Appearing in "Countdown The Leader"
Synopsis for "Countdown The Leader"
At the Yucca Flats nuclear research facility, Doc Samson asks the military commander on the scene when they are going to wrap up their investigation of the Hulk's activity there. However, the commanding officer isn't finished yet. Suddenly, a transport truck comes crashing down from the sky. Finding no soldiers inside, they suspect that the Hulk might have been responsible for tossing it. Soon Doc Samson is part of a convoy going out to search for the Hulk in the desert. They are unaware that the Hulk was actually hiding under the piled up junk in the back of the truck. He makes short work of the soldiers still on the scene. He then grabs one of them and forces him to reveal that the Abomination is being taken to a nearby airfield to be shipped to Project PEGASUS. The Hulk grabs the soldier as insurance and leaps off in the direction of the convoy. The Hulk's departure is observed from inside the facility by the Madman, the person responsible for poisoning the Hulk. When he is spotted by one of the soldiers guarding the facility, the Madman introduces himself before he kills the soldier. The Madman is also unaware that he too is being observed, by the Leader, who is concerned for Philip Sterns the Madman's unwilling partner. The Leader is ready to begin the next phase of his plan.
Not far away, the convoy carrying the Abomination is still moving along. It is stopped by the arrival of the Hulk. They try to stop the gamma-spawned brute with a tank, but even in his weakened state the Hulk still manages to overturn it. The Hulk then approaches Abomination and takes a moment to admire the damage he did to his foe with toxic waste during their earlier battle. He then demands that the Abomination tell him who was responsible for poisoning him. The Abomination refuses to talk even when the Hulk threatens violence. However, before he can get some answers the Hulk is surrounded by soldiers. Before he can attack, the Hulk is suddenly teleported away to the Leader's base. The Hulk tries to attack his old foe immediately, the Leader uses his telekinetic powers to knock the brute back. Realizing that this has to be done the hard way, the Leader orders his minions the Riot Squad to deal with the Hulk.
The is suddenly attacked by Rock and Redeemer, and although his weakened state has him vulnerable to their attacks, the Hulk was able to knock them back. He then tries to put some distance between himself and his foes and collapses two buildings on them. The Hulk thinks about how the poison in his body will eventually kill him especially if it becomes daytime and he transforms back into Bruce Banner. Deciding to keep heading west to keep in the night time and buy himself some time, the Hulk goes to leap out of the Leader's city, but finds himself contained in an energy sphere. This sphere is cast by one of the survivors of Middletown, a young woman now calling herself Jailbait. When the Hulk tries to break free, Jailbait's boyfriend Hotshot tries to contain him by shooting bolts of gamma rays. These bolts hurt the Hulk and he responds by slamming his fists on the ground sending all of his attackers falling to the ground. He then starts battling Rock once again but the fight is interrupted by yet another gamma-mutate, a strong woman calling herself Ogress.
Seeing that the Hulk has been sufficiently weakened by the battle, the Leader calls an end to it. He then offers the Hulk a chance to talk about his life or death situation but tells the Hulk that he can leave if he wants. When the Hulk tries to leap out of the city he strikes the phony sky and realizes that the town is domed over. He then decides to listen to what the Leader has to say. His old foe tells the Hulk that the man responsible for poisoning him is a being calling himself Madman, someone the Leader also wishes to see dead because he is frightened by him. The Leader explains that after learning that Madman had targeted Bruce Banner, he hired the Abomination to force a transformation into the Hulk in order to save his life. Taking the Hulk into his observation room, the Leader offers to provide the location of Betty Banner if the Hulk agrees to stop the Madman.
- One of the military officials makes the mistake of thinking the Hulk is green and stupid. This has not been the case since Incredible Hulk #325 when Banner was put into a nutrient bath that caused a reversion to his original gray Hulk form.
- This is the last appearance of Craig Saunders as the Redeemer. In Incredible Hulk #400 the Leader states that Saunders was killed.
- Most of the members of the Leader's Riot Squad are survivors of the Middletown explosion seen in Incredible Hulk #345, the Leader recovered them in the following issue.
- What nobody knows here is that Philip Sterns and the Madman are the same individual. This is revealed next issue.
- This issue is reprinted in the trade paperback Incredible Hulk Visionaries: Peter David Volume 5
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