Marvel Feature #3

Title: “A Titan Walks Among Us”

Writer: Roy Thomas

Penciller: Ross Andru

Inker: Bill Everett

Editor: Stan Lee

The Castor and Pollux I space craft hits the Earth’s atmosphere and stick there for three hours. It is unknown why, but static blocks all communication with the craft. Then after three hours the capsule speaks again. The astronauts say that they will hit the target area, but ask that the carrier be there because they are having problems. The aircraft carrier moves into place, but instead of the regular officer the boat carries General Thunderbolt Ross and Jim Wilson. Jim asks what they are doing there. Ross says that the regular officer fell ill, and that something strange happened out there. Ross tells Jim that Astronaut Wagner was taking his second space walk when a white cloud surrounded him. Ross says that was the last thing they heard before the static kicked in. Ross says that all the other ships are scientists because they want to be sure that they aren’t looking at another Andromeda Strain.

The capsule descends and strangely heads for a whirlpool. The capsule is sucked under and grabbed up by a giant squid. Namor spots the capsule hitting the water and dives in after it. Namor strikes the giant squid and lifts the capsule out of the water. Namor lands on the aircraft carrier with the capsule. The reporters aboard the ship say that Namor saving the capsule is a great headline. Namor says, “Fools! Do you think I care about your paltry headlines?” Namor says that he saved the capsule because there were men aboard. Namor says that to do so that he had to harm a citizen of the deep and that he didn’t like it. For some reason the soldiers aboard the aircraft carrier take this as some type of personal attack and jump Namor. Namor starts smacking them around until Jim Wilson steps forward. Jim tells Namor to stop and that if he doesn’t that Jim is going to have the Hulk beat him up. Namor decides that he probably did overreact and lets the men go. The astronauts emerge from the capsule and says that Namor shouldn’t be so quick to apologize. They say that Namor shouldn’t have had to rescue them. They say that the proper safety measures should have been taken and that they were rushed out into space. They say that they have had it and throw down their helmets. They say that they quit and that they are selling out to the highest bidder. They invite Namor to join them, but Namor declines and says that he went fishing for giants, but came up with minnows. Namor dives off the carrier and goes. The reporters start snapping the astronauts’ picture.

To the amazement of every reporter not one of the pictures comes out. Pre-flight pictures are used as the newspaper runs the story that the astronauts have signed a television deal. In record time the show is put on the air. The Astro-Nuts gets on the air. One of the astronauts introduces himself as Captain Cal. Captain Cal introduces Xemnu from a magic planet. Xemnu is a giant furry bear-like being. Every adult is repulsed by the stupidity of the show, but the children seems transfixed to the television. Xemnu tells the children at home and on the set that he is going back to his planet in one month. He says that they have been so nice to him that he wishes he could take all the children back home with him.

Elsewhere Ross turns the television off as Jim is staring at it. Ross starts talking about the quality of entertainment when he was a kid. Jim tells Ross that he is going out. Jim jumps in a taxi He says that with Bruce Banner not being able to be reached he says that he has to turn to someone to talk to. Jim has the cabby drop him off in front of Dr. Strange’s house. Jim discovers that he doesn’t have any money with him, but then suddenly Dr. Strange is there and pays Jim’s fare. Jim tells Strange that Bruce Banner is the one that told him about his house. They walk inside and Strange’s television is on the Astro-Nuts program. Jim says that he is glad Strange has a television because it was this show that he came to talk to him about. Jim points to Xemnu and says that when he starts talking about taking the children with him back to his planet that Jim said he felt compelled to go with him.

At the television studio, Captain Cal talks with his Astro-Nut partner. He says that he hates this and doesn’t know why he let him talk him into this. Rich reminds him why because they own the concept outright and they will be rich in a year. Suddenly people start to run away when Jim Wilson and the Hulk enter the building. Calvin and Rich listen as Hulk says that he wants to come on their show to convince everyone that he isn’t as bad as everyone thinks. They strike a deal with Jim and Hulk. Afterwards Jim puts down Strange’s cape and he and the Hulk fly out the window.

The cape comes down blocks away and Strange drops the illusion that makes everyone see him as the Hulk. Strange flies off and reminds Jim to keep this secret. Jim says that nobody would believe him anyway.

