Appearing in "Phasing Out"
Races and Species:
Synopsis for "Phasing Out"
A coyote howls at the moon in the dead of night in the middle of the Nevada desert. Spotting a road runner it tries to race after the creature for food. Suddenly, a werewolf leaps out of the darkness and slaughters the coyote, feasting on its corpse. This creature is the so-called Werewolf by Night who continues to hunt for more prey as the night wanes on. It comes across the Hulk who is in the middle of an argument with his alter-ego Bruce Banner over going to see Marlo Chandler. The Hulk wants to see his ex-girlfriend and try and patch things up, but Banner refuses, believing that the poor woman has suffered enough by their hands. Their argument is cut short when the Werewolf attacks them. Although the Hulk is much stronger than the Werewolf, the creature proves unable to fight off. With the sun coming up, the Hulk fears that if he turns back into Bruce Banner while fighting this creature he will get slaughtered. Through sheer force of will, the Hulk manages to stave off the transformation long enough to fight the creature off, unaware that it too will change in the sun. As the Hulk reverts back into Bruce Banner, not far away the Werewolf reverts back to Jack Russell. Unaware of each others proximity, both men go off in different directions to get out of the desert. Jack Russel thinks about how he came to the desert to avoid killing anyone while the Werewolf and vaguely recalls fighting something. Eventually, he finds cover in the form of an atomic bunker. Getting inside, Jack tries to seal himself inside so that the Werewolf cannot get back out come nightfall.
Meanwhile, an elderly Native American man named George drives out into the desert. The last surviving member of his tribe his only friend is a coyote that he had befriended and has come to see as a totem of good luck. However, when he arrives in the desert he sees that the creature had been eviscerated in the middle of the night, a bad omen. While back in Las Vegas, Marlo Chandler tries to get out of going to work but her roommate Mona tells her that she needs to get on with her life after her whirlwind relationship with Joe Fixit and his "half-brother" "Bruce Bancroft". However, Marlo can't get over who the romance ended but she hasn't heard from Joe since he was fired from Michael Berengetti's casino and she has no idea what happened to Bruce.
Bruce Banner is working at a nuclear research facility in Yucca Flats as a janitor. He is hoping that through his job he might find a way to cure himself of being the Hulk. While sweeping a floor he pauses because he notices that one of the devices is reading a higher rad level. This is noticed by one of the scientists who is impressed that "Bruce Bancroft" is so knowledgeable of nuclear technology. "Bancroft" brushes off the questions and makes a note to himself to be more careful with situations like this lest he blow his cover. Bruce notes that something happened to the Hulk in the desert, but somehow the Hulk managed to block this, giving him the idea to block his plans from the Hulk as well as give a sense of urgency to his mission. Suddenly, Banner crumples in pain and suddenly demands to know where there is a phone.
Strangely, Bruce finds himself calling Marlo Chandler and tells her where he's working. Bruce finds that the headache he was suffering stopped the moment he called. No sooner has he told Marlo where he is, does the woman hang up the phone so she can rush out to see him. The whole phone call makes Bruce realizes that the Hulk can assert his influence over him and wonders if his actions are truly his own. More horrifying to consider: Is he really working on a cure for himself, or is the Hulk secretly trying to cure himself of Bruce Banner? As the hours pass, Bruce wonders what could be taking Marlo so long. Marlo has troubles of her own as she accidentally crashed her roommate's car and has to start hitching the rest of the way. She is picked up by George the elderly Native American. Elsewhere, Jack Russel has barricaded the door in his shelter as best he can and hopes that it is enough to keep the Werewolf contained come nightfall.
At George's service station, Marlo calls Bruce from a payphone and tells him what happened and offers to take him out for dinner. Bruce abruptly cancels their meet and drives out into the desert alone, as sunset is coming and he feels his transformation into the Hulk. As Bruce turns into the Hulk, at the bomb shelter, Jack Russel turns into the Werewolf. The Hulk remarks how he was able to stave off his transformation during the day, yet Banner couldn't do anything to stop his coming, thinking that opens all sorts of doors for him. Meanwhile, the Werewolf is easily able to break free from the room which Jack Russel tried to trap him in. The Werewolf soon locates George's gas station and attacks George and Marlo. Marlo manages to escape in George's truck, but the Werewolf is able to keep up with her. This chase is witnessed by the Hulk who contemplates sitting back and watching the creature kill Marlo, feeling that is a suitable punishment for her dumping him.
However, the Hulk cannot bring himself to stand by and let the woman he cared about get slaughtered. The Hulk leaps in and battles the Werewolf again, however, the creature cannot be completely stopped. Instead, the Hulk wraps the Werewolf in a chain and uses it to toss it very far away. There is a brief happy reunion between the Hulk and Marlo, but the Hulk stops it and admits that he almost let her get killed by the Werewolf. The Hulk has finally come to realise that Marlo was always in love with something that was "inside him". That thing inside him is the persona of Bruce Banner, which the Hulk (without revealing who he is) explains is not him. The Hulk has finally realized that he doesn't need anybody. With that, he says goodbye to Marlo and leaps off into the desert.
- Marlo Chandler broke up with "Joe Fixit" in Incredible Hulk #357.
- This issue is reprinted in the trade paperback Incredible Hulk Visionaries: Peter David Volume 4
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