Appearing in "Adventure the Fourth: The Endless Nightmare of Leonard Samson, Part I"
Other Characters: unnamed chauffeur
- Earth-617 Residents:
- Hulk (Only appearance; dies)
- General Ross (Only appearance)
- Betty Ross (Only appearance)
- Captain America (Steve Rogers) (Only appearance)
- Spider-Man (Peter Parker) (Only appearance)
- J. Jonah Jameson (Only appearance)
- Daredevil (Only appearance)
- Doctor Doom (Only appearance)
- Doctor Strange (Only appearance)
- Scarlet Witch (Only appearance)
- Fantastic Four (Only appearance)
- X-Men (Only appearance)
- Moon Knight (Only appearance)
- Energumen (First appearance)
- Eando the Robot - (Last appearance)
- unnamed motorist (corpse)
- unnamed valet
- New York
- New York City
- Doc Samson's office building and residence
- New York City
- Earth-617 (First appearance)
Synopsis for "Adventure the Fourth: The Endless Nightmare of Leonard Samson, Part I"
Outside the Samson building, Tina Punnett, Jack Holyoak, and Whistle Pig load a limousine Which will take them to the airport. From there, they will fly to Las Vegas, Nevada for the 2006 Consumer Electronics Show. Doc Samson, meanwhile, is holed up in his study, remembering another trip to Vegas, before he became gamma-irradiated and Hulk-strong. As he looks over an old photograph of that meeting of the American Psychiatric Association, he remembers his ambition, how clever but unwise he was, and thinks to himself how hard it is now to remember what life was like then.
Shifting scenes, we find a younger, frailer Leonard Samson as he fits the Hulk (Bruce Banner) with a peculiar headset attacked to a small, briefcase-mounted machine. Samson explains to Bruce that his condition is, at its psychological roots, a form of multiple personality disorder. The machine and two headsets will allow Banner and Samson to access a common "symbol space" (what Jung referred to a the collective unconscious of all mankind) as the two dream. Samson would then aid Banner in confronting his innermost fears, thereby undercutting the source of the Hulk's incredible rage, and going a long way toward mending the split between Banner's two personalities.
Unfortunately, when Banner is confronted by his subconscious fears -- a trio of "ghosts" representing his father's abuse, General "Thunderbolt" Ross' contempt, and Betty Ross' scorn -- the Hulk personality emerges and in his rage tears a hole through the fabric of the plane itself in an attempt to destroy them. Finding himself in the Nightmare Realm, the Hulk comes face to face with Nightmare himself, surrounded by beasts resembling demonic dogs, and sitting atop a pile of skulls. Nightmare recognizes the Hulk, and questions him as to how he managed to intrude upon his realm. Hulk does not recognize the hooded figure seated before him, but hates him nonetheless and begins tearing through his demon ranks. Cursing that the Hulk has caused him enough grief in the past, Nightmare asserts his dominance within the Realm by forcing the Hulk to choke himself to death with his own two hands. With the Hulk lying dead before him, Leonard Samson can only fall to his knees and tremble with shock. Nightmare approaches the young doctor, and combs through his recent memories to find that his machine has opened a back door to the material plane (Leonard Samson's home universe... Earth-617). Nightmare sends his demons to torment the world, then wakes Samson so that he can be aware of the horror. Back in the waking world, Banner is every bits as dead as his hulking dream persona.
As Samson looks on in horror at the ruins his world has become under the relentless, nightmarish assault, Nightmare explains his motives. Nightmare sits in his realm, feeding off the fears of dreaming humans which come to him from every universe and timeline. But nightmares are a thin gruel, and millions of mundane nightmares can only sate him for a few moments. With his creatures attacking every waking human in the world, fear floods back for him to feed on in a manner he likens to "drinking from a fire hose of primal horror." The world's heroes are most satisfying, because their vivid imaginations and unconquerable hearts make the feast a long-lasting one. It is only a manner of time, however, before the humans are all dead, their hearts having given out from the shear horror. That is why Nightmare intends to open a portal to a new universe, "a pesthole of super heroes" who have thwarted him numerous times before (Earth-616). He tells Samson to travel there, and merge minds with his counterpart, allowing Nightmare to open a new portal to that universe. Samson refuses, so Nightmare summons the reptilian demon Energumen to possess Samson's body, forcing him into obedience.
