Appearing in "Deus Ex Machina"
- 🢐 Betty Banner 🢒
- 🢐 Rick Jones 🢒
- 🢐 Marlo Chandler 🢒 (Resurrection)
- Riot Squad
- Supreme Hydra (First and only known appearance)
- 🢐 Red Skull 🢒 (Voice) (Identity Unrevealed)
- 🢐 Captain America 🢒 (Voice)
- Fantastic Four (Mentioned)
- Mister Fantastic (Reed Richards) (Mentioned)
- Hank Pym (Mentioned)
- United States of America
- Deus Ex Machina (First appearance)
- Redeemer Armor
Synopsis for "Deus Ex Machina"
While brushing her teeth, Betty Banner is startled when the image of Agamemnon, leader of the Pantheon, appears in her mirror as he is looking for her husband. He explains that her husband stormed out when the Pantheon allied themselves with the Leader and asks if she knows where he might have went. Thinking about it for a moment, Betty thinks she knows and so Agamemnon tells her that she must help bring him back in. Betty is upset that her privacy is being invaded but gives in and tells him that she needs a minute to get ready. When she exits her home, Betty finds the Argo waiting outside with Prometheus at the wheel. She isn't phased by his scarred face, tells him to put out his cigarette and take her to the site of the gamma bomb test that created the Hulk.
Meanwhile, beneath the Columbia Ice Fields in Alberta, Canada, is the Leader's secret society of Freehold. Rick Jones is shown around by Hotshot and Jailbait who explains that the site is a sanctuary to those who have been affected by gamma radiation. Soon, Rick is taken to a nearby church where the Leader tells him and the congregation that through his minion, the Soul Man, they can bring his dead girlfriend, Marlo Chandler to life. Suddenly, a massive crystal cocoon is lowered from the ceiling and inside it is Marlo's body. Rick would consider it all insane had he not seen that Redeemer is actually Thaddeus Ross, who was long believed to be dead. Elsewhere, Hydra is mobilizing to launch an attack on Freehold. The Supreme Hydra intends to take over the facility so they can pilfer the scientific work from the location to put them back on par with AIM. He then shoots the man who would dare question his orders. He then gets a call from a partner to Hydra who advises against attacking the Leader. This man informs the Supreme Hydra that he is currently forming an organization to deal with internal disputes. However, the Supreme Hydra is uninterested in listing and moves on with his plan.
Later, at the ruins of the gamma test site, Betty Banner searches for her husband. He is upset that people constantly have needs of him but he never gets anything back. He also points out that when he needed her the most she turned her back on him. When he starts going on about how people don't care about him, she slaps him across the face when he mentions Marlo. She then tells him that Marlo is dead, snapping the Hulk out of his temper tantrum. She explains how Marlo was murdered and Rick went missing and she feels that he hates him. Finally cracking, a tearful Hulk tells his wife that he doesn't hate her and the two kiss. Betty then says that she wants to work things out with Bruce, especially since she had left so many things left unsaid to her father before he died. When Bruce suggests going to her father's grave, Betty explains that he wasn't buried at the family plot and that his body seemed to have slipped under the cracks.
At that moment in the Leader's study, Rick Jones finds it strange that even though Thaddeus Ross is alive he has no mind and wonders how he got here. The Leader reminds Rick of the night that they restored his powers. Rick recalls the ambulance he used to ride away from Bruce's secret lab. The Leader explains that the body of Ross was in the back and that the Leader took it before Rick left. He then utilized the power of the Soul Man to bring Thaddeus back to life. Rick is afraid that if the Leader uses the same process on Marlo that she is going to be reduced to a mindless zombie like Ross. The Leader then uses his powers to show Rick the energy that is swirling around them. He explains that it is a kirlian aura, basically the soul. He goes on to explain that when they brought Ross back his soul had been long gone, he believes that won't be the case with Marlo. Still, Rick cannot believe the Leader, reminding him that he had blown up 5000 people in the past. However, the Leader points out that they have an empathic bond and he cares for Marlo as much as Rick does.
