Inside the Red Skull’s stronghold, the Incredible Hulk is heavily shackled with a large helmet looming over his head. The Hulk proceeds to tell the Red Skull and the Juggernaut that they have one chance to surrender before they really make him angry. Standing before him, the Red Skull asks if they are witnessing bluster or mere self-delusion. Either way, he is not impressed.
Wearing his costume, the Juggernaut tells Skull that there’s no reason he should be. This “new” Hulk is supposed to be smart and tough. But all he needed to hose Mr. Big Brain was to ditch his costume and take him on in street clothes. It’s a nice little strategy he lucked on to ages ago with Colossus. Hulky there fell for it no problem. The Hulk quips that it figures that Juggernaut knew going in he could only beat him through trickery. Juggernaut replies “oh yeah” and starts to make his way towards the Hulk, threatening that he’s going to tear his... The Hulk asks “oh yeah” – there’s a clever comeback.
Red Skull then tells Marko to control himself, the Hulk’s just trying to provoke him. Hoping that he’d be so stupid as to rip apart his bonds to get at him, but he’s not that gullible of course. Stopping in his tracks, Marko replies uh, no – of course not. He means he’s not some idiot. Turning his attention to the Hulk, Skull says to him that he’s arrived at a most opportune time.
The Hulk asks if this is where he smugly fills him in on his scheme. Skull informs him no, that would be pointless. Even if he did, he won’t remember once they’re through with him. The Hulk replies that he gets it; they’re going to try and turn him to the dark side of the force. Skull tells him yes, in a matter of speaking.
At that moment, some of Skull’s henchmen roll a chair into the room with a helmet mounted above it. Seeing it, the Hulk tells Skull that whatever he’s got up his sleeve, he promises he hasn’t made enough allowances and that he has no idea of what he’s dealing with. Skull replies that is true and that the Hulk knows nothing of him – one of them is about to rectify that situation. The Skull then calls in for Mentallo. As Mentallo enters the room, the Hulk laughs and calls Mentallo a loser. Skull informs Hulk that Mentallo may be a loser to him but to him, he is someone of potential. He then tells the Hulk that he’s wandered into something that did not concern him. But know that he’s there; Mentallo will make sure that he serves them.
As the helmet is being dropped down on the Hulk’s head, he tells Skull that Mentallo couldn’t make him serve him a tennis ball. Skull informs Mentallo that they will monitor him closely. Until now, he’s only been able to read thoughts and project images. His technology will advance his powers a quantum leap. When he asks him if he’s ready, Mentallo asks if he has any choice. After the Skull tells him no, Mentallo replies then he’s ready. Just then, the Skull gives the command “activate,” the transfer of electricity crackles between Mentallo and the Hulk.
Elsewhere, Rick Jones introduces Doc Leonard Samson to the best accommodations in Reno – his apartment. As he shows him around his apartment, Samson informs Rick that he still could stay at a hotel, he doesn’t want to impose. Rick tells him it’s a done deal. He gets settled in while he heads back towards Marlo. Putting his arm on Rick’s shoulder, Samson tells him that Betty put in a request. Namely, that he bathe before returning to their place. Her feeling is that he’s gone a bit to seed during this business with Marlo.
Annoyed, Rick tells Samson that it’s not Marlo’s “business,” it’s her life. Samson tells Rick that he’s ripe and that Betty’s ready to have the locks changed. Now does he have to throw him in the shower himself or… Heading towards the bathroom, Rick tells him okay, okay and mentions some guest. As he begins to water the plants as Rick takes a shower, Samson tells him that he knows what’s happened to Marlo has upset him but falling apart while he’s trying to help her isn’t going to help. He means that if she does recover, she’ll need the man she loves. Not a shell thereof.
Rick replies that he knows he’s right. It’s just… He then asks Samson if they are talking confidentially – doctor/patient stuff. Samson responds if he wishes. Rick then asks him if he knows about that trans-Sabal thing where the country’s leader got killed. Samson responds that he read about it and asks why. Rick tells him that he killed him and he feels like Marlo’s paying for that now, much to Samson’s shock.
Standing in an abandoned city, the Hulk wonders where he is and what’s going on. When he feels the ground rumbling beneath his feet, he turns to see what is causing it. He then sees a myriad of his foes – Absorbing Man, Bi-Beast, Doctor Octopus, Enchantress, Glob, Juggernaut, Leader, Ogress, Rhino, Ringmaster, Rock, Sand-Man, Speedfreak, and two Tribbitites (Toad Men).
At that moment, they all attack the Hulk at once, beating him down. As they do, they tell him that he’s through. He thought he was in charge but he isn’t, they are. He’d better cooperate and toe the line or they’ll kill him. All of a sudden, the Hulk knocks them all away and asks them if that is the best they can do – threaten him with death? That doesn’t cut it, doesn’t come close. Surrendering and caving in is for the weak and he’d rather die strong than live weak.
