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Hulk Visionaries Peter David Vol 1 5


Quote1 Please... Don't let this happen... Please ... Give me a shred of happiness... Quote2
-- Bruce Banner

Appearing in "Countdown Abomination"

This story is a reprint of the comic
Incredible Hulk #364.

Featured Characters:

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Other Characters:


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Synopsis for "Countdown Abomination"

This story is a reprint of the comic
Incredible Hulk #364.

It is dawn, and at the home rented by Bruce Banner, the Hulk begins to change back to his human form. The pain it causes makes the Hulk wish he could find a way to get rid of Banner so he would not have this sort of transformations. When Banner reasserts his control he finds himself on the floor. He curses the Hulk for not being more careful where he lets the transformation happen as a serious fall could cause seriously injure Bruce or worse. Banner goes outside to get the morning paper and narrowly avoids being struck by it as the paper boy's aim is off. He checks the newspaper like he has since Bruce returned in Las Vegas, for some sign of where his wife Betty or his friend Rick Jones might have gone after the gamma bomb blast in Middletown. What he does find is a newspaper article about how Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four is giving an address in Pheonix that evening.

Meanwhile, at the home of Philip Sterns the only person at the Yucca Flats nuclear research facility who knows Bruce Banner's true identity is visited by a strangely garbed lunatic calling himself the Madman. The Madman claims that Bruce Banner has ruined his life and demands that Sterns inject him with a poison that will kill him instantly. When Sterns asks if the poison will affect the Hulk, the Madman assures him that it will. Back at Banner's home, Bruce wakes up to discover that he has dozed off and is running late for work. As he rushes into work he notices a bunch of trucks number of trucks specially prepared for hauling nuclear material. When he arrives, Philip tells Bruce that he was late and should have called in sick. Watching men carrying in toxic waste into the facility, Bruce is interested in knowing what they are up to. Philip tells him that they are attempting to find a way to removing the toxicity of the material to render it safe. Bruce finds this interesting, they both thing that they could possibly use this to cure Bruce of turning into the Hulk. Philip claps Bruce on the back, secretly injecting him with the poison given to him by the Madman.

Outside, something comes rocketing down from the sky catching the attention of the facility's guards. Their bullets do nothing to stop the object and when it impacts into the facility. Suddenly, the Abomination comes falling in through the roof. Having come for the toxic waste on behalf of his employer, the Abomination easily tosses the guards aside. Seeing Bruce Banner among the staff, the Abomination instantly recognizes his old foe. As Banner tries to flee he suddenly feels his heart getting weak. When the Abomination catches up, Bruce believes he is having a heart attack and tells his foe this. The Abomination, not wanting to be robbed of finally destroying the Hulk, tosses Bruce into a gamma ray device and turns it on. As he fends off more guards, the Abomination waits for Banner to transform into the Hulk. This apparently saves Bruce's life as the Hulk smashes free of the device. The Abomination is shocked to see a gray Hulk instead of a green one, and this allows his foe to get the first blow.

They trade blows taking them across the facility, and the Abomination gets the upper hand. The Hulk begins to weaken and almost gets pushed into the path of a powerful laser. However, the Hulk manages to get enough leverage to push away his foe. Feeling his heart pounding, the Hulk realizes that somehow he has been poisoned. Before he can leave to try and find a means of curing himself, the Hulk is attacked by the Abomination again. The Hulk finally gets fed up with his foe and lures him into the room where the toxic waste is being stored. There, the Hulk smashes one of the bottles over the Abomination's head. The toxic material instantly begins eating through the Abominations strong skin, causing him so much pain he collapses on the floor. The Hulk doesn't have long to celebrate his victory either, as he is struck by another heart attack and keels over himself.

Appearing in "Countdown Fantastic 4"

This story is a reprint of the comic
Incredible Hulk #365.

Featured Characters:

  • Hulk (Main story and flashback)

Supporting Characters:

Antagonists:

Other Characters:

Locations:

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Synopsis for "Countdown Fantastic 4"

This story is a reprint of the comic
Incredible Hulk #365.

Following his battle with the Abomination, the Hulk has collapsed due to the fact that he had been poisoned. Now the people running the Yucca Flats nuclear research facility try to contain him. As he is being carried away by a forklift, the Hulk wakes up and leaps away, needing to find someplace to think about his next move. No sooner has the Hulk left has Doc Samson arrived at the scene to investigate.

At that moment at an annual science convention in Pheonix, Mister Fantastic of the Fantastic Four is giving an address to the audience. In the audience are Ben Grimm and his girlfriend Ms. Marvel. As Grimm complains about having to sit through yet another one of Reed's boring speeches, the Hulk suddenly comes crashing through the roof into the middle of the convention. Ms. Marvel tells Ben to stay back as she has been waiting for an opportunity to take on the Hulk. The Hulk mistakes Ms. Marvel for the Thing, who has since been reverted back to human form since his last encounter. Ms. Marvel responds by landing a punch that sends the Hulk smashing out of the building and into the middle of the street. The force of the battle is so great that it is heard by the Invisible Woman who is shopping not far away. Meanwhile, Ms. Marvel corrects the Hulk on his case of mistaken identity. The gamma-spawned brute quips that at least she didn't call herself something stupid like "She-Thing". As the battle rages on, Ben Grimm watches and sees how his girlfriend is defending his honor and feels depressed as he is too weak to do it himself.

