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Appearing in "Whys and Wherefores"

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Synopsis for "Whys and Wherefores"

Clay Quartermain, Rick Jones and Betty Banner find themselves before the a United States Senate Committee following the explosion of a gamma bomb in Middletown, Arizona. Clay is the first one to stand before the committee and he explains how he went AWOL from S.H.I.E.L.D. in order to locate and destroy the gamma bombs that he learned were created by the United States government. Accompanying him on this mission where Rick Jones and Bruce Banner, the latter also known as the Hulk and is also believed to have died. He explains that is why he blew up Gamma Base. When the committee asks if he was under orders from Nick Fury himself, his lawyer tells them that he cannot disclose that information thanks to a non-disclosure agreement. This causes Clay to think back to a moment prior to the destruction of Gamma Base where he had the Hulk contained. The Hulk berated Quartermain on his orders to kill the Hulk and Banner, pointing out that there is nothing different about Quartermain and the Hulk. He thinks about how he called Nick Fury for advice after the fact. Fury wanted to know nothing about what Clay was planning but told him that Quartermain should do exactly what he would do. With his recollection over, Clay decides to answer the question anyway and tells the committee that Fury did not know his plans.

In another room, Rick and Betty Banner are waiting for their turn to stand before the committee. Rick asks Betty how she is feeling since she has just recently revealed that she was pregnant. Betty tearfully tells Rick that she is thinking of aborting the baby. Not knowing what to say, Rick hugs Betty while she cries. Back inside the committee meeting, the councilmen ask Clay why he decided to help Banner. Quartermain explains that Banner helped him regain his humanity, look beyond "acceptable losses" and see the human impact of his activities as an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. He said that in helping out Bruce Banner he began to remember whom he is supposed to be fighting for. As the outside world listens in via nationwide broadcast, Clay explains that he was the horror created by one gamma bomb when it created the Hulk, he did not want to see that horror get repeated. The committe ask Clay if he was considering entering politics as what he said sounded very much like a campaign speech. While Quartermain is bashful at this idea, the public begins calling for Clay Quartermain to run for President of the United States.

Meanwhile, in the ruins of Middletown, a hazmat crew is going through the rubble. They are shocked when they see a man pull himself out of the rubble. It is the town's priest, Father Jason McCall, who is now green skinned and glowing with gamma radiation. While in New York City, the senate committee is being watched closely by J. Jonah Jameson and the staff of the Daily Bugle. When talk about Clay Quartermain running for President begin making the news rotation, Bugle photographer Peter Parker questions who would vote for him. At that very moment, an on-the-street interview with Peter's wife Mary Jane is conducted and gives her support for Quartermain.

The committee then calls upon Betty Banner to testify before them. They first ask Betty about her relationship with Bruce Banner. She explains that she fell in love with him when he was first hired to develop the gamma bomb for the military. Although she had left him many times over the years she found herself drawn back to him because she did not want the life that her father wanted for her: an arranged marriage with a military man and having children and becoming a frumpy housewife. She explains that she and the Hulk had recently come to an understanding about her relationship with Bruce. However, this was all cut short when the Hulk was caught in the gamma bomb explosion in Middletown. Betty recalls how when the blast went off the force field around the city contained the blast as well as the gamma radiation. She cursed herself and Clay and Rick for trying to try and stop the Leader on their own instead of going immediately to S.H.I.E.L.D. for help. When they finally got past the barrier and began exploring the ruins of the town, Betty recalls how they came across a man with green skin who survived the blast. When Betty begins to break down in tears, they call a recess.

News coming out of Middletown is that most of the population were killed however military officials have stated that there were a number of survivors. However, he assures the public that there will be no new Hulks created from the blast and that those who did survive will likely die of radiation poisoning. Rick, Betty, and Clay watch this news report and wonder what will happen next. They are then joined by Nick Fury who asks to speak to Clay in private. Fury explains to Clay that his popularity is so high that it would be political suicide for anyone who might attempt to persecute him. Happy to hear that he won't be punished for what happened, Clay asks what will happen to him next. Fury grabs Quartermain by the ear and tells Fury that he is going to keep him where he can maintain a close watch.

Next, Rick Jones is called to the stand to testify and after cracking wise, he tells the senators that this committee doesn't frighten him given that battles with aliens and robots and being trapped in the Negative Zone are the norm for him. Rick recounts how his carelessness on the day of the gamma bomb test was responsible for Bruce Banner getting caught in the blast and being turned into the Hulk. Rick then goes on to explain that he has remained by the Hulk's side because of the guilt he felt for cursing Bruce to this fate. Rick remained by his side until the Hulk's apparent death in Middletown and that there is nothing left of him. By this time, Betty is at the hospital waiting to get her abortion. Hearing Rick's words from the radio causes her to change her mind and she decides to keep her baby. Rick continues his testimony, explaining that they searched for the Hulk in the remains of Middletown. In the center of town, they found what looked to be the ashes of the Hulk's atomized body. No sooner had they found it was it blown away in the winds.

After he is finished his testimony, Rick goes looking for Betty after he heard that she went to the hospital. Finding her, he is relieved to hear that she didn't go through with her abortion. Betty decided that this child was the only part of Bruce Banner that is left in the world. The committee finishes their investigation and decrees that following what reporters are calling "Gammagate" that all gamma bombs created by the US government will be destroyed. Meanwhile, the survivors of Middletown are being shipped out of town, five all told. The Leader uses his mental powers to subdue the military drivers of the truck taking the survivors out. The Leader gloats over how he suceeded in his plans to create a new race of gamma-irradiated beings and how they will help him foster his new world order.


Continuity Notes

  • Clay Quartermain recalls how he had the Hulk prisoner before destroying Gamma Base. Both of these events happened in Incredible Hulk #337.
  • When discussing the possibility of Clay Quartermain running for President of the Untied States, Peter Parker and J. Jonah Jameson compare him to Oliver North. At the time of this story, North had just recently been disgraced and dismissed from the military for his part in the Iran–Contra affair. References to North in this story should be considered a topical reference per the Sliding Timescale of Earth-616.
  • Mary Jane Watson is referred to as the wife of Peter Parker in this story. The couple were initially married in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #21. However, years later their marriage was erased from existence by Mephisto as seen in Amazing Spider-Man #545. As such readers should interpret these references as Mary Jane being Peter's longtime girlfriend as opposed to his wife.
  • Betty mentions when she first fell in love with Bruce Banner, this happened in Incredible Hulk #1.
  • It is stated that the Hulk has died following the explosion of last issue. The Hulk, however, turns up alive and well next issue. How the Hulk survived and how he faked his death here is revealed in Incredible Hulk #351352

Chronology Notes

Publication Notes


"Whys and wherefores" is an old-fashioned and rather literary phrase for describing a comprehensive and detailed tale, with all the origins and motivations laid out.

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