Back on Earth-616, Doc, Tina, Jack, and Whistle Pig enjoy the Consumer Electronics show. Surrounded by the latest in technology and fans who recognize her contributions, Tina is in her element. The others, however, seem less interested. Jack starts to complain, but Doc makes a point of reminding him that he wants them to cross-train in each others discipline. (Tina even went with Jack to a Necromancer Camp). As Tina enjoys herself, Jack sulks, and Whistle Pig tries to absorb it all, Doc has a strange feeling, like someone walking over his grave. Back at the Samson building, Leonard Samson 617 has arrived seeking Doc. Leonard immediately senses his absence, and when confronted by the helpful robot, Eando, transforms into a murderous, green-skinned hulk. After he destroys the robot, Energumen criticizes the Samson-Hulk for destroying their only source of information. The Samson-Hulk says he can sense his alternate thousands of miles away, and suggests that they just kill the first motorist they see for his car. Energumen sees promise in the Samson-Hulk.
Back at the show, the others finally tire of following Tina around, and go off to gamble. By this time the alternate Leonard Samson has already arrived at the hotel. Energumen demands Leonard take care of Doc's helpers first, lest they interfere with attempts to hook Doc up to the machine. Leonard is reluctant; he just wants the nightmare to be over, and he certainly doesn't want to kill again. When Energumen threatens to activate his murderous, hulking personality again, Leonard promises he will ensnare them quickly.
Posing as an employee at the Lectronix Arts booth, Leonard coaxes Tina into a modified virtual reality pod. She "materializes" in front of a dragon's cave equipped with a broadsword and a chain mail bikini. When the dragon's claw manages to scratch her, she realizes this isn't just a game. While she struggles, Leonard pushes the pod into a corner, leaving the booth's true employees bound in the shadows.
Elsewhere in the hotel, Leonard tampers with two slot machines just before Whistle Pig and Jack arrive. Posing as a casino worker, he tells the pair that the machines should be just about ready for a pay off. Sure enough, the two sit down in front of the slots, and are somehow transported into the machine itself. Having succeeded so far, Leonard Samson of Earth-617 trots off to see is his counterpart is as gullible as his teammates.
Appearing in "A Cold Winter Comin'"
- Three women of the Westchester Collectors' Society
- Doc Samson's New York Headquarters
- a Zuni village (Main story and flashback)
- the Westchester Collectors' Society (Main story and flashback)
Synopsis for "A Cold Winter Comin'"
In the New York headquarters of Doc Samson, Jack and Whistle Pig open a recently-delivered package from the Westchester Collectors' Society. Inside, they find a Kachina doll of the variety Whistle Pig saw when he visited the pueblo Zuni tribe (while seeking a way to return to human form). Jack is a bit suspicious when Whistle Pig claims not to have ordered the doll, ("'EBay'? Your modern words confuse Whistle Pig...") but laughs it off when Whistle Pig suggests that he might have an admirer. As the two depart, the doll's eyes glow with animosity, and quickly disappears from the shelf.
Over the course of the day, Whistle Pig suffers a series of peculiar accidents: someone replaced his wood varnish with paint thinner, ignited the stove he was leaning against, and left a running power saw in his bed. The Kachina is always lurking unseen in the background. Finally, that night, the doll crawls onto Whistle Pig, and attempts to drive his small dagger into the Totem's wooden form. Whistle Pig wakens (unharmed), but stops in his tracks when he recognizes the doll has the voice of his old rival: Cold Winter!