As the battle continues, Ms. Marvel manages to get the upper hand, but the Hulk eventually gets fed up of listening to her talk and jams two of his fingers in her mouth. By this point, Ben Grimm has grown tired of standing on the sidelines and jumps on the Hulk's back. This shocks the Hulk enough to drop Ms. Marvel. The Hulk finally recognizes Ben Grimm and asks how he got turned into something so ugly. During their exchange, Ms. Marvel recovers and not seeing her boyfriend on the Hulk's back, picks them both up and tosses them. They are stopped from slamming into the wall thanks to the fast action of Mister Fantastic who uses his pliant body to cushion their fall. Meanwhile, back at the Yucca Flast facility, Doc Samson finds it hard to believe that the Hulk could still be alive after all this time. When he tries to investigate Philip Sterns denies knowing Bruce Banner, or that they were working together. This angers Doc Samson who can tell that Sterns is lying, but there is nothing he can do to make the man talk. With no further need to discuss things, Philip tells Samson that he needs to get back to work.

Back in Pheonix, the Hulk remarks how stupid Mister Fantastic was by knocking himself out trying to save him. This allows Ms. Marvel to once again regain her composure and renew her attack. Fed up with the woman he considers a pale imitation of the real Thing, the Hulk lays into her. This time when the Hulk knocks Ms. Marvel into a fire hydrant she suddenly turns invisible, alerting the Hulk to the presence of the Invisible Woman. Seeing the outline of Sue Richards in the water the Hulk warns her against attack him. Suddenly, the Hulk is struck by another heart attack from the poison coursing through his veins. Ms. Marvel finally knocks him out, but Mister Fantastic orders his team to stand down. Observing that there is something wrong with the Hulk, Reed tells the others that they must do what they can to help him, because it is the right thing to do.

When the Hulk wakes up he finds himself in a hospital. After being made to apologize for his rampage, the Hulk is told that something has been causing him a series of heart attacks. The doctors have tried to get a blood sample but none of their needles can pierce the Hulk's dense skin. In order to help discover what is wrong with him, the Hulk punches himself in the face to cause a nose bleed and tells Reed and the doctors that he can keep doing it until they get all the blood they need. Later, the Hulk goes to a bar where Ben Grimm is stewing over their plans to save the Hulk. The Hulk orders a milk and sits down next to the man who used to be the Thing and the two begin talking. The Hulk makes Ben realizes that the only one who held a grudge between the two of them over the years was the Grimm himself. The Hulk then makes Ben remember their first encounter, pointing out how everyone assumed that the Hulk was responsible for wrecking devices around the base when it was a spy named the Wrecker. This makes Ben Grimm point out that the Hulk attacked him because the gamma-spawned brute was envious of everything he had as the Thing, despite the fact that he was a monster. The Hulk counters by saying that the difference between him and Ben when he was the Thing was this: That the Hulk never wasted his time wishing he wasn't a monster and the Thing was envious of his confidence and strength. Before he leaves the bar, the Hulk tells Ben that all the times he let the Thing win in a fight, the Hulk was going easy on him.

The Hulk then returns to the hospital and learns that Mister Fantastic and the doctors have finished their test. Reed explains that the poison in his system is like a modified autoimmune virus that is preventing the Hulk's immune system from fighting it. Richards goes on to explain that while the poison was meant to kill Bruce Banner almost immediately, it will slowly kill the Hulk as well unless a cure is found.

Appearing in "Countdown The Leader"

This story is a reprint of the comic
Incredible Hulk #366.

Featured Characters:

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Other Characters:

Locations:

Items:


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Synopsis for "Countdown The Leader"

This story is a reprint of the comic
Incredible Hulk #366.

At the Yucca Flats nuclear research facility, Doc Samson asks the military commander on the scene when they are going to wrap up their investigation of the Hulk's activity there. However, the commanding officer isn't finished yet. Suddenly, a transport truck comes crashing down from the sky. Finding no soldiers inside, they suspect that the Hulk might have been responsible for tossing it. Soon Doc Samson is part of a convoy going out to search for the Hulk in the desert. They are unaware that the Hulk was actually hiding under the piled up junk in the back of the truck. He makes short work of the soldiers still on the scene. He then grabs one of them and forces him to reveal that the Abomination is being taken to a nearby airfield to be shipped to Project PEGASUS. The Hulk grabs the soldier as insurance and leaps off in the direction of the convoy. The Hulk's departure is observed from inside the facility by the Madman, the person responsible for poisoning the Hulk. When he is spotted by one of the soldiers guarding the facility, the Madman introduces himself before he kills the soldier. The Madman is also unaware that he too is being observed, by the Leader, who is concerned for Philip Sterns the Madman's unwilling partner. The Leader is ready to begin the next phase of his plan.

