Deep in the woods of Northern Canada, an emerald beam of light stabs down out of the sky. Within its compass, man becomes monster becomes man again.
Plummeting out of the night sky, Bruce Banner falls to the ground. As he does, he transforms into the Hulk. Upon impact with the ground, he reverts back to Bruce Banner. Despite his snowscape surroundings, Dr. Bruce Banner is awash with sweat. Picking himself up off the ground, he wonders how he got there and then he remembers. He recalls waking on the redsward of a distant planet – Halfworld – occupied by unintelligent automations and intelligent animals. There the monster encountered Rocket Raccoon & company.
There also, the Hulk met that Machiavellian mole, Judson Jakes, and his sinister chief scientist, the tortoise Uncle Pyko. Having helped Rocket Raccoon breech Jakes’ defenses and retrieve the stolen Gideon’s bible, the Hulk chose to take Uncle Pyko up on his offer. Seconds later, the jade giant departed the zany keystone quadrant riding a green beam of light, gamma green to be exact. Banner realizes that Uncle Pyko did send him back to Earth after all. Him? No, the Hulk. How is it he now recalls so vividly events in which he took part as his emerald alter-ego when normally he only dimly remembers what madness the Hulk is involved in? That is a question Bruce Banner will ponder later – should he survive.
Freezing, Banner determines that he needs to find shelter. Shelter? In this wilderness? Well, perhaps this man who has been cursed in everything else will be blessed, at least, in that. Perhaps. Up ahead, Banner notices a cabin and begins to make his way towards it. Maybe there he’ll be able to build a fire and even find food. Or maybe there he will become food.
A short distance away, Dr. Walter Langkowski carries a rifle as he walks through the snow and thinks to himself that it’s insane to be moving through the woods at night but he has no other choice. There is another hunter he must find. A hunter of… men!
Though he would rather he didn’t, Dr. Walter Langkowski remembers that night… He had been camping when he heard the screams. Yes, scream, human voices raised in terror and some savage, snarling guttural wail torn from no human throat. As he ran, he began to mouth a silent mantra. Syllables of power which moved him towards a greater power within him – power waiting to be released. Once again, Sasquatch strode the frozen north. Still, he did not move fast enough to prevent a tragedy.
Happening upon an overturned camper, Sasquatch noticed one side of it is crushed in. He’d seen grizzlies do that to canned foods left at picnic sites but no grizzly did that. As he moved warily closer, something else caught the Canadian super hero’s eye. Just then, Sasquatch saw blood on the snow, human blood. What remained of those who’d been dragged from the camper lay before him. It was difficult to tell how many there’d been.
Sasquatch mentions that something killed those campers, tore them limb from limb, and was getting ready to feast when it heard him coming through the forest. It could only be… Looking at the ground, he sees the footprints and knows it was him.
Not long ago, Dr. Walter Langkowski was a member of a team of Canadian super-agents known by the code-name Alpha Flight. Other members included Aurora, Shaman, Vindicator, Northstar, and Snowbird. Three of the team had joined up with two X-Men, Wolverine and Nightcrawler, to combat an unholy terror called the Wendigo. An eater of human flesh, the Wendigo was nearly invincible. Thought beaten, he would have risen again and again had not Shaman reversed the curse of the North Woods and made the monster human once more.
Sasquatch recalls that Vindicator showed him plaster casts he made of the Wendigo’s tracks. They were the same as back at the campsite. He knows that a new Wendigo stalks again, a supernaturally-spawned creature whom, he’s told, almost managed to slay the Incredible Hulk a few years back. Not a comforting thought, since the Hulk easily beat him. He also knows that the Wendigo has killed but he hasn’t eaten. Soon, he’ll be so hungry he won’t scare him off. Then he’ll have to battle to keep himself from being food. Yet not once does Sasquatch think of abandoning the chase.
In the same continent, different country, further south, by the side of a desert lake, a cave. Within the cave, a laboratory – Bruce Banner’s laboratory. Within the lab, a tragedy. As Rick Jones lies on a couch, poisoned by gamma rays, Betty Ross mentions to alien woman nearby, Bereet, that she’s no doctor but her life support couch seems to have stabilized Rick’s condition. He’s still green from gamma ray poisoning but he’s not getting any worse.
The bag at the Krylorian maid’s hip is actually a spatial distorter, containing far more within it than is evident from without. It has produced the starship that brought Bereet to Earth, the couch that keeps Rick Jones alive, and now this.
