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Quote1 I am the man who built this empire. The man you wish to see. I am Dagan Shah. The Sultan Magus! Quote2
-- Sultan Magus

Appearing in "The Shifting Sands"

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Synopsis for "The Shifting Sands"

The Red Hulk and Machine Man are investigating the mysterious city of Sharzhad. En route to this location, they are suddenly attacked by what appears to be the Manticore of Middle Eastern myth. While the creature has the advantage of surprise, the two heroes manage to incapacitate the creature long enough for the Red Hulk to rip its head off. X-51 then scans the body and determines that the Manticore was biologically engineered using the same Rigellian technology being utilized by Dagan Shah. Weakened by the Manticore's venom, the Red Hulk tries to press on. However, when they get to a convoy of dead soldiers, he has to stop and purge the toxins from his system. To do so, he reverts back to his human form, which heals his injury. X-51 is surprised to discover that the Red Hulk is Thaddeus Ross, as he believed that Ross had been killed recently. Having to press on, Thaddeus is forced to take clothing from the corpses in order to protect his body from the sun. They then find a working jeep and use that to continue on their way. Along the way, Ross reveals that he once met Able Stack before his death and prior to the creation of X-51. He explains that it was during the time that the military was working with civilian scientists to create new weapons. Initially, Ross was to be paired with him but wanted an assignment that would prove more practical. This alternative project turned out to be the Gamma Bomb project that led to the creation of the Hulk.

Suddenly, their jeep crashes into an invisible barrier, wrecking it. X-51 examines it and learns that it is also cloaking whatever is on the other side. Machine Man then uses one of his devices to reveal what is on the other side and both of them are surprised to find a futuristic city on terraformed land. While pondering how to get past the barrier, they are joined by the Arabian Knight who tells them that there is an entrance not far away. He warns Ross that it is unwise to be here in his human form. Ross transforms back into the Red Hulk, and the two once again argues their motivations for going to Sharzhad. The Red Hulk still seeks to get revenge against the people there for the death of his ally Will Krugauer, while the Arabian Knight wants to investigate the city and its motives without American interference. However, before the two come to blows when X-51 suggests that they work together to achieve their common goal. Once they all agree, the Arabian Knight takes them to one of the many portals into the city.

They are surprised to find it unguarded, but as they approach the threshold they are stopped by a holographic projection that states that this domain is under the protection of Dagan Shah and to state their business. Ignoring X-51's warnings to be careful, the Red Hulk demands to speak to whoever is in charge. Surprisingly, they are allowed passage. On the other side they find that the people are happily living in what appears to be a utopian society. As they travel through the city, the Arabian Knight explains that these people have finally been given the needs they have long desired. The Red Hulk still doesn't like the idea that whoever is in charge is arming rebels outside this domain. Suddenly, they are visited by a woman calling herself Haya, who is an agent of the Sultan Magus, telling them that she has been sent to bring them to the palace.

She takes them there, and when they ask to meet with Dagan Shah, she tells them that they already have. That's when they discover that the real Arabian Knight is imprisoned in the palace in some kind of crystal. The man they have been traveling with has turned out to be an impostor. Not only that, the impostor was actually Shah, the Sultan Magus himself, the whole time. Before the Red Hulk and X-51 can react they too are being contained in crystals that the Sultan and his minions will use to probe their minds and learn all of their secrets.

Solicit Synopsis

General Ross, a.k.a. Red Hulk, proceeds with his unsanctioned mission to find the mysterious Dagan Shah, the man Rulk believes responsible for the death of a former friend. But as Red and his new ally Machine Man fight through ancient monsters and treacherous terrain, are their answers closer than they even imagined? Wondrous word-slinger Jeff Parker and master draftsman Patch Zircher forge one of the most highly anticipated Hulk stories yet!

Notes

Continuity Notes

  • X-51 was under the impression that Thaddeus Ross was dead. Ross was seemingly killed in Fall of the Hulks: Gamma #1, however, it was revealed that this was a Life Model Decoy, as explained in Hulk Vol 2 #23.
  • Ross states that he turned down the option of working with Able Stack to work on the Gamma Bomb project. The results of that project were originally told in Incredible Hulk #1.
  • X-51 explains that the other X-Series robots were psychotic and had to be destroyed. This was chronicled in 2001: A Space Odyssey #8.

See Also

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