell, thinking of him as his greatest enemy, and leaves the old soldier behind as he smashes his way out of the Gremlin’s complex and makes his way back to the surface.

Hulk crosses the polar ice cap and reaches the Arctic Ocean, intent on finding his way back to the deserts of New Mexico. After leaping from iceberg to iceberg for a while, he finally drops into the frigid water and starts swimming. A few hundred miles from shore, Hulk encounters a U.S. Navy submarine and punches a hole in the hull. The sub starts sinking, only to be captured by a gigantic vessel that rises from the ocean depths. Hulk is captured as well, stunned by an energy beam, and finds that the crew of the mysterious vessel is made up entirely of oddly large, squat men. The captain, however, is a rail-thin old man who introduces himself as Nathaniel Omen. He explains that his crew’s distorted physiques are due to life on the bottom of the ocean, which he is surveying in hopes of staking a legal claim to it. Hulk breaks out of the ship and tries to swim to the surface. However, he quickly gets the bends and passes out. When he comes to, he is Bruce Banner again and the shackled prisoner of Captain Omen. Bruce is shocked when Omen reveals that his submarine left the surface world behind at the end of World War I and has not surfaced since that time. In fact, most of his current crew has never even seen the sun, having lived their entire lives aboard the vessel, which has been greatly enlarged and upgraded over the decades. However, Omen’s abuse of his crew causes Bruce to change back into the Hulk, prompting Omen to order his men to attack him. The scene of the fight is then isolated from the rest of the ship and ejected into the ocean. Hulk breaks free but quickly realizes that was a mistake—he’s now trapped on the ocean floor with only a quick lungful of air. Omen drops the Hulk an oxygen helmet and orders him to follow the vessel on foot, like the slave he now is. Hulk grumbles but, seeing no way to escape his predicament, decides to comply.

Sometime later, Hulk is rescued by rebel members of the crew and brought back aboard. He is taken to a secret meeting of a revolutionary sect led by Captain Omen’s son Filius, where he is hailed as their savior. Filius explains that his group wishes to escape from the captain’s tyranny and live on the surface world like normal people. Though he is befuddled by their reverence for some half-century-old surface-world trash, Hulk agrees to help them take over the ship. However, Omen is ready to deal with the mutiny and releases a massive half-man, half-fish creature called Aquon to battle the Hulk. After doing tremendous damage to the vessel, Hulk defeats Aquon, prompting Filius to declare victory. Reluctantly, Omen orders the ship to surface, whereupon Filius leads his group to a nearby tropical island. Hulk goes ashore with them, only to be horrified when the relatively low air pressure causes their bodies to explode into bloody pulps. To prevent the rest of his crew from meeting the same gruesome fate, Omen orders his ship to submerge. Left alone on the island, Hulk watches Captain Omen’s ship disappear beneath the waves, having completely forgotten that the crew of the Navy submarine is still trapped aboard.

After swimming halfway across the Atlantic Ocean, Hulk pulls himself up onto a pier in the New York City harbor. Tired, he sits down behind some crates and falls asleep, changing back into Bruce Banner. When he wakes up, Bruce finds himself caught up in a crowd of people fleeing from a large monster—a humanoid form made of pure electricity calling itself “Zzzax.” The stress causes him to turn into the Hulk again, but their battle along the waterfront faces continual interference by the masked archer known as Hawkeye. Finally, Zzzax throws Hawkeye into the harbor, but the former Avenger shoots a cable-arrow through the monster’s form. When the arrow hits the water on the other side of the pier, Zzzax is apparently destroyed. Unable to see Hawkeye in the water, the bystanders assume the Hulk defeated Zzzax and cheer his victory. Annoyed, Hulk stomps off down the street, telling the puny humans to leave him alone. Hawkeye follows him, though, enraging the Hulk further. Luckily, the Sub-Mariner and the Valkyrie turn up and prevent them from getting into a fight. Instead, they all head over to Doctor Strange’s Sanctum Sanctorum, where they are greeted by Clea and Wong. When an Atlantean warrior arrives with news that Attuma and his barbarian hordes are about to attack Atlantic City, New Jersey, Hulk agrees to join the Sub-Mariner, Valkyrie, and Hawkeye in opposing them. When they reach the beach, Hulk enjoys smashing the giant mutated crabs Attuma has brought with him, but the fight is cut short when the Sub-Mariner is captured. The villain forces Valkyrie and Hawkeye to surrender and board his warship. However, Hulk recognizes the vessel as a submarine and refuses to go aboard, not wanting to repeat the experience he had with Captain Omen. Instead, he leaps away and returns to New York City, where he stalks the back alleys for the next couple of weeks.

