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Appearing in "The More Things Change..."

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Synopsis for "The More Things Change..."

The Hulk and Bruce Banner have been merged back together, however the threat to his health is far from over. Restrained by S.H.I.E.L.D. agents at Gamma Base, Banner continues to shift back and forth between his human and Hulk forms. The containment of the Hulk are watched by his closest allies: Doc Samson, who is still healing from his last battle with the brute, his terrified wife Betty Banner, and his longtime ally Rick Jones. Samson explains that although the Vision succeeded in merging Banner and the Hulk a new instability has taken place. However, he believes that he can re-calibrate the chemical bath treatment to finally stabilise Banner and rid him of the curse of the Hulk forever. While Rick still feels guilty for his part in the creation of the Hulk, Samson explains his own personal guilt over the Hulk's recent rampage across New Mexico. Betty also points out her own guilt, having to stand in front of the Avengers to prevent them from killing the Hulk in battle so her husband could survive.

Elsewhere, in another building on the Gamma Base facility, Clay Quartermain supervises a team of S.H.I.E.L.D. technicians that are conducting a tests on the disgraced Thaddeus Ross in order to assist their current goals to get eliminate the Hulk, experiments that Ross agreed to undergo in order to get revenge against the hated man-monster. Back in the other lab, Samson finishes his adjustments as Bruce Banner/the Hulk wakes up. When in the form of Bruce, he begs to be killed so the Hulk can never menace the world again, while as the Hulk the creature vows to break free and go on the rampage. What disturbs all gathered is that the Hulk seems to maintain some kind of intelligence and has become incredibly cruel. Rick recalls this is how the Hulk first behaved during his earlier days.

Suddenly, the Hulk breaks free from his bonds, but the face and hands of Banner come out of his chest. This comes as a shock to everyone, but Rick once again remembers something similar happening during one of Banner's controlled transformations into the Hulk caused his entire body to mutate except for his head. Wanting to die, Banner grabs a chunk of wood and tries to impale it through his head, but is stopped by the Hulk. The others try to convince the Hulk that he needs to go into the nutrient bath in order to save himself, but the brute does not believe them. When the Hulk tries to escape he is too weak to smash through the wall and falls to the ground. The commotion brings out the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents who begin shooting at the Hulk. Clay Quartermain tells Samson and the others that they won't kill the Hulk as long as Bruce Banner is at risk.

Watching from a monitor, Thaddeus Ross jumps a guard and grabs his gun in the hopes he can kill the Hulk in the commotion. Back in the lab, the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents begin trying to herd the Hulk toward the bath. Banner, still wishing to die, shifts his form so his face and hands appear out of the Hulk's back. However, the agents avoid hitting him and keep on luring the Hulk where they want to lead him. As they lead him to the chemical bath, Rick Jones spots Thaddues Ross trying to make his way up a nearby catwalk and tries to chase after him. He catches the former general messing with the bath controls just as the agents are pushing the Hulk into the chemical bath. As the Hulk falls into the chemical soup, Ross pushes Rick Jones into it as well. Hoping its not too late, Thaddues then smashes the controls. Suddenly, the chemical bath ruptures.

Although Rick Jones appears to be okay, Bruce Banner has turned into the original form of the Hulk -- a smaller, grey skinned monster. As they contain Thaddeus Ross, Betty tries to appeal to the Hulk who suddenly changes back into Bruce Banner, who can't feel the Hulk within himself and believes he has been cured. With the crisis over, everyone celebrates what they think is the final end of the Hulk.


Continuity Notes

  • Rick Jones recaps the accident that birthed the Hulk as is happened in Incredible Hulk #1.
  • Betty and Doc Samson recap the events of Incredible Hulk #315323 which chronicles the entire time Bruce Banner and the Hulk were separated.
  • Thaddeus Ross tells Clay Quartermain to not call him "General". Ross was a General in the United States Air Force. He committed an act of treason working with MODOK in Incredible Hulk #288290. He was stripped of his rank after the events in the following issue.
  • Rick Jones points out that the Hulk is speaking in a similar fashion as he did in his early adventures. He is referring to Incredible Hulk #16.
  • Rick also recalls the time that Bruce's transformation into the Hulk was incomplete leaving the head of Bruce Banner with the body of the Hulk. This happened in Incredible Hulk #6.
  • This issue marks the return of the grey Hulk in publication. Although everyone here acts as though the Hulk was only grey during the events of Incredible Hulk #1, this form has appeared in a number of stories around that period that were published after the fact. Namely Hulk: Gray #16, and Marvel Super-Heroes (Vol. 2) #3.


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