Not far away, the convoy carrying the Abomination is still moving along. It is stopped by the arrival of the Hulk. They try to stop the gamma-spawned brute with a tank, but even in his weakened state the Hulk still manages to overturn it. The Hulk then approaches Abomination and takes a moment to admire the damage he did to his foe with toxic waste during their earlier battle. He then demands that the Abomination tell him who was responsible for poisoning him. The Abomination refuses to talk even when the Hulk threatens violence. However, before he can get some answers the Hulk is surrounded by soldiers. Before he can attack, the Hulk is suddenly teleported away to the Leader's base. The Hulk tries to attack his old foe immediately, the Leader uses his telekinetic powers to knock the brute back. Realizing that this has to be done the hard way, the Leader orders his minions the Riot Squad to deal with the Hulk.

The is suddenly attacked by Rock and Redeemer, and although his weakened state has him vulnerable to their attacks, the Hulk was able to knock them back. He then tries to put some distance between himself and his foes and collapses two buildings on them. The Hulk thinks about how the poison in his body will eventually kill him especially if it becomes daytime and he transforms back into Bruce Banner. Deciding to keep heading west to keep in the night time and buy himself some time, the Hulk goes to leap out of the Leader's city, but finds himself contained in an energy sphere. This sphere is cast by one of the survivors of Middletown, a young woman now calling herself Jailbait. When the Hulk tries to break free, Jailbait's boyfriend Hotshot tries to contain him by shooting bolts of gamma rays. These bolts hurt the Hulk and he responds by slamming his fists on the ground sending all of his attackers falling to the ground. He then starts battling Rock once again but the fight is interrupted by yet another gamma-mutate, a strong woman calling herself Ogress.

Seeing that the Hulk has been sufficiently weakened by the battle, the Leader calls an end to it. He then offers the Hulk a chance to talk about his life or death situation but tells the Hulk that he can leave if he wants. When the Hulk tries to leap out of the city he strikes the phony sky and realizes that the town is domed over. He then decides to listen to what the Leader has to say. His old foe tells the Hulk that the man responsible for poisoning him is a being calling himself Madman, someone the Leader also wishes to see dead because he is frightened by him. The Leader explains that after learning that Madman had targeted Bruce Banner, he hired the Abomination to force a transformation into the Hulk in order to save his life. Taking the Hulk into his observation room, the Leader offers to provide the location of Betty Banner if the Hulk agrees to stop the Madman.

Appearing in "Countdown Madman"

This story is a reprint of the comic
Incredible Hulk #367.

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Antagonists:

Other Characters:


Locations:

Items:


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Synopsis for "Countdown Madman"

This story is a reprint of the comic
Incredible Hulk #367.

With little over an hour before the poison in his system kills him, the Hulk has wasted away while contemplating the Leader's offer to reveal the location of his wife Betty Banner in exchange for destroying the Madman. When it appears that the Hulk has died, the Leader, Jailbait and Hotshot leave the room. However, the Hulk who has been faking it to bide time as he doesn't fully trust the Leader. Utilizing the mind of Bruce Banner, the Hulk accesses the Leader's computer database. He then tries to look up the information about Betty himself. Trying to figure out the Leader's password, he tries to remember his foe's real name and realizes it's Sterns. It's just then that the Leader, Hotshot and Jailbait return to find that the hulk was playing possum. The Hulk has made the connection between the Leader and Philip Sterns at the Yucca Flats nuclear plant and demands answers, threatening to snap the Leader's neck. When it becomes clear that the Hulk has nothing to lose, the Leader relents and tells him what he knows. The Leader explains that Philip Sterns was forced into poisoning Bruce Banner by the Madman, a lunatic shapeshifter who exposed himself to massive amounts of gamma radiation. The Leader also reveals that Philip is actually his brother. He also explains that his brother went to the same school as Bruce and was jealous of Bruce's later success in the field of gamma radiation. Wanting to save his brother from the Madman, the Leader reveals that Betty Banner is in Connecticut. This convinces the Hulk that the Leader was on the level and he agrees to help.

The Hulks is then teleported to the apartment of Philip Sterns. Forcing himself inside he finds no sign of the man who poisoned him and begins trashing the apartment. His rampage reveals a secret passageway that goes below the apartment building. Going down the stairs, the Hulk finds a massive underground facility. There he is confronted by the Madman who tells the Hulk his time is about up. Madman then changes his form into a massive muscular creature, ripping away his costume and revealing his red skin and misshapen one-eyed head. As the final minutes count down, the Madman pounds of the Hulk as his body continues to waste away. Suddenly, Madman changes into Philip Sterns, who explains that trying to surpass Banner's fame he exposed himself a great deal of gamma radiation causing his split personality and causing his transformation into Madman. As Sterns tries to reveal the location of the antidote, Madman fights for dominance. In order to force the matter, the Hulk pricks him with the same poison that he was.

When Madman grabs for the antidote, he and the Hulk and struggle for the cure. When the Hulk pulls it free he tries to inject himself with it, but finds that even in his weakened state his skin is still too strong to pierce. The Hulk takes the ultimate risk and forces a transformation back into Bruce Banner. With seconds left, Banner injects himself with the antidote curing himself. Madman then begs the Banner to give him the rest, trying to play on Banner's humanity. Instead, Bruce puts the antidote just out of Madman's reach and leaves the lunatic to his fate.