May 1966 – Hulk is finally summoned back to the Sanctum Sanctorum by the astral projection of Doctor Strange. When he arrives, Hulk finds the Silver Surfer is there, too. Doctor Strange is concerned by the disappearance of the Sub-Mariner and the Valkyrie and, with the help of a magic spell, gets the Hulk to describe their battle with Attuma. The sorcerer then causes the Hulk to fall into a peaceful slumber, and when he awakens, Hulk sees that Attuma’s three captives have been rescued. He is annoyed to have been tricked but decides to postpone getting back at Doctor Strange so he can help rescue his friend, the Black Knight, from the enchantment that turned him to stone. Using the Orb of Agamotto, Doctor Strange calls forth the voice of the Black Knight from the void where his spirit is adrift. The voice reveals that their only hope to rescue the Black Knight is the ancient artifact known as the Evil Eye of Avalon. Though the Silver Surfer relates the tale of the Evil Eye’s recent destruction by the Human Torch, Doctor Strange is convinced it must still exist in some form and that the Defenders must find it, no matter what the cost. A friend of the Black Knight’s from their days in the Avengers, Hawkeye vows to join them on their quest, so the Defenders welcome him into their ranks. The Orb then reveals more of the history of the Evil Eye and its owner, the man known as Prester John. Next, it shows how, when the Evil Eye exploded in the Himalayas two and a half years ago, it split itself into six segments that were scattered across the globe. Doctor Strange sends the Hulk to retrieve the section located in Los Angeles, California, while the rest of the Defenders gather the other five pieces.

Drawn to the Evil Eye’s hiding place by one of Doctor Strange’s spells, Hulk digs it up in the courtyard of a posh hotel. However, Thor arrives on the scene and demands that the arcane object be surrendered to him. Still harboring some bitterness over the way the Avengers treated him in the past, Hulk punches Thor in the face, sending him crashing into a brick wall. Thor retaliates, but the Hulk doesn’t become truly enraged until the thunder god claims to be his superior in battle. The ensuing fight tears up the street, but the two combatants quickly find themselves in a stalemate, each one’s super-strong muscles straining against the other’s as they grapple. Finally, their teammates show up—Doctor Strange, Sub-Mariner, Silver Surfer, Valkyrie, Hawkeye, Iron Man, Captain America, Scarlet Witch, Black Panther, Vision, Swordsman, and Mantis—and convince them to stand down. The Defenders and the Avengers then compare notes and realize that Thor was fighting Loki in Rutland, Vermont, last Halloween at the same time that the Defenders were battling Dormammu there. They speculate that the two arch-villains must have teamed-up. Their suspicions are confirmed when the six segments of the Evil Eye are suddenly stolen by Dormammu’s servant Asti the All-Seeing. Despite the best efforts of the assembled heroes, Asti escapes with the segments into another dimension.

Almost immediately, the city around them begins to transform into a nightmarish world of horror, the people metamorphosing into monstrous demons. An image of Dormammu’s flaming head appears in the sky, announcing that he is using the Evil Eye to bring Earth into his Dark Dimension, thereby enabling him to conquer the planet without violating his oath to never invade our universe. The Defenders and the Avengers vow to prevent this at any cost. However, the transformed bystanders begin to attack the heroes, forcing them to fight back. Hulk helps keep the monsters at bay while Doctor Strange casts a spell to prevent any of the 14 superheroes present from changing into monsters themselves. The sorcerer then tries to convince Captain America that both teams need to take the fight directly to Dormammu in the Dark Dimension. Cap is reluctant to abandon the earth in such a time of crisis but relents when Nick Fury and the forces of S.H.I.E.L.D. arrive on the scene. Leaving Fury and his agents to deal with the monsters, Doctor Strange casts a spell to transport the Defenders and the Avengers into Dormammu’s realm.

