Spider-Man is high above the Empire State University campus, changing into his street clothes in mid-web-swing because he is late for an important conference. With his pants half on, he descends into some bushes out of sight of the campus security guards and finishes dressing. Then he enters Crouse Auditorium, where the symposium, "Gamma Therapy Treatment for the Mentally Ill," has already begun, and the next speaker, Dr. Delia Childress, is about to be introduced. Dr. Leonard Samson, in the audience, remembers her from years ago and is surprised to see her there. But when she approaches the podium with the aid of a cane and a leg brace, she ignores him. Dr. Childress begins her presentation by declaring that gamma rays should not be used to treat mental illness. Her first slide displays the Hulk as an example of how gamma radiation can create a menace. She urges a halt to all experiments with gamma radiation, and then, looking squarely at Leonard Samson, she recommends that all gamma-ray monsters be restrained. A few minutes later, Samson makes his rebuttal. The Hulk was produced by uncontrolled gamma radiation, he says, but under the proper supervision, experiments with controlled gamma radiation are quite safe.
He underscores his point with a display of his own superhuman, gamma-ray-induced strength, lifting the entire platform with the other conferees over his head with one hand. The students in the audience are astonished, but Peter thinks it is just cheap showmanship. Samson emphasizes his closing remarks by striking the lectern, but much to his surprise it shatters into matchwood. The moderator reprimands him, but as Samson protests that it was not his fault, he suddenly keels over, too weak to stand up. Then he pushes his hands through the stage. Realizing that his strength has for some reason gone out of control, Samson shouts for the students to clear the auditorium, and everyone flees. Peter's spider-sense starts to tingle furiously, particularly when he looks up at the projection booth. As the hall empties, Peter finds a convenient place to change into his Spider-Man costume and then web-swings to the booth to investigate. There he finds the projectionist tied up and two criminals aiming a ray gun at the podium. He quickly knocks the hoodlums out, but suddenly a third opponent steps out of the shadows, punches him in the jaw, and knocks him out. As Spider-Man's head clears, he realizes that he has met his attacker before, but he cannot remember when. Then he hears the door creak open. Preparing himself for another battle, Spider-Man is pleased to see Doc Samson enter instead.
After they untie the projectionist, Spider-Man and Samson see that whoever attacked Spider-Man also destroyed the ray projector, so they cannot analyze it. Spider-Man comments that the device seemed to be designed to enhance radiation effects, and Samson says that such a ray could both amplify and weaken his gamma-powered strength. Then Delia Childress enters. The fact is, she says, that Samson's strength is completely unreliable. Samson replies that there were always many things he and "Delilah"—her nickname—could never agree on. As the two scientists bicker, Spider-Man quietly slips out and returns a few seconds later as Peter Parker. He introduces himself as a teaching assistant and invites Samson to lecture to his freshman class this afternoon—room 312, East Hall—and Samson testily agrees. As Peter recedes into the background, Samson invites Delia to lunch. Peter trails the two scientists to a posh restaurant, where he orders a Coke, the only thing he can afford on the menu. Eavesdropping on their conversation, Peter learns that Leonard and Delia knew each other years ago. She recalls that Samson and her father always thought they knew what was best for her and were constantly forcing her to do things she never wanted to do, such as scuba diving, fencing, and motorcycling. Then one day her motorcycle crashed, crippling her leg forever. Obviously resentful, Delia angrily accuses Samson of trying to take over her life again and storms out of the restaurant.
