Appearing in "Grave Circumstances"
- Doc Samson
- Betty Banner
- Rick Jones
- Clay Quartermain
- Ramon Morales
- Glenn Talbot (Mentioned)
Synopsis for "Grave Circumstances"
At Miller Heights Cemetery, a man stands at a grave as a green-skinned corpse pulls itself out of the grave. The mystery man refers to this ghoul as Half-Life, telling him that he was late. Half-Life retorts that being late is what he is good at.
Two days later, Bruce Banner has found himself on top of a massive butte in the middle of the desert. Left there by the Hulk in an effort to impede his efforts to try and cure himself. He is spotted by a helicopter and rescued. He is taken to a town 500 miles away from Gamma Base and calls himself in, telling Doc Samson about his attempts to stop the Rick Jones Hulk. He keeps quiet his own reversion back into the Hulk, deciding to keep this a secret until he can use the facilities at Gamma Base to cure himself. As he talks on the phone, he looks at a poster of a bikini-clad woman. He swears that he sees his wife everywhere, little realizing that he is actually looking at a photo of his wife.
In another town, Betty Banner is shocked that she spent the entire evening talking to her ex-boyfriend Ramon until 4 am when he fell asleep. Betty realizes that the ability to talk and express her feelings is something that is missing from her marriage with Bruce. However, despite the fact that Ramon has actually proven that he can be there for her, she cannot just abandon Bruce without having a chance to talk to him and make him see sense. While back at Gamma Base, Doc Samson checks in on Hideko Takata and Armand Martel who are examining Rick Jones. They have determined that there are no traces of gamma radiation in his system and that he is cured of his transformations into the Hulk. Even though Rick has a clean bill of health, he also decides to not tell Samson about how Bruce is turning into the Hulk again. Soon, Bruce Banner returns to Gamma Base. There he is told by one of the guards that some guy came claiming that he is Betty's husband. Banner finds this ridiculous, as the only other man who could make that claim is dead.
While at the morgue that was assigned to recover the body of Thaddeus Ross reels with the death of one of their employees, a new cadaver is brought in. None are aware that this corpse is actually Half-Life. As everyone on Gamma Base relaxes, Bruce recalls how he blurted out the fact that Rick Jones was the new Hulk when they were hunting him. Bruce secretly wonders if this slip was influenced by the Hulk and wonders how his alter-ego could be influencing his thoughts and actions. He later meets up with Rick, Armande, Hideko, and Clay Quartermain and asks them where Betty might be. He learns from Hideko that she got a message from a man named Ramon to meet him at Christie's Bar in town. He demands to know what is going on and leaves, telling everyone else that he will handle it on his own. However, when Bruce gets to a jeep he finds Rick Jones waiting for him, and he refuses to let Bruce go alone. As the pair take off, Doc Samson checks on LaRoquette and Craig Saudners who are still recovering from their injuries during their last battle against the Rick Jones Hulk. LaRoquette explains that they have had their fill, the Hulkbusters were a failure and once they heal up, they're quitting.
Meanwhile, Bruce and Rick have tracked Betty to a sleazy motel. Learning which room she booked into, the go and knock on the door. When Ramon answers it, Bruce shoves him into the room and demands to know where his wife is. Betty tries to intervene, explaining that it's not what it looks like. Ramon then starts beating on Bruce who can just barely defend himself, but Rick steps in and uses the fighting skills he learned from Captain America to incapacitate Ramon. Betty explains that she went to Ramon because Bruce had been neglecting her so much and all she needs it some romance in her life. Bruce decides to finally listen to his wife for once and gets them a room in the hotel so they can have a romantic evening together. At that moment in the morgue, Half-Life emerges and begins his master's scheme. Also at that moment, Rick is in the hotel bar when he notices that it seems as though it's getting darker sooner, the bar tender confirms this explaining that the clocks were turned back for daylights savings the day before. Realising that Bruce doesn't know this, Rick rushes out of the bar to aid his friend.
Up in the hotel room, Bruce and Betty spend a tender moment together as the sun sets. Suddenly Bruce changes into the Hulk right before Betty's eyes. When Rick gets up into the room he finds it trashed and Betty injured and begins calling for a doctor. The Hulk meanwhile leaps into the desert where he chastises Banner for allowing himself to change in front of Betty and the harm he caused. He is suddenly confronted by a dune buggy that crashes. From the wreckeage comes Half-Life. Half-Life attacks the Hulk, explaining that he was the a mere school teacher before he was caught in a gamma bomb blast that turned him into a living corpse that feeds off of gamma rays. As the two battle it out, the Hulk is horrified to learn that the gamma bomb that Banner invented years ago may have been the first, but it is certainly not the last. The Hulk then quickly incapacitates Half-Life by ripping him limb from limb and escapes. He retreats back to Banner's secret lab. At dawn, the Hulk reverts back to Bruce Banner who is horrified to learn that his invention is now being used and tested by the United States Army and vows to put a stop to it.
- The man in shadows that recovers Half-Life from the cemetery is the Leader, as is revealed in Incredible Hulk #340.
- Ramon's claims that he is Betty's wife and the fact that she is in the bikini model photo are two plot threads that are quickly abandoned and not explored again. Ramon had been searching for Betty since she left him in Incredible Hulk #314.
- Everyone thinks that Bruce Banner was cured of being the Hulk in Incredible Hulk #325, but he had recently restored the Hulk in Incredible Hulk #332, which is also when he cured Rick Jones.
- The owner of the morgue is mourning the loss of his co-worker Al who was bludgeoned to death by the Leader in Incredible Hulk #331. Both LaRoquette and Saunders were injured trying to stop Rick Jones when he was the Hulk in that same issue.
- This issue is reprinted in the trade paperback Incredible Hulk Visionaries: Peter David Volume 1
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