Appearing in "Monster in the Meadow"
- Spider-Man (Cameo)
- Joy Meachum
- Brock Jones
- Maggie Jones
- Edward Harris
- Forest Mosbaugh (Only appearance)
- A Freight Train
Synopsis for "Monster in the Meadow"
The Hulk is not in a particularly good mood as he walks through a forest, leaving a trail of battered trees. Soon he finds a clearing through which a quiet stream is flowing, calms down, and takes a drink. He does not notice the aircraft hovering silently overhead on jets of air, whose pilot, wearing a red cape, costume, and mask, Is observing him on a viewscreen. The pilot has found the green-skinned giant with a gamma-ray tracer, and the aircraft soon lands nearby. Sneaking up unseen, the pilot tries to take control of the Hulk's mind with a meto-probe. When the device is turned on, its high-frequency signal penetrates deep into the Hulk's brain, but It only gives him a headache. Then he turns around and sees the pilot. At first, the pilot tries to convince the Hulk it is hopeless to resist, but when the Hulk snatches the meto-probe and crushes it, the pilot cringes in terror. Then the Hulk tears away the face mask and sees that the pilot is a young black woman. This confuses him, but she stands her ground and introduces herself as Nightshade. She did not know her machine would hurt him, she says, and she badly needs his help. As the Hulk listens patiently, she explains that certain men have stolen a special package from her, and he is the only one strong enough to get it back. The Hulk replies that if she wanted him to help, she should simply have asked him. He agrees to get the package for her, and then he carries her to the aircraft and they fly away together.
It is late at night as Alfred Savin watts impatiently by the Brooklyn Bridge at Manhattan's Lower East Side waterfront. Soon he sees a large man deposit a battered briefcase in a trashcan, and after the man departs, Savin retrieves the case and opens it. Much to his delight, the case contains $500,000 in cash. From his pocket, he pulls a roll of film that contains indiscreet photographs of a prominent young television actress from the days when she was struggling to earn a living. He obtained the film while working as the photographer's assistant, and now she has paid plenty to see that those photographs are never published. As he holds the film, he decides that he can earn still more money, so he starts to pocket it. But a man steps from the shadows to warn him against doing that. When Savin pulls his .45 automatic pistol, his opponent, Iron Fist, explains that he and his partner, Power Man, were hired by the actress to retrieve the film. Savin fires repeatedly, but Iron Fist easily sidesteps the steel-jacketed bullets and delivers a swift karate kick. Savin throws the film at him and runs away clutching the briefcase in terror. Moments later, as he congratulates himself on getting away, he slams into Power Man. Knocked over by the impact, Savin whips out a sawed-off double-barreled shotgun and fires it point-blank into Luke Cage's chest. Unfortunately for Savin, this only tears Cage's shirt and makes him angry, and he hurls Savin high over Iron Fist's head. Power Man and Iron Fist are pleased that they have both film and money, and Iron Fist says that their client, Ms. Page, will be pleased as well. As they depart, Spider-Man, attracted by the gunfire, sees that the situation is well in hand and web-swings away.
