Avengers (1st series) #3

Issue Date: 
January 1964
Story Title: 
The Avengers Meet… Sub-Mariner!

Stan Lee (writer), Jack Kirby (pencils), P. Reinman (inks), S. Rosen (letters)

Brief Description: 

After holding their monthly meeting, the Avengers agree that their top priority is finding the Hulk again, fearing that he might cause damage. Iron Man uses his newest invention to transport his astral projection through town, and ask other super heroes such as the Fantastic Four and the X-Men for help in their search, but all of them seem too caught up in their own business, but at least promise to let them know anything should they hear from the goliath. Tony also contacts Rick Jones, the closest friend of the Hulk. He locates the Hulk, and warns him that the Avengers are after him and that they’ve got to hide. Using the gamma machine Bruce Banner invented, the Hulk temporary changes back into his human form and decides to rest. However, he is unable to do so and decides not to run anymore. He transforms back into the Hulk, who wants to kill the Avengers. After a brief battle with them, he escapes and swims to the Atlantic. There, Namor locates him, and they agree to a partnership to defeat their mutual enemies, namely the Avengers and all the rest of mankind. Luckily, the Avengers soon find out about this and even locate their enemies’ secret hideout. Once there, it’s a heavy battle between both teams, but eventually the Hulk reverts back into Bruce Banner and, ashamed, escapes. Namor manages to escape and dives back to the ocean. The Avengers decide to let Namor go, as they’ve got a newfound respect for him, and both sides hope for a rematch some day.

Full Summary: 

While holding their monthly meeting in Tony Stark’s mansion, the team members all agree that the Hulk must be found immediately, because there’s no telling what the brute might do running wild! Iron Man has an idea: he explains to the other Avengers that Tony Stark is, besides a good weapons inventor, also a master of all kinds of transistor-powered devices! He goes to stand in front of an image-projector, and thereby will be able to put a search in motion for the Hulk in mere seconds.

As Iron Man activates the projector, the device works like an ultra-frequency TV-set, beaming his image in whichever direction he wishes for. Traveling at the speed of light, Iron Man’s electronic image reaches its first objective, namely the world-famous skyscraper of New York’s Baxter Building!

Tony finds the Thing, apparently getting ready for a date. Tony asks the rocky super hero for help in his search for the Hulk, but Ben’s not even interested in it. Iron Man continues his search through the building for the other members of the Fantastic Four, and finds Mr. Fantastic testing the Human Torch’s flame powers. Noting Tony, they stop the experiment and ask what’s going on. Iron Man informs Reed about the search, but Reed finds his experiment to be more important at the moment, but promises to give the Avengers a call should they hear anything from the Hulk. The Invisible Girl, heading down town to shop, promises to do the same thing.

Going deeper downtown, Iron Man finds Spider-Man busy fighting some thugs. Spidey manages to capture them in his webs, but has his hands full and doesn’t really want to help Iron Man. He sarcastically thanks the web-slinger for nothing, and realizes that he has one place left to go.

A while later, the astral projection reaches Xavier’s school, and interrupts one of their training sessions. Xavier isn’t too happy about it. Iron Man apologizes, but informs Xavier that, a while ago when he helped Angel, he promised to return the favor, and now Iron Man wants their help in finding the Hulk. Xavier promises to help should they hear anything, but now has to ask Iron Man to leave, since they are still in the middle of a class.

Tony returns to Avengers Mansion, and informs his teammates about what happened. Thor has another idea: instead of starting a time consuming world wide search, why don’t they contact Rick Jones, who is a close friend to the Hulk? Everyone agrees, and they give a call to the grim-faced teenager, who promises to help out. Rick starts his search immediately and, while running, he finds a panicking old man, who has just seen a monster!

