Appearing in "Devolution!"
- The Thing (Only in flashback)
- Alicia Masters (Only in flashback)
- Starhawk (Only in flashback)
- Moondragon (Only in flashback)
- Her (Only in flashback)
- Sphixor (Only in flashback)
Synopsis for "Devolution!"
Having purchased a vintage car, Rick Jones, Betty Ross and Bruce Banner are driving across New Mexico in the hopes of reaching the birthplace of the Hulk in the hopes of helping Bruce and the Hulk reconcile their differences. As they drive, Rick onces more thinks about the guilt he feels for being responsible for Banner becoming the Hulk. Betty, meanwhile wonders when it was she fell in love with Bruce: when he first arrived to work for her father, or when she first discovered that he was the Hulk. She also recalls how her love for Bruce has brought her nothing but misery, even when she tried to get away from it by marrying Glenn Talbot.
Their reflective thoughts are soon cut short when they come across an abandoned military blockade that is in close proximity to Bruce Banner's secret lab. They then begin to look around for clues and find that the soldiers apparently stripped off their clothing before they disappeared. When Rick checks a overturned military truck he is shocked when a monkey leaps out. While Rick and Betty find this amusing, Bruce recognizes the creature the ape as Dryopithecus Africanus, a precursor the modern day humanity that has been extinct for millions of years. It's then that he notices a strange glow coming from his old lab, and that said glow is giving Betty and Rick pounding headaches. To make matters worse, the ape that they have encountered has stolen the keys from their car and bolted off into the desert. Unaffected by the strange light, Bruce tells Betty and Rick to wait at the car while he tries to recover the keys. No sooner is Bruce gone do Betty and Rick suddenly devolve into primates, strip their clothes off and wander into the desert.
As Bruce tries to follow the ape that stole their keys, he is surprised to see that there are many prehistoric animals in the area and wonders what happened to cause this de-evolution in the local wildlife. As he approached his old lab, he discovers that some soldiers came here and also apparently abandoned their post. However, when he sees more of the apes, he realizes what has been happening. Going into his lab, Bruce is shocked to find the High Evolutionary. Surprised to see Bruce Banner unaffected by the wave of de-evolution, the High Evolutionary explains that he has returned home to Earth in order to end his life. He recounts how his creation, Counter-Earth was stolen from the solar system. Tracking it along with the Thing, Starhawk, Alicia Masters and Her, they caught up with an alien calling himself Sphinxor. Sphinxor explained that he was taking Counter-Earth for his masters, the god-like Beyonders. In the end, the High Evolutionary agreed to accompany him to meet the Beyonders. Once in the realm of these beings, the High Evolutionary, who has spent his entire life trying to ascend to godhood, witnessed the Beyonders. Seeing powerful beings more powerful than anything he could ever attain, the High Evolutionary went mad and decided to kill himself, by returning to Earth and de-evolving himself. However, the safety measures in his armor, have prevented him from harming himself, and instead of de-evolving, the armor has been deflecting the rays outwards.
After hearing this, Bruce demands that the High Evolutionary stop and return everything to normal, but the Evolutionary refuses. When Rick and Betty catch up to Bruce and he sees that they too have been de-evolved, it triggers a transformation into the Hulk, what the High Evolutionary was hoping for. The Evolutionary then begins goading the Hulk into a battle, hoping that the gamma-spawned monster has the sufficient strength to rip apart his armor so that he can carry out his self-de-evolution. The battle takes them outside of the cave, where the High Evolutionary's armor uses its ability to evolve or de-evolve the surrounding environment. Even when altering the evolution of Rick and Betty to make them more formidable foes for the Hulk fails. Ultimately, the Hulk gets angry enough to gain sufficient strength to rip the High Evolutionary's armor apart. With the fail-safes in his armor destroyed, the High Evolutionary reverts everyone back to normal and then uses his powers on himself, de-evolving himself into protoplasmic goo.
In the aftermath of the battle, the simple minded Hulk contemplates the High Evolutionary's apparent suicide and remarks that even though his own life is difficult, the Hulk would rather live than die.
- Rick Jones recounts the events where Bruce saved his life, creating the Hulk, as seen in Incredible Hulk #1.
- Betty recounts the time that she first met Bruce and when she first learned that he was the Hulk. Chronologically speaking, the first meeting between Betty and Bruce was depicted in a flashback from Incredible Hulk #291. She discovered that Bruce Banner was the Hulk in Tales to Astonish #78.
- Betty also recounts when she married Glenn Talbot. Betty always loved Bruce Banner from the moment they met until he heard him express his love for Jarella in Incredible Hulk #150, pushing her into the arms of Glenn Talbot. Betty and Glenn got married in Incredible Hulk #158 however a series of marital problems they divorced in Incredible Hulk #238. Glenn later became obsessed with destroying the Hulk, and died fighting the brute in Incredible Hulk #260.
- The High Evolutionary created Counter-Earth in Marvel Premiere #1. It was later stolen by Sphinxor and turned over to the Beyonders in Marvel Two-In-One #62-63.
- Both the events of Marvel Two-In-One #62-63 and this story are recounted in greater detail in Avengers Annual #17. The story in Avengers Annual #17 also explains how the High Evolutionary returned from his de-evolved state shortly after his battle with the Hulk.
- A flashback in this story depicts Betty Ross discovering Bruce Banner and the Hulk being the same man when spying a transformation into the Hulk. However this is not accurate, as she learned when Rick Jones told her the truth in Tales to Astonish #78.
The flashback that recounts the how the High Evolutionary went after Counter-Earth only to discover the Beyonders has some complex continuity as it features a combination of moments that are recapped from previous stories as well as new information. In addition, later flashbacks to this period have added more detail to those events.
This flashback occurs on Page 10 of the story.
As such the continuity for the High Evolutionary in that flashback continuity breaks down like so:
- High Evolutionary (Panel 1)
- Pannels 2-3: This is a recap of Marvel Two-In-One #63.
- High Evolutionary goes insane (Panel 4-6)
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- Images from Incredible Hulk Vol 1 266
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