Appearing in "Spiral Staircase Part 2"

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Synopsis for "Spiral Staircase Part 2"

Following a mental summons to a remote cave in the Nevada desert, the Hulk finds that the Leader is having his body reconstructed by strange creatures. When the Hulk asks what happened to him, as far as he recalls the Leader was dead, using his vast mental powers the Leader pulls the Hulk into his memories. He is taken back to the final moments of the Hulk's battle with the Leader at Freehold. The Hulk witnesses as the Leader is blown up along with the Deux Ex Machina machine that brought Marlo Chandler back to life. The Hulk then experiences as the Leader's mind survived the destruction of its body when suddenly he began to reform in the mine shaft as green ooze. The Hulk returns from these memories and is told by the Leader that he began reforming his body from the dead cells of animals and other needed to reform a vessel the final step in his assention into a being of pure thought.

With his time running out the Hulk asks why he was summoned, thinking the Leader wanted to see his old enemy one last time before he died. The Leader lashes out with a mental bolt and explains that if he wanted to see the Hulk die, he could do it with a simple thought. The Leader explains that he is beyond such things as world domination and petty revenge and that he summoned Bruce Banner for a reason. When the Hulk warns that if he changes back into Bruce Banner he will succumb to the neurological disease that is killing his alter-ego. The Leader says that it is immaterial because they has a way of curing Bruce Banner of his illness. The Leader turns over a helmet that will keep the disease in check until he can use the actual cure. With the helmet in hand, the Hulk takes a the risk of trusting the Leader and puts it on and then allows himself to revert into Bruce Banner. Banner is shocked to discover that he can think straight and that the helmet works. When he asks the Leader why he is doing this, he explains that since both men were transformed by gamma rays, he has felt a kinsmanship with the Hulk.

With a cure in hand, Bruce tells the Leader to use it to bring Betty back to life instead of saving him. However, the Leader explains that he is not god, at least not yet, and can only cure Bruce of his condition, not bring his late wife back to life. The Leader then has his creatures bring out the cure and offers it to Bruce under one condition: he witnesses the Leader's ascension to his next evolution. When he gets the Leader to admit that this metamorphosis scares him, he agrees to stay and be there for the man who was once known as Samuel Sterns. The Leaders body begins to change into a form just barely human and suddenly, the Leader panics and screams for help when suddenly his vessel explodes, leaving nothing left but an empty shell of the Hulk's old foe. The blast causes the mine shaft to cave in, but Banner saves his own life by allowing himself to transform into the Hulk. With the cure in hand, the Hulk leaps away in the hopes of using it to save his life.


Continuity Notes

  • 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.
  • The Leader mentions the demise of his physical body which happened in Incredible Hulk #400. This doesn't explain how the Leader appeared in his physical form between Savage Hulk #1 which happened between that story and this. However, it could be assumed that the Leader reformed a duplicate of his original body before creating the one seen in this story.
  • 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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