Writer: Stan Lee
Penciller: Jack Kirby
Inker: George Bell
Letterer: Sam Rosen (FF #25) & Art Simek (FF #26)
Fantastic Four #25
The issue begins with Mr. Fantastic, Reed Richards, attempting to convince The Thing, Ben Grimm, to drink a new formula he has recently discovered. Reed believes that the solution will restore The Thing to his human form, though The Thing is reluctant since Reed admits he came across the chemical by accident. Additionally, Ben wants nothing to do with the formula unless it will allow him to change back and forth at will, so that he can continue being a part of the team. The fight is only broken up by the arrival of Ben’s blind girlfriend, Alicia, who is carrying a newspaper. As Sue Storm, The Invisible Girl, is reading the paper to Alicia she sees that The Hulk is still on the loose after battling The Avengers in Gibraltar. The scene then cuts to the desert where a truck is stopped due to a giant boulder blocking the entire road. Suddenly The Hulk smashes the boulder from behind and threatens the driver into letting him ride in the back of the truck. Hulk quickly dumps out the contents to make room and climbs in. While in the trunk, Hulk turns back into Banner and when the truck is stopped at a checkpoint, Banner flees into the desert. Banner then reverts yet again and makes a beeline for his secret cave laboratory. The Avengers are seen on his trail, examining the dumped truck cargo, when Rick Jones discloses too much information about who Hulk really is. Meanwhile in the lab, Hulk decides that he no longer wants to be Banner and destroys the equipment capable of transforming him back. Hulk is also enraged that The Avengers have replaced him and the Rick Jones now looks to be Captain America’s new side kick. Armed with this, Hulk vows to destroy The Avengers and sets out for New York. Back with the Fantastic Four, Reed collapses in his lab. A victim of his own experiments, we find that he has been infected with an unknown virus, and is now gravely ill. Johnny Storm, The Human Torch, quickly takes the Fantasti-car in an effort to get a doctor for Reed. While in route, Johnny sees The Hulk smashing up a neighborhood and decides to intervene. The Hulk quickly defeats Johnny while the rest of the team watches on TV. Sue and Thing rush to aid him rush to aid Johnny, leaving Reed home alone. In the process of interjecting, Sue is knocked out when The Hulk overloads her powers and Johnny is further injured, requiring him to be taken to the hospital. It is then left to The Thing to take on The Hulk, alone. The two titans repeatedly clash, though it is clear from the outset that Hulk is the stronger of the two. Reed makes an attempt to join the fight, only makes it to the window before collapsing into a coma. Aided by the Yancy St. Gang, the fight makes its way from the streets, to the river and then finally to the Washington bridge. Eventually Hulk beats The Thing down and prepares for his next challenge, The Avengers.
Fantastic Four #26
Thing kicks off this issue by once again engaging Hulk, though this time he attempts to outsmart Hulk instead of trying to rely on brute strength. Thing manages to find some success with his new tactics, but they are limited. Reed once again attempts to join the fight, but is quickly subdued by the doctors attending him. In the hospital, Johnny regains consciousness and immediately heads off to rejoin the fight against the Hulk, though he is still significantly weakened from their previous encounter. Although Johnny some aid for Thing, their gains are short lived as the pair are once again bested by The Hulk, who disappears from sight. While the heroes begin searching, Hulk has made his way underground and commandeers a subway train so that he can make his way to Tony Stark’s East Side mansion. As a former Avenger, Hulk is well aware that this is location of The Avengers monthly meetings, and so he plans to surprise his former allies in their own home. The Avengers return from the investigation in New Mexico and discover their quarry standing in their living room. A fight ensues and a furious Hulk absconds with Rick Jones for his alleged betrayal. Back in the hospital, Reed is finally recovering from the virus that was effecting him and now reunited, the Fantastic Four suit up to take down the Hulk. Having smashed his way out of the mansion, Hulk continues to battle with The Avengers in the streets of Manhattan. Initially, when the Fantastic Four join the skirmish, the two superhero teams get in one another’s way in comical fashion, allowing Hulk to escape to a construction site. After much arguing and many accusations, the two teams of superheroes eventually come to an understanding and proceed to fight The Hulk in a series of encounters. Each time a hero nears defeat, they are saved by another who then picks up the mantle and continues the fight. Finally, with the help of an army of ants provide with impeccable timing by Wasp, Rick Jones is able to give Hulk a gamma infused pill which will cause him to revert back to Banner. As he begins to transform, Hulk staggers down a pier and eventually falls into the river, where we see a nearly drowned Bruce Banner surface some time later. Their common enemy defeated, the teams go their separate ways after an exchange of pleasantries and mutual respect.