Meanwhile, the Hulk and Betty go to Rick's apartment for any clues as to where he can be. When they overhear a voice mail from Captain America that mentions that Rick had seen the Fantastic Four and Hank Pym, Bruce correctly deduces that Rick must be trying to find a way to revive Marlo. Betty is getting hungry by this point and when she opens the freezer she is spooked by the holographic projection of Agamemnon again. He emerges from the fridge and tells the Hulk. He informs the Hulk that while he promised to protect the Leader's people, he made no such promise to the Leader himself, explaining that he set the Leader up for the Hulk to attack him. While the Hulk is looking forward to this final battle, Betty asks why he can't just let someone else handle it. Bruce explains that he needs to avenge the people that the Leader murdered with a gamma bomb in Middletown. She gives in and tells Bruce to what he needs to and they can figure out what to do about Rick when he gets back. While back at Freehold, Rick Jones and the Leader take another look at Marlo who is still suspended in crystal. Taking one more look at her, Rick tells the Leader to go ahead with the plan.
The Holy Man prays to god and thinks about how his life has changed since he survived the gamma bomb blast in Middletown. He is interrupted by Rick who asks if he thinks they can bring Marlo back to life. The Soul Man explains that they can if it is God's will. He asks Rick to have faith in the power. Outside, the forces of Hydra are en route to Freehold, the Supreme Hydra orders his men to prepare for attack. Meanwhile, in a lab, the Leader shows the machine that will assist in bringing Marlo back to life, aptly named the Deus Ex Machina. Rick is introduced to Omnibus, another gamma mutate from Middletown who is overseeing Marlo's resurrection. Suddenly, reports come in that Hydra are attacking. Suddenly, the image of Agamemnon appears before the Leader, who demands the Pantheon's leader to do something about the invader. Agamemnon assures the Leader that help is on the way.
In the main courtyard of Freehold, the forces of Hydra storm the compound. They are met with opposition from Ogress, Rock, Redeemer, Hotshot, and Jailbait. However, they are outnumbered and soon Ogress and Hotshot are taken down. Suddenly, the Hulk comes smashing through the artificial roof. After fighting off the Hydra forces in his path he demands to know where the Leader is. When Jailbait tells him where to find her master, and he leaves her to deal with Hotshot on her own. The Hulk fights through some more Hydra forces. He is soon confronted by Rick who tells the Hulk that the Leader has promised to bring Marlo back to life and tells him to stop his attack. However, the Hulk is not willing to believe the Leader. With the forces of Hydra having regrouped, Rick begs the Hulk to give the Leader the opportunity to save Marlo. While not far away, Soul Man is using his powers to bring Marlo back to life. Watching this are the Leader and Omnibus who are both thoroughly impressed with the Soul Man's power. The Leader contemplates taking that power for himself and claiming immortality.
The Hulk decides to give Rick the time he needs to try and resurrect Marlo and lays into the Hydra forces. As the Hulk smashes his way through the invaders, the Supreme Hydra is shot dead by Redeemer. Rick rushes back to the lab and sees that Soul Man's powers are reaching their zenith. From within the cocoon, Marlo opens her eyes. Suddenly the Hulk comes smashing through the wall. Rick begs the Hulk to stand back, but he rushes at the Leader, easily over-powering him. When Redeemer enters the room and starts firing at the Hulk, he uses the Leader as a human shield. Seeing his enemies blood on his hands he begins to laugh maniacally. The Hulk then smashes the dome on Redeemers armor and is shocked to see that it is Ross, who then shoots Bruce in the face. Meanwhile, Rick is trying to get Marlo free from her cocoon, however, the Leader pushes a button on the console to free her. As the rest of Riot Squad regroup outside, the Hulk continues his battle in the lab. After knocking out Ross, the Hulk spots the Leader trying to climb into the crystal cocoon and tosses Ross into. There is a massive explosion that takes out the entire building. Outside, Rick tries to get Marlo to talk, and fears that like Thaddeus Ross she might be a blank slate.