Appearing in "Natural Selection"

This story is a reprint of the comic
Incredible Hulk #368.

Featured Characters:

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Antagonists:

Other Characters:

Races and Species:


Locations:

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Synopsis for "Natural Selection"

This story is a reprint of the comic
Incredible Hulk #368.

The military and Doc Samson have tracked down the home that Bruce Banner has been renting in Las Vegas for a time. When they hear someone at the door the soldiers come out with guns drawn, frightening the newspaper boy half to death. Samson reminds them that it is daytime and that their target will be in his human form, as such not a threat. As regroup themselves, they are unaware that Banner is watching them under the cover of bushes. Bruce considers surrendering himself to them when suddenly one of the soldiers hears something and opens fire on another bush, but it was only a squirrel. This convinces Banner that surrendering himself might not be such a great idea. Meanwhile, a train rumbles east carrying a sinister figure. Elsewhere, within a secret facility hidden in a mountain, a man named Prometheus is told that he has a target to find. Soon he takes off in a high-speed vehicle.

Back in Yucca Flats, Banner is going through a clothing bin when he is caught by a soldier. Banner manages to get the drop on him and knows the soldier out. He then takes his uniform and his gun and blends in with the other soldiers. They soon go to the nearby train yards to look for Banner. As they drive, Banner thinks about how great it felt knocking out the soldier, finally pushing back against someone who has been pursuing him. When they search a passing train, Bruce uses this opportunity to sneak into one of the cars and manages to slip away. However, he is not alone in the car, someone calls out to him from the darkness of the railcar. Bruce trains his gun in the direction of the voice and asks who this person is. The man introduces himself as Edward. When Bruce gives his name, the man instantly recognizes him as Bruce Banner, even in the darkness.

Edward talks about how he has followed Banner's career and is fascinated by the idea that he is an atomic Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde. Banner thinks that he is cracking up that this man, who so idolizes his alter-ego, must be the Hulk himself. The fact that the man in the car grabs Bruce's rifle and snaps it in half. The man then begins talking about the nuances of the novel Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde, about his envy of the Mr. Hyde character. When Bruce tries to make a break for it, the man in the shadows throws a knife at him, impaling it into his calf and sending the troubled scientist sprawling on the floor. Talking about the thrill of savage man and survival of the fittest. He concludes his speech as he throws Banner against the wall, likening Bruce as Dr. Jekyl, who killed his alter ego, much like he has tried to do with the Hulk. He then decides to to kill Banner, but Bruce is not defenseless. He pulls a gun stashed in his boot and tries to shoot his opponent, but this man is far too fast. He smashes the gun and Bruce's hand and then finally reveals himself, the super-strong criminal known as Mr. Hyde.

However, by this point, the sun has begun to set and Bruce transforms into the Hulk once again. He fights back against Mr. Hyde, but he is not as his full strength as it is not full dark yet. When Mr. Hyde smashes open the top of the rail car, the remaining sunlight burns the Hulk's skin. In order to avoid his foe, the Hulk smashes through the floor and latches to the bottom of the railcar. The Hulk smashes up through the cars and the two begin fighting it out. Because the sun is still setting Mr. Hyde is able to hold his own against the Hulk. However, when it appears that the battle is an even tie, the villain tries to derail some of the end cars while they are passing over a train bridge. This fails because the sun finally goes down, giving the Hulk his full strength. The gamma-spawned man-monster tosses Mr. Hyde from the train, and then uses all his strength to pull the derailed cars back from off the edge of the bridge.

But the bridge collapses sending the Hulk and Hyde crashing into the waters below. The Hulk survives and when he recovers from the fall he spots Mr. Hyde's cape hanging from a tree branch. Finding the cape nice, the Hulk plucks it from the branch and drapes it over his shoulder and walks away.

Appearing in "Silent Screams"

This story is a reprint of the comic
Incredible Hulk #369.

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Antagonists:

Other Characters:

Races and Species:


Locations:

Items:


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Synopsis for "Silent Screams"

This story is a reprint of the comic
Incredible Hulk #369.

Bruce Banner wakes up in the ruins of a home with a gun pointed in his face. The man with the gun is Charles Lassiter who has returned home with his wife Margaret and son Jack after they evacuated the area during a hurricane. Bruce explains to them that he was tired and thought the house was abandoned so he came in to rest. Margaret talks Charles down, pointing out that the poor man likely sought shelter after the hurricane hit. When Bruce offers to move along, Charles changes his tone and offers Banner some food and clothing. Bruce discovers that Charles and Margaret's son Jack reminds him of himself at that age and hopes that Charles isn't abusive toward the boy as his own father was abusive toward him.

High above the sky, a plane passes over this hurricane-ravaged section of South Carolina. On board are the Crimson Commando, the Blob and Pyro of the government-sanctioned group known as the Freedom Force. The Commando thinks about how he didn't think he would be on yet another mission with this group. He recollects back on how their leader, Mystique, scolded them for their solo operations, telling them that if they refuse to work for Freedom Force they will all go back to jail. She then assigned them on a mission to find the Hulk who had been recently spotted in South Carolina. All the members of the team are sent except Avalanche, who is still recovering from recent injuries.