At noon the following day, at Heroes for Hire's l4th-floor Park Avenue office, Power Man and Iron Fist, together with their secretary Jennie Royce, are in conference with insurance agent Brock Jones and his client, Joy Meachum. Jones explains that Joy Meachum's company, Rand-Meachum, happened to develop an important new computer circuit that must be transported to a research lab near Chicago. However, he continues, they have uncovered evidence of an information leak, so they must hire Iron Fist and Power Man to guard the circuit during shipment. The circuit is one of a kind and cannot be duplicated until it is analyzed in Chicago. Cage is not particularly thrilled with being a mere security guard, but Jennie tells him that Delmar Insurance, Brock Jones's company, will pay three times his normal rate. As Jones pulls maps from his briefcase, Cage quickly agrees to take the assignment. The first leg of the journey will be by freight train to Chattanooga, Tennessee. From there, the specially sealed boxcar carrying Iron Fist, Power Man, and the circuit will switch to a Nashville-bound train. Then it will go to Memphis and finally to Chicago. En route to Chattanooga, Cage grouses to Iron Fist that nothing is worth spending 30 hours cooped up in a furnished freight car. Iron Fist finds it ironic that they are guarding something *his own father's company developed. Cage feels useless because the car's super-reinforced steel walls should take care of any potential thief, but Iron Fist reminds him that although there are several decoy trains, which will fool most amateurs, "big time operators" could still find the car. They are the ones that they have been hired to stop. Cage opens a book and Iron Fist settles into a meditative Zen trance to pass the hours. Suddenly something slams into the boxcar and two green fists tear through its steel wall as if it were paper. More quickly than Cage and Iron Fist can react, the Hulk picks up the car and rips it in half. Iron Fist is trapped under a chunk of the car, but Cage is thrown free. The Hulk quickly locates the metal box that Nightshade has sent him for and starts to carry it away. Cage grabs him around the neck from behind, but the Hulk easily shrugs him off. Meanwhile, Iron Fist funnels his Inner strength Into his fist and slams it into the boxcar wall. But when he breaks free, he finds only Luke Cage. The box with the circuit is gone. The Hulk quickly leaps away to a small A-frame cottage several miles from the derailed train and hands Nightshade the circuit. She is astounded that he was able to follow her instructions, and she offers him a chair. Unfortunately, he crushes the chair when he sits down, which makes him angry. Nervous, Nightshade manages to calm him down, and he says that she is good to him—unlike the "others," who only try to "trick" him. One day, he will have his revenge on them, he promises.
Early the next morning, Power Man and Iron Fist are joined by Delmar Insurance representatives at the train station on the outskirts of Willoughby, Tennessee. Stationmaster Forest Mosbaugh has not seen this much activity since Harry Truman came through in 1948. The three people from Delmar are Eddie Harris, Maggie Jones, and Aaron Stack, who has battled the Hulk before as Machine Man. The station swarms with state troopers. Stack knows that Harris is too incompetent to handle the investigation when a dangerous creature like the Hulk is involved, so he slips away to create a distraction. Standing beneath nearby telephone wires, he activates the radio-wave mode of his throat's speech control center and causes the station's telephone to ring. When Mosbaugh answers, Stack asks to speak with Harris, and when Harris comes to the phone, Stack imitates the voice of Harris's bookie and informs him that the Irish soccer team he bet on has paid off fifty to one. The "bookie" insists that Harris return to New York at once to collect his winnings, and Harris gleefully departs in a helicopter, leaving Stack in charge—much to the dismay of Maggie Jones, who believes she should have been left in charge instead. But at that moment, Stack is placing his folded clothes into a hollow storage compartment in his right thigh. Then he removes the collapsible helmet section from his left-leg storage compartment, puts it on his head, and changes into Machine Man. Swooping out of the station's men's room, he lands on the lawn by Power Man and Iron Fist, saying that he has come to help battle the Hulk. He introduces himself to the startled onlookers as Robot X-51, the Machine Man, and Cage recognizes him as the mechanical man that Senator Brickman has recently been ranting about. He assures them that he has battled the Hulk before. The finger sensors in his hand unit will allow him to track the mild gamma radiation emitted by the Hulk, he says. After some discussion, Cage and Iron Fist agree to let Machine Man join them. Maggie Jones is chagrined when in addition they elect to leave the insurance people out because the Hulk is too dangerous, and she starts to make plans of her own.