In the weird landscape of the Dark Dimension, Doctor Strange yells at the headstrong Avengers to keep them from blundering to their doom, prompting Thor to order his teammates to defer to the sorcerer’s expertise. Then, after beating off the numberless hordes of the Mindless Ones, the heroes find Dormammu, brandishing the Evil Eye, with Loki imprisoned in a cage of flames. To everyone’s surprise, the Watcher is also present, looking on enigmatically. Doctor Strange manages to breach the mystic barrier separating them, but with one wave of his hand, Dormammu’s augmented magic instantly renders the six Defenders unconscious. When Hulk comes to, he learns that the villains have already been defeated. The Watcher explains that the Scarlet Witch cast a last-second hex that caused the Evil Eye to malfunction, absorbing Dormammu’s flaming form and blasting it out again straight through Loki’s brain. Though the energies restored his lost sight, Loki’s mind was shattered in the process, leaving him with the intellect of an infant. Furthermore, the Watcher reveals, Dormammu will remain as scattered molecules until the psychic energy from his many worshipers eventually allows him to reform. Finally, the Watcher congratulates the 14 heroes on their great victory. Doctor Strange retrieves the Evil Eye, still intent on using it to rescue the Black Knight, and casts a spell that returns the two teams to Los Angeles.

The Defenders and the Avengers materialize on the same street in L.A. to find the crisis is over. The people who had been transformed into monsters have reverted to normal and are wandering around the rubble-strewn streets in a daze. Nick Fury offers the two teams his congratulations on their victory. However, wishing to keep the existence of the Defenders a secret, Doctor Strange removes all memory of their involvement from Fury and his agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., as well as any bystanders who witnessed their presence earlier in the day. Furthermore, he combines the power of the Evil Eye with his own sorcerous might to undo all damage and destruction the world over caused by Dormammu’s scheme, leaving everyone believing they had just suffered a mass hallucination. Finally, after bidding farewell to the Avengers, Strange teleports his team back to the Sanctum Sanctorum to attend to the Black Knight.

Using the power of the Evil Eye, Doctor Strange attempts to locate Dane Whitman’s astral form again, but it has disappeared. He has only begun to explain the enigma to his teammates when they are suddenly enveloped in a nimbus of energy that carries them across space and time to deposit them in the Middle East in 1190 A.D. Here they discover that the Black Knight has taken physical form by possessing the body of his own ancestor, Eobar of Garrington, and has joined King Richard the Lionheart in fighting the Third Crusade. After a clash with an Arab army and a contingent of super-powerful gnomes, the Black Knight fills the Defenders in on what’s happening. The gnome alliance is due to the involvement of the spirit of Mordred, the villain of Camelot, who is aiding the wicked Prince John in his bid to overthrow King Richard. Since Mordred has manifested physically, a spell cast by Merlin plucked Dane Whitman’s astral form from limbo to give Eobar an advantage against his magical foe. The Defenders agree to help the Black Knight free King Richard from an Arab prison and defeat the gnomes. During the ensuing battle, the villains manage to get the upper hand when Prince John seizes the Evil Eye. He is about to turn its power on the Defenders when an elderly Prester John suddenly materializes and reclaims his weapon. After knocking the villains out, Prester John convinces the Black Knight to remain in the 12th century to help King Richard. Excited by the prospect and glad to have regained the Ebony Blade from the Valkyrie, Dane Whitman agrees. Finally, Prester John uses the Evil Eye to return the Defenders to their own era. Back in the Sanctum Sanctorum, Hawkeye elects not to continue his association with the team. Hulk, the Sub-Mariner, and the Silver Surfer also go their separate ways, leaving Doctor Strange and Valkyrie wishing them well.

June 1966 – Hulk suddenly finds himself teleported to a ghost town in the southwestern United States, where he gets into a fight with the Thing. Their battle lasts about 20 minutes and demolishes several buildings. Hulk realizes that his foe seems much stronger than he was in the past. Suddenly, a spaceship appears overhead and draws the Hulk into its cargo bay with a tractor beam. The Thing grabs Hulk’s ankle is carried aloft with him. Aboard the ship, they encounter an alien called Kurrgo, whom the Thing accuses of having artificially enhanced his strength so he could beat the Hulk. Angered, Kurrgo sends his robot servant to attack them. Hulk and the Thing smash the robot, but it crashes into a control panel, setting the ship on fire. When the Thing jumps out through the cargo bay door, Hulk follows him. Tired of fighting the Thing, Hulk leaps away as the spaceship blows up behind him. Feeling that he misses Betty Ross Talbot, Hulk decides to finally resume his search for her.