Suspecting that it might be the Hulk, Rick follows the man’s directions, and finds the Hulk by a lake! But, he seems to be reaching down for something. Finally, the Hulk lifts the thing up from the lake, and has caught… a car! It’s from the old man from before, who drove the car into the lake when he saw Hulk. Rick informs the Hulk that people are coming after him, maybe the police as well and, since they all fear the Hulk, Rick thinks it’s best that he returns to his cave.

Swayed by Rick’s words, the Hulk hurls himself into the air with his mighty leg muscles, as Rick tags alone hanging onto the Hulk’s shoulders. A short time later, they enter a hidden cave that leads deep under the ground. They enter it, but Hulk doesn’t want to run anymore, realizing that he is strong enough to smash all of the puny humans. Rick calms him down, and leads him to the gamma-ray reverter machine Bruce Banner has built.

Rick activates the machine and, as the gamma rays hit the Hulk, they make him transform back into Bruce, who’s happy that the nightmare is temporarily over, but he feels weak. Rick notices that Bruce’s condition gets worse and worse each time he transforms into the Hulk, and thinks he needs to rest a little. Bruce goes to lie down into his bed, and begs Rick not to leave him, fearing what might happen should he transform again. Rick promises and, as he goes outside, he sulks and believes that it’s his fault that Bruce changed into the Hulk into the first place, and that he can never leave his side.

As the night goes on, Bruce fails to catch some sleep, as he worries too much about the Hulk, thinking that Rick didn’t gave him a dose strong enough this time. But, Bruce has a change of mind. With gamma rays surrounding him, he wonders why he should stay a puny scientists, while he could become the strongest man alive?! He transforms back into the Hulk, and rampages outside, even ignoring Rick’s warnings not to do it. Rick panics and runs back to his Teen Brigade. After informing them about current events, the Brigade contact the Avengers about the Hulk’s situation.

Tony, Hank and Janet all separately put their super hero costumes on and activate their powers, as none of the Avengers are aware of their teammates’ secret identities. After Iron Man has contacted Thor by leaving a message on his private number, the three Avengers waste no time and leave. At his consulting room, Thor, in his human form of Donald Blake, fakes to nurse Jane that he feels tired, and wants to close the office early today. He leaves her and, after striking his walking stick upon the floor, the mighty Thor appears! Thor hears Iron Man’s message, and leaves to New Mexico in sector B, where the Hulk has been spotted, using his enchanted hammer Mjolnir to get there fast.

Meanwhile, Iron Man has located Rick, but the Hulk is nowhere to be seen. Iron Man flies closer to Rick but, as he does, the Hulk suddenly jumps in front of him, and punches Tony! Thanks to his armor, Tony is protected and recovers fast. He decides to use his transistor-powered energy blast to created a separated space between him and the Hulk, hoping that this will give him some time to come up with a plan. Using the machine, its heavy powers make the rocks besides the heroes fly away, thanks to its awesome might, and they fly towards the Hulk’s head.

Hulk is unaffected and, after noticing a cactus, he picks it up and throws its needles to the armored Avenger. Iron Man manages to hide behind a big rock, but the tiny Ant-Man and Wasp aren’t so lucky. Hank warns Jan to follow him and head to a nearby anthill. Janet’s confused and doesn’t see the point, but Hank shouts just to do as he says. Once inside, the astonishing Henry Pym communicates with the ants by means of his unique cybernetic helmet! Janet wonders why Hank doesn’t transform into Giant-Man now, as he can do a lot more. Hank thinks she’s wrong, as not even Giant-Man’s strength can match that of the Hulk. This calls for cunning!

Obeying the orders transmitted by Ant-Man, the diligent insects drop countless pebbles into a fast-rushing underground stream. While up above, Iron Man continues to try to reason with the Hulk by telling him that the Avengers don’t want to fight him, but that they can’t let him run amok. They just want Hulk to stay with them, as a team member. Hulk won’t let himself to be fooled, as he realizes that the Avengers fear him because he is the strongest, and believes that they just want to destroy him.