Back at the Lassiter home, Bruce tries to talk to their son Jack, but the boy is incredibly shy and the boy runs off. After telling Margaret what happened, she tells him the boy is likely still scared after the hurricane. Banner then goes down into the basement and helps Charles reconnect the electricity to the house. While in Las Vegas, the man known as Prometheus calls into his masters in the Pantheon. He has tracked the Hulk to Yucca Flats, and continues his hunt for the gamma-spawned monster. In New York City, an elderly woman named Violet Michaelson has called the authorities but refuses to speak with anyone by someone representing the FBI. Overhearing this demands is Mystique, who is investigating a possible Hulk sighting. She uses her shapeshifting abilities to assume the form of an FBI agent. The elderly woman admits Mystique who can't help but notice that the elderly woman reminds her of her recently deceased friend, Irene Adler -- the mutant precognitive known as Destiny. The old woman tells Mystique that she saw a massive hulking creature that loomed over the city, but then it hit itself in her closet. Mystique opens the closet revealing that there is nothing inside but the old woman's possessions. Violet insists that the monster was real, but Mystique and the officers leave the scene. No sooner are they gone do massive bestial hands come out of the closet door and grab Violet by the head and pulls her into the closet.

As the sun begins to set in South Carolina, Bruce Banner says goodbye to the Lassiter family. As he walks away he is confronted by Pyro, who tries to stop him. Banner punches the mutant and tries to run off only to be confronted by the Crimson Commando. The Commando then tosses Banner into the Blob, which sends him slamming into some of the hurricane rubble. It's at this point that the sun sets triggering Banner's transformation into the Hulk. The Hulk doesn't recognize the Blob but gets a quick refresher on his abilities when he tries to punch the obsess mutant and he doesn't move. The Blob then dares the Hulk to hit him as hard as he can. The Hulk obliges by leaping high into the air to get away. Pyro forces the Hulk to land with his flame throwers and then creates a flame creature to fight the Hulk. While the Hulk struggles with the fire creature, the Crimson Commando tries to attack the gamma-spawned brute, but is easily swatted aside. The Hulk then goes after Pryo, but before he can harm him the Blob comes up from behind. The Hulk breaks free from the Blob's hold and then begins pulling his stomach fat, causing the villain to release his hold on the ground and snap toward the Hulk who then lands a powerful blow on him. The Hulk then begins knocking the Blob around like a bouncing ball, flattening Pyro.

The Hulk accidentally knocks the Blob into the Lassiter home, causing the home to collapses with Jack still inside. Fearing for the boy, the Hulk goes digging through the rubble for him and is assisted by the Crimson Commando. While the boy is pulled free, the Hulk brings an ambulance. With the boy loaded up inside, the Hulk knocks out the Crimson Commando and leaps away with the ambulance.

Appearing in "Strange Matters"

This story is a reprint of the comic
Incredible Hulk #370.

Featured Characters:

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Antagonists:

Other Characters:

Locations:

Items:

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Synopsis for "Strange Matters"

This story is a reprint of the comic
Incredible Hulk #370.

On his way to Connetecuit to be reunited with his wife, the Hulk stops in New York City as it is almost dawn, which will trigger a reversion back into Bruce Banner. He spots a strange energy emanating from an apartment and decides to investigate. From the street below he is observed by the Sub-Mariner who was also drawn to this place and decides that this is fate. Inside the building, the Hulk witnesses Doctor Strange's astral form battling a pair of black demonic hands emerging from a closet. When the Hulk calls out to Strange it distracts the magician briefly, allowing the creature to grab his spirit form and pull it into the closet. The Hulk leaps in after his ally and finds himself in a strange dimension of darkness. He recovers Doctor Strange and that's when the Hulk realizes that everything in this realm seems heavier. With the creature reaching out after them, the Hulk tosses the Doctor's spirit form back out through the doorway and tries to make his own way out as well. The creature grabs him and tries to pull the Hulk back in but he is helped back out by the Sub-Mariner. Once out, the Hulk slams the door shut.

The Sub-Mariner remarks that this whole situation reminds him of their early days of the Defenders. The Hulk tries to see if Doctor Strange is okay, and convince Namor -- who can't see Strange's astral form -- that the Doctor is there. Suddenly, Strange's spirit form sinks into the floor and disappears. The Hulk things are no longer making sense, especially since he heard news that the Sub-Mariner was dead. Namor points out that both Doctor Strange and the Hulk have been reported as dead and that they are very proficient at tricking the world into thinking so. As the Hulk raids the fridge in the apartment, the sun begins to rise causing him to revert back into Bruce Banner. After Namor compares notes with Banner on what just happened, they both agree to go and see Doctor Strange. Meanwhile, at a hospital in South Carolina, Doc Samson interviews the Lassiter family following their encounter with the Hulk. Samson takes interest in young Jack's new toy, a strange looking red car. When he asks about it, the Lassiter's tell him that another "government guy" came to question them earlier. This strikes Doc Samson as very strange indeed.