Four weeks later the Astro-Nuts is a huge financial and ratings success. A manned launch is going up, and not only do the Astro-Nuts get clearance to film their show there, but they get temporary amnesty for the Hulk to appear on the show. Ross is forced to stand by as Jim stands with the “Hulk”. The Hulk seems to be sweating. Jim says that he knows that keeping that spell up must be straining to Strange. Strange says that it isn’t only that. He says that he feels as though there are other forces working against him. Jim says that he feels it too. They call for the Hulk for their prime time live show to begin.

Miles away, Bruce Banner has a terrible headache and staggers into a pharmacist’s to spend his last few dollars on aspirin. Bruce walks inside and sees on the pharmacist’s television that the Hulk is on the Astro-Nuts show. Bruce hulks out and punches the television. Hulk says that even when he doesn’t do anything someone makes themselves look like Hulk to make humans hate him. Hulk decides to go take care of the fake Hulk. He leaps through the roof of the pharmacy.

Suddenly at the launching site, Xemnu hauls off and smacks Captain Cal aside. Xemnu looks into the camera and tells the children that it is now time for them to come to him so he can take them back to his planet. Suddenly children all over the country, and more importantly in Florida, start to head towards the launch site. The Senator’s kid is at the taping and he starts to walk towards Xemnu. Jim Wilson tries to grab the kid, but Xemnu grabs him first. The guards at the gates manage to turn off the electricity on the fences before the hypnotized children start to climb them. Strange lets his illusion drops and attacks Xemnu. Xemnu says that he knew there was some trickery happening and was trying to reveal Strange. Xemnu says that now that he knows his opponent he can protect himself.

Before Xemnu got his shield up Strange managed to probe his mind. Strange knows that Xemnu was on Earth not long ago. Then he was hypnotizing people to build him a spaceship so that he could go home. A normal man defeated Xemnu by using a mirror to cause Xemnu to hypnotize himself. Xemnu passed out of the atmosphere as a mist. As that mist Xemnu eventually got back to his planet and found the population wiped out by some microscopic germ. Xemnu headed back towards Earth and inhabited the body of Rich Wagner.

Xemnu blasts Strange immobile and he and the children start to head towards the rocket. Suddenly the rocket falls into the sea. Namor leaps out of the water. He says that Strange has called him and he has come. Namor kicks and punches Xemnu, but Xemnu mentally blasts Namor down. Captain Cal says that he won’t let Xemnu get away with using him. He leaps onto Xemnu’s back, but Xemnu pulls him off and squeezes him until he is dead. Suddenly the Hulk arrives. Xemnu blasts Hulk, but though Hulk is hurt he just works through the pain. Xemnu says that Hulk is powerful, but he needs children to repopulate his planet. Hulk says that he doesn’t care about any planet, even this one, but that Xemnu hurt Hulk’s friends. Hulk punches Xemnu. Xemnu blasts Hulk again. Hulk says that it hurts but not as much as before. Xemnu continually blasts Hulk in his weakest point… his brain, but Hulk just keeps on coming. Hulk struggles on through the pain and keeps smashing Xemnu until he turns into a white cloud. Strange says that maybe Xemnu had a hard time defeating Hulk because Hulk’s brain isn’t large enough. Hulk asks why Strange is insulting him. Namor tells Hulk to watch out behind him. Hulk turns to see soldiers advancing on him. Hulk stomps his foot. Namor takes to the water and splashes the soldiers. Namor says that Hulk saved their children, but that they thank him by attacking him. Namor says it would serve them right if Hulk did attack. Hulk says that he will next time. Namor tells Hulk that they should leave together, and not bother saving the world even if Strange does summon them. Hulk and Namor leave. Jim guesses correctly that Strange will use a spell to make people forget this.

Dr. Strange’s review: 7.5 of 10

The story is a good one even if it does take a long time to get moving. Hulk, not Strange, is the major factor in defeating the team’s foe. Sadly this trend doesn’t really continue in the Defenders series. Xemnu is a cool Defenders villain. The art is good, but again somewhat sketchy under Everett’s inks.