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Tales to Astonish 96
"What Have I Created?"

COVER IMAGE NOT FOUND October, 1967

Brought To You By Our Gregarious Group of Goofy Green-Skinned Gremlins:
STAN (The Man) LEE The Brighter Writer
MARIE (The She) SEVERIN The Smartest Artist
HERB TRIMPE, The Distinctor Inker
AL KURZROK, The Betterer Letterer
-- And HONEST IRVING The Bony Phony

STEVE CHUNG The Newer Reviewer

(Originally Reviewed On 11/27/01)

On the planet, Wundagore II, ruled by The High Evolutionary, The Incredible Hulk has been taken and has now transformed into Bruce Banner once more! The nuclear physcist awaits his fate at the hands of the creator of the New-Men, where things suddenly take a different course!

The New-Men have broken in and begin their final attack, to The High Evolutionary's dismay, interrupting his experiment on Bruce Banner, who is paralyzed by a ray! The High Evolutionary fires his gun at Banner, freeing him in hopes of having him transform into The Hulk once more, and use his great strength to save him, but the creator is attacked by his subjects! Protected by his armor, The High Evolutionary's hand reaches out, and his fingers press a crucial button!

A barrier of shimmering energy keeps The New-Men at bay, and as the once-beasts struggle, The High Evolutionary yells at Banner to bring forth The Hulk, and Bruce can only wonder what his role is in this drama, but The High Evolutionary turns away in anger, frustated that in his search for The Hulk, he has found a weakling! It is up to the creator to destroy his creations, or fall in the battle, while The New Men are intent on finishing The High Evolutionary!

Wielding a sword, The High Evolutionary seeks to drive his creations back and prove his superiority, while Bruce Banner searches for his glasses, unsure if the armored figures before him are men or beast, when one of their number heads his way! FTOK! Bruce barely dodges a thrown spear, then seeks to defend himself by pulling it out of the wall, but The New Man seeks to slay the human scientist, then grabs him aloft, deaf to the protests from the man in the torn purple pants! As The New Man boasts about his origins via sped-up evolution, he fancies himself a master of humans, and is preparing to slay the startled man in his grip, but as he intends to hurl the hapless human to his brothers, the burden above him grows in weight, and he wonders if he has lost his bestial strength...?

No, it is not The New Man who is losing his strength, but Bruce Banner who has regained the gamma-spawned strength of The Incredible Hulk, who slams the startled New Man to the ground! When confronted by the emerald-skinned goliath who is... The HULK! Invulnerable and unbeatable, The Hulk turns his attention towards his bestial armored assailants, who would dare attack the strongest one there is!

The New Men begin to surround him, thinking that a lone, unarmed being would not be able to survive their assault, but The Knights of Wundagore did not take into account the ferocity and unbridled strength of The Incredible Hulk! WRAM! The wounded and torn High Evolutionary sees that Banner has finally brought forth his alter-ego, only it's too late for him, as he is dying, but...

The High Evolutionary sees one chance, a final experiment to be performed, and having succeeded in evolving wild beasts, he has yet to have evolved a human being! Even he cannot guess what the end result would be, and with a short time left, it does not matter, as it is his chance for final glory, and while The Hulk fights, he can complete the experiment... upon himself! The High Evolutionary divests himself of his armor, and laying on a table, engages the button and gets set to become what man would be at the end of a million years? (Holy CGC, Batman! Does he mean "dead?")

The change begins and speeds up... BTOOOM! Once the smoke clears, all that is left is the stunned New Men on the ground, and there is no trace of The High Evolutionary or his apparatus, but The Hulk sees something ahead of him, something which he can barely make out... Floating in the air above the embittered green goliath is something which speaks with a voice which The Hulk hears in his head, and it declares itself the ultimate... the beginning of the end of human evolution...!

The being who was once The High Evolutionary claims to know all that was... all there is... and all there will ever be, and having come to this realization, finds he has no further reason to exist, and is now to become one with the cosmos! Before he does so, The New Men are to be de-evolved to the animals they once were, and in this enlightened state, he has decided that no one may tamper with the mysterious tapestry of nature!

The Hulk now finds himself on an alien world with nothing for company but beasts. On Earth, he has been hunted by men, and had dreamt of living in a land where he could be in peace, but not on this world, one frought with emptiness, where even the hatred of man would be preferable! The Once-High Evolutionary begins to fade, but The Hulk calls out, telling him that if left on this world, he would never rest until he makes him pay! With his thoughts beginning to fade, The Evolved High Evolutionary renders his final mortal act, making things as if he had never existed, and The Hulk finds himself once more on Earth, wondering if he will ever reach the stars, or will he continue to be trapped on a world which hates him, and with nowhere to go or no one to turn to, he will live in the prison-- the body of The Hulk?!

The High Evolutionary and his New Men first appeared in the pages of Thor.

After achieving his ultimate evolution, The High Evolutionary would return to his former state, giving the soul gem to Adam Warlock so that he may defend Counter-Earth, his creation, from the machinations of The Man-Beast, who had introduced the concept of evil to this new world.

The Hulk would cross paths with The High Evolutionary's legacy in the form of Counter-Earth on two visits, one with The Rambunctious Rhino, where he would meet Counter-Earth's Thunderbolt Ross, Bruce and Betty Banner, and the other sojourn would have him meet and witness the death of Adam Warlock, in a story by Tony Isabella.

Adam Warlock would survive this death and leave Counter-Earth and seek his destiny in the stars and in the pages of Strange Tales, which would become Warlock, with memorable stories by Jim Starlin, Steve Leialoha, and Tom Orzechowski.

Steve Chung
"What Have I Reviewed?"