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Al Ewing (writer), Joe Bennett (penciler), Ruy Jose (inker), Paul Mounts (colorist), Virtual Calligraphy's Cory Petit (letterer), Alex Ross (cover artist), Maxx Lim; Mike Deodato Jr & Rain Beredo (variant cover artists), Sarah Brunstad (associate editor), Wil Moss (editor), Tom Brevoort (executive editor), CB Cebulski (editor-in-chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)
Hulk created by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby
A family is forced to evacuate their Iowa home in the middle of the night as the Hulk is battling the Avengers. There is something different about the Hulk, who fights the Avengers with a rage like nothing they have seen before. He is relentless in his attack against Thor, Iron Man and the Black Panther as they each try to take him down. Iron Man is forced to leave his armor and connects with something called Code: Helios. Captain Marvel is against Iron Man's plan as she supervisors the evacuation of the civilians, for even though the civilians will be safe, their homes and businesses remain. Captain America sides with Captain Marvel as he helps the badly injured Thor to safety. Hulk is then met in battle by his cousin, She-Hulk. The mysterious rage within the Hulk taunts She-Hulk, who tries to tell him that she is nothing like him, before Hulk sends her careening miles away across town. Iron Man decides that the time is right to activate Code: Helios. The weapon is launched from space and strikes the entire town below. Aboard one of the evacuation transports, Captain Marvel meets the family who fled their home earlier, one of the boys is playing with an action figure in her likeness and decides she has to tell the civilians what has happened to their town. Once the dust settles, Captain America, Iron Man and Black Panther locate the remains of the Hulk, although the Black Panther suspects that if it wasn't for the lamps they had with them, the Hulk would rise again. With the Hulk defeated, his remains are handed in to a mysterious organization called Shadow Base, where a scientist talks to the Hulk, whose body parts have begun to regenerate.
Iowa, “Gotta use the mega-laser, Captain Marvel!” a boy calls out, playing with his action figure including an Iron Man toy and a Captain Marvel toy. “Don't do it, Iron Man!” the boy exclaims. “I gotta! We got not choice!” the boy continues playing with his toys, when suddenly, his father ruses into the living room: 'Julian – we gotta go, buddy, okay?' he calls out. 'But Iron Man's firing the mega-laser -' Julian calls back. 'Todd, let him take his toys -' Todd's wife remarks as she rushes over to them, holding another boy's hand. 'Sure, but we have to go, okay, pal?' Todd tells Julian, picking him up, the family rushes out of the house. 'We have to go right now' Todd declares, remarking that the evacuation point is out at the elementary school. 'Wait – we can't just leave like this -' the woman tells Todd, who reminds her that green alert means drop everything and run. 'We took too long as it is' Todd adds. The woman points back at the house and tells her husband that they need to lock up, that the door is open wide. The woman's eyes go wide as she looks back at the house, only to see a car crash into it. 'That – that was a car – that was a skeleton in a car -' the woman gasps as she sees Ghost Rider in the car. 'Michelle! Henry! Run!' Todd calls out to his wife and other son.
A news report advises the audience that a level three superhuman conflict is currently raging at the edge of Georgeville, Iowa, between the Avengers, and what eyewitnesses are saying is the Hulk, and despite some near misses, there have been no casualties as of yet – but obviously that could change.
There is a mighty KRRAAK as the Hulk slams a fist into Thor's face – causing him to lose a tooth! 'By Odin!' Thor gasps. 'Daddy can't help you now' Hulk snarls, looming over Thor. Captain America steps between them, 'Thor – behind me!' Cap exclaims, raising his shield, blocking a punch that the Hulk throws at him. 'Look! It's Captain Hydra!' Hulk snarls. 'When I rip off your head, will two more take its place?' Hulk asks. 'That...wasn't me' Cap retorts, holding his ground, while in the reflection of his shield, Hulk's image doesn't appear – it is Brian Banner, Bruce's father. The Black Panther tells Captain America to see to Thor, while he can take it from here. Black Panther leaps onto Hulk's shoulders, which causes the Hulk to try and shake him off. 'Perhaps this will bring him to his senses' Black Panther wonders, as he presses his fingers to the Hulk's head. The Hulk screams, then swings around, causing Black Panther to slip backwards.
