Five 10-page reprints from TALES TO ASTONISH #70 – #74 (1965) in this issue. The first is Kirby pencils inked by Mike Esposito (as Mickey Demeo).
“To Live Again” opens with the army raiding the Leader’s lair, where they had found Bruce Banner with a bullet in the head. Rick Jones manages to get Banner’s body out to his secret lab, and gives him a dose of gamma rays to change him to the Hulk.
This time he retains Banner’s intellect as the Hulk, and realizes that the bullet will kill him if he changes back. Meanwhile, the Leader unleashes a 500-foot tall “humanoid” on the army, and the Hulk goes to get a final look at Betty (and I have to say, security at that army base sucked, as no one sees a big green man hanging around). The Hulk and the army both attack the humanoid, which repels them, and the army pull out the “Sunday Punch Missile”, a wonderful Kirby designed weapon.
The rest are Kirby layouts, with some combination of Esposito and/or Bob Powell doing finishing. They look pretty nice, both men are long established professionals probably just working on Kirby’s layouts to get a feel for how Marvel liked their comics done, and to get some extra plotting out of Kirby.
“Like a Beast at Bay”, Esposito finishes, features the defeat of the humanoid, the Hulk giving Rick artificial respiration and the army’s siege of Banner’s hidden lab. I like how the Hulk side of his personality comes and goes depending on the circumstances in this run.
“Within the Monster Dwells a Man”, Esposito again. The Hulk gets taken to the Leader’s headquarters in Italy, where the Leader tries to recruit him with arguements of gamma solidarity. The Hulk doesn’t go for it and battles more humanoids, and feels himself reverting to Banner, which would kill him.
“Another World, Another Foe”, Bob Powell finishes the pencils on this one, with Esposito doing the inking (uncredited), which has the Leader remove the bullet from the Hulk’s brain and gives him another gamma dose, possibly leaving him in Hulk form forever (and if you believe that…). The Hulk agrees to work for him in gratitude, and the Leader reveals that he has been observing the Watcher on the moon and on his homeworld, and sends the Hulk to get a particular device from the Watcher. The Hulk is sent off, where he encounters no resistance from the Watcher, who doesn’t interfere, but is confronted by an alien lizard after the same device. Some nice imaginative alien creatures and devices in the Watcher’s world.
“The Wisdom of the Watcher”, Powell/Esposito over Kirby layouts again, with Esposito credited this time (well, credited as Demeo). The big battle issue, with the Hulk against the alien on a barren world where the Watcher sends them to battle. Good fight, very action filled. The Hulk wins, of course, and the Watcher lets him take the Ultimate Machine, a repository of all knowledge. The Leader puts it on and it appears to kill him (and if you believe that… In fact, the reprint editor even adds a note that the Leader is still around).
There are two pin-up pages between stories. One has the Hulk and Thing battling, taking the Kirby/Roussos figure from the first page of FF #26, the other showing various panels of the Hulk’s transformations to and from Banner from various issues.