> Hulk Masterworks Volume 1

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From the Mouths of the Marvels:

"We want the Hulk to ride in that rocket, in the interests of national security!

-- Gen. Thunderbolt Ross, pg. 3

Let's play "Who Would Win"?
The Hulk vs. a human cannonball?
Click panel for answer!

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The Incredible Hulk #3
September 1962 24 pages

Script: Stan Lee Letters: Artie Simek
Pencils: Jack Kirby Inks: Dick Ayers

Chapter Titles:
Part 1: "Banished to Outer Space"
Part 2: "The Origin of the Hulk!"
Part 3: "The Ringmaster"

Origin Retelling: The Incredible Hulk, Rick Jones

Villain: The Ringmaster and his Circus of Crime (yet unnamed)

Innovations: Mental connection between Hulk and Rick Jones

First Appearance: 2 anonymous FBI agents, the Ringmaster and the as yet unnamed Circus of Crime: Bruto the Strongman, Teena the Fat Lady, Human Cannonball, Aunt Polly

Guest Appearance: General Thunderbolt Ross

Letters Page: Page One

Synopsis: As the Hulk rails against his captivity behind the walls of the secret, undersea chamber, Rick Jones reflects on his and Dr. Bruce Banner's race to reach the cell in time, before night fell and the Hulk transformed. Rick decides to go back to the base and get some sleep when a group of MPs stumble on to him who had been searching for him at the direction of Gen. Ross. The general has a devious plan to get at the Hulk that he will need to manipulate Rick to accomplish. He explains to Rick that as "a matter of national security," they need the Hulk to take a test ride in a rocket that no normal human could survive. Rick does his patriotic duty to summon the Hulk, but is greatly concerned that the green behemoth will get out of control once more.

He returns secretively to the underground chamber and lets the Hulk loose. The Hulk tears through the door as it is being opened, furious with Rick for trapping him inside. Rick gets the idea that if he races back to the rocket launch pad, the Hulk will chase him, and sure enough that is what happens. Little by little, Rick leads the Hulk straight into the rocket capsule, when Ross seals the door and fires the rocket. As the rocket barrels through the atmosphere and into space, the rays of the sun turn the Hulk back into Bruce Banner, whereupon he is bombarded by rays of intense radiation as the capsule passes through a radiation belt.

On Earth, as Rick wonders if he has done the right thing, he overhears Gen. Ross bragging about "the Hulk's one way trip to infinity." Furious at his being manipulated, Rick decides to sabotage the mission and try to bring back the capsule to save Banner and the Hulk. As he touches the controls, a radiation current runs from the capsule all the way down to the controls, which zaps Rick Jones. The capsule crash lands in front of Rick in the desert, and the Hulk bursts out. He chases Rick down and threatens him with death, when Rick reflexively shouts out "Stay back!" Astonishingly, the Hulk stands motionless at attention. Rick discovers he has total control over the Hulk's actions with verbal commands, and assumes it's a result of the zap he got at the rocket controls. He takes the Hulk back to his cabin to think about his next move, and falls asleep.

When Rick awakes, the Hulk is gone! Rick heads back into town to see yet another Hulk rampage. Rick commands him to stop and orders him to get them out of there, and fast! The Hulk grabs Rick and leaps into the air, landing miles away. An astonished Rick Jones can hardly believe the power of the Hulk, who seems to simulate flying with his powerful leaps. He takes him back to the undersea chamber and seals him up so he can think about what to do and get some sleep. As he sits against the cell door, with the Hulk standing calmly in lockup, Rick reflects on the origin of the Hulk once again. He drifts off to sleep finally, and the Hulk is released from his control and begins banging away at the door.

At the same time, in the town of Plainville, two FBI agents wander through an eerie scene. Everywhere they look, the people of Plainville stand stock still, as if in a trance. All their valuables have been robbed, their banks ransacked, and their retail locations plundered. Looking for clues, an agent spots a familiar sight: a circus poster that has been hanging in each of the towns they have visited that have fallen victim to this strange happening.

Meanwhile, in another town, a circus has begun entertaining a large crowd. Key among the attractions is the Ringmaster, who asks everyone in the crowd to stare into the spinning lines of the disc on his hat. This mesmerizes them into total compliance, whereupon the Ringmaster's cadre of circus performers steal all their possessions and then head into town to plunder it. They load the valuables into their circus train and head on to the next town.

At that moment, Rick Jones decides to go get some food and try and get some sleep, as it is now daylight and the Hulk hasn't reverted to Banner in some time. He goes to visit his Aunt Polly who lets him wash up, and then he heads into town and decides to catch the Ringmaster's circus. Just like the others, Rick is mesmerized by his hypnotic powers, but is able to issue a mental command to the Hulk, who races to save him. He leaps all the way to the circus tent, where a human cannonball tries unsuccesfully to stop him. However, a man with a power hose stuns him and some acrobats toss a net over him.

They finish robbing the town and leave it behind. As the circus rolls on, Ringmaster chains the Hulk together and uses him as a circus sideshow attraction. As he is about to mesmerize the next crowd, the two FBI agents and Rick Jones accost him. At the sound of Rick Jones' voice, the Hulk breaks out of his trance and goes on a rampage, picking apart the circus one performer at a time. He chases down the escaping Ringmaster and catches him, with Rick Jones commanding him not to hurt him. As Gen. Ross' troops converge on the scene, Rick and the Hulk leap to safety far, far away from a blustering Ross.

--synopsis and panel images by Gormuu

Issues Reprinted
Incredible Hulk #1-6

Click on cover image to learn more about each issue.



All cover images are courtesy of the Silver Age Marvel Comics Cover Gallery.

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