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Quote1.png Y'know, I never liked you! You were Banner's friend--not mine! Quote2.png
The Hulk

Appearing in "Dance with the Devil!"

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Synopsis for "Dance with the Devil!"

After smashing the device that brought his return, the Hulk now has made a deal with the Leader to restore his powers in exchange for curing Rick Jones of his own transformations. The gray-skinned monster begins to rail against the mind of Bruce Banner, trapped inside his consciousness, demanding that the scientist allow the Hulk's access to his knowledge in order to repair the damaged device. Samuel Sterns, formally the Leader, tells the Hulk that his current rage isn't helping their mutual problems. The Hulk grabs Sterns and asks why he should help, considering their past history. Sterns points out that it is because the Hulk has failed to completely submerge his Bruce Banner persona and he plans on helping him achieve it. The Hulk then asks what happened to Sterns to cause him to change back to human form. Samuel tells him that eventually, the gamma radiation that turned him into the Leader began wearing off and so to was his massive intellect changing. Racing against time, the Leader attempts to find a cure to his problem. However, eventually, his intelligence faded to the point where he couldn't figure out how to cure himself and he forgot how to gain access to his secret laboratories. With his powers completely gone, Sterns became a homeless drifter until he decided to travel to the town closest to Gamma Base until he could get Bruce Banner to help him. Now he threatens to force the Hulk to help, which makes the Hulk begin to laugh out loud.

Meanwhile, back at Gamma Base, Ramon, Betty Banner's former boyfriend demands to be let in to see her. However, the guard at the gate refuses to let him through even though Ramon claims that he is really Betty's husband. When Ramon tries to pull a switchblade on the soldier, he is easily tossed out. Inside, John LaRoquette has been outfitted in a hover chair after Rick Jones crushed his leg. Still wanting to go into action and stop the Hulk, John is told by his teammates Amand Martel and Hideko Takata that he needs to recover from his injuries. However, John is not willing to listen to them and when Martel tries to restrain John, he pulls a gun and threatens that if they interfere with him again, he will kill them. Martel and Takata then check on Doc Samson who is recovering from injuries sustained while possessed by the Nevermind. They tell him about how LaRoquette is going off to find the Hulk again. Seeing that LaRoquette has become unhinged, Samson pulls himself out of his bed, determined to stop him before it is too late. However, Samson is too late as LaRoquette has convinced on the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents on guard to let him leave in a massive highly technological tank.

Elsewhere in the desert, Rick Jones is trekking across the desert after his nightime battle with the Hulkbusters. Now in his human form he isn't sure where he is, or where he's going. Recalling what he can of the Hulk's battle, Rick is disturbed that his Hulk persona is starting to become more savage. While at Banner's secret lab, the dawn has saw the return of Bruce Banner, but Bruce is now trapped in the holding cell that he constructed to contain the Hulk so many years ago. Unable to free himself, Bruce assesses the situation from what little he can remember from his time as the Hulk and hopes that Rick Jones comes back and rescues him. However, Bruce's hopes appear to be close to getting dashed as Rick Jones is found by LaRoquette who is willing to kill him in the daylight when he is not the Hulk. As Jones runs for his life, LaRoquette is impeded by the arrival of Doc Samson. Samson easily rips the tanks to shreds, telling John that he will not stand by and watch him kill a harmless young man.

As the sun begins to set, Bruce Banner begins to feel the change into the Hulk and tries to struggle against it. Inside his mind, this struggled represents itself as the Hulk absorbing Banner's body into his. The Hulk seeks to gain Banner's knowledge on the gamma ray device. Although Bruce struggles the best that he can, he cannot stop the transformation, nor prevent the Hulk from learning what he knows. He is then freed by Sterns and the two get down to work. While back at Gamma Base, while Doc Samson continues to chastise John LaRoquette, Betty is told that she has a phone call. She thinks that it is her husband Bruce, but instead she is upset to learn that it's actually her ex-boyfriend Ramon. Betty tells him never to call her again and hangs up, but Ramon refuses to accept defeat so easily.

Later, in the early hours of the morning, the gray Hulk crosses paths with the Rick Jones green Hulk. The Banner-Hulk instigates a fight in order to lure the Jones-Hulk back to the secret lab. There, Sam Sterns is strapped into the device they have made in preparation for their experiment. The gray Hulk manages to subdue his green counterpart and strap him into the machine. He then activates the gamma device which then begins to transfer the gamma radiation in Rick Jones' body and transfer it over to Sam Sterns. While Rick begins to revert back to human form, Sterns begins to transform back into the Leader, but now in a more hideously than ever before. Before the process can complete itself, the Hulk is caught in some energy feedback and before the device can be turned off the entire lab suddenly explodes.


Continuity Notes

  • Ramon states that Betty Banner is his wife. This statement is never clarified beyond this, however, it could be assumed that this is merely a boastful statement on Ramon's part. He has been pursuing her since she left him in Incredible Hulk #314.

Chronology Notes

The flashback pertaining to the Leader losing his powers affects the chronology of the following characters:

Publication Notes

See Also

Links and References


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