Classification: Terrestrial vehicle/weapon

Creator: United States Army

User/Possessors: Leader (Samuel Sterns)

First Appearance: Incredible Hulk II#123 (January, 1970) (see comments)

Powers/Abilities/Functions: Controlled by a single operator in its clear domed cockpit, the prototype Tripodal Observation Module (TOM) stood approximately 30 feet high. With its three legs, it could stride anywhere on land. It was armed with a powerful force beam apparatus mounted by the dome which allegedly gave it the firepower of an entire military division. The TOM could also dispense a form of nerve gas that was capable of giving pause to the Hulk.

The second version of the TOM was made of titanium steel and had the same force beam apparatus, along with the ability to channel a million volts of electricity over the Module's surface.

Both TOMs were apparently equipped with booming loudspeakers, which allowed the operator to speak to the outside world.

(Incredible Hulk II#123 (fb) - BTS) - At some point, the Tripodal Observation Module (TOM) was created by the U.S. Army as an incredibly powerful weapon; it was kept top secret and locked within a guarded building on Gamma Base.

(Incredible Hulk II#123) - General Ross took Major Talbot into the building where the TOM was stored. After presenting the device to Talbot, Ross told him that the TOM could just as easily be called the "Murder Module" because of the lethal weaponry it had.

   Needing to have the TOM taken up north for final tests, General Ross asked Bruce Banner--whose mind was then in control of his Hulk persona--to guard the Tripodal Observation Module during its transportation because many forces in the world would have done anything to get their hands on it, and the Hulk could prevent that from happening; Banner accepted the assignment.

   Covered with an extremely large tarp, the TOM was loaded aboard a mammoth trailer and secured, and Banner rode with the truck driver while they transported the Module. However, the Leader had followed the truck overhead in his jet; by focusing his thoughts into a huge "menta-disk" mounted on the underside of his aircraft, the Leader's mental prowess was transformed into magnetic power so irresistible that it ripped the metal Module from its trailer moorings. Banner heard the sound and felt the sudden wrenching sensation as the TOM was being stolen, so the Leader mentally commanded the driver to head off the road and over a cliff.

   As Banner transformed into the Hulk to save himself and the driver from the plummeting truck, the Leader landed and climbed aboard the Module -- his superior intellect allowed him to master the tripod's fantastically complex controls in moments. The Leader blasted the Hulk with the Module's force beam. Quickly recovering, the Hulk avoided another blast and leapt to the Module's control dome; just as his fingers began to crack the dome like an eggshell, the Leader released the TOM's nerve gas -- caught by surprise, with no chance to hold his breath, the Hulk fell back to the ground. The gas had the unexpected effect of causing the Hulk to revert to his more savage self, so he tackled the legs of the Module, which caused the TOM to topple over. As he pulled the Leader out of the wrecked cockpit, the enraged Hulk was determined to crush his foe; but the Leader escaped when the Hulk hesitated and transformed back to Banner, to keep himself from succumbing to his savage nature.

(Incredible Hulk II#224 (fb) - BTS) - At some point, the TOM was repaired/rebuilt and stored in an armory at Gamma Base.

(Incredible Hulk II#224) - When the Leader took over Gamma Base, Banner--having burned off the gamma radiation from his body--could not become the Hulk at that time, so they sent a Hulk robot (last used back in Incredible Hulk II#132) after the Leader. Banner was cybernetically linked to the robot with a "gamma control harness," and he put on a good enough show with it that the Leader fled in panic.

   However, the Leader located and activated the new Murder Module, then smashed out of the armory. Caught by surprise, the Banner-controlled robot was nearly trampled under one of the Module's legs. Banner sent the Hulk robot (literally) rocketing up to the Module's cockpit, where the robot began pounding on the dome (see comments). The Leader finally realized the deception, so he pressed a button and channeled a million volts of electrical energy rippling over the Module's surface and through the robot, shorting it out and causing it to plummet to the ground. The Leader then used the Module's force beam to atomize the Hulk robot's power source, which sent a devastating high energy feedback through the gamma control harness worn by Banner.

Comments: Created by Roy Thomas and Herb Trimpe (see comments).

This didn't seem to live up to the way Ross described it. The Leader intended to bring the entire human race to its knees with this thing, but it seems to me you could probably just drive a truck into it or something and it would fall down. Now if there were an army of these things, then I'd understand why there was so much hype about it. Perhaps Ross wasn't scared about the Module being captured, but rather the potential for building countless Modules being obtained by enemies of America. As for the Leader, it seems to me that not only could he build something more powerful than the Murder Module himself, but that he has in the past.

    The Leader became less vindictive as the years went on. At this point he wanted to kill Banner whether or not he was the Hulk for interfering with his plans in the past, but years later, when Bruce was in control of the Hulk again, he had a chance to kill him, but instead let the Hulk go because he didn't see him as a threat anymore (BIIIG mistake).

    This was called the Tripodal Observation Module, but what would it be "observing" that would necessitate enough firepower to level divisions?

    The Murder Module has not made an appearance in almost 34 years. Any day now a criminal mastermind who has been biding his time will unleash it upon the world. Any day now...
    --Whoops, it was in #224--as pointed out by Bob Almond--but still, that's 26 years...

As of this update, it's been 45 years since the TOM was last seen in issue #224 -- No appearance or mention of it was made in the following issue, and the Hulk robot only inflicted minor damage by cracking the dome, so unless the military decided to just dismantle it, I guess it could be easily repaired and used again.

And I would argue that Jack Kirby also deserves some credit for creating this thing -- Back in 1969, Kirby drew some posters which were to be offered by the short-lived Marvelmania fan club, including one of the Hulk being pursued by the Leader in a walking tripod machine; however, Herb Trimpe ended up redrawing the actual poster based on Kirby's design -- I assume that Thomas and Trimpe just came up with the first story based on that poster. -- Ron Fredricks

Profile by STUNNER. Expansion by Ron Fredricks.

The Tripodal Observation Module/TOM/"Murder Module" should not to be confused with:

images: (without ads)
Incredible Hulk II#123, p9, pan5 (view of TOM's cockpit; General Ross and Major Talbot (background))
Incredible Hulk II#123, p10, pan1 (Major Talbot and General Ross looking at TOM (front view))
Incredible Hulk II#123, p18, pan1 (Leader fires TOM's force beam at Hulk)
Incredible Hulk II#224, p15, pan1 (TOM steps on Hulk robot)
Jack Kirby's original poster design
Herb Trimpe's redrawn poster for Marvelmania

Incredible Hulk II#123 (January, 1970) - Roy Thomas (writer), Herb Trimpe (pencils/inks), Michele Robinson (colors), Artie Simek (letters), Stan Lee (editor)
Incredible Hulk II#224 (June, 1978) - Roger Stern (writer), Sal Buscema (pencils), Joe Rubinstein (inks), Janice Cohen (colors), John Costanza (letters), Archie Goodwin (editor)

First Posted: 12/22/2003
Last updated: 04/20/2023

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

Non-Marvel Copyright info
All other characters mentioned or pictured are ™ and © 1941-2099 Marvel Characters, Inc. All Rights Reserved. If you like this stuff, you should check out the real thing!
Please visit The Marvel Official Site at:

Special Thanks to for hosting the Appendix, Master List, etc.!

Back to Items