Peter restrains Samson from following her, saying that making a scene will not help. He agrees, and after they pay the snooty waiter, they leave for Peter's class. As Samson lectures, he again feels himself losing control of his strength. He quickly tells the students to get out of the room, and as they hurry away. Peter asks him whether he is all right. Then, before Peter's eyes, Samson's body starts to ripple with muscle, and he bursts out of his suitcoat clad in his Doc Samson uniform. As Samson leaps up and smashes through the roof. Peter changes into his Spider-Man costume and follows, wondering what he can possibly do to help. Spider-Man decides that a building directly across the street is the site of the second ray-projector. Having the same idea, Doc Samson arrives at the building shortly before Spider-Man, tears it off its foundation, and shakes two hoodlums, Tony and Grift, out of their hiding place. The criminals fall into a tree and try to flee while Samson is replacing the building, but Spider-Man apprehends them and knocks them out. Samson comments that only Peter Parker knew that he would be lecturing that afternoon, but Spider-Man tries to lead him to the conclusion that it was Delia who set him up. Then his spider-sense starts to tingle, and he and Samson turn to confront their old foe, the Rhino. Spider-Man realizes that it was the Rhino who knocked him out in the projection booth earlier.
The Rhino charges into the two crimefighters, bowling them over, but only Spider-Man rises; Doc Samson is knocked unconscious. Stalling the Rhino until Samson can stand up. Spider-Man leads the cumbersome criminal on a chase, but Samson says that yet another ray is sapping his strength. Then Delia approaches, wielding a large ray-pistol. When Samson asks her for help, she strikes him in the jaw with her cane. She will help him feel as weak and helpless as she has felt all these years, she says. Spider-Man protests, but the Rhino plows into him and leaves him senseless on the sidewalk. A few minutes later, a helicopter carrying AIM troopers descends. Delia asks the Rhino whether he wants to make sure Spider-Man is dead, but he is certain that he is. Samson is the one he wants to kill, he says. Delia replies that he can have what remains of Samson's body after she is through destroying Samson's mind. Soon the green-haired strongman is bound to an elaborate machine in a secret AIM laboratory. AIM troopers busy themselves pulling switches and pressing buttons, AIM guards stalk the catwalks armed with exotic weapons, and Dr. Childress operates a control console. Manacled to twin vertical columns, Samson is being irradiated by a ray-projector and cannot escape. Delia tells him that she is actually an AIM agent researching gamma radiation, and that part of her job is to discourage gamma research in public so that AIM will eventually monopolize that knowledge. She turns on a mind-probe to learn how he acquired his powers, and images of him being exposed to gamma energy drained from the Hulk flood his brain.
Back at Empire State University, Spider-Man awakens feeling stiff and sore. Fortunately, he saw the Rhino coming in time and rolled with the blow. Then he hears police sirens, and he quickly scampers up a wall out of sight. Seconds later, he is in a science lab, where he soon builds a small gamma-ray detector. When he points its antennae north, it starts to beep, and Spider-Man traces Samson's gamma emissions to Central Park. There he discovers a secret entrance to a subway tunnel that leads to AIM's underground laboratory. Stealing cautiously up to a large hole in the tunnel wall, he looks inside and sees Samson, the Rhino, and several AIM troopers. Thinking fast, he tears apart a nearby power cable, and all the AIM equipment goes dead. Hanging upside-down in front of the orifice, Spider-Man distracts the troopers and the Rhino as Doc Samson's strength returns. Easily disposing of the troopers, he somersaults into the Rhino and knocks him down. Then Samson, like his biblical namesake, pulls down the twin pillars to which he is chained and breaks out of his bonds. Grabbing the Rhino, he spins him around and slams him head first into a wall, leaving him unconscious and hanging by his horn. Then he sees Delia attempt suicide by touching the live power cable to her leg brace, but he snatches the cable away in time and takes the jolt himself. Delia asks him weakly why he saved her life. He replies that he is a doctor and cannot allow anyone to die if he can help it, least of all the woman he loves. Then she faints in his arms, and he carries her out. He is at least responsible for her condition, he tells Spider-Man, so he must try to cure her, even if it takes the rest of his life.
- Doc Samson recounts his last battle with the Rhino. This was in Incredible Hulk #218.
- The origin of Doc Samson's powers are recounted here. Those events originally occurred in Incredible Hulk #141.
A flashback in this story affects the chronology of the following characters:
- First and only known appearance to date besides flashbacks
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