At that moment, Bereet pulls the Star Eye from her pouch. Upon seeing it, Betty first asks what it is and then asks how it will help cure Rick. Bereet informs her that it won’t. The Star Eye is an entertainment module, able to contrive fictional narratives from whatever situations it is witness to. When Betty exclaims that it’s a movie camera, Bereet replies in a manner of speaking. Betty then asks if she still means to make a film while Rick lies dying.
Betty Ross has suffered much in the past twenty-four hours. First she watched as the man she loves transformed into the monster men call Hulk. Then she saw the Hulk battle three bizarre menaces from space (Dark-Crawler, Torgo, and Amphibian). Finally, she stood helpless by as Rick Jones, in an effort to become the second Hulk to aid the first, submitted himself to a massive dose of gamma rays. Rick succeeded only in nearly killing himself. Now, with a deathly ill boy on her hands, miles from nowhere, Betty finds she has to deal with an addled alien as well.
Leaning down, Betty says to Rick that the spacewoman says she knows him and the Hulk intimately, that she’s shared adventures with them in the past. Rick meekly replies that he never… saw….bird chick… in his life… Prepping the Star Eye, Bereet tells Betty that technically, the boy speaks true. Betty asks how she can claim to know him then. Bereet informs her to look deeply into the Star Eye. There, she shall find her questions answered.
Betty Ross looks. The Star Eye’s iris dilates, it’s pupil goes blank, then shimmers, and projected on the circular screen appears a record of events that never were. Watching the screen, Betty mentions to Bereet that she sees Rick, the Hulk, and her being attacked by horrid, toad-like aliens. Now, the Hulk is battling the original Avengers, the original X-Men, the Sub-Mariner – battles which never took place. Bereet states no, but they might as well have, so real did the Star Eye make them appear. When Betty asks how, Bereet tells her that she told her, it witnesses real situations and fictionalizes them, under her telepathic direction, of course. Betty asks and now she’s about to film the death of Rick Jones? Bereet tells her yes, her newest “film” will be a documentary.
Betty begins to argue that they should be getting Rick to a hospital, a doctor but Bereet asks why. That would be alternating the course of events. She has come to Earth in person because she is tired of filmed fiction. She finds reality so much more exciting.
Meanwhile, in the frozen north, we find a nearly frozen Dr. Banner. The cabin he reaches stands empty, its door ajar. It is as cold within as without and darker, not having the benefit of starlight. Because of the dark, Banner falls. His fall is fortuitous for it brings his hand in contact with a flashlight.
Turning on the flashlight, Banner discovers a skeleton sitting in the corner, surrounded by empty beer cans. Horrified, he falls back against an inner open door. Unlocked, it swings easily open and Banner enters the pantry. When he does, he discovers two more skeletons hanging upside down from the rafters. They had lived there once but the meat has long since been gnawed off their bones. Heart pounding, mouth dry, breath coming in short rasps, Bruce Banner bolts from the charnel closet. It has not yet occurred to him that despite all his horror, all his fear, the excitement he is experiencing has yet to trigger his change to the Incredible Hulk and he wonders why.
Heading towards the front door of the cabin, Banner states that he’s got to get out of there. Whatever killed those poor devils ate them. Just then, Banner realizes that a shadow has blocked the moonlight streaming through the door. He feels the hot, moist breath on his shoulder. When he turns, he knows terror to the core of his being when he comes face to face with a monstrous white being growling Wen-di-go! There would seem to be no more adequate introduction. Indeed, one scarcely seems necessary, for Bruce Banner may not live long enough to get better acquainted. Just as Wendigo grabs hold of Banner, the monster is pulled off of him by a mysterious being.
The gentle beast’s name that pulled the Wendigo off of him is Sasquatch. Holding Wendigo from behind, Sasquatch tells him sorry, but there will be no human flesh tonight. He should try chicken delight. Watching what is transpiring, Banner experiences excitement, horror, fear, and terror all in the space of a few, short moments and yet he still has not changed from man to monster – why? Continuing to hold Wendigo, Sasquatch tells the man to get out of there while he still can. He doesn’t know how long even he can hold the Wendigo.