'Let's hope – if not, I've got our big gun parked at 10,000 feet' Iron Man, wearing a bulky armor, announces, raising his hands, readying his repulsor rays. 'Only if we need it, my friend. Some weapons should remain the last resort – and Code: Helios is one of them!' Black Panther remarks as he leaps away from the Hulk as Iron Man fires the repulsor rays at close range. At the same time, Captain America asks Thor if he is okay, remarking that he doesn't think he has ever seen him get hit that hard. 'He...he is stronger than he was. Vastly so' Thor responds. Thor gets to his feet and tells Cap that Hulk sees the naked souls of men, smells the lies in their hearts, hidden even from themselves. 'You...you might have a concussion, Thor. You're rambling' Cap remarks, adding that lies don't have a smell. 'Are you sure?' Thor replies, pointing out that Cap lives in the mortgal world, of science and law, what he can perceive. 'But I live in a world of legend and symbol. The world of the gods'. Thor reminds him.
'Thor, are you suggesting -' Cap begins, as the Hulk stares down the barrel of Iron Man's repulsor rays once again. Thor looks at Cap as he explains that he is suggesting that in its rage, its pain, in the shadow of armageddon, his mortal world may have produced something very close to a god or a devil, perhaps. “Devil Hulk” the Hulk grins, as he announces that works for him, and he slams his fists into Iron Man's bulky armor. Inside the armor is Tony Stark, who receives critical damage alerts. His computer tels him that evasive action is required. 'Evade. Evade' the computer repeats over and over. 'EVADE THIS!' the Hulk roars as he suddenly tears Iron Man's arms from the armor. 'Warning. Catastrophic damage' the computer tells Tony Stark, warning him that cascade failure is imminent. Within the armor, Tony tries to eject. 'Motherboard – I said eject! Eject, dammit!' Tony calls out, but his armor does not respond.
Black Panther leaps onto Iron Man's shoulders and tells the Hulk that Stark will die unless they get him out. 'The man is your friend -' Black Panther begins. 'My friend?' the Hulk responds, turning to Black Panther. “Perhaps this will bring you to your senses” Hulk quotes, as he grabs one of the torn off Iron Man arms and slams it into Black Panther, knocking him backwards, while Iron Man's computer warns him of imminent failure. 'Come on – launch manual release – don't jam, don't jam -' Tony utters, before the upper part of the armor suddenly bursts open, and carries Tony upwards above the rest of the armor which explodes. Tony radios the others, informing them that he is alive, but the ndew Hulkbuster armor is a write off, and he doesn't think they are going to win this one – not without cost. He tells them that he is unlocking the big gun – he is preppring Code: Helios. 'Tony – no. This is a civilian area' Carol replies over the communicator. As Iron Man connects the part of the armor with something larger in the sky above Iowa, Tony tells Carolo that the civilians will be out of the area.
Carol is currently supervising the evaucation, as civilians are loaded into ecape jets, Tony reminds Carol that their split their forces to make certain of that. 'Anyone can punch, but only Captain Marvel can organize putting a thousand people on Alpha Flight transports'. As several of the train-like jets take off, Carol reminds Tony that it is more than people – there are homes and business. Captain America joins the conversation, suggesting to Tony that they save Code: Helios until they are out of options, and reports that he isn't seeing movement here, so it is possible Hulk was tkane out in the blast – but suddenly, the Hulk rises from the remains of the Hulkbuster armor. 'I can still fight him...once...once my troll-damned vision clears...' Thor utters, as Cap helps him to stand. 'When the time comes, soldier. For now – we fall back' Cap tells Thor, helping him to walk away from the Hulk. Captain America then instructs everyone to get out of range, deciding that they might need the Helios gun yet. Cap then tells Jennifer that he is sorry, that he didn't want it to come to this – but it is time – she is up.
The Hulk lumbers down a road, 'Huh?' he remarks when he notices a shadow fall over him. 'Huk! SMASH!' She-Hulk shouts as she drops down on Hulk, slamming her fist into his face. The road breaks up, forming a crater upon the impact, as She-Hulk pins Hulk down to the ground. 'Bruce hurt Jen! Hurt his friends! Hurt us all! So now – now -' She-Hulk calls out, before Hulk grabs her fist: 'Now you're mad' Hulk tells her, as he leaps back to his feet, both Hulks locked in combat, 'And the madder you get...right? Funny how that works...' Hulk remarks. 'Shut up! Hulk smash you – smash -' She-Hulk begins, as Hulk tells her that he was everything Banner wanted to hide, everything he pretended he wasn't. 'You were everything Walters wanted to show the world she was. Only now that line between us is harder to see, ain't it? What do you think...Hulk?' the Hulk leers at She-Hulk, who looks horrified, 'No – Hulk is not – I'm not like you!' she gasps. 'Gotcha' Hulk grins as he slams his fist into her, knocking her so hard she is sent flying backwards across the town, through a water tower in the process.
