Reading comics as a kid during the 1970s era of the Incredible Hulk series, Doc Samson was always a character I loved to hate. Introduced in 1971 at the dawn of an era that would produce the likes of the Punisher and Wolverine, Doc Samson always came off as the bad guy even in a series that already had the Hulk as an antihero. I actually came into the series a couple of years after Incredible Hulk #141, but the story of the character's debut confirms why he's been a perennial Marvel character since that time: he's Bruce Banner without the tragedy but a very different set of flaws. There's a copy of the first appearance of Doc Samson in Incredible Hulk #141 (Marvel, 1971) CGC NM/MT 9.8 Off-white to white pages up for auction in this week's 2021 August 1-2 Sunday & Monday Comic Books Select Auction #122131 from Heritage Auctions.
After saving Betty Ross's life via a process that siphons off some of the Hulk's gamma radiation-powered energy (and leaves Bruce Banner in his human state "permanently"), Doc Samson decides to use that energy on himself. In doing so, he gains a portion of the Hulk's incredible strength but also retains his own intellect. Samson then admits that he's "always nursed a desire to be a superhero", and decides to become one. Along the way, he and Betty develop a romantic attachment even though Betty and Bruce are still in love. Thinking that Betty now prefers Doc Samson instead of him because he no longer has the power of the Hulk, Banner is able to reverse Samson's process and become the Hulk once again.
It's all very messily human. Fan responses to Incredible Hulk #141 in 1971 ranged from "Aren't Betty and Bruce still officially engaged from Hulk #124?" to "Leonard Samson is either neurotic or psychotic to risk his life to satisfy his glory-hungry ego."
There are 23 entries for Incredible Hulk #141 in CGC 9.8 on the CGC Census, and none higher. An early and noteworthy example of the kind of character that would thrive in 1970s Marvel and beyond, there's a copy of the first appearance of Doc Samson in Incredible Hulk #141 (Marvel, 1971) CGC NM/MT 9.8 Off-white to white pages up for auction in this week's 2021 August 1-2 Sunday & Monday Comic Books Select Auction #122131 from Heritage Auctions.
The Incredible Hulk #141 (Marvel, 1971) CGC NM/MT 9.8 Off-white to white pages. Origin and first appearance of Doc Samson. Herb Trimpe cover and art. John Severin art. Overstreet 2021 NM- 9.2 value = $265. CGC census 7/21: 23 in 9.8, none higher.