Appearing in "Crossroads"
- Betty Banner
- Clay Quartermain
- Rick Jones
- Doc Samson
- Ramon Morales
- Hulkbusters (Disbands)
Synopsis for "Crossroads"
After getting injured by the Hulk, Betty Banner has decided to leave with her ex-boyfriend Ramon. As she packs up a bag at the hospital, she decides to leave Bruce a note telling him how she feels. However, as they leave the room a draft knocks the note off a table under a cart.
At that moment in Sparta, Illinois, the members of the X-Factor have defeated the Hulk by sealing him a massive chunk of ice. While they are waiting for S.H.I.E.L.D. agents to collect the Hulk, Cyclops uses his optic blast to cut a hole in the ice so the Hulk can breath. Cyclops reflects over the past few hours that led to their battle with the Hulk, and is still uneasy about contacting S.H.I.E.L.D. to collect the Hulk. Meanwhile, Clay Quartermain is leading a S.H.I.E.L.D. crew to collect the Hulk. On board his ship are Samuel LaRoquette and Craig Saunders who insist to tag along even though they are still recovering from a previous battle with a Hulk. Quartermain tells them that their mission is to kill the Hulk, even if he is in the form of Bruce Banner. Regardless of these orders, Clay Quartermain does not like them and wonders how Bruce, or his wife Betty, would feel if they knew what his orders were.
Back in Illinois, the three members of X-Factor wonder if they should stick around and wait for S.H.I.E.L.D. or to flee given their vigilante status when posing as the X-Terminators. Soon Quartermain and his soldiers arrive to pick up the Hulk. Clay thanks Cyclops for his help, but quickly stops Saunders before he can shoot the Hulk at point blank range. When Craig questions why they aren't killing him right away, this blows their mission parameters in front of the mutants. Not willing to be party to murder, Cyclops questions this, and Quartermain offers them to accompany them back to Gamma Base to be part of the debriefing with Nick Fury. The X-Terminators agree and they are soon accompanying S.H.I.E.L.D. back to base. Iceman remains in the cargo hold with the Hulk, ensuring that the brute remains in the deep freeze while being transported back to New Mexico. Iceman doesn't feel that killing the Hulk is the right thing to do, knowing that Bruce Banner is trapped somewhere inside the creature.
at Gamma Base, Rick Jones confides his feelings about Banner being revealed to be the Hulk again to Doc Samson. Samson tells the young man that it was bound to come out sooner or later. When the Hulk is being transported on base, he suddenly breaks free because Iceman forgot to properly freeze him. Soon the Hulk is fighting it out with agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as well as the members of the X-Terminators. The combined efforts of the soldiers, Doc Samson, and the team of mutants is sufficient enough to knock the Hulk out again. When the Hulk is contained in bonds, the S.H.I.E.L.D. Council is informed of his capture and order Quartermain to eliminate the Hulk once and for all. Elsewhere, the Hulk explains to X-Factor and Doc Samson that the government has created more gamma bombs and have begun testing them and that he must track them down and destroy the weapons. Meanwhile, Sam LaRoquette goes to Agent Trump, the second-in-command at Gamma Base because Quartermain has gone missing. He expresses his lack of satisfaction about keeping the Hulk alive and having mutants on the facility, Trump agrees and orders his soldiers to apprehend everyone.
Seeing that they are going to be silenced, X-Factor frees the Hulk and with his aid fight their way out alongside Rick Jones, Doc Samson, Armand Martel and Hideko Takata. When they get outside, the sun begins to rise triggering the Hulk's reversion to Bruce Banner. It's at this point that Agent Trump and his men surround them. Before they can eliminate everyone there is a sudden explosion, destroying one of the buildings on Gamma Base. Suddenly, Clay Quartermain pulls up in a high-tech van. Clay explains that he had a change of heart about eliminating the Hulk and has rigged Gamma Base to explode to cover their escape. After dropping the members of X-Factor off, Clay, Rick, Armand and Hideko discuss their next move. The last two members fo the Hulkbusters decide to go their separate ways and pursue a relationship with each other. Banner, Jones and Quartermain then agree to work together to find the gamma bombs and shut them down. Bruce then asks what happened to Betty. As Rick and Clay struggle figure out what to say next, back at the hospital Betty's note is found by a cleaning lady who things it is trash and throws it out.
Back at the ruins of Gamma Base, Doc Samson emerges from the rubble. Looking around he sees that the entire facility is in shambles and remarks that it has been such a waste.
- At the time of this story, X-Factor posed as mutant hunters who also kept their mutant identities secret. This has been their operating standard since X-Factor #1. They will later reveal themselves as mutants during the events of X-Factor #24-26.
- Iceman's powers have been out of control since they were magically boosted in Thor #377-378. Iceman later starts wearing a power dampening belt in X-Factor #21.
- The Hulk mentions his previous encounter with Half-Life from Incredible Hulk #334.
- A flashback from Incredible Hulk #346 in which Clay Quartermain talks to the Hulk while he is imprisoned at Gamma Base and then contacts Nick Fury happened between panels 2 and 3 of page 12 of this story.
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