The Hulk pulls himself out of the rubble and finds no trace of the Leader. He finds that Thaddeus Ross is dead, again. He also finds the maimed body of the Soul Man whose final wards are wishes of peace to the Hulk. In the aftermath of the battle both the Hulk and Rick wonder what they have done.
Appearing in "A Titan Rides the Train!"
Synopsis for "A Titan Rides the Train!"
The Leader has just completed his special humanoid. He reflects back on the events that led to his super-intelligence:
He was a lowly laborer working in a chemical research plant. One day, while hauling waste material in the plant's sub-basement, he was caught in a Gamma explosion caused by an exploding Gamma-ray cylinder. Surviving the ordeal, he soon found that he had an insatiable thirst for knowledge, and began reading books at a frenzied rate. One day, while reading in his study, a dizzy spell struck him, and eventually the effects of the Gamma rays had completed his transformation into a man of emerald skin and a large brain. He began calling himself the Leader and became a scientific genius. He organized his own spy ring in order to overthrow the government. His Humanoid is his most recent attempt to do so.
Meanwhile, at the New Mexico rocket base, the Chameleon revives and digs himself out of the rubble caused by his battle with the Hulk (Last issue). Elsewhere on the base, General Ross and Major Talbot discuss the Pentagon's request to have Bruce Banner and one of his latest nuclear inventions moved to another base. Not trusting Banner, and expecting interference from the Hulk, Ross sends Talbot to act as security officer to keep an eye on things. Later, the Chameleon - now in a new disguise - overhears these plans being told to Bruce Banner and informs the Leader. The Leader sees this as a perfect chance to use his Humanoid.
The Humanoid is dropped off onto the train and is spotted by military personnel, who quickly learn that the Humanoid is immune to their weapons. Informed of the situation, Talbot locks Banner in a room aboard the train while he deals with the crisis. Banner gets worked up enough to trigger the change that will turn him into the Hulk.
The Hulk smashes out of the train and spots the Humanoid, just as it removes the rail-car containing the nuclear device. The Hulk battles the Humanoid, but finds that he cannot damage its pliable form, and is soon tossed off the train.
The Hulk bounds back onto the train for a second attack, and during the skirmish causes the rail-car with the nuclear device to unbolt. Part of his memories as Banner make the Hulk realize that if the device is knocked loose from the car it will devastate a nearby town. He knocks the Humanoid off the train, breaking its connection with the Leader. The Hulk jumps back to the train and stops the device from breaking free.
Landing on the ground, the Hulk suddenly feels the transformation changing him back into Banner kick in. Later, Talbot finds Banner in the desert. Suspicious that the supposedly detained Banner is free (and in possession of the missing device!), he orders Banner arrested. Back at the Leader's hideout, the Leader determines that he must learn more about the Hulk so that he can destroy him, while Banner himself is locked in a military jail cell.
Deus Ex Machina
- The man who is talking to the Supreme Hydra is the Red Skull and the organization he is creating is the so-called New World Order which is formed later in Incredible Hulk #402–404.
- Mentions are made of how Thaddeus Ross had died, this happened in Incredible Hulk #330. His body was taken by the Leader following the events of Incredible Hulk #332.
- The Leader states that the original Redeemer, Craig Saunders had died. He was last seen in Incredible Hulk #366. His caused of death is unexplained.
- Multiple mentions are made as to how the town of Middletown was decimated by a gamma bomb set off by the Leader. That happened in Incredible Hulk #345.
- Although Thaddeus Ross is killed here he is resurrected yet again using the same technology, and his mind is fully restored, as explained in Incredible Hulk #464.
The flashback in this story affects the chronology of the following characters:
This story also includes a few pin-ups. They are:
- The Hulk celebrating his 400th issue with Betty, Mister Fantastic, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Captain America, and the Human Torch.
- The Hulk and Betty on the beach.
- The Hulk pulling an electrical wire out of the ground.
- The Hulk battling the Rhino.