Issue: Fantastic Four #12
Name: The Fantastic Four meet The Hulk!
Published: March 1963
Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Jack Kirby
Inker: Dick Ayers
Colorist: Stan Goldberg
Letterer: Artie Simek
The Good: Mr. Fantastic, Invisible Girl, Human Torch, Thing, Hulk, Alicia Masters, Rick Jones
The Bad: General Thunderbolt Ross, Wrecker
Part 1 – This issue starts innocently enough with Alicia and Thing attending the symphony. Afterwards a clumsy patron knocks Thing’s disguise off and the passing troop of soldiers mistake him for Hulk, General Ross’ enemy #1. Thing easily brushes off any physical attack but then they gas him and he passes out. The soldiers soon recognize their mistake and later General Ross decides to enlist the aid of the Fantastic Four in capturing Hulk.
Part 2 – Mission: Stop the Hulk! seems to begin with a bunch of fantasizing with the male members of the team imagining taking down the Hulk singlehandedly. Somehow, I don’t think any of the scenarios displayed is really gonna happen. But the team agrees to help the General and they head to meet up with Dr Banner and his unknown to this point assistant, Dr Kort. Banner makes the case that Hulk did not cause the damage Ross claims, but the General brushes that off and the Four get ready to hunt.
Part 3 – Who is the Wrecker – With the team ready to hunt the Hulk, they have to show off for the General and Banner one last time before the get going. While they are distracted Banner and Rick sneak off to their lab to check on a scaled down version of the Project 34 device that was destroyed – it’s supposed to make any city invulnerable to enemy missiles – sure could use some of that technology now! Interestingly, the Torch had given Rick Dr. Kort’s wallet which he was using in a trick and inside Rick finds a Communist Membership card. …dun..dun…dah!
Part 4 – The Hulk at Last! – Now that we know who the bad guy really is we head back to the team but they’re still showing off for General Ross…when will it end? I suppose when Dr. Banner realizes the Wrecker took Rick hostage. But of course, when he tries to get the Four to help him find the Wrecker, they insist the Hulk must be the bad guy. Heading back to his lab, Banner finds a note from the Wrecker demanding the Hulk get rid of the Fantastic Four or dire things will happen to Rick…I guess the ultimate confrontation will finally arrive. Banner turns into the Hulk and heads into the tunnels to find the Fantastic Four. Finally, in the tunnels under Project 34, Hulk and Thing face off against each other…POW! But there’s more to the Fantastic Four than Thing, and Hulk douses the Torch with a mountain of sand – two down, two to go. But as Hulk heads to the surface, Mr. Fantastic entangles him briefly and the rest of the team has time to recover and as Hulk uses a thunderclap to knock out Sue, Reed, and Johnny, Thing jumps out for some smackdown. The Hulk is down but not out as he and Things start a monumental wrestling match, back and forth, then Hulk is hit by something that knocks him cold. Some kinda robot shot him from under the ground and Thing’s mighty pissed off someone mess with his fun time. He burrows down and find the Wrecker, Karl Kort has Rick tied up and before he can shoot the Thing, Sue’s invisible ninja chop knocks the gun outta his hands.
While the team figures out what’s up with Rick and the Wrecker, Hulk sneaks away back to the lab to return as Dr. Banner. The team turns over Kort and Banner thanks the Fantastic Four for their help. And as they’re leaving there’s just a hint that Reed may know more about the relationship between Banner and the Hulk than anyone can guess.
- If you’re gonna be a member of a subversive communist organization, don’t carry around your membership card in your wallet.
- General Ross is just a jerk no matter who he’s dealing with.
Stan and Jack really kept us waiting in this issue. It took 18 pages until we finally get to see the main event that we all showed up for: Fantastic Four against the Hulk. And we already knew the bad guy wasn’t the Hulk after all. When the fight starts though, it’s everything I wanted and more. The Hulk showed he can at least stand toe-to-toe with four of the most powerful heroes out there and it took interference from an outside party to break up the fight. This may have been a Fantastic Four title, but just as I hate him in The Hulk issues, General Ross is a real idiot – I can’t stand him and he always causes more trouble that he solves.
Going from some of the newer Marvel and DC titles makes me realize how verbose these older issues are. There’s so much dialog they take much longer to read since there’s a whole book of text in each issue. Not that that’s necessarily bad but it seems newer eras of comics rely more on the storytelling of both the writer and artist and let scenes indicate what’s happening more than having to narrate the entire thing. In any case, I enjoyed this issue even though it took forever to see the fight.
My Rating: A-
This comic can be found on Marvel Unlimited, Comixology or in a collection at your local comic book shop (as a single issue it’s pretty expensive).