Meantime, directly under the Hulk’s feet, the pebbles have dammed up the underground stream, and the rushing water, having no place to go, bursts to the surface, causing the ground underfoot to crumble! Iron Man flies up to safety, but the streaming catches the Hulk with success. Iron Man knows that his teammates must be behind it. But the plan proves to be in vain, for the Hulk’s unbelievably strong leg muscles catapult him to safety!

A furious Hulk prepares himself to destroy Iron Man, but Tony thinks fast and uses his magnetic repulsers to spin the Hulk’s body around in the air, since it’s attracted by its iron content. Thor finally arrives, and wants to finish the Hulk off. Dizzy from the rapid whirling he has endured, the Hulk seizes a natural rock formation below and uses it to break his spin. After calming down, the Hulk loses grip of the rock and lands back down.

Thor confronts the Hulk, and orders him to return to the Avengers, or else he’ll feel the thunder god’s wraith! Hulk isn’t impressed by the threat, and jumps high up into the sky. Fearing that the Hulk is planning to escape, Thor and Iron Man follow him, but the Hulk was just fooling them. Hulk laughs at them, as it was all part of his plan, and lands back down. As he lands, the impact allows him to break through it. Nobody knows this part of the country as well as the Hulk does, and he calculated himself to land in the old, abandoned mine shaft he is in now.

Hulk quickly runs, and climbs back to the surface. He finds a train passing by and catches onto it, hoping to escape. However, Iron Man and Thor have spotted this, and follow him. Hulk grabs an empty caboose, and throws it at the two mighty Avengers! Luckily, Thor manages to destroy it with his hammer as it were nothing, and Iron Man flies towards the Hulk, once again trying to calm the green brute down. Still not wanting to listen to reason, the Hulk destroys a crane, and throws it towards Iron Man, who flies away not wanting to get hit by it.

Thor follows the Hulk, who laughs at him. The Hulk grabs a hunk of some steel cable, and throws it towards the thunder god, trapping him. Thor tries to use his strength to free himself, but Hulk won’t wait to see that happen. He finds some flour packages and picks them up, but suddenly finds Giant-Man waiting for him. Hank explains that he followed the Hulk using the ants, and then transformed back from Ant-Man into Giant-Man to be able to face the goliath.

Giant-Man tries to warn the Hulk that the flour packs won’t do him any good, but the Hulk just goes for it. Hank makes his arm bigger, trying to catch the Hulk, but he just jumps over it. The Hulk is ready for his plan, and drops the flour packs into the train’s smokestack, causing a lot of powder to show up! Hank can’t see anything anymore, not even the bridge where the train drives under. Hank bounces against it, and falls down, and sobs that he has failed.

The Avengers cheer Hank up, as they all failed. They agree that it’s just because they don’t wish to badly injure the Hulk, while he uses every savage trick in the book to get rid of them. Janet returns, and informs everyone that they’ve now really lost the Hulk. She saw the train heading towards Centerville, but the Hulk was no longer aboard.

Throughout the countryside, the search for the Hulk goes on. Armed officers ask a trucker if he has seen the Hulk, but he hasn’t and, even if he did, he would drive away as fast as he could. He moves forward but, later, when he dumps his load of gravel into a stream, he is unaware that the Hulk had hitchhiked aboard, and now swims into the lake. Due to his incredibly powerful lungs, the Hulk can remain underwater for long periods of time. He swims forwards, and has almost reached the gulf stream.

Finally, after days in the water, the Hulk feels tired. He arises in the cold Atlantic, where he is spotted by a ship’s crew. The sailors recognize the Hulk but, despite that, they grab him aboard and plan to contact Washington about it.

At the same time, Namor has been using a special monitoring device in his undersea chamber, and watched every movement the Hulk has made so far, and also that he’s now on the ship. Realizing that the Hulk’s strength will return soon enough, Namor plans to wait for the Hulk until it does and, after he has left the ship, he’ll contact the monster.

