A classic rivalry of brain vs. brawn begins as the Hulk first faces the menace of the Leader on this week's First Strike!
Our story opens with the Leader reflecting on his origins - as an ordinary employee working at a chemical plant, he was bombarded by gamma radiation (the same kind of radiation that gave the Hulk his powers) during a freak explosion. (Radiation was used in a LOT of Marvel origin stories.) While gamma rays turned the Hulk into a destructive giant rage monster, this yet-to-be-named employee gains a hunger for any and all knowledge, and spends his days learning anything and everything he can. However, the gamma rays also transform him, turning his skin green and enlarging his head to make room for an oversized brain. Now calling himself the Leader, he's out to take over the world because...um...hey, why not.
I'd say this is a pretty solid introduction to the Leader. It effectively demonstrates the kind of threat he poses, and he makes a good foil for the Hulk. Also, it's pretty impressive that in his first outing, the Leader creates a minion that can actually take the Hulk in a legitimate fight. (This also wouldn't be the last we saw of the Leader's Humanoid, although rather than creating just one, he constructs a whole army of them, and they've given the Hulk a hard time on multiple occasions.) The clash of brute strength vs. evil intellect is an old standard, but it's well-executed here, and would continue to be in the years to come.
For all its simplicity, this is an excellent debut for the perfect Hulk villain - an enemy possessing immense intellect to counter the Jade Giant's immense physical power, and one Hulk readers old and new will certainly enjoy.