Back in New York, Namor and Banner arrive at Doctor Strange's Sanctum Sanctorum where they are invited in by Wong and Imei, his betrothed. When Namor sees Rintrah, the Sub-Mariner thinks him a foe and is about to attack when Wong stops him and explains that Rintrah is Doctor Strange's new disciple. By this time, Doctor Strange's spirit returns to his body and he greets his guests. While they are comparing notes, Doctor Strange notices a strange scar running down the base of Banner's neck, something Banner wasn't aware of either. Back in South Carolina, Doc Samson spots the strange red car that has been secretly tracking the Hulk. When he tries to stop the driver, he is run down and left for dead. While at Strange's Sanctum, Bruce tries to get some rest but finds he cannot sleep. Looking at the scar, he finds that it traces all the way down his back and it's starting to itch.

Getting dressed he meets with his two former allies to discuss the creature they fought and the dimension it comes from. Bruce's scientific knowledge suggests to him that this the dimension is one of strange matter, a denser form of matter that barely exists in their universe. He goes through a number of theories about how strange matter could be a useful form of energy, or a dominating force. Doctor Strange then suggests that they work together to solve this mystery. Bruce then explains that the Hulk only comes out at night but he could convince him to work with them. It's then that the Sub-Mariner recalls how they were told if the original Defenders ever reunited the world would come to an end. Strange tells them that he has since learned that this was nothing more than a cosmic hoax. When Namor asks why he didn't tell them sooner, Strange explains that he needed the peace and quiet. Strange then uses the Eye of Agamotto to allow Banner to travel into his mind and converse with the Hulk.

Banner impresses the importance of trying to uncover the mystery of this strange matter universe. The Hulk is not happy about this, reminding Banner that they are trying to find his wife. When Banner says this is more important, the Hulk figures that Banner is afraid of finding his wife out of fear she won't love him anymore. The two argue until the Hulk notices a massive metal door that is barred off that he has never seen before. Bruce asks Hulk if he is interested in opening it up and seeing what is on the other side, but the Hulk is not the slightest bit curious, as he figures that this is a physical representation of a mental block and should probably stay closed. Suddenly, the demonic entity they are fighting suddenly emerges out from the scar on Bruce's back. The creature grabs the Hulk, while also enveloping Banner in the waking world. Suddenly, Bruce turns into the Hulk and merges with the creature. This new black Hulk vows that it will use this vessel to conquer the universe and make it his own.

Appearing in "Strange But True"

This story is a reprint of the comic
Incredible Hulk #371.

Featured Characters:

Supporting Characters:

Antagonists:

Other Characters:

Locations:

Items:

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Synopsis for "Strange But True"

This story is a reprint of the comic
Incredible Hulk #371.

The Hulk has been possessed by Shanzar, the Sorcerer Supreme of the Strange Matter Dimension, in his bid to conquer the Earth and its universe. This Dark Hulk smashes out of Doctor Strange's Sanctum Sanctorium and leaps away. With people outside threatened by falling debris, Doctor Strange is forced to use his magic to save the people and let the Dark Hulk escape. Assessing the situation, Doctor Strange tells Namor that he must try to cast a binding spell to bridge the gap between the two universes while Namor goes out and tries to contain the Hulk. Elsewhere, Shanzar discovers that the mind of the Hulk is occupied by more than one mind. Going into the astral plane, he confronts Bruce Banner. Shanzar easily overpowers Banner and explains his plans to take over this universe. His conflict with Banner distracts Shanzar enough that the Sub-Mariner manages to find him and attack.

Meanwhile, in the state of Deleware, a police officer waits at a speed trap on the side of the road. He is bored and wonders if he got stuck with this job for getting in his commander's bad books. Suddenly, his radar gun picks up a speeding vehicle going over 167 miles an hour. Seeing the strange red car speed by, the officer calls it in.

Back in New York City, while Bruce Banner struggles to free himself from the trap within his mind, in the real world the Sub-Mariner struggles to try and contain this Dark Hulk. Their battle takes them to Washington Square Park, where Shanzar is not above injuring the people around him in order to stop the Sub-Mariner. When a number of patrons get impaled with the broken pieces of a jungle-gym, Namor lashes into his foe striking him as hard as possible, but to no avail. As Doctor Strange arrives on the scene, the Dark Hulk causes the Washinton Arch to collapse. Namor is buried under it as he tries to shield the body of a woman who was caught under the tumbling arch. Doctor Strange then manages to contain the Dark Hulk in the Crimson Bands of Cyttorak. As Shanzar struggles to break free from these bonds, he is distracted enough for Bruce to wriggle out of his mind trap and find some way to exorcise this invader in his mind.

Meanwhile, at the Delaware/New Jersey border, a police cordon has been set up to stop the speeding vehicle. However, the driver is ready for them, using the vehicles weapons to blast through the roadblock and continue on unimpeded.

