Incredible Hulk 2
"The Terror of the Toad Men!"
July 1962
Story and pencils: Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, inks by Steve Ditko

The cover features the Toad Men threatening Thunderbolt Ross and others on their spaceship monitor, while the Hulk in turn breaks through the wall to threaten them!

It's nighttime, the time when scientist Bruce Banner turns into his gruesome alter ego. The Hulk emerges from a swamp and runs across some police officers, who skedaddle into town to warn the resident that the Hulk is back and on the attack! After destroying a bunch of property, his teenage pal Rick Jones shows up and leads him away to safety.

Now we switch to Earth orbit and the coming of the Toad Men, who are appearing in their tadpole-shaped spaceships to conquer the Earth with their mighty magnetic powers! Before they strike, however, they decide to make a hidden landing and use their magnetic devices to find and kidnap the world's most brilliant scientist to see how far Earth science has advanced. "The magnetic mind detector will lead us straight to our victim!" This made sense when I was eight years old.

By now it's daylight and Bruce is back, so he takes Rick on an expedition to a hidden underground cave he's managed to make Hulk-proof, so that Rick can lock him in every night and protect the world from his mean green self. "Don't worry, Doc. I'll never let ya down!"

Suddenly, the pair are knocked to the ground by the "unimaginable magnetic power" of the Toad Men, and then picked up by their magnetic ray guns. They are promptly whisked off into space where the head Toad explains all the nasty things their magnetic weapons will do to Earth of the people don't surrender. Things like making cities fly into the air, emptying the oceans, and making people's feet stick to the ground. This made sense when I was eight years old.

Deciding Rick isn't important to their plans, they shoot him out a tube for a safe landing on Earth (why they bothered, who knows?). Just then their ship moves to the dark side of the Earth and Mr. Green-genes reappears, ready to smash the toad guys. The mighty magnetic guns are useless, and then something happens I don't recall ever happening again. Hulk grabs one of the guns and uses it against his enemies! "Now YOU taste the sting of your weapons!" They surrender, and then that crafty Hulk spies their weapons and decides he'll use them to make himself the hunter instead of the hunter!

Meanwhile, back at the army base, the space ships have been detected, so of course Thunderbolt's immediate order is to shoot them down with the army's missiles! Rick tries to stop them, knowing they might kill Bruce, but off they go, actually shooting down the lead vessel containing the Hulk. But now it's daylight again, and out walks Banner, while the surviving Toad Men tunnel underground to escape discovery. Of course Thunderbolt accuses Banner of treason and has him locked up. This made sense when I was eight years old.

The escaped Toad Men use a "magnetic flare" to signal their forces still in space to attack! While Rick tries to comfort Banner, who is in the pokey, the tadpole ships appear in the skies and begin attacking! Their "mighty magnetic powers" are aimed at the moon, causing it to move out of orbit. If Earth doesn't surrender, they will send the moon flying into the Earth. "And there is nothing, nothing you can do to stop us!"

By now it's nighttime again, so the Hulk breaks out of prison and decides the answer to his problems is to kill General Ross. He knows where Ross lives and goes there, but in a genuinely frightening panel, finds Ross's daughter Betty instead as he closes the door behind him. But the army has followed and with Rick's help, persuades him to quietly step down and surrender. Yeah, right. The soldiers pile on, but Hulk shakes them off like a dog coming in out of the rain, grabs Betty, and heads to Banner's lab. "Why do you hate us so?" she asks. "Why shouldn't I hate you? Look what men have DONE to me! But they will hound me no longer!"

We've only got three pages left to wrap this up, so Rick pops in and stalls the Hulk from hurting Betty until they are all knocked out by a Toad-induced Earth tremor. When they wake up, it's daylight, and Bruce suddenly remembers he's built a gigantic gamma ray gun that just may disrupt the mighty magnetics of the toads. While they warm it up, the army tries to break in to capture the fugitive, but Rick holds them off with a water hose. This made sense when I was eight years old.

Anyway, with just a few panels left, Banner shoots his gun, it strikes the tadpole ships, not only stopping their attacks, but knocking them "spinning across the void of space , helplessly out of control...forever" Looks like Toad Rockets blasting off again!

So Banner and Rick are off the hook because not even Thunderbolt Ross wants to call the guy who saved the world a traitor, but he still plans to get "that ding-blasted Hulk" and figure out his connection to Banner. The last panel shows a lonely Rick holding a captive Hulk pounding the walls of his escape -proof prison under a desert lake (?).

The Hulk is green in this issues, after appearing various shades of gray in his first issue. Most of the relationships between the major characters and their situations are established in this tale. The Hulk is intelligent but not a genius, crafty and murderous, and not much bigger than a Ferrigno-sized man and not nearly as strong as he would later become. The inking by Ditko makes him look like a genuine monster, frightening at times, rather than the more human-looking big guy from the first issue.

I'm in the process of reading my Essential Hulk Vol. 1, so I may review another Hulk story or two as I move along.

--your pal, Hoy