Later that morning, Machine Man is flying above a country road, following the Hulk's radiation, and Power Man and Iron Fist are driving a jeep below. Neither Cage nor Iron Fist suspects that Maggie Jones has stowed away beneath a tarpaulin in the back of the car. The bumps are worth it, she thinks because she will have the case cracked before Eddie and Aaron know what's going on. The jeep communicates with Machine Man by radio. As Machine Man flies higher to get a better fix on the Hulk, he notices a dramatic increase in gamma-ray emission when he passes over a house. Machine Man tells Cage and Iron Fist where the A-frame dwelling is, but then he detects a sudden radiation increase that indicates the Hulk might be going on a rampage. He dives through the roof, but much to his surprise he finds the Hulk asleep on the floor. Unable to explain the sudden gamma-release, Machine Man shakes the Hulk awake. Meanwhile, the jeep pulls up and Cage and Iron Fist run out. Maggie Jones, somewhat roughed up from the ride, disentangles herself from the tarpaulin. When the two heroes for hire enter the A-frame, they are greeted by Machine Man and Bruce Banner. Banner is groggy and cannot remember what he did as the Hulk, and Machine Man points out that the Hulk's food was heavily laced with a sedative. This relaxed him enough to change him back to Banner, he says. Suddenly Maggie Jones enters and accuses Banner of robbing the train. She does not believe his amnesia story and asserts that he turned into the Hulk to steal that circuit. When she angrily slaps Banner in the face, he warns her to leave him alone, but it is too late, and he changes into the Hulk. Maggie is mortified, and Machine Man extends his telescoping arms and swiftly carries her out the door. The Hulk recognizes his former antagonist, Machine Man, and hurls him at Luke Cage. When Maggie sees both Machine Man and Power Man smash through the side of the A-frame, she quickly flees. Iron Fist is the only one left inside to face the Hulk, and he attacks with a flurry of martial-arts blows. These have no effect whatsoever, so Iron Fist concentrates his strength and slams the Hulk with his glowing fist. This does jolt the Hulk slightly, and he becomes angry that Iron Fist tried to hurt him. Then Cage enters to explain that the Hulk was tricked by whoever persuaded him to wreck the train. By the time Machine Man enters, the Hulk is quite confused about who his friends and enemies are, but soon he identifies Nightshade as the culprit.
Sometime later, a sports car pulls into the Bates Motor Inn just off Interstate 24, and the driver, Nightshade, heads for a secluded second-story room. She removes her trenchcoat and opens her suitcase, which contains a built-in remote computer terminal. Using the motel television for her video display and the telephone for her audio hookup, she snaps the Rand-Meachum super-circuit into place and sets to work. She soon discovers to her delight that she can call up systems all over the world, and not a single tail safe can stop her. She transfers $46,500,000 into her bank account, but before she can do anything else, the Hulk, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist crash through the ceiling. The Hulk angrily accuses her of lying to him, so she runs out the door, but Machine Man is levitating outside the balcony waiting for her. He explains that they followed her aircraft's heat trail and her car's tire tracks, and when she realizes that she has finally been caught, she faints. As Machine Man carries her to the bed, he can hardly believe that this young girl is a criminal mastermind. Meanwhile, Power Man and Iron Fist discover from the television readout that Nightshade had tapped into the Defense Department's computer network. As a result, the United States is three minutes away from launching a nuclear attack on the Soviet Union. The Hulk is bewildered, but Machine Man quickly countermands the program and undoes Nightshade's mischief, and then Luke Cage crushes the super-circuit with his hand. But Nightshade had only faked her fainting spell, as the four crimefighters discover when they turn around and find her gone. The sound of tires screeching in the distance tells them how she escaped. Shortly after, Nightshade is driving confidently down the highway, already planning her next crime. Suddenly the Hulk drops from the sky and shatters her automobile. She is flung into a drainage ditch, and when she surfaces, she starts to cry. The Hulk decides she is not worth smashing, and as the state police pull up, he bounds away.
The next day in New York, Jennie Royce chews out Luke Cage and Iron Fist for flubbing their assignment. Cage declares that Rand-Meachum will survive without the circuit, and so will a lot of other folks. Across town at Delmar Insurance, Eddie Harris is puzzled, because his bookie says he never called him. Aaron Stack assures him that everyone makes mistakes. Just then Maggie Jones arrives, screaming mad at being stranded in the middle of nowhere. She and Harris leave the room quarreling as Pamela Quinn hands Stack the final report on the Rand-Meachum job. She gives him the good news that Rand-Meachum is not filing a claim and is renewing its policy. Apparently, Daniel Rand put in a good word for Delmar with Joy Meachum. Aaron Stack, the Machine Man, does not know that this is because Rand of Rand-Meachum is actually Iron Fist.
- The robot also recounts his more recent travels through the sewers of Manhattan. That was in Machine Man #14.
- First and only known appearance to date besides flashbacks
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