Later that night, the Hulk has recovered. He spots a nearby deserted island, and decides to swim towards that, so that he can be alone and think of his next move against the humans. However, once there, he finds the Sub-Mariner and recognizes him. Namor greets him, but the Hulk is so angry at seeing humans and hearing their voices, he just attacks the Prince. The Hulk grabs a big rock and smashes it on Namor’s head, but he is unharmed by it. He punches the Hulk into the water, where Namor is strongest, and swims so fast that a whirlpool is made and surrounds the Hulk. Exhausted, the Hulk gives up and admits that might be the strongest man on the land, but Namor is the strongest one in the seas. Hulk even agrees to team-up with him, since they both hate the human race.

Namor mentions that he hates the humans because he has lost his birthright, his people and everything he holds dear because of them. Namor summons his electronically controlled command ship to take them to their destination: the Avengers! However, when in the ship and heading towards their enemies, both the Hulk and Namor realize from one another that they are too strong and undependable, and that, after they’ve won their battles, they plan to destroy each other. Hours later, Namor’s powerful command craft secretly glides under the surface to a mooring in the shadows of the mighty Gibraltar! Namor wants to battle the Avengers there, because here they will have both land and sea, their two strongest assets.

Later, at their Mansion, the Avengers receive a message that the Hulk and the Sub-Mariner have joined forces. Thor is ready to perhaps have the final battle of his life. Janet flirts with him, wanting to see him in a tuxedo first. A jealous Hank picks her up, telling her to keep her mind on the important business. Janet is happy to finally see a spark of caring in Hank’s eyes. The Avengers move to the new deep-sea jet bathyscaph Tony Stark had build for them, and move over to action.

Some short time later, the Avengers arrive at the rocks. They remember that the place was used by the British to fight in World War II and abandoned afterwards, so they fear that some weapons were left behind as well. They agree that it’s best to be careful. Namor activates a missile launcher, hoping that Thor might throw his hammer at it to destroy it, and that they can attack them afterwards. However, Iron Man uses the magnetic powers in his armor to make the missile change direction. Namor and the Hulk dodge before missile explodes, and agree to put Iron Man out of business first, realizing he might have more hidden weapons.

Namor hits Iron Man with an emery dust pellet, which makes the metal joints in his suit stiff! Iron Man collapses, but luckily is caught by Hank. Thor creates a diversion for their enemies by throwing Mjolnir at them, and Wasp goes to try find some abandoned oxygen equipment to help Iron Man. While Thor’s hammer ricochets a couple of times against the walls around the Hulk and Namor, after some time, the Wasp manages to find an oxygen machine and takes it back to the others. Giant-Man plugs it into Iron Man’s suit, and the machine manages to pump out the emery dust. Tony even starts to move again.

While Thor and Giant-Man tend to their fallen teammate, the Wasp notices Namor and Hulk trying to find another way to reach the Avengers, and go deeper into the cave. She shrinks, and follows the two unnoticed. However, Jan admits that she’s worried about their combined strength. She’s worried… for the very first time! The Hulk warns Namor to cover his ears, and punches a few times real hard against the walls around them, causing it to break apart and heavy bricks and stones fall down.

Not having time to take cover, the unseen Wasp bears the full brunt of the Hulk’s savage eardrum-shattering blow, as the tiny adventuress suddenly blacks out! Seconds later, still dazed and weak, she tries valiantly to dodge the stones that fall around her. Jan can’t concentrate, and therefore is not able to grow back to her normal size, making the pebbles that almost hit her look like boulders. The three male Avengers arrive and, with her being so small, they don’t even notice Jan, and almost stampede her! Luckily, the ground is so uneven, that there are small holes in it. Jan hides in one and, after her teammates have moved forward, she decides to lift onto Giant-Man’s shoulder until the battle is over.