Just then, Sasquatch recognizes the man to be Bruce Banner and asks him what he’s doing there. When he does, Wendigo takes advantage and frees himself from Sasquatch’s grasp and immediately leaps on him. Near the cabin, Banner recognizes Sasquatch, a Canadian scientist cum super hero. He fought him once as the Hulk. Now he’s down and that slavering horror’s going for his throat. He’s got to help. Help, Dr. Banner? But what can you do? You’re a man. Sasquatch and Wendigo are monsters.
At that moment, Banner realizes that he hasn’t become the Hulk – why in heaven’s name not? For weeks, Bruce Banner has been bombarding himself with gamma rays in his under-the-desert laboratory in an effort to cure himself of ever becoming the Hulk again. It hadn’t worked then, but the ray treatments’ effect had been cumulative. Then, in the act of defeating the Galaxy Master, the Hulk was infused with even more gamma radiation than ever before in his emerald existence. The rays helped destroy the Galaxy Master, their effect remained in the Hulk’s cells. Lastly, the teleporter beam which Uncle Pyko had used to return the Hulk to Earth was gamma powered. Those rays, too, were absorbed by the man monster.
Banner realizes all that gamma radiation absorbed into his cells in so short a time, can it have somehow changed him? Is he cured at last? Now, when he needs the Hulk’s power most? Continuing to attempt to fend off Wendigo, Sasquatch tells Banner to run, he can’t hold him long. Banner wonders run? How far would he get? He’d either die of exposure or be dragged back for dinner. He can’t die like that, he won’t. Blast it, he deserves better after the life he’s led. If he’s cured, he deserves a chance to live. That desire triggers something within the mind of Bruce Banner and for the first time, the mind triggers change within the body.
Transformed into the Hulk, he leaps towards the beasts and tells Sasquatch to hold on, he’s coming. Listen to the words. Listen to their intonation. The voice is that of Bruce Banner. The powerhouse speaking is the Incredible Hulk.
Entering the battle, Hulk punches Wendigo in the back, tells him to get off of Sasquatch, and calls him a snarling, savage horror. After tossing Wendigo into a nearby tree, Wendigo quickly recovers and plods towards Hulk. As he does, he exclaims Wen-di-go! Facing the beast, Hulk informs him that he heard him the first time, illiterate obscenity. He’s not impressed.
Woozy, Sasquatch begins to stand up and asks the Hulk, speaking like Bruce Banner? Hulk replies and thinking like him too. Hurtling himself at the Wendigo, Hulk mentions that he wonders what it is that gives Banner the confidence to hurl himself headlong upon this howling horror. Perhaps it’s the knowledge that he’s possessed of the power of the Incredible Hulk, the mightiest mortal on the face of the Earth.
Watching the Hulk and Wendigo duke it out, Sasquatch thinks to himself that he must be dreaming. The Hulk is a brainless brute, well not exactly brainless – childlike, subject to savage, unreasoning rages. He knows. He barely survived himself. Yet now he’s hearing the green goliath enunciating like the famous physicist, his hapless alter-ego Bruce Banner. Something must have happened to make the intelligent side of the Hulk’s split-personality, the Banner side, ascendant. But can even a thinking Hulk triumph over the invincible Wendigo?
Just what is the Wendigo, and whence stems his unearthly invincibility? The answer lies in an ancient curse which descended upon the very cabin outside of which our three monsters fight. The snows had been severe and sustained, locking the trappers in. It hadn’t been long before the food had run out. Driven to madness by hunger, Francois Lartigue murdered his companions one, two and three and ate them. Thus he became subject to the curse of the North Woods and went forth into the night into a howling harbinger of horror – the Wendigo.
Observing Hulk and Wendigo battling, Sasquatch knows that the Wendigo can’t really die, but he can be subdued. That would give his teammate Shaman time to get up there and cast a counter-spell. It’s up to the Hulk and him to hold him. If only he can make the Hulk understand. He then remembers that he can. He forgot he’s dealing with an intelligent Hulk now, a Hulk thinking with Bruce Banner’s brain. But is that good or bad?
Wendigo is motivated by brute bloodlust. He won’t be fighting by Queensbury rules; he’ll be going straight for the jugular, which is what they’ve got to do if they’re to defeat him. In fact, that’s how Wolverine and Snowbird beat him last time – by becoming even more animalistic than Wendigo. This may be a battle where brains are a definite liability. Ripping a tree out of the ground, Sasquatch knows that this a battle that must be fought and won.