A few days later, Hulk is in a swampy marshland near John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York when he is found by Jim Wilson. Having a friend to talk to gets Hulk to relax, causing him to finally change back into Bruce Banner. Jim fills Bruce in on some of the things that have been happening the past few months, revealing that Major Glenn Talbot was killed while rescuing General Ross from the Russians. As a result, Betty had a complete mental breakdown and is currently getting treatment at a sanitarium on Long Island. Blaming himself for her woes, Bruce goes to see Betty, but she reacts violently. The stress triggers Bruce’s transformation into the Hulk, who is confused as to why Betty is hitting him. At first, he runs away but then decides to take Betty some flowers so she will like him again. When he returns to the sanitarium, Hulk finds M.O.D.O.K., wearing a giant prosthetic robot body, apparently spying on Betty. Hulk starts tearing the robot’s limbs off, forcing M.O.D.O.K. to flee. When Hulk goes into Betty’s room, however, he finds she has disappeared. The police and the sanitarium staff drive Hulk away, so Jim gives him a ride in the back of a pick-up truck out to the suburbs of Newark, New Jersey. There, Hulk meets Jim’s girlfriend, Talia Green, who isn’t too happy with Jim’s plan to have the Hulk hide out in her basement. Annoyed by Jim and Talia’s squabbling and intent on finding Betty, Hulk makes his way back to Manhattan, where he is attacked by a gigantic green bird-monster calling itself the Harpy. During their battle, Hulk is shocked to see that the Harpy has Betty’s face, enabling her to knock him out with a powerful energy blast.

When he regains consciousness, Hulk finds himself and the Harpy in a strange city in the clouds, its only inhabitant a bizarre two-faced creature called the Bi-Beast. After a brief three-way battle, the Harpy is knocked out and the thin air causes the Hulk to change back into Bruce Banner. Learning that Bruce is a scientist, the Bi-Beast takes him to a laboratory and charges him with repairing the floating city’s decaying systems before it crashes back to earth. However, Bruce instead creates a device he hopes will restore Betty to her normal self. Unfortunately, the Bi-Beast discovers what he’s up to and angrily confronts him just as he’s activating the device. Bruce turns into the Hulk and fights with the Bi-Beast until the Harpy hits him in the back with an energy blast and knocks him out. When he comes to a few minutes later, he is Bruce Banner again and finds the Bi-Beast has been killed in a gun battle, but there is no sign of his assailants. The city is shaking itself apart, so Bruce pulls the dazed Harpy outside, thinking that at least she will be able to save herself by flying away. However, the cure finally takes effect and the Harpy changes back into Betty Talbot just as the ground caves in under them. As Bruce and Betty plummet to the ground eight miles below, the floating city is destroyed in a massive explosion.

On the way down, Bruce turns into the Hulk, cradles Betty in his arms, and makes an explosive landing on a remote volcanic island. As a monsoon blows in, they take refuge in a cave, but Betty panics and flees into the jungle. Hulk searches for her for many hours and finally finds her being menaced by an alien rock monster. Hulk drives the creature off, then carries Betty back to the cave as another squall hits. As night falls, Betty becomes feverish and delirious and, after a hysterical fit, collapses into a restless sleep. Confused and worried, Hulk watches over her throughout the night. In the morning, she is in a calmer state of mind, and so they spend most of the day searching for food. At one point, they encounter a second monster lurking in a pool of water, but Hulk dispatches it with ease. Even so, Betty remains wary of the Hulk and recoils from his childlike affection. That night, after the Hulk has dozed off, Betty sneaks out of the cave, only to be captured by more of the alien monsters. When he discovers she is missing, Hulk tracks Betty and her captors to the island’s central volcano. He knocks the monsters into the lava, where they burn to death. As the volcano begins to erupt, Hulk grabs Betty and leaps to safety, landing in the jungle about a mile away. Luckily, the eruption draws the attention of a military search-and-rescue helicopter, which picks Betty up. Hulk grabs onto its landing struts as it takes off, then stows away aboard the Air Force jet that returns Betty to Hulkbuster Base in New Mexico.

