Incredible Hulk (1962) #4 – In these early days, the Frankenstein and Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hydeinspirations were quite obvious. Hulk is brutish and dull but has heroic impulses that contrast his appearance and evoke thoughts of a child’s innocence. That is until a machine Bruce Banner invents allows him to maintain his intellect while transformed into Hulk, a concept that would be revisited and explored more in-depth in latter years. For a time, Banner could transform back-and-forth simply by stepping on a platform to trigger a gamma ray. The two stories in this issue are mildly entertaining but hindsight makes it clear that Lee and Kirby were still figuring out how to make stories about this green giant work.
Journey Into Mystery (1952) #87 – Speaking of the Hulk, the military doesn’t seem to have learned from the accident that turned Banner into a sometimes-monster since they’ve got the god of thunder out in the desert to “test a human’s physiological reactions” to the explosion of a huge bomb. Nothing makes a whole ton of sense in this story but fortunately it’s still entertaining. An atypical Thor story, “On the Trail of the Tomorrow Man” has the golden-haired (soon-to-be) Avenger traveling to the future via a special metal attached to his hammer to stop the thief of the aforementioned explosive (they don’t have them in the future, you’ll be somewhat relieved to know… although they apparently do still have maniacs and time travel, so it’s not much comfort). This is a goofy, minor story, but good for a chuckle.
Fantastic Four (1961) #9 – After Journey Into Mystery #87, which reads very much like a typical Silver Age story akin to those common at DC Comics at the time, this Fantastic Four issue displays more of the Marvel approach to storytelling that made the House of Ideas a household name. Specifically, the interactions amongst the team members give evidence to the different approach Stan and Jack were after in their flagship title. As for the plot, it’s quite silly. The FF are bankrupt because Reed lost all their money on the stock market. Hearing this, Namor buys a Hollywood production company solely to lure the team out west to make a FF film. (A superhero movie?!? Yeah, right! Tell me another one!) Of course, all this was a ploy to get into Sue’s pants and off the other three.