Appearing in "Closing Curtain"
- Hulk (Bruce Banner) (Apparent death)
- Middletown people:
- United States Army
Races and Species:
- Gamma Bomb
- SHIELD ID
Synopsis for "Closing Curtain"
The town of Middleton, Arizona is slowly dying now that the major industries have closed up shop. Father Jason McCall tries to encourage his flock to keep the faith. However, he is a man with secrets of his own, as after service he gets a phone call from the local vicar about accounting irregularities for his church. While lawyer Diane Davids is woken up to start her work day. She is suffering an utter lack of motivation as she is sick of representing the people of Middletown. In another part of town, Jess Harrison is ordered by her parents to stop seeing Louis Lambert, as they believe him to be nothing more than a hoodlum. As Jess storms out of the house, her mother asks her father if there is anything interesting in the newspaper. He tells her that there isn't remarking that it must have been a slow news day. Little do they know that the Leader has stopped the press regarding his theft of a gamma bomb from reaching the town, the first part of his attempts to black out the news from this small, unassuming American town.
Meanwhile, on board a stolen SHIELD battle van, Rick Jones and Clay Quartermain are told that Betty is pregnant with Bruce Banner's baby. While Bruce and Rick are happy with the new, Clay can't help but notice that something about the news is bothering Betty. Their attention changes when Clay picks up a radio report about the theft of gamma bombs from the very facility they were planning on attacking themselves. Back in Middletown, an encyclopedia salesman named Burt Horowitz is passing through town. He stops to asks some men burying strange devices on the side of the road what they are working on. However, the men don't know what it is they are buying and assume they are time capsules. As Horowitz continues onward, he is surprised to find that his radio has cut out, as it was working a moment earlier. At that moment, Clay Quartermain uses his SHIELD credentials to get onto the facility, as his defection is not widly known. They are shown the damage done and Bruce is horrified by the sheer number of gamma bombs created by the military. They are then shown footage of Rock and Redeemer's rampage through the facility. Bruce instantly recognizes them as his former Hulkbusters, LaRoquette and Saunders.
At that very moment, Rock and Redeemer are practicing the use of their new powers by testing them out on a Hulk robot. After the robot is trashed, they both ask the Leader when they will be fighting the real thing. The Leader tells them soon and promises to restore them back to normal after the Hulk has been killed. Unknown to Rock and Redeemer though is that the Leader is lying to them. By this time, Bruce and his allies are leaving the decimated military base wondering what their next move will be when suddenly the Leader's recording beings to play over the battle van's com-systems. He warns them that his plan is to detonate a gamma bomb in Middletown at 10 PM that evening. Not willing to accept this as a bluff, Bruce tells Clay to floor it.
Back in Middletown, Jess tells Louis how her parents have forbidden her from seeing him. He tells her that they should just run off together instead and she agrees to go with him. Elsewhere, Burt Horowitz gets a door slammed in his face trying to sell encyclopedias, Diane Davids gets thrown in jail for contempt of court, while Father McCall prays for forgiveness for embezzling money from his church. Soon, Bruce Banner and his allies race into town. When they burst in on the mayor of town to warn him of the gamma bomb, the Leader's has already set into motion events so that anything they say is instantly discredited. They are then ordered to leave town. Along the way, the sun begins to set and Bruce turns into the Hulk. After carrying Rick, Clay and Betty to safety, the Hulk then returns to town to search for the gamma bomb. Clay attempts to warn people, but any attempt is dismissed as hysteria and a prank thanks to fake newscasts created by the Leader. Clay swallows his pride and decides that it might be time to call in SHIELD for help.
The Hulk eventually ends up checking a local warehouse for the bomb. Instead, he finds a recording left by the Leader explaining his entire plan. Suddenly, the Hulk is attacked by Rock and Redeemer. However, despite their enhanced powers, the Hulk's brutality is too much for them and both men are incapacitated. The Leader then appears with the gamma bomb and appears to grow to massive size and overpowers the Hulk. Realizing that this is just the Leader's mental powers, the Hulk claps his hands as hard as he can, the resulting sonic boom deafens the Leader enough to break his concentration. Before the Hulk can fully recover, Rock beats him to the punch and impales him with a jagged piece of his namesake. Satisfied that he has defeated the Hulk, the Leader then teleports away with Rock and Redeemer, leaving 2 hours to go until the bomb detonates. As the Hulk inches toward the bomb to try and disarm it, outside of city limits SHIELD agents arrive on the scene with Nick Fury in tow.
Before they can do anything, and before the Hulk can disarm, the Leader activates his buried forcefield generators that seals Middletown in an impenetrible dome. Then, the Leader detonates the bomb early, annihilating the entire town in a massive gamma blast, but keeping the devestation and radiation contained within the force field.
- The recording played by the Hulk here was the one that the Leader recorded back in Incredible Hulk #342.
- Although the Hulk is seemingly killed, his survival is revealed in Incredible Hulk #347. How he managed to survive was actually explained in Incredible Hulk #351-352.
- This issue is reprinted in the trade paperback Incredible Hulk Visionaries: Peter David Volume 2
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