Appearing in "The Incredible Hulk vs. The Metal Master!"
Races and Species:
- Astra (Only in flashback)
Synopsis for "The Incredible Hulk vs. The Metal Master!"
General Ross wants to test fly a new experimental rocket, but he needs Bruce Banner to initiate the final sequences. Banner, however, is currently missing. Present is Rick Jones, who is worried about why Banner hasn't returned to the base. He soon discovers that Banner is still trapped in the form of the Hulk.
The Hulk, still possessing a limited amount of Banner's intellect, manages to evade army personnel and get back to his sanctuary cave. He activates the Gamma Ray Projector and transforms back into Banner. Each time he uses the device, the transformation becomes more and more painful. This most recent transformation yields another side effect. Though he looks human again, Banner is now bigger and stronger than his usual frail self. From within the cave, Banner monitors events at General Ross' desert base. What Bruce witnesses on the view screen causes him great distress.
At the Desert Base an alien known as the Metal Master comes to Earth with plans of conquest. He demonstrates his superior powers of magnetism by melting the metal components of General Ross' test rocket. When Ross orders his men to attack, the Metal Master uses his powers to melt a tank, turning it into a cage of twisted, molten metal, which he then uses to ensnare Ross, his daughter Betty, and Rick Jones. Ross slips through the latticework of the cage and activates a barrage of hunter rockets and targets the Metal Master. The Metal Master pries up a piece of metal plating and uses it as a hover-board while simultaneously deflecting Ross' missiles.
At the sanctuary cave, Banner once again activates the Gamma Ray Projector and turns into the Hulk. This time, however, another unexpected side-effect manifests. Though he has the body of the Hulk, his head is still that of Bruce Banner. To disguise his features, the Hulk dons a latex Hulk mask so that no one will recognize him as Banner.
The Hulk power-leaps to the Metal Master's whereabouts and confronts him in battle. The Metal Master uses discarded metal debris to erect a cage around the Hulk, but the Hulk easily tears through it. The Metal Master batters the Hulk in the back of the head with a piece of the cage, knocking him out. The Metal Master leaves the area, and army personnel apprehend the unconscious Hulk. One soldier removes the latex mask, but, by this point, the transformation has completed itself, and the Hulk looks like his normal self. The Hulk is airlifted to a stone building designed specifically to contain him. When the Hulk awakens, he finds himself trapped in this massive cell. Rick Jones tries to visit him, but the Hulk calls him a traitor and swears that he will make him pay once he escapes.
Rejected, Rick Jones leaves and returns home. He no longer feels that he can trust Bruce Banner and decides to take his own measures to safeguard society from the likes of the Metal Master. At the advice of one his friends, Rick helps to form a network of teenagers across the country who communicate with one another via ham radios and pledge to help the world whenever they can. Rick dubs this organization the Teen Brigade.
At the Desert Base, the Hulk continues to batter at the stone walls of his prison until he finally breaks free. News of the Hulk's escape quickly reaches the office of General Ross. Ross shakes his fists in frustration, while Betty worries that the Hulk may have something to do with Bruce's unexplained absence.
The Hulk returns to his laboratory cave and uses the projector to turn back into Bruce Banner. Rick Jones arrives, feeling bad that he mistrusted Banner's intentions. He realizes that Banner's motivations are drastically different from the Hulk's. Bruce develops an idea on how to defeat the Metal Master, but he requires a lot of equipment to make his plan work. Rick contacts the Teen Brigade, who arranges for a variety of odds and ends to be secretly delivered to Banner's laboratory.
The Metal Master, meanwhile, continues to demonstrate his awesome power across the world. He travels to Russia where he wreaks havoc against the Soviet military apparatus. He then travels to Washington, D.C. to execute a similar demonstration of his might at the nation's capital. As the Metal Master pontificates, the Hulk arrives in Washington, armed with an over-sized specially designed rocket launcher. The Metal Master scoffs at the Hulk's weaponry and tries to use his power to make it explode. The tactic fails, however, and the Metal Master does not understand why. He looms in closer and tries even harder to destroy the Hulk's weapon. The second attempt meets with the same success as the first, and he moves in even closer for a third attempt. Once he is within arms reach, the Hulk drops his rocket launcher and grabs the Metal Master. He threatens to pulverize him unless the alien agrees to restore all the damage he caused. The Metal Master, a coward at heart and fearing for his life, agrees. Once he rebuilds all of the facilities he has destroyed, he gets into his rocket ship and returns to his home world.
The Hulk congratulates the Teen Brigade for helping him build a faux rocket launcher made out of non-metallic parts. Fortunately for the world, his bluff worked. Grabbing Rick, the Hulk power-leaps away, returning to his secret cave where he transforms back into Banner.
Once he is fully human again, Banner finally returns to the Desert Base. General Ross admonishes him for his sudden disappearance, and Bruce tells him that he had taken a small vacation in Bermuda. Betty is elated that Bruce is safe but can't shake the feeling that there is some connection between him and the incredible Hulk.
- The Teen Brigade are depicted here using Ham Radios. The technology used by Teen Brigade should be considered a topical reference per the Sliding Timescale of Earth-616. For example, the retelling of Avengers #1, Avengers: The Origin, depicts the Teen Brigade using computers and the internet to communicate.
- This is the first time that the Hulk receives a presidential pardon for his past actions. In the following years, he will receive a second presidential pardon in Incredible Hulk #279.
- This issue marks the first time that an emotional trigger has caused a transformation between Bruce Banner and the Hulk.
- This is technically the final issue of the series. The Hulk appeared last in Fantastic Four #12. He appears next as an unofficial member of the Avengers in Avengers #1. The solo adventures of the Hulk continue as back-up stories featured in Tales to Astonish beginning with issue Vol 1 60. With issue Vol 1 102, Tales to Astonish changes its format and title and becomes a Hulk solo book. It remains under that format until the series cancellation in 1999.
- This is the first issue to demonstrate that Bruce and Betty have mutual feelings for one another. This was actually foreshadowed in the first story in issue Incredible Hulk #5.