February 1, 2007

The Incredible Hulk #400 [1992]

Since this issue of HULK featured the climax of his latest battle against the Leader, the issue also had a reprint of the Ditko pencilled, George Roussos (as Geo. Bell) inked first full Leader story, the 10-page "A Titan Rides the Train" from Tales to Astonish #63 [1965]. Ditko mostly inked his own stuff at Marvel in the 1960s, but there are a few exceptions during his most prolific period, about half of them Roussos inks on some Hulk and Doctor Strange stories. It's pretty much a given that Ditko inks are always preferable to non-Ditko inks, but Roussos does a pretty good job of keeping Ditko's strengths.

In this story, we get the origin of the Leader, a janitor who got caught in a Gamma Ray explosion much like Bruce Banner, but instead of seeing his strength expanded he saw his intellect expand, along with his head. And he also got green skin. Anyway, he decided that world conquest was his destiny, and was behind the plans of the Chameleon in the previous issue. He decides to get more directly involved this time, having created a mentally controlled "Humanoid" that he sends to steal an experimental atomic device designed by Bruce Banner from a transport train. Of course Banner turns into the Hulk and has a great little battle aboard the train with the Humanoid. Eventually the Hulk wins, but ends up imprisoned as Bruce Banner, while the Leader's curiosity about his Gamma Ray mutated brother has been raised for the next year of stories.

Neat little story, building on the background of the Hulk nicely and with one of the great fight scenes of Ditko's comics of the era.

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