As Wendigo leaps at Hulk, yelling his own name, Hulk tells him that he’s growing extremely tired of hearing that tune, the melody fails to move him. Besides that, his breath smells of an appetite too abhorrent to mention. Punching Wendigo, Hulk tells him that he thinks he’ll just shut his mouth and end his song forever. When the Wendigo howls in pain, Hulk states that’s better. He liked the crescendo of pain he reached on that last note. It will never equal listening to Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” but from him, it’s a sound he wouldn’t mind hearing again.
After the Hulk kicks Wendigo in the gut and knocks him to the ground, the monstrous beast starts to get up to continue to fight. Upon seeing this, the Hulk mentions that he’s getting to his feet again. That’s good, it gives him another chance to knock him down. When the Wendigo leaps at him, Hulk is faced with a slavering, screaming, seemingly undefeatable horror; the mind of Bruce Banner knows a moment of fear. It is that moment’s hesitancy that is the Hulk’s undoing.
Just then, Wendigo slashes the Hulk. Punching him away, Hulk angrily exclaims that he drew blood and hurt him. Enraged, Hulk calls the Wendigo a murderous man-eater and yells at him that he’ll beat him into a bloody pulp. Does he hear him, Hulk will smash!
Standing nearby, Sasquatch notices that the jade giant is slipping into the savagery of the Hulk. If he does, he won’t be able to count on his help. With that, Sasquatch yells out to Dr. Banner to listen to him. Turning around, Hulk asks why should he listen to hairy man. Sasquatch replies because he’s not the Hulk anymore, mentally, he’s Bruce Banner and it’s Bruce Banner’s help he needs now. Hulk asks Banner, y-yes, he’ Bruce Banner. Sasquatch replies “good” and tells him to remember that and listen to him. The Wendigo can’t be destroyed, be he can be subdued long enough for someone he knows to “cure” him.
Picking up a boulder, Hulk asks Langkowski if he wants the Wendigo subdued, then subdued he’ll be. Tossing the boulder at Wendigo, the beast destroys it before it can do him any damage. Engaging Wendigo in battle, Hulk mentions that all he’s got to do is keep hammering away at him and eventually, he’ll fall down, right? Sasquatch replies yes, and he’ll get right back up again unless they lay him out so hard and long that he’ll need time to heal. Time they’ll deny him. They, Dr. Banner; they’ve got to go at Wendigo together or they haven’t a snowball’s chance.
Leaping over Wendigo towards a nearby tree, Hulk tells Sasquatch that he doesn’t see that. He seems to be holding his own against that albino abomination without any help from him. Sasquatch tells him for heaven’s sake, this isn’t a contest. Punching down a tree, Hulk asks isn’t it? The Hulk’s strength against Wendigo? It’s a sparring match he finds oddly enjoyable. He’s surprised he doesn’t understand. After all, he and him are remarkably similar… now.
As Sasquatch and Hulk rush at full speeds towards the Wendigo with their trees, Sasquatch states that he’s not interested in matching muscles with a murdering monster. He only wants to stop Wendigo from killing again. Hulk replies there’s nothing wrong with that, he just wanted to have a little pleasure in the process. The pleasure of processing – and consciously controlling – more power than he’s ever known in his life. Sasquatch tells him that he’s been the Hulk for years. Hulk says not him, not Bruce Banner. He’s always been the puny, helpless man inside the monster. Today, Bruce Banner is the Incredible Hulk!
With that revelation that Bruce Banner is the Incredible Hulk, the Wendigo becomes the immovable force between two irresistible objects when the Hulk and Sasquatch rams into him with their trees. The pain he knows is greater than any beast, supernatural or otherwise, can stand. It will take him hours to heal and by that time, he will be the Wendigo no longer.
As the Wendigo collapses, Sasquatch states they’ve done it, they’ve stopped him. Hulk asks did he ever doubt they could. Sasquatch answers yes, he’s exhausted. Had the Wendigo attacked him again, he would have fallen for sure. Holding his head, he states that he’s got a radio back at him camp. He has to contact the RCMPs and get Shaman up there to cast a counter-spell. Hulk tells him that he can do that. He’ll stand guard over their fallen horror. Should he wake up, he’ll lay him low again.
With that, he exclaims that is because the Incredible Hulk is just getting warmed up. Despite the obvious intelligence in the words, Sasquatch detects a mounting savagery in the voice. He wonders if the monster lying on the snow is the one he should worry about or whether the world must now be protected from an intelligent Hulk.