In just the first thirty issues of his new solo title, not only would the incredible Hulk meet the likes of the Sandman, the Sub-Mariner, the Inhumans (some of them, anyway), the Mandarin, the Absorbing Man, and the Rhino in battle, but he would also tangle with some of the cream of Marvel's heroes, like Iron Man, the Avengers, and the Fantastic Four. In later issues, the comic's writers would wisely put more space between the Hulk and the more familiar faces of the Marvel universe, perhaps to avoid the perception of this character having a shallow pool of story ideas from which to draw. As it was, the Hulk was treading on thin ice as far as fresh material. In just a few more issues, he would be given a story where he was already battling his greatest foes. What was he going to do for an encore?
Yet as it turned out, we got that encore and more, with a string of interesting stories featuring compelling new characters and situations. So you might consider the Hulk's battle with Iron Man to be a turning point for the title, as its creative team regrouped and got its second wind.
I, for one, was looking forward to reading the Hulk's encounter with the FF, since their previous meeting had its thunder stolen by the intervention of the Avengers as well as a much-hyped knock-down drag-out between the Hulk and the Thing. The writer/art team would certainly be cooking on all cylinders in this new battle, with Roy Thomas scripting and Herb Trimpe inking his own pencils. If I'm not mistaken, this would be Thomas's first time writing the Fantastic Four for an entire issue, and he handles the team very well, having a good feel for their interaction with each other as well as their style in battle (though he's limited in what he can do in that respect by a twenty-page story).
Thomas's first priority, of course, is the Hulk, and it's through that lens that we'll have to view the FF. And that's a simple enough matter, with Reed discovering a procedure that will help Bruce Banner rid himself of the Hulk, and advising the media in order to hopefully attract Banner's attention.
As for the Hulk, it's odd how unsympathetically Thomas treats him right from page one. Throughout the issue, it almost seems that Thomas's constant references to the Hulk not being able to think clearly are meant to excuse the Hulk's rampages. Is the Hulk truly in a constant state of confusion and bewilderment? I've always thought of him more as single-minded--i.e., as long as he's left alone, he's content to wander with no clear purpose. But just look at how often Thomas harps on the subject:
I suppose Thomas could simply have been using this to focus on his impending transformation back to Banner. At least I hope that's it. Because if it's meant to excuse his reckless and unpredictable behavior, there's simply no excuse for these acts of destruction:
Clearly, the Hulk has no problem with coherent thought and drawing conclusions. Unfortunately, it makes him extremely dangerous, since he tends to draw the wrong conclusions and respond with a hair-trigger temper. So I'm not feeling particularly charitable or sympathetic toward this character as written by Thomas. And Banner has every right to be horrified:
Well, hopefully Reed can help the guy. Let's find out.