According to the Cold Winter, after Whistle Pig's spirit was driven into the Totem (and subsequently slew Cold Winter), the shaman's spirit was bound to the Earth realm by the magic within to totem. When he sought help from the medicine men of the Pueblo Zunis, Cold Winter finally found a new body in their spirit-catching Kachina dolls. His tiny form was no match for Whistle Pig's, however, and he was quickly left in the dust by the departing totem. In Kachina form, Cold Winter suffered lifetimes of degradation as he sought his rival, finally coming into the "possession" of the Westchester Collectors' Society. This was especially onerous, as they believed him to be a rare Beanie Baby, and their screening process was quite... thorough.
When Whistle Pig finally resurfaced, Cold Winter was able ship himself straight to his rival's door. Now, Cold Winter has nearly completed his spell: he has defaced the Totem's sacred paint, burned him with fire, cut him with steel, and smitten his brow with his dagger. By the Great Law of the Spirits, Cold Winter laid claim to Whistle Pig's body.
The spell was interrupted by Jack Holyoak, who attempted to contain Cold Winter. His spell instead accidentally incinerated the doll's body. With no body to occupy, Cold Winter's spirit seems to vanish. The Next day, Jack holyoak began clearing Whistle Pig's room of dolls, toys, and other assorted knickknacks, just to be safe. Whistle Pig suspected that this was unnecessary, as the chances of Cold Winter occupying another body were slim. (Little did Whistle Pig know that Cold Winter just that moment took control of a new body, a Wolverine-shaped alarm clock.) Jack didn't care, and had already sold the entire lot of items... to the Westchester Collectors' Society. Cold Winter, still too weak to move, began to scream weakly as Jack packed him up.
The Endless Nightmare of Leonard Samson, Part I'
- This is the first issue to state that there is a single Nightmare spanning all realities, suggesting that there is also only one Nightmare Realm for him to rule over. However, this is refutable given the various versions of Nightmare that exist in the multiverse.
- The reality invaded by nightmare is only said to be "next door" to Earth-616 in this issue. The next issue named the reality as Earth-617.
- Any references to this story taking place in the year 2006 should be considered a topical reference per the Sliding Timescale of Earth-616.
A Cold Winter Comin'
- This story takes place before the first story in this issue.
- A banner over the showroom floor displays the messages "2006 CONSUMER ELECTRONICS SHOW" and "WHAT OPENS IN VEGAS STAYS IN VEGAS!!!", a play on the current tourism slogan, "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas".
- One of the crowd at the Consumer Electronics Show recognizes Tina as the one who "disabled the Sony rootkit". This of course refers to the particularly malicious brand of Digital Right Management (DRM) included on Sony audio CDs at the time, which used rootkits to hide their existence and operations from users. The use of the rootkits landed Sony in the middle of some very hot water, a PR disaster, and several law suits.
- This issue is particularly heavy with product placement. The overview of the Consumer Electronics Show floor clearly displays the Canon and Nokia booths. Tina specifically refers to the Nokia booth in dialogue. A sign on Earth-617 displays a sign, "...[live] on HBO". Back at the show, Tina holds a camera clearly labeled with the Canon logo.
- At the show, Tina runs up to rest of the team, excited about a 100 Mega-pixel digital camera. "The guy loaned it out to me as a demo when I said I'd write it up for Boing-Boing!" Boing Boing is, of course, BoingBoing.net. As a realistic comparison, the highest-end Canon camera available at the time was really about 8 Mega-pixels.
- A display over the "Lectronix Arts" booth displays the times of various world cities: " New York 10:00 PM, Naples 4:00 PM, London 3:00 PM". This timing is impossible for the time zones involved. However, if the Naples and London times are changed to AM, or else the New York Time is changed to AM, then it becomes valid.
- The family of three (plus dog) seen on Earth-617 do not appear to be particularly notable. They do, however, have a refrigerator magnet shaped like the Punisher's skull chest-symbol.
- There are four portraits in the reception room of Doc Samson's headquarters. The first two are definitely Carl Gustav Jung and Sigmund Freud.
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