Appearing in "Desert Heat"
Synopsis for "Desert Heat"
As strange new Hulk has appeared and during his rampage, he grabbed Bruce Banner and leaped off into the night. Now it is getting to be sunrise and this new gamma-spawned creature has carried Bruce to a secluded area. Bruce demands to know who this new Hulk is when suddenly the man-monster reverts back to human form revealing him to be none other than Rick Jones. Weakened by the transformation, Jones is told to take it easy. They then begin discussing what happened and it's believed that somehow, when Rick was knocked into the nutrient bath while S.H.I.E.L.D. was trying to cure the Hulk, something must have happened to transfer some of the Hulk's powers to him. This leads Bruce to conclude that this is why when he emerged from the bath in the Hulk's original gray form before reverting back to human form. When Rick learns that the Bruce hasn't turned into the Hulk again since the accident, he is happy that he is now burdened with the curse of the Hulk, after feeling guilt over the fact that it is because of him that Bruce was first transformed into the Hulk. However, Bruce points out that now that he is cured of being the Hulk, he can devote all his energies into finding a cure for Rick. As they are not far away from his old lab, Bruce tells him they should try to get there before nightfall.
Back at Gamma Base, the S.H.I.E.L.D. hunting party return after their failed battle with the new Hulk. Betty Banner is upset that the gamma-spawned monster took off with her husband, Doc Samson and Clay Quartermain assure her that they will do whatever they can to get Bruce back. This latest development has prompted Thaddeus Ross to demand they push ahead with their experiments on the energy creature known as Zzzax. Soon, Thaddeus Ross is hooked into a device that S.H.I.E.L.D. hopes will allow them to take control of Zzzax and use him as a weapon against the Hulk.
Meanwhile, in the desert, Bruce and Rick are starting to hallucinate due to their constant exposure to the sun. While Bruce sees images of his abusive childhood, Rick sees his past living as an orphan. They soon collapse in the sand and the two begin to have a shared hallucination of Bruce's gray Hulk battling Rick's green Hulk. At that moment at Gamma Base, S.H.I.E.L.D. technos work to try to create a symbiotic link between Thaddeus Ross and Zzzax. However, something goes wrong and Zzzax actually manages to absorb the entire consciousness of the disgraced former General into his mind. Zzzax has broken free and with the mind of Ross now has an insane obsession to destroy the Hulk. The energy creature then flies off to find his one-time foe. By this time, Rick and Bruce have reached Banner's secret lab. They shake hands to celebrate, just as the sun begins to set. Suddenly, both men transform into their respective Hulk forms. As the two Hulks begin to fight it out to decide who is the strongest, Betty is informed of the accident that has left her father alive, but mindless. Meanwhile, Zzzax has managed to find the two Hulks. With a single blast he knocks them both aside. Although the Rick Jones Hulk still stands, Banner is knocked out and reverts back to human form. Seeing only one Hulk before him, Zzzax vows to do what "Thunderbolt" Ross has failed to do: kill the Hulk.
- Bruce Banner was seemingly cured of being the Hulk in Incredible Hulk #324.
- Rick makes mention, once again, of the accident that spawned the Hulk in Incredible Hulk #1.
- Bruce mentions how his father was abusive towards him and his mother. This abusive family life was first explored in Incredible Hulk #312.
- Mention is also made of Rick's past life in an orphanage, as was first explored in Incredible Hulk #268.
- Rick and Bruce both state that Bruce hasn't changed into the Hulk since Incredible Hulk #324. However this is not correct as Bruce changed into the Hulk back in Incredible Hulk Annual #15, which takes place immediately after that story.
- Rick states that he "never had a father", the first of many future statements where he claims to now have ever met his parents. This contradicts the events of Incredible Hulk #268, which state that Rick knew his father at least. Also, this story states that the orphanage he lived in was Our Lady of Hope, this contradicts Incredible Hulk #268 which states Rick lived at Tempest Town, an orphanage for troubled boys. The Tempest Town connection was later reinforced in Incredible Hulk Vol 2 #108.
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