While directly above the Avengers, Namor has found an old air raid alarm and modified it a bit. Now, the machines shrill blasts will destroy all living beings who come close to it, and he hopes that it will do it to the Avengers. The Avengers arrive before Namor can activate the machine. Hank sees his chance to grab Namor, and does it. However, even though Hank is twice his size, Namor manages to use his strength to almost free himself from the powerful grip. Hulk hesitates in helping his partner out, but finds it best not to interfere for a while to find out how well Namor fights without him.

Luckily, Hank thinks fast and throws Namor towards Thor’s direction. Iron Man uses his magnetic repulsor to stop him, fearing that Thor might be too angry and even kill the Sub-Mariner – and killing is something the Avengers won’t do. Iron Man just wants to reason with the Atlantean Prince. However, Namor uses Tony’s trust to his advantage and slams his fists extremely hard into his armor, thereby unknowingly destroying Tony’s life giving transistors on his chest. He immediately feels weaker and, fearing if he won’t repair his armor fast, he will be doomed!

Hulk finds that Namor can fight, so he agrees on teaming-up and hopefully defeat Thor. Hulk tries to take Mjolnir out of Thor’s hands, but fails to do so. Unexpectedly, at that very-split second, Thor himself releases his hammer, and it starts to whirl through the cave as if it were alive! A confused Hulk falls back, and Namor has to face Thor alone. Hank warns Thor to draw back, and he tackles Namor. Thor calls Mjolnir back, remembering that no one can ever know that if Mjolnir is removed from his hands longer than 60 seconds, he’ll immediately revert back to his human identity of Dr. Donald Blake.

Suddenly, Hulk reverts back to Bruce Banner. Covering his face and realizing that nobody has noticed the change, Bruce decides to run away before anyone does. After all, Bruce doesn’t hate the Avengers as a human being, so there’s nothing that prevents his escape. At the same time, Namor’s strength is also fading, since he has been out of the water for too long. Hank thinks he’s now stronger than Namor, and holds him while Thor offers to go find the missing Hulk in the meantime.

Namor gathers the strength he has left, and uses it to whirl around. He manages to kick a startled Hank in the face, hence freeing himself. Namor tries to escape, but gets instead hit by Thor’s hammer and falls back. Iron Man tries to capture him and talk some reason into his skull but, when Namor realizes that the Hulk has deserted him, he thinks he can’t trust any human of any form. Tony pushes Namor against a wall, but the Sub-Mariner’s powerful muscles make the sore cracks and break. Water floats through it and this gives Namor enough strength to shatter the wall and escape.

Wasp calls to Thor to stop the Sub-Mariner’s escape, but Thor refuses. His respect for Namor’s valor forces him to allow him to escape. Iron Man, meanwhile, realizes that Namor doesn’t fight by their standards, and it’s a bad mistake they may live to regret. Meanwhile, Namor dives back into the ocean, hoping that one day he and the Avengers will meet again, but next time under water, where he will be the strongest and able to kill them all!

Characters Involved: 

Ant-Man/Giant-Man, Iron Man, Thor, Wasp (all Avengers)

The Hulk/Bruce Banner
Namor, the Sub-Mariner

Human Torch II, Invisible Girl, Mr. Fantastic, the Thing (all Fantastic Four)

Angel, Beast, Cyclops, Iceman, Marvel Girl, Professor X (all X-Men)

Rick Jones and his Teen Brigade
Jane Foster

various officers, ship crew, thugs (all unnamed)

Story Notes: 

The Hulk unexpectedly quit the Avengers in Avengers (1st series) #2.

Iron Man and Angel teamed-up in Tales of Suspense #49.

Bruce changed into the Hulk rescuing Rick before the gamma rays had a chance to reach him, as seen in the Incredible Hulk (1st series) #1.

Namor lost his people and kingdom in Fantastic Four Annual #1.

Both the Ant-Man and Giant-Man are here the identities of Dr. Henry Pym.

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