At that moment, the Dark Hulk manages to break free from his binds. While Doctor Strange continues to distract their foe, Namor recovers himself from the rubble and revitalises himself with water. As Namor and Strange battle Shanzar in the real world, Banner lures the invader in his mind to the strange barred door that he recently discovered in his mind. Strange decides that they need to get the Dark Hulk away from the innocent people and uses his magic to heal the injured before taking himself and Namor back to the Sanctum. The Dark Hulk follows and is fended off by Rintah. Meanwhile, inside Banner's mind, Bruce manages to open the barred door and there is something so powerful and furious that it frightens Shanzar. When Strange opens a portal to the Strange Matter Universe, the being leaves the Hulk's body and flees back into its dimension. Back in control, the Hulk sees that Banner opened the door he told him to leave close and quickly shuts and bars it once again so that whatever is inside does not get out. Exhausted from the ordeal, the Hulk collapses.

The next morning, Bruce Banner is getting ready to continue his search for his wife Betty. Doctor Strange was able ot locate her exact address through his connections in the medical community. However, he warns Banner that Betty had recently lost their baby. This breaks Bruce's heart, but he thinks its for the better as the baby would have likely been a freak just like him. Banner then takes a train to Connecticut and goes to the address that Doctor Strange gave him. There, Banner is shocked to discover that not only is the address a convent, that his wife Betty has become a nun as well.

Appearing in "He's Back"

This story is a reprint of the comic
Incredible Hulk #372.

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Synopsis for "He's Back"

This story is a reprint of the comic
Incredible Hulk #372.

Prometheus is closing in on his hunt for the Hulk as he speeds into the state of Connecticut. He radios into the Pantheon from their secret headquarters the Mount. He grumbles about how he should have listened to Delphi and just waited for Banner near his wife instead of tracking him halfway across the country.

In the town of Darien, Bruce Banner has discovered that his wife has become a nun at the local convent. Trying to get an audience to see her, Banner is barred by Mother Superior, who believes that Bruce is just another reporter coming to harass Betty. Undaunted, Bruce then jumps the fence into the convent, but he rips his shirt open on a fence post, revealing that the scar on his back is still there. Needing somewhere to hide, Banner rushes into the convent. Meanwhile, Father Lowery is driving to the convent to give confessions to the nuns who live there. He crosses paths with Prometheus, whose speeding car forces the Father into a crash, knocking him out in the process.

Back at the convent, Bruce slips into a confessional to hide and is surprised when his own wife enters to give her regular confession. She confesses that she lost all three men that she had loved in her life, and she lost her baby. She talks about how she has struggled to find her own identity after years of living on an air force base. After all the years and changes and losses, Betty confesses that she found a place where she can belong, here at the convent. Hearing this Bruce begins to cry. However, before she can speak any further, Mother Superior begins looking for the stranger who has trespassed on their property. Betty comes out to learn what the commotion is all about and learn about how Father Lowery had gotten into a car accident not far away. When Betty checks the confessional, she finds that it is empty.

Bruce has slipped off to a nearby park where he has come to the conclusion at that his wife hates him. He thinks about all the misery the Hulk has caused her life, he's not surprised by this. Back at the convent, Betty had decided that the life of a nun is not for her and that she is leaving to find a new life. Explaining all this to Mother Superior, she gets the elder nuns blessing. Bruce decides that he can't leave until he talks to Betty and makes his way back to the convent where he sees her getting into a cab. Rushing to a payphone, Bruce calls the convent and tricks Mother Superior into thinking he is a dispatcher for the cab company and learns that Betty is heading to the train station. Banner then jacks a car and speeds after his wife. Along the way, Prometheus finally catches up to Banner and forces his car off the road.

Unwilling to be stopped, Banner gets out of the car and makes a run for the station, just as Betty buys her ticket and board the train. He is once more impeded by Prometheus and his vehicle. Banner narrowly avoids getting captured and giving into his anger suddenly undergoes a transformation into the Hulk. However, this time Banner's skin rips open, revealing the savage green Hulk beneath. The savage Hulk then faces off against Prometheus and his vehicle, the Argo. Its advanced weapons do nothing more than annoy the Hulk. Inside the brute's mind, Banner asks the gray Hulk what's happening. The gray Hulk explains that Banner released his green counterpart earlier and now he is free again. Meanwhile, Prometheus decides that the Hulk is too powerful and unpredictable now that he is a green savage again and decides to flee the scene, promising to bring the whole Pantheon next time.

With the battle back to normal, the Hulk reverts back into Bruce Banner. Witnessing Betty boarding the train he races after it but is too late to stop it. Banner collapses and begins to beg for Betty to come back. When he looks up he sees Betty standing before him. Happy to see his wife again, he and Betty run to each other and lock in an embrace.

Appearing in "Quality of Mercy"

This story is a reprint of the comic
Incredible Hulk Annual #16.

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  • Tanks
  • Ambulance

Synopsis for "Quality of Mercy"

This story is a reprint of the comic
Incredible Hulk Annual #16.

This story continues from Daredevil Annual #6...

From his quarantine cell, George Prufrock finally has the chance to tell someone his story. He thinks about how the Lifeform lives inside his body, always hungry, and wonders how much longer will he remain himself. He also reflects back on when he faced the Hulk....