Hulk dozes off aboard the jet and changes back into Bruce Banner, who then finds a spare Air Force uniform and sneaks into the base’s underground complex. Overcome with exhaustion, Bruce falls asleep in an emergency bunker. When he wakes up 14 hours later, Bruce realizes that the base appears to be abandoned. He soon discovers Betty, General Ross, and other personnel locked in one of the containment cells meant for the Hulk. Before he can free them, though, he is caught by the Abomination, and the stress triggers his transformation into the Hulk. Suddenly, Hulk is attacked from behind by the Rhino, and he realizes two of his enemies have teamed up against him. Hulk retreats to the surface, where he finds Jim and Talia sneaking around the deserted base. Jim devises a plan to use Talia as bait to draw the Abomination and the Rhino to the surface, where Hulk can fight them out in the open. Though Talia objects to the idea, Jim is able to talk her into it. The plan works and, after a fierce brawl, Hulk is victorious when the Abomination and the Rhino crash into each other and are knocked out. As military reinforcements arrive, Jim emerges from the underground complex, having freed the base personnel. A TV news crew tries to interview the Hulk, but he does not cooperate. However, General Ross shakes the Hulk’s hand and expresses his gratitude for saving them from the two supervillains. Before Hulk can react, he is suddenly caught in a cage and gassed into unconsciousness.

When he comes to, Hulk finds himself trapped in one of Hulkbuster Base’s containment cells. Convinced that General Ross tricked him, Hulk tries to smash through the cell walls. Then, Peter Corbeau appears behind a sliding panel and fires an energy beam that transports the Hulk into another dimension. However, he rematerializes inside the cell a moment later, but with the Juggernaut at his side. Though wary of trusting the Juggernaut, Hulk agrees to work together to break free. Their efforts are successful, and they fight their way through everything the Air Force throws at them and escape into the desert. Later that night, though, Hulk comes upon the Juggernaut menacing a family whose camper has crashed. Hulk fights with the unstoppable villain for several minutes, growing increasingly angry and frustrated. Finally, Hulk manages to tear off the Juggernaut’s helmet and smash him into a butte, knocking him out. Satisfied, Hulk drops the helmet and wanders off into the desert.

August 1966 – After making his way east for several weeks, Hulk is attacked by Xemnu the Titan and knocked unconscious with a series of painful mental blasts. Sometime later, Hulk hears Doctor Strange’s voice in his mind, urging him to wake up and free himself. Realizing he is trapped inside a statue, Hulk breaks out and finds himself in the small Midwestern town of Plucketville, where Xemnu is directing the townsfolk into a nearby spaceship. Doctor Strange and Valkyrie are held prisoner by contorted lampposts and can only watch helplessly as Hulk battles Xemnu. Unable to defeat his angry foe a second time, Xemnu decides to retreat and levitates himself into the sky. However, Hulk picks up the spaceship and throws it at him, causing a tremendous explosion. With Xemnu apparently destroyed, Doctor Strange and Valkyrie are finally able to free themselves. They then convince the Hulk to accompany them back to New York City.

Arriving at the Sanctum Sanctorum, Doctor Strange takes Hulk into the dining room for a meal Wong has prepared, as Valkyrie and Clea talk in the outer chamber. However, to Hulk’s surprise, he suddenly fades away in the middle of his repast and finds himself inside a tiny space capsule. Bursting out of the capsule, Hulk is left adrift in a featureless void and becomes distraught. Suddenly, he is transported to a star field where the Sub-Mariner is battling ghostly warplanes. After destroying all the airplanes, the confused pair passes through a dimensional warp into a mind-boggling mystical environment where Doctor Strange is being menaced by a phantom with a handgun. They rescue the sorcerer, who is bleeding profusely from a bullet wound, enabling him to cast a spell that returns them all to the Sanctum Sanctorum. There, Clea apologizes for inadvertently trapping them in the mystical void, and Strange admonishes her to be more careful in the future. As the Sub-Mariner is teleported back where he came from, Hulk returns to his dinner while Strange heals himself. The Defenders are able to convince Hulk to hang around the Sanctum Sanctorum off and on for the next couple of months, hoping to keep him out of trouble.

October 1966 – While getting some exercise, Hulk drops into the middle of a construction site on the New Jersey Palisades, frightening the workers. When they try to drive him off, Hulk retaliates, destroying some of their equipment. Suddenly, he is afflicted by a strange buzzing sensation in his inner ear and leaps off in search of its source, determined to smash it. The buzzing grows more intense as he approaches the Catskills, and when the Human Torch drops out of the sky, Hulk suspects the young hero is the cause of his discomfort. However, the Torch leads the Hulk to an alien called Blastaar, who is wrecking a nearby factory with explosive energy blasts from his hands. Realizing that Blastaar is somehow to blame for the buzzing in his ears, Hulk attacks him, giving the Human Torch a chance to evacuate the last few people from the factory. At the Torch’s suggestion, Hulk wraps Blastaar up in a ball of metal wreckage from the factory and sends it hurtling toward the Atlantic Ocean some 600 miles away. As the buzzing in his ears fades, Hulk is glad that the Human Torch was able to help him solve his problem. He soon returns to the Sanctum Sanctorum and his other friends.

November 1966 – Hulk and Valkyrie are listening to Doctor Strange’s tales of the occult when the Sanctum Sanctorum is invaded by a costumed man who battles them when they try to drive him off. Finally, Doctor Strange stops the fight and gives the man the opportunity to speak his piece. The man introduces himself as Nighthawk, former member of the supervillain team known as the Squadron Sinister. He has come seeking help to stop his evil associates from flooding the earth with a doomsday weapon they have created with the help of an alien speculator called Nebulon, the Celestial Man. Nighthawk had sought out the Avengers first, he explains, but Nebulon’s powers had rendered him invisible and intangible as soon as he entered Avengers Mansion. Luckily, he overheard the team discussing the Defenders’ role in defeating Dormammu and Loki a few months ago, and so he rushed over to find them. Suddenly, Nighthawk is apparently disintegrated right before their eyes. Faced with this impending crisis, Doctor Strange forcibly recruits the Sub-Mariner over the Atlantean monarch’s strident objections. Namor is furious, but Valkyrie convinces him to stay and fight by their side. Hulk is curious about Namor’s new black costume, but he refuses to discuss it.

By dawn, the Defenders locate the Squadron Sinister and their doomsday device somewhere in the Arctic, and to their surprise find Nighthawk being held prisoner there. After an initial skirmish with the Squadron Sinister, the Defenders are captured by Nebulon and imprisoned within a spherical force field. Intending for them to witness the destruction of their world, Nebulon sends Hulk, Doctor Strange, Sub-Mariner, Valkyrie, and Nighthawk into orbit. However, they manage to break out of the force field and return to the Arctic in time to delay completion of the doomsday weapon. Doctor Strange’s magic then reveals Nebulon’s true form, that of a hideous non-humanoid creature. Nighthawk takes advantage of the distraction to activate the doomsday device and turn it against Nebulon. The alien creature disappears in a massive implosion, taking the Squadron Sinister with him. However, the weapon overloads and explodes before Nighthawk can jump clear. He is mortally wounded in the blast and lies close to death as the Defenders gather around him. Doctor Strange says Nighthawk’s only hope is if each of the Defenders sacrifices a small portion of their own life-essence, to be channeled through his magic amulet to heal his wounds. They agree, moved by Nighthawk’s heroic self-sacrifice. The spell is successful and Nighthawk recovers immediately. Out of profound gratitude, Nighthawk asks if he might join their team. Doctor Strange tries to explain that they’re not really a team as such, but Namor interrupts angrily, saying that he is terminating his association with the Defenders, so they might as well accept Nighthawk as his replacement. Namor flies off, and the remaining Defenders agree to give Nighthawk a chance. Though Doctor Strange, Valkyrie, and Nighthawk head back to New York City, Hulk decides to strike out on his own again.

A week later, Hulk stows away aboard a ship after being chased out of San Diego, California, by the Army. After changing back into Bruce Banner, he meets another stowaway named Ted. They manage to evade the crew for a few days but are finally captured and taken to face the commander of the expedition, former Stark Industries scientist Ralph Roberts, who turns out to be Ted’s older brother. After explaining about his past misadventures as the Cobalt Man, Ralph reveals that they are headed to the site of an upcoming French atomic-bomb test in order to protest such above-ground nuclear detonations. When they arrive, though, Ralph refuses to enter the radiation-proof chamber in the ship’s hold and instead exposes himself to the radiation from the nuclear blast. Ted runs out on deck to stop his brother, prompting Bruce to try to shield him from the radiation with his own body. Bruce is reminded of the day almost five years ago when he had to save another young man, Rick Jones, from a nuclear bomb. Ralph is mutated by the radiation into a superhuman form and quickly dons his redesigned armor to become Cobalt Man again. The stress causes Bruce to change into the Hulk, though the radiation he absorbed makes it difficult to maintain his transformation. In the brief time that he is the Hulk, his battle with Cobalt Man sinks the ship, but before Bruce drowns in the ocean, Cobalt Man rescues him and leaves him in a lifeboat with Ted and the crew. Ted tries to convince his brother to go to a hospital for treatment, but Cobalt Man ignores him and swims off. Dazed and exhausted, Bruce passes out.

When he regains consciousness, Bruce finds himself in a hospital room in Sydney, Australia. Both General Ross and Betty are there, having heard what happened from the ship’s crew. Bruce becomes very agitated when he learns that Cobalt Man is still on the loose, but the doctors are able to sedate him before he changes into the Hulk. Later, though, Betty gives him a mild stimulant to counteract the sedative’s effects and leads the groggy Bruce to the hospital’s roof. She nearly pushes him off the building before he realizes what she’s doing, but in the ensuing struggle he stumbles over the edge anyway. Bruce turns into the Hulk before he hits the ground and stomps off down the street, confused and angry. When he comes upon Cobalt Man ranting and raving high atop a suspension bridge, Hulk attacks him despite his own radiation-induced weakness. However, Hulk’s strength increases as his anger grows, leading Cobalt Man to fly him straight up into the sky, hoping to suffocate him. Instead, Cobalt Man suddenly unleashes a powerful explosion when the energies in his body reach a critical point, propelling Hulk across the sky at the very edge of space. Hulk finally crashes back to earth some 6,000 miles away in the Himalayas.

Bruce Banner crawls out of the hole in the ground made by the Hulk and is surprised to find the royal family of the Inhumans—Black Bolt, Gorgon, Karnak, Triton, Crystal, and her fiancĂ© Quicksilver—on the scene. Triton identifies Bruce from the Fantastic Four’s records, so they escort him back to the Great Refuge. There, Bruce is astonished by the large spacecraft they have constructed. Karnak explains that they have discovered the existence of Counter-Earth and are considering immigrating there. Bruce decides to take a walk and wonders if he should ask to join the Inhumans if they decide to move to another planet. However, he is accosted by a gang of malcontents in the street, and the stress causes him to turn into the Hulk. Gorgon, Karnak, Triton, and Quicksilver try to subdue the Hulk without success. Finally, Black Bolt is forced to intervene and manages to knock the Hulk out with his super-powerful voice, although the shockwave demolishes several buildings as well. When he regains consciousness, Hulk finds the Inhumans have launched him into space aboard their colony ship. He lashes out at his high-tech prison, causing damage to its navigational and propulsion systems, but eventually settles down when he realizes he is trapped aboard a spaceship.

December 1966 – When the Inhumans’ colony ship finally splashes down on Counter-Earth, Hulk is lulled to sleep as it bobs on the surface of the ocean, whereupon he changes back into Bruce Banner. Bruce awakens sometime later in a military hospital, where he is accused of being an impostor and interrogated about a superhuman menace called “Adam Warlock.” The stress causes Bruce to change back into the Hulk and rampage through the planet’s counterpart of Washington, D.C. His battle with the armed forces results in the destruction of their Washington Monument, but the Hulk is then knocked out and captured by a quartet of the High Evolutionary’s New Men. He comes to later as Bruce Banner to find the New Men are experimenting on him under the direction of their leader, the Man-Beast, which quickly causes him to turn into the Hulk again. He escapes the laboratory by breaking through the floor into a labyrinth of tunnels under the city, where he is met by another group of New Men. Hulk recognizes their leader, Porcunius, from his brief visit to Counter-Earth last year, and agrees to accompany them to their secret base in an abandoned power station. There, Hulk is introduced to Adam Warlock and an alien robot called the Recorder.

Over the next few days, Hulk stays with Adam Warlock and his followers, enjoying their philosophical discussions and learning of their plans to overthrow the Man-Beast’s tyrannical regime. However, during supper one night, Hulk is driven berserk by a brain implant the Man-Beast had placed in his skull while he was unconscious. Lashing out in a blind rage, Hulk attacks his friends, providing a distraction that allows the Man-Beast and his minions to storm in and capture them all. The implant’s control unit is destroyed in the fight, but the Man-Beast has another weapon that renders all the rebels, including the Hulk, unconscious. Bruce Banner comes to the next day in a holding cell, where he remains for the better part of a week, kept sedated to prevent him from turning into the Hulk. Bruce is horrified to learn that the Man-Beast, while disguised as a man named Rex Carpenter, is actually Counter-Earth’s President of the United States. Finally, Bruce is taken to witness Warlock’s public execution on the White House lawn, where “President Carpenter” has assembled a bloodthirsty mob of supporters. Pinned to a large ankh-shaped platform, Warlock cries out for the High Evolutionary as he dies in agony under a barrage of lethal rays. As the life leaves his body, a cocoon of some unknown material completely envelops Warlock. The sheer horror of the spectacle enables Bruce to overcome the sedatives in his system and change into the Hulk. After scattering the police and defeating the Man-Beast’s lieutenants, Hulk grabs Warlock’s cocoon and leaps off into the surrounding countryside. Wishing Doctor Strange were there to advise him, Hulk tries to revive his fallen friend, without success. He finally gives up and sits with the cocoon through the night, overcome with grief.

Just before dawn, Adam Warlock’s followers find the Hulk, having escaped from their captors during yesterday’s chaos. They move the cocoon into a nearby cave and spend the day in mourning. The following day, they receive word that the Man-Beast is intent on starting a nuclear war. Hulk joins them on a raid of the villain’s command center, where his destructive fight with the Man-Beast is suddenly cut short when Adam Warlock turns up alive. Hulk is shocked but glad to see his friend is not dead after all. More powerful following his resurrection, Warlock releases a blast of energy that causes all the New Men, including the Man-Beast, to devolve back into their original forms. The wolf that had been their foe then runs out of the room with its tail between its legs. Warlock announces that he must leave Counter-Earth to seek his destiny among the stars. Feeling strangely at peace with himself, Hulk watches as Warlock rises into the sky and soon disappears from sight. The Recorder then takes charge of the Hulk and, after conferring with the High Evolutionary, convinces him to return home, as they feel his continued presence on Counter-Earth would be too disruptive. A lunar exploration rocket is modified for the long journey around the sun and soon blasts off from their version of Florida, carrying the Hulk back toward Earth.


Notes:

January 1966 – Hulk makes a cameo appearance in Fantastic Four #133.

February 1966 – While in Canada, Hulk runs into Spider-Man in Amazing Spider-Man #119–120.

April 1966 – Hulk’s adventures pick up again in Hulk #163 and Defenders #7. The hidden city beneath the polar ice cap where Hulk meets the Gremlin is probably the abandoned refuge of the Kallusians, last seen in Avengers #14.

May 1966 – Hulk guest-stars in Avengers #116–118 as part of the Avengers/Defenders crossover event.

June 1966 – Hulk and the Thing have their third battle royal in Marvel Feature #11. Hulk seems to remain unaware that the Leader is responsible for teleporting him to the ghost town for the fight. In Hulk #169, the Bi-Beast is killed when M.O.D.O.K. and his A.I.M. commandos try to take over the floating island, but they retreat before Bruce regains consciousness. As a result of her transformation into the Harpy, Betty Talbot actually spends the entire next issue completely naked, but her modesty is preserved thanks to the Comics Code Authority. At the end of Hulk #172, Professor X, Cyclops, and Marvel Girl turn up to deal with the Juggernaut, but the Hulk has already left the scene.

August 1966 – Hulk, Doctor Strange, and the Sub-Mariner fall victim to Clea’s wayward spell in Giant-Size Defenders #1.

October 1966 – Hulk joins forces with the Human Torch to defeat Blastaar in Marvel Team-Up #18.

November 1966 – In the Original Marvel Universe, Ted Roberts dies of radiation poisoning about a year after the events of Hulk #173. Interestingly, in Hulk #175, Black Bolt essentially condemns the Hulk to death, since the Inhumans reprogram their spaceship to miss Counter-Earth and fly off into interstellar space. It is only because Hulk starts damaging the ship’s control systems that it reverts to its original course.

December 1966 – While the death and resurrection of Adam Warlock is an obvious homage to the Passion of the Christ, the Man-Beast’s four lieutenants are based on the Watergate figures John Mitchell (Barachuudar), H.R. Haldeman (Cobrah), John Erlichman (Weezhil), and John Dean (Snakar). Porcunius is misidentified as “Porcupinus” throughout the story. This brings us up to Hulk #178 and Defenders #14.


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