Appearing in "Spiral Staircase Part 1"
- Bruce Banner's Mind
- Leader's Cave
Synopsis for "Spiral Staircase Part 1"
With a neurological disease consuming his mind, Bruce Banner is dying. Not convalescing in a hospital room. Doc Samson and Angela Lipscombe reach out to the scientific community to try and find some way to save Banner's life. Placing a call to Mister Fantastic of the Fantastic Four, they learn that there is nothing that the smartest man in the world can do to help them. Reed tells Leonard to pass along his thoughts and condolences. Samson tells Angela that there is nothing they can do and he even contacted Doctor Strange for help. With no other options left, the pair go into Bruce's room where Banner is being kept alive on life support. Angela kisses Bruce on the brow and tells him to try and get some sleep. Contemplating his own mortality, Bruce sheds a single tear and allows himself to go to sleep.
Bruce dreams of working in a lab with Betty by his side as an assistant. When Betty kisses him on the cheek, reality bends and the Devil Hulk grabs Banner and pulls him into the yawning abyss of his mind. Bruce finds himself on a spiral staircase that leads him down into a desert. As he ascends the staircase upwards into the darkness, something in out in the desert calls out to him, telling Bruce that it is ready for him. Bruce wakes up to find Angela standing by him with a protein shake to drink, but he tells her to go away. Bruce looks over at a photo of his late wife Betty, and struggles to say her name. As his strength gives out, Bruce Banner's final words are the name of his dead wife. He suddenly turns into the Hulk, who exits from the hospital room and tells Samson and Angela that he doesn't think Banner is coming back.
Deep inside the Hulk's mind, Bruce Banner finds himself trapped in his dying mind. There the Devil Hulk welcomes Bruce to the rest of his life. Joe Fixit asks Banner if there is anything he can do. However, letting the Professor take control of his body was the only thing he could think of to keep the Devil Hulk at bay. As Fixit and the Savage Hulk subdue the Devil, it vows that Bruce will never be rid of it. Bruce demands to know what is in the mine shaft that he has saw in his mind. The Devil Hulk refuses to answer, instead mockingly tells Bruce what it intends to do once it's free, first killing Doc Samson and then Angela. Meanwhile, in the waking world the Professor tells his allies about the messages he is getting from the mine shaft and decides to check it out. The Hulk then goes out into the desert where it finds the shaft he saw in his dream. Inside he finds strange cactus like creature carring pieces of equipments down the shaft. When he follows them down the shaft he is shocked to discover that they are reforming the body of the Leader.
- Bruce Banner states that he has Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Since this story has been published there have been advances in treating the illness and with the advent of and innovations in stem cell research could potentially lead to a cure. As such any references to what disease Bruce is suffering from should be considered a topical reference per the Sliding Timescale of Earth-616.
- There are numerous mentions to the fact that Bruce's wife, Betty Ross, had just recently died. She died of radiation poisoning in Incredible Hulk #466. She will be eventually resurrected, as seen in Incredible Hulk Vol 2 #62.
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