The Hulk spots some soldiers driving past his location and thinks that they are after him again. He attacks, smashing their vehicles when suddenly one of the soldiers angrily reprimands the gamma-spawned monster. As it turns out they weren't hunting for the Hulk at all, they were just out on maneuvers. Somewhat disappointed by the entire battle, the Hulk leaps off in frustration. In the city of New York, an intoxicated homeless man named Arnold is lamented on a wasted life. Suddenly, the woman known as Mercy teleports in front of him. Telling the man that she has come to help solve his sadness, she pushes him into the path of a speeding truck. One of Arnold's homeless friends accuses Mercy of murdering the man. When Mercy says she killed him because he was depressed and wanted to die. The woman explains that depression is part of life and people don't usually mean they want to kill themselves. This is all very confusing to Mercy, especially when she considers the number of people she killed. She decides to take this advice to heart and then teleports away.

Elsewhere in the city, a man named Lemar who was infected by the Lifeform is being hauled into an ambulance after his battle with Daredevil. Reporter Ben Urich plans on climbing into the ambulance along with George in the hopes of getting his story for the Daily Bugle. While back in Nevada, the Hulk comes across an abandoned theater and decides to go inside. and poke around.

... It's at that moment that George's narrative is interrupted by someone entering the room. They threaten to call security, but the ever mutating George Prufrock attacks and kills the man. George takes a chunk of flesh to eat and sits back down to continue his story. George explains that he always wanted to be an actor, but his father insisted that he become a scientist. George followed his father's wishes. He honed his body and mind becoming a great scientist. Eventually, his father had him take a job with Advanced Idea Mechanics. Things were going well, he had a girlfriend named Rita that he loved very much and he enjoyed his work at AIM. However, that all changed when he was asked to test out the new virus being developed, that's how he got infected with the Lifeform. After his battles with the Punisher and Daredevil, George explains how, as the Lifeform, he met Mercy and the Hulk...

The Lifeform reformed after Daredevil and the ambulance left and as it shambled along it is confronted by Mercy. Lifeform pleads for her to kill him, but she isn't entirely convinced that's exactly what he wants. She is especially confused when the mind of the Lifeform battles George's own personality giving her conflicting signals. Deciding that the Lifeform needs to be cheered up, Mercy decides to take him to meet someone and teleports themselves away. They appear in the theater where the Hulk has been goofing off. The Lifeform sees the Hulk as food it attacks him immediately. Mercy gets between the two and tells them that she brought Lifeform here so the two could talk and maybe help each other. The Hulk is uninterested, telling her that maybe his alter-ego Bruce Banner would care, but he won't. Mercy then turns into a gelatenous form and slids right into the Hulk's mouth, causing him to pass out instantly.

Back in New York, Ben Urich interviews Lamar about how he got infected with the Lifeform virus. he explains that he is an AIM scientist who was bitten by a monkey infected with the virus. Urich takes down the man's story, but later admits that taking the story was hard because looking at the man was making him physically ill.

While in the abandoned theater in Nevada, Bruce Banner and the Hulk awaken to realize that Mercy has somehow managed to separate them. The two begin to argue confusing the Lifeform who is just trying to make sense of its dual identity. Banner argues that Lifeform isn't entirely responsible because its intent is not to harm something. The Hulk argues that only power make right. The two begin to argue, until the Hulk decides to kill Banner. Lifeform agrees with this as it's alien nature begins reasserting itself and it wants to feed. Bruce warns the Hulk that if he is killed it will also kill the Hulk as well. However, this causes the Hulk pause long enough for Lifeform to try and kill Banner himself. Realizing that he needs Bruce, the Hulk fights the Lifeform. The battle takes a turn when Banner is painfully electrocuted and a fire starts. The Hulk knocks the Lifeform into the flames and when he goes to get the body of Banner, but part of the roof collapses on him. Believing that he saw his death, the Hulk leaps out of the burning building.

By the time the Hulk is clear from the burning building he quickly realizes that it wasn't Banner he was interacting with, but Mercy disguised as Banner. Mercy reappears and explains to the Hulk the importancy of pushing on in the face of adversity. Pointing out that if Bruce Banner had given up there would be no Hulk as Banner would have killed himself a long time ago. She then teleports away just as the sun begins to rise triggering the Hulk's reversion back into Bruce Banner....

George finishes his tale as he is telling it to Lamar, explaining that he too survived the fire. Mercy then returned him to New York City where he came seeking Lamar. Turning into the Lifeform once again, George tells Lamar that since Mercy refused to kill him he sought out Lamar to put him out of his misery so the suffering could end for at least one of them.

The Lifeform event continues in Silver Surfer Annual #3.

Solicit Synopsis

Collects Incredible Hulk #364-372 and Annual #16. The latest collection for David devotees starts off with a crisis countdown that takes the gray Hulk from one fight to another against the Abomination, the Fantastic Four and a Madman who can't decide if he's Bruce Banner's biggest fan or worst enemy! Then, it's a reunion with Doctor Strange and Namor the Sub-Mariner when the Hulk joins his fellow founding Defenders against an invasion from a universe even stranger than they are! Plus: the fate of Betty Brant Banner! Also featuring Mister Hyde and the mutants of Freedom Force!

Notes

Reprints: Incredible Hulk #364-372 and Incredible Hulk Annual #16

See Also

Footnotes

  1. First and only known appearance to date besides flashbacks



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