Second Union

Second Union


Writer: Stan Lee
Penciller: Jack Kirby
Inker: Steve Ditko
“The Terror of the Toad Men” 
May 1, 1962

As the story opens, it is a few weeks since our first issue of the comic, and the Hulk is being hunted by troopers and townsfolk alike in a small, desolate section of the country. All seems hopeless as the silent creature shrugs off any chance to subdue it. But then Rick Jones steps out and is able to calm the creature enough to lead it away from the danger.

So clearly something has changed since our first story as the Hulk is now listening to Rick whereas before he would swat the teen aside when he tried to reach the green brute. We get no explanation of this, but we do get a recap of the origin of the Hulk.

The story takes a weird sci-fi turn, like something out of one of the anthology comics Marvel was running at the time as we’re introduced to the Toad Men. Yes, the alien race with plans to attack the Earth is called the Toad Men. They send out a scanning ray to find the most brilliant mind on the planet and of course, it discovers Bruce, who is now in his human persona and working with Rick to find a means to contain the Hulk each night.

The two think they have found it in a cave system that has a natural cavern that Bruce can have Rick easily seal off until he can be released in the morning. But they don’t get a chance to test it as the two are quickly captured by the Toad Men and transported to their spaceship. (Still can’t get over the Toad Men. Also, how is it that Bruce is smarter than Reed Richards? And that is what this story is saying as the Toad Men’s device looks for the greatest mind on the planet.)

Rick is sent back to Earth as the aliens try to get Bruce to reveal the defenses of Earth against an invasion force. But they don’t get far as the ship travels to the night side of Earth and Bruce once again transforms into the Hulk. He rips through the ship and even manages to get a hold of one of the Toad Men’s energy weapons. Very strange seeing the Hulk hold a gun, much less actually shoot it.

The Hulk quickly takes over the ship and plans to use it to exact revenge on humanity. But his plans are short-lived as the vessel is shot out of the sky at the orders of General Ross. The ship crashes on the Earth’s dayside, so when Ross and his men approach the ship, they see the disheveled form of Bruce stepping through.

Bruce is placed under arrest as the Toad Men escape from the ship and send out a signal to the main fleet to begin their invasion. The king of the Toad Men (I really can’t believe they didn’t give them a better-sounding name than just Toad Men) issues an ultimatum that he will magnetically guide the moon into the Earth if they do not surrender.

The Hulk takes her to Bruce’s lab where Rick tries to get him to help them. It falls on deaf ears as the Hulk advances on Rick in anger. But the sun rises and the change happens again. Betty doesn’t see it as she passed out, but being Bruce allows him to use his own gamma-ray weapon to create a repelling force that sends the Toad Men’s fleet into deep space.

But night falls and the Hulk escapes from his prison. Once again, he is drawn to return to Banner’s home where he finds Betty waiting for Bruce. Ross and his men surround the Hulk, but he escapes, holding Betty as he does so.

With the invasion stopped Bruce is absolved of all charges of treason as our story ends with the Hulk pounding away in his prison under the cave system.

All in all, a good story, but I still can’t get over the idea of the aliens being simply called Toad Men.

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