'Hulk got Jen. She's a mile away already – two – she's going to land hard' Tony reports to the other Avengers, warning Carol that Hulk will kill someone soon. 'I swear to God, that's how this ends'. Tony declares, before asking if the civilians are out of the blast range yet. 'No life signs in range aside from Banner – but Tony, this isn't -' someone starts to reply, as Tony, inside some large sort of satellite above the city announces that it is settled. 'Cross your fingers – this is a one-shot weapon. We can't use it twice' he reports. 'Tony – don't do this' Carol tells him, but Tony tells Carol that they have no choice. 'System's green...firing the Helios Laser' Tony reports, as the satellite suddenly releases a energy beam that cuts down from the sky, and surrounds the town in a brilliant glow of energy.
'What the hell – what was that?' one of the civilians aboard one of the escape jets asks when the jet is knocked by the force of the energy beam. 'Is it a nuke? What's happening?' another enquires. Captain Marvel is aboard that jet and tells the civilians not to worry, that they are safe in here, it is a little light turbulence, that's all. '...they kingdom come, thy will be done, on Earth as it is in...' a woman utters. 'Did...did they...?' Todd asks. 'No. No. These are the Avengers. They wouldn't just...' Michelle remarks, while telling Julian to stay in his seat. 'He's fine' Carol tells Michelle as Julian goes over to her and holds up his Captain Marvel action figure. 'What you got there, kiddo? Is that me?' Carol asks. 'It's an action figure of you!' the boy remarks. Carol kneels down beside him and asks if she can see it. Julian tells her that he got Iron Man too, and a Thor, but Thor is at home. 'Are – are we going home soon?' he asks. Carol looks at the toy in her likeness and pauses, before telling the boy to go sit back down, as there is something she needs to tell everybody.
'What we did here today...it's not right, T'Challa. Not right at all' Captain America tells the Black Panther as they stand over the skeletal remains of the Hulk. Cap adds that he hopes it didn't hurt too much. The land around them is now black, and several lights hover around them as a hologram of Tony Stark appears and announces that it almost definitely did. Tony explains that the Helios laser was laced with UV radiation, effectively, it was a beam of hard sunlight. Tony tells Cap and T'Challa that it was the one thing they had on hand that could hurt this new “Devil Hulk” persona. 'Don't call him that. This wasn't the devil, Tony' Cap declares. 'This was a friend in need. And we killed him'. But the Black Panther tells Cap that it was a temporary measure only, and that Bruce Banner may be dead, but he suspects that without these UV drones, the sun lamps, for want of a better term, the lights which dart around them, the Hulk would soon rise again. 'Back from the death. Rested. Refreshed. Would we survive that, Captain?' T'Challa enquires.
The Black Panther continues, stating that Ghost Rider and his vehicle have healed, and have taken Thor to Freyja, as his fractured skull needs further treatment, the healing magics of his people. He reports that Jennifer has been found, alive and relatively uninjured, but she won't say what the Hulk said to her. 'Let's not forget he almost killed me...' Tony reminds Cap and the Black Panther. 'And me' the Black Panther adds, explaining that the Hulk overloaded the vibranium in his suit – which is almost an impossibility. He adds that without the Helios weapon, without this sacrifice, they would be burying their own dead tonight. T'Challa tells Captain America that his conscience remains clear. 'Good for you, your highness. We've got another problem, anyway. We bear him...we've got him...now what do we do with him?' Captain America replies.
Shortly, at the US Hulk Operations base, Dr Clive walks towards a lab, 'In the end... what could they do? There were protocols to follow. Even the Avengers can't fight City Hall' he remarks. 'So Rogers handed you to Secretary Ross...and Ross, having delegated command of Hulk Operations, passed you straight on to us. And we made you nice and comfy in time for the next sunset' Dr Clive remarks, adding that he honestly didn't think it would be this easy, he thought they would have to use up an asset or two, put their agents in play, work up a sweat – but just a little bit of pressure applied to the right people, and well, here he is – right where they want him. 'Welcome tob Shadow Base, Banner. I want you to think of what's coming as...a little poetic vengeance. See, you've caused a lot of people a lot of pain over the years...and now...now it's our turn' Dr Clive remarks as the Hulk's remains have been cut up and stored in various jars, placed on shelves – including his head, which sits upside down in the jar, leering back at Dr Clive and appearing as if he is roaring.
Bruce Banner / Hulk
Black Panther, Captain America, Captain Marvel VI, Ghost Rider V, Iron Man, She-Hulk (all Avengers)
Dr Clive (US Hulk Operations)
Brian Banner / Devil Hulk
Todd & Michelle
Henry & Julian
This issue has the Legacy numbering of Hulk #724.
Hulk refers to Captain America as Captain Hydra, which is a nod to the alternate Captain America who replaced Cap during the “Secret Empire” event.
Dr Strange appears on the cover to this issue, but not in the issue itself.