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Appearing in "Spiral Staircase Part 2"

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Synopsis for "Spiral Staircase Part 2"

Having follwed a mental summons to a remote cave in the Nevada desert, the Hulk found that the Leader was having his body reconstructed by strange creatures. When the Hulk asked what happened to him, since he last recalled the Leader was dead, the Leader, using his vast mental powers, pulled the Hulk into his memories. He was taken back to the final moments of the Hulk's battle with the Leader at Freehold. The Hulk witnessed the Leader being blown up along with the Deux Ex Machina machine that brought Marlo Chandler back to life. The Hulk then experienced as the Leader's mind survived the destruction of its body, as he began to reform in the mine shaft as green ooze. The Hulk returned from these memories and was told by the Leader that he began reforming his body from the dead cells of animals and others needed to reform a vessel in the final step in his ascension into a being of pure thought.

With his time running out, the Hulk asked why he was summoned, thinking the Leader wanted to see his old enemy one last time before he died. The Leader lashed out with a mental bolt and explained that if he wanted to see the Hulk die, he could do it with a simple thought. The Leader explained that he is beyond such things as world domination and petty revenge and that he summoned Bruce Banner for a reason. When the Hulk warned that if he changes back into Bruce Banner he would succumb to the neurological disease that is killing his alter-ego. The Leader said that it is immaterial because he has a way of curing Bruce Banner of his illness. The Leader turned over a helmet that would keep the disease in check until he can use the actual cure. With the helmet in hand, the Hulk took the risk of trusting the Leader and put it on, allowing himself to revert into Bruce Banner. Banner was shocked to discover that he could think straight and that the helmet worked. When he asked the Leader why he was doing this, he explained that since both men were transformed by gamma rays, he felt a kinship with the Hulk.

With a cure in hand, Bruce told the Leader to use it to bring Betty back to life instead of saving him. However, the Leader explained that he is not yet a god, and could only cure Bruce of his condition, not bring his late wife back to life. The Leader had his creatures bring out the cure and offered it to Bruce under one condition: that he witnesses the Leader's ascension to his next evolution. When he got the Leader to admit that this metamorphosis scares him, he agreed to stay and be there for the man who was once known as Samuel Sterns. The Leader's body began to change into a form just barely human and suddenly, the Leader panicked and screamed for help when suddenly his vessel exploded, leaving nothing left but an empty shell of the Hulk's old foe. The blast caused the mine shaft to cave in, but Banner saved his own life by allowing himself to transform into the Hulk. With the cure in hand, the Hulk leapt away in the hopes of using it to save his life.

Notes

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.

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