After he says that, Speedfreak tells him he’s got it and proceeds to stab the Hulk in the chest with one of his blades. As the Hulk knocks him away, Speedfreak asks him if he feels it trickling out of him like a geyser, a waterfall. He adds then again, blood’s thicker than water, isn’t it. Falling to his knees, the Hulk wonders why he’s not healing. His foes tell him that it’s because some wounds don’t heal, they go to deep. They then tell him to give it up and surrender, they’re his only hope. Standing defiantly, the Hulk struggles against another assault from his foes and tells them that he’ll have no hope then.
Inside the Red Skull’s stronghold, Mentallo suffers a mental backlash from his link with the Hulk. Upon seeing it, Skull asks him what’s going on. Mentallo inform him that they’ve miscalculated. The last time Banner’s mind was in control, overwhelming odds could intimidate him, even break him. But it’s not happening this time, he can’t…
The Skull tells him that they can’t gain control of Banner’s mind unless they overwhelm it. He then orders Mentallo to probe deeper, find things the Hulk has buried and use them. Initially, Mentallo tells him he can’t, but the Skull forces him to do so and Mentallo complies.
Inside the Avengers quinjet, Crystal is in obvious pain. She proceeds to ask the Black Knight if he can slow it down just a touch. She’s not feeling so hot. She thinks it’s the place he took her to eat last night. Sersi tells her poor thing and that she’s really got to be more careful with herself. Looking out the window, Crystal tells her thanks for the advice. Sersi says to her to not sound so brittle, she’s truly concerned for her. She then tells her let’s face it, a woman’s body changes once she’s had a child. It wears out easier. She’s not getting any younger she knows, no offense. She adds that of course, some of them aren’t getting any older – again, no offense.
At that moment, Hercules asks Vision if he has noticed that relations between Crystal and Sersi seem a touch strained of late. Vision replies that he has not observed them as teammates long enough to develop a satisfactory base with which to measure. Hercules replies never mind and then asks Dane if this trip is truly necessary. Dane informs him that they’ve just hit some chop is all and that he’s finding them a better altitude.
After apologizing to Crystal, he adds that the trip is necessary. World wildlife screamed bloody murder about this new player involved with deforesting the rain forest. That, combined with Gyrich telling us that he had someone investigating some sort of “villain consortium” in that area and that someone disappeared would certainly seem to warrant their attention – don’t they think. Putting her hand on Dane’s leg, Sersi replies that if that’s his judgment, then naturally they’ll abide by it. Seeing what has transpired, Crystal is none too pleased.
Stomping through the Red Skull’s stronghold, the Juggernaut complains that this stinks. He wonders why the blazes does the Red Skull think he needs the Hulk anyway. The N.W.O. can operate just fine without him. If you ask him, that guy is just too much trouble for his own good. When you’ve got the Juggernaut around, what could possibly happen that he couldn’t handle. Just then, the Juggernaut paces by a door labeled “Project Piecemeal.” When he does, a monstrous blue arm slams through the door. Turning around, the Juggernaut punches the creature attached to it out and proceeds to ask the scientist inside what the blazes is going on with them. The scientist says to him sorry Mr… Naut. The project slipped out from under control for a moment. As Juggernaut walks away, he asks what if he hadn’t been there. He then tells him to keep that thing tranqued up the way it’s supposed to be.
As the Hulk continues the struggle inside his mind, he emerges bloody from underneath a pile of rubble. While he does, he says that he won’t give up, won’t be beaten, won’t be afraid of…
Just then, he hears his father, Brian Banner, calling his son, a very young Bruce Banner, a “punk” and that he needs to listen to him. Listen and do just what he tells him, and not to start whimpering for that prosecutor. She’s not around to protect him. Brian says to Bruce that he’s going to say that he never hit him. As a tear begins to come out of the Hulk’s eyes, he whispers no. He put his dad behind, he’s nothing, he beat him. Brian continues to tell his son that he will tell them his mother’s death was accidental. Crawling towards them, the Hulk whispers to Bruce to tell him he’s nothing, tell him…
Brian then tells his son to tell them she was running from him for no reason and fell. Because if he goes in there and says that he abused him or his mother, then they’ll send him to jail. Bud does he know where he’ll go for speaking against his father? He yells at his son that he’ll go to hell and that he’ll burn in the pits of tar forever. The Hulk calls out to Bruce not to listen this time. He’s a frightened little man, he can’t hurt him. Brian again tells Bruce that he will obey him, obey him or be punished. Kicking the Hulk across the mouth, he says to him to obey him, do as he says. Continuing to kick the Hulk, Brian yells at him what is he, deaf? Do it, do it, do it, do what he tells him to do. That’s an order, an order!
Inside a court room, a judge calls for order while young Bruce is on the witness stand. The female prosecutor proceeds to ask him if he’s now telling her that he “made it up.” That his father, Brian Banner, never hit him? Bruce replies “no ma’am.” The prosecutor asks that he never saw him abuse his mother. Bruce replies no ma’am. Getting irritated, the prosecutor reminds him that his mother is dead because of his father and asks Bruce why he is lying. Bruce replies that he’s not lying. The prosecutor asks him doesn’t he have any sense of obligation to his mother and asks if Brian has threatened him and making him lie. Bruce replies that he’s not lying.
While this is all going on, Brian sits with his defense attorney and has his foot on the Hulk’s neck. The prosecutor tells him that he’ll get away with this if… Crying, Bