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Incredible Hulk 139
"Many Foes Has The Hulk!"




On the cover, the green-skinned goliath is surrounded by some of his greatest foes: The Rhino, The Abomination, The Absorbing Man, The Glob, The Sandman, and The Mandarin have literally formed two lines to get to have their chance at beating The Hulk! (Holy Home Box Office, Batman! Someone's gonna get smashed!)

On the splash page, the lethal Leader is observing the Hulk on a hi-tech version of a crystal ball, and grudgingly admits that not even he has enough power to overcome Ol' Green-Skin!

He wonders if he'll be forced to follow in the Hulk's footsteps -- shadowing him -- and just be as threatening? It would appear so -- for he and the Hulk share the same Gamma lineage. One possesses peerless might and the other has an blungeoning brain. Reading about the recent battle between the green goliath and the Sandman, the Leader seeks to prove himself -- where Flint Marko had failed! He recalls that although no one enemy could defeat the Hulk, it would be another matter entirely if he fought them all at once! The sinister Sandman -- the grotesque Glob -- the rampaging Rhino -- all of the super-villains he had met, and many the Leader had not -- If the Hulk met his foes all at once -- his rage would no doubt be unprecedented that it would prove to be a strain on his heart... Even the Hulk could have -- a heart attack?

At his home, Glenn Talbot sees a flash of light entering through the window, and bathing the entire room -- ! It vanishes as swiftly as it had appeared, and he is now awake -- He sees that the TV set is suffering from static, and his own mind is also less focused from recent events -- BRRING! Talbot seeks to get ahold of himself. He knows all-too well how the Hulk has doomed Betty Ross -- the girl he loves. Opening the door, he sees his visitor -- the Leader! The emerald mutate assures Talbot that he has come to help -- not to harm. Glenn recalls how the last time the entire world was nearly blown apart by him!

On the previous occasion, both he and General Ross were desperate in their inclination to listen to the Leader's plans -- but this time would be different -- that is if Talbot's telephone receiver weren't levitated out of his hand by the peerless telekinetic power of you-know-who! Held in place by a bombardment of brain-waves, the Leader pitches his plan... (Holy Epic, Batman!) Talbot lights up a cigarette and asks if the Hulk will be the only one to be harmed. The Leader assures him that this will be so, and reminds him of the damage the bestial brute has done to him and to Betty... causing her to become lifeless glass after receiving a transfusion from the Sandman. Glenn agrees -- and no matter what the price to his military career -- to his own soul -- the Leader has found his man in Glenn Talbot.

In the forest, the Hulk sits alone... his eyes spotting the approach of a wild deer. The forest creature approaches him... not flinching from the monstrous hands which seek only to pet it. The next moment... the deer flees back into the forest -- leaving the green goliath -- all, all alone --!

General Ross wonders if the Major has taken leave of his senses in his suggestion that they cooperate with the Leader! They know that the Hulk has been sighted upstate -- and they have no weaponry which will stop him! "Thunderbolt" knows that when the emerald man-brute fought the Sandman, his daughter was transformed into a thing of motionless crystal. When Talbott tells him that the Hulk will not be harmed, the general chomps on his stogie, and agrees that they should take the chance -- especially with many lives in danger! This is a decision which cannot be made by Ross alone... and he depresses a button, which causes a portrait on the wall to move -- revealing a phone! (Holy Neil Hamilton, Batman! Will "Thunderbolt" Ross make a long-distance call to Gotham City?) It's a triple-red call to the White House, where Richard Milhous Nixon is at his desk, and glad to receive a Patton-style call from his favorite General.

Since he is being inundated by paperwork, the Commander-In-Chief asks about the purpose of the call. General Ross wants Project Brain-Wave turned over to -- The Leader! Even though the scheme sounds mad, Richard Nixon has faith in "Thunderbolt" Ross since he hasn't let him down yet. He asks only to be kept informed, and places someone as a liason -- one of his top men. Hanging up the receiver, President Nixon thinks... John Mitchell is giving a speech -- Martha has laryngitis -- he knows just who should handle it... Spiro! (Holy As Good As Agnew, Batman!) General Ross tells Major Talbot that they are in business, and hopes that they haven't been misled by the Leader's motivation. Talbot is sure that his "ally" will keep up his end of the bargain. He is reminded by "Thunderbolt" that if they're wrong -- both their heads will be on the chopping block. Miles away from the two military men, several projectile cannons have been set up around an upstate hospital, and the soldiers have an unexpected visitor -- Jim Wilson.

Corporal Medwick asks the youth if whatever hold he has over the Hulk -- if they could bottle it -- and make a fortune? Jim compares Medwick's joke to that of Flip Wilson, and even he knows what happened to Betty Ross -- and what will happen to Bruce Banner if he shows up in the area. The army man understands and tells him that if anyone gives him trouble, for them to see Medwick. Inside a silo, the Leader is impressed with the near-genius employed by the military scientists, while Major Talbot stresses that the Brain-Wave Booster is the end result of five years of research , and countless hours -- General Ross reminds the Major that the gamma-spawned being is their guest. He, in turn, regards himself as their honored ally. Scientists have created a mile-long device which can amplify human brain-waves into three-dimensional objects -- but unfortunately lack a person of sufficient intellect to power it. (Holy Atari, Batman!) The Leader has made his entrance -- and the Hulk will soon be making an exit. The Major reminds his "ally" of their bargain...

When the General asks about the nature of their bargain, the gamma-spawned genius refers to it as a gentleman's agreement! (Holy Gregory, Batman! The Leader must be feeling hen-pecked with these two!) He dons the Mentallo-Projector -- so that he may find the object of their search and -- defeat him! On the viewing screen, they see the Hulk, with "Thunderbolt" Ross recognizing the area as Highway 35 -- north of New York City. They strain to listen as the green goliath mutters to himself -- as he smashes his way through a railing. The Leader is able to pick up his words... He has nowhere to go -- no one to turn to -- but -- the Hulk senses something moving up behind him with the speed of lightning -- (Holy Isabella, Batman!)

AARRRHH! It is not a bolt of lightning -- but more like -- The Rhino! He wonders if the Hulk remember him, and the emerald man-brute admits that he had slipped his mind until the attack. Now -- Hulk will SMASH! A truck driver sees the tableau before him and swerves his vehicle out of the way -- KRAASH! The bewildered trucker exits from what remains of his truck -- even as the Hulk raises the Rhino over his head -- and slams him into the ground... BRRAKK! The green goliath turns his back on the smoldering hole in the road... confident in his own strength.

From the air comes another combatant, who slams his personal craft into the Hulk! Xeron the Star-Slayer was last known to have drifted into space... dead! The extraterrestrial has returned to deliver the same fate unto his emerald foe when he fires the ultimate harpoon-blast --! (Holy Bendis, Batman! Anyone care to guess where this Ned will land?) Even though he doesn't know how Xeron arrived -- or why he's shooting at him -- the Hulk doesn't like it. And what the Hulk doesn't like -- Hulk SMASHES! Poor Xeron has met his Waterloo... his Moby Dick... at the emerald hands of the maddened man-brute.

The Hulk is less than impressed by this foe, for without his harpoon and ship, he is nothing! The green goliath continues on his way, perhaps unaware that "Xeron" returns to the nothingness from whence he came. He was unaware that there was a city, but the man-monster doesn't have to go that way -- and he decides to turn back -- avoid any encounters with those puny humans! He sees something moving underwater -- and soon realizes that he'll need all his energy to deal with Prince Namor, who slams into him!

The Sub-Mariner taunts the Hulk about his boasts of being the strongest one there is ... and wonders aloud if this will prove to be so... under the sea?

Even though his strength is equal underwater -- still is the Hulk the larger of the two combatants. "PHAUGGH!" The green goliath doesn't care to speak underwater as Namor does -- KLAP! So he acts -- and asks if even the Sub-Mariner is still mighty when he's under a mountain of mud! His foe never emerges from the mud -- and the Hulk figures that Ol' Wing-Foot is hiding from him. As he pulls himself onto the dock -- he hopes that the entire city will hide from him -- the entire world! He doesn't know why all his enemies are after him -- but he has finished them all! On the dock, he sees the prehistoric being speaking in another language -- but he remembers that they once fought. He is -- he is --The Missing Link kicks the Hulk in the face, and recalls how the bestial brute hurt him. This time -- he will hurt him. Will kill! KILL! KILL!

Even though the Missing Link's words are a mystery to him, even the Hulk cannot mistake his foe's intentions, as his emerald leg muscles enable him to slam the prehistoric being into a truck! Grabbing the dazed creature by the neck, the green goliath punches the Missing Link into a nearby crane... RAAK! As the flames engulf the entire construction site, the Hulk senses that none of his foes -- seem as strong as they last were. Together -- they make his chest hurt -- harder to catch a breath. This -- has never happened to him before! Glen Talbot has seen enough. He no longer cares about their deal -- how he tricked General Ross. He can't go through with it -- he can't let him murder the Hulk! The Leader regards the uniformed fools -- who dare lay their apelike hands on him! (Holy Heston, Batman!) He does not care about Talbot's frustation at lost love -- or Ross' desire for revenge! He wills that they should kneel before him in gratitude that he not destroy them. As it is, they would -- if only he hadn't frozen them in place with a single mental blast!

All is silent within the underground silo, as the gamma-spawned mutate returns to the task of disposing of the Incredible Hulk -- and the green goliath focuses his short attention-span to punching the otherworldly Night-Crawler through a brick wall -- facing the full fury of the Mandarin's rings -- grabbing ahold of the glowering Glob -- a return bout with the shifty Sandman -- and towering over the transistorized titan known as -- Iron Man! With each second -- each empty victory -- the emerald man-brute's heartbeats grow faster -- faster -- just as the Leader has intended --

However -- there is a method to his madness --! The military have been keeping track of the Hulk's movements -- as he has left a path of destruction -- which would take him towards the hospital -- where Betty Ross is in a fragile state. Jim Wilson wishes that this were not so, and knows that the way his friend leaps, the earth trembles -- and would shake Betty to bits. Even if he didn't, the military would do the job when they opened fire on him! The youth rides his motorcycle... even as the Leader continues to monitor the Hulk's movements -- as he fights against Crusher Creel, The Absorbing Man -- and Jim Wilson continues to ride past barriers, while the military wait... and watch.

Jim is grateful that he knows where the hidden entrances are to top-secret underground silos. He is on his own. The soldiers watch as the Hulk continues to fight against -- empty air. The danger line is but a few yards -- and then the bestial vibrations would threaten the life of the girl he loves -- or they would when they follow orders-- and open fire! Having gained entry, Jim admits that even Einstein would need a road map to find his way. He decides to fool around with the wires and gadgets -- reasoning that he might just manage to do enough damage. How else will he know what he's doing until he does it? The Leader awaits for the next few moments until his triumph is completed. It will be the Hulk who will be responsible for Betty Ross' death -- and then he will kill Bruce Banner -- knowing that he has at last proven his mental superiority over the Hulk's physical strength -- but wait! He sees cracks begin to appear in the wall! He sees a sight which cannot be! The Hulk has arrived!! The green goliath sees it as fitting that he be with his lethal foe --

-- In time for -- his DEATH! The Leader flees through a doorway! He is safe by the narrowest of margins. The solid steel door should slow down the slow-witted brute until he can -- but what's that sound -- behind him? The Hulk is approaching -- he is DEATH -- and he is coming for him. Not knowing how the Hulk found his way in -- The Leader counts on the fact that his foe can't leap inside -- and he's far slower than the fleet-footed green genius -- He is able to outrace his relentless foe for a second -- and final-- time. The Leader must have time to think. A brain-blast will not halt the mindless monster. His only chance is to -- die... The Hulk assures him that he is going to die. "AAARRRAHHH!" He screams and runs for his life -- desperate to find a way out -- get some place where he can think -- and figure out an escape. He is unable to even think -- can't even -- but perhaps around the corner -- in the very heart of the complex -- he can --

NNOOOO What's the matter, Leader? You wanted to get at Hulk. Now -- he has many Hulks to fight -- many Hulks to destroy. Are there too many for you, Leader? Too many?? General Ross and Major Talbot come to a halt. After having run all this way -- they see the self-styled genius standing as frozen as a statue. Jim Wilson tells them that he did a hatchet job -- at least he thinks he did. "Thunderbolt" Ross realizes that things have been reversed -- making the Leader see the enemies he hated the most... and he hated no one more than the Hulk. They wonder if the green goliath will stop fighting his own illusionary foes -- before it's too late?? The Abomination stands before him -- and the emerald man-brute thought he was still in space -- (Holy Danger, Danger, Batman!) but the next moment finds the Hulk swinging at empty air -- With his enemy gone, he doesn't know to where -- and doesn't much care. All he knows is -- no one is bothering him -- trying to hurt him -- so he won't have to hurt anyone else. THOOM! Within the isolated section of the hospital -- the fragile glass form of Betty Ross shimmers -- but does not shatter -- no, not this time ---!

I first read this story when it was reprinted in the July, 1980 issue of Marvel Super-Heroes.

When the story was reprinted, the segment with President Nixon was edited out.

The hotline to the White House is colored blue. One wonders if there was a hotline which was colored red, and running on D.C. Current, no doubt.

Who could resist seeing the Hulk go up against a powerful portion of his greatest foes?

Many foes has the Hulk, and many of them are foes of other heroes.

The Rhino was originally a Spider-Man foe.

Prince Namor is a hero from the Golden Age, but has been known to tangle with the Fantastic Four.

The Mandarin is the arch-foe of Iron Man, and aided the Sandman by giving him a new costume which enabled him to use his sandy form for maximum effect.

The Sandman was originally a Spider-Man foe, then joined with the Wizard, the Trapster, and Medusa as a member of the Frightful Four.

The Absorbing Man was originally a foe of The Mighty Thor, but has gone on to clash repeatedly with both the thunder god and the green goliath.

The Abomination was originally a Hulk-foe, but he has clashed with the Silver Surfer, the She-Hulk, and Spider-Man (the latter two during the Atlantis Attacks crossover of the '90s).

For a time, Emil Blonsky was freed from the Abomination, via the nutrient bath which caused Bruce Banner to become the Gray Hulk, and Rick Jones to become a Teen Hulk. The Abomination's body was possessed by Tyrannus, who sought to regain human form, and have the creature as a mindless slave. He only succeeded in becoming the Abomination, but managed to become human again, leaving Blonsky once again as the Abomination in the self-same Atlantis Attacks crossover.

The lethal Leader is his ever-humble self, and on the splash page, you can see his monogram on his belt and collar. (Holy DeFazio, Batman! Like a bad penny, the Leader is the martinet when it comes to fashion.)

Roy Thomas shows us what motivates each character in the story. Glenn Talbot is in love with Betty Ross. Like General Ross, he blames Bruce Banner's alter-ego for her transformation. The Leader seeks to prove his superiority over his bestial foe, and gets his wish in spades! The Hulk wants to be left alone, but is battered by facsimiles of his fearsome foes. Jim Wilson is the Hulk's only friend, and manages to come through for the great, green galoot.

Artist Herb Trimpe was in the army. The page where the Hulk is seen in one panel snapshots of defeating such foes as Night-Crawler, Mandarin, Sandman, Glob, and Iron Man would have to be among my favorites of the issue.

Sam Grainger had inked Avengers in the past, and here he compliments Herb Trimpe's pencils quite well.

Last year at Wondercon, I got to see an original page from this issue, where the Leader is scrambling for safety from the Hulk. Linda Fite, Herb's wife, misses the gamma-mutate's classic appearance, while I, too long for the Leader's legume "look."

Artie Simek's lettering enhances the story. The story-title is seen as a slow realization of the Leader's latest plan. The grunts and groans, as well as every punch, to the Leader's sudden revelation is a masterpiece of the printed word.

Roy Thomas is a "Brain-Wave Booster" of sorts, having written many stories set in the Golden Age with the All-Star Squadron.

One wonders if a psy-talent such as Professor Charles Xavier or Marvin Flumm, aka Mentallo would have been able to use the Mentallo-Projector, but it probably would only work for the Leader.

Xeron The Star-Slayer would re-appear in the Incredible Hulk title during Bill Mantlo and Sal Buscema's time, when the man-brute was literally trapped at a cross-roads in the '80s.

The Missing Link would re-appear in Incredible Hulk #179, where a family would adopt the radioactive creature, and dub him, "Lincoln." He would meet Rom, Spaceknight, and his presence would drive his adoptive family apart, with the father seeking revenge on Bruce Banner when Fabian Nicienza began his run on Thunderbolts.

The Night-Crawler (not to be confused with Kurt Wagner) was the guardian of the Dark Dimension, where Barbara Norris was cast into, and where Doctor Strange was rescued from. Rechristened Dark-Crawler by Bill Mantlo, he joined with Torgo of Mekka (who had met The Thing when they were enslaved by the Skrulls) and Amphibious (who once fought the Hulk for the Watcher's Ultimate Machine) as one of the Hulk-Hunters.

The Glob first fought the Hulk, then again as an pawn of the Leader, and after his seeming destruction, returned to face the Man-Thing in Omegaville. It was at this site that the Glob was able to fashion a human form for himself, was befriended by the Hulk, but he reverted to his glob-like form when exposed to the rays of the Collector's Philosopher's Stone.

Both the Hulk and Iron Man were charter members of the Avengers. He had recently fought the green goliath when the experimental Gammatron device separated Bruce Banner from the body of the Hulk. Shell-Head's intervention enabled both Banner and the Hulk to be merged once again.

Jim Wilson was the second teen-sidekick to the Hulk, having met him when the green goliath was separated from Bruce Banner, and hiding in the abandoned city tenements from the military.

He had re-appeared in 1977 during Len Wein's run on the book, and reunited with Bruce Banner, but by 1978, Bruce and the Hulk had left Jim after a misunderstanding with Walter Newell, aka Stingray.

It was later revealed that Jim Wilson was related to Sam Wilson, the Falcon. The youth had joined the neighborhood Watch group, and was shot by another teen in the pages of Captain America during J.M. DeMatteis' time on the book in the early '80s.

During Peter David's run on the Hulk, Jim Wilson returned, and met fellow Hulk-sidekick, Rick Jones. We learned that his girlfriend, Talia, had left him, and that Jim was H.I.V. positive.

By this time, Bruce Banner was in control of the Hulk, but when Jim was injured during a protest, he had to decide whether to give him a tranfusion of his Gamma-irradiated blood. It had enabled his cousin to survive a shooting and become the She-Hulk, but a sample of the Hulk's blood caused Senator Clegstead to become the cancerous menace known as the Crawling Unknown.

Jim thought he was being given a transfusion of the Hulk's blood, but it was only ordinary human blood dyed green. His passing made the Hulk all-too aware that even his Gamma-spawned strength could only do so much.

Betty Ross would be restored to human form by an experiment conducted by Dr. Leonard Samson, who exposed himself to Gamma Rays, becoming the hero known as Doc Samson. His attraction to his patient caused Bruce Banner to subject himself to Gamma rays once more, and challenge this newcomer, whose strength was stated as being that as a "Calm Hulk." Too bad the green goliath is rarely calm.

Well, the movie is out, and word is it's a smash, but I thought it would be worthwhile to take a look at a comic book from the past, and see just what it was that made The Incredible Hulk the strongest one there is.

Steve Chung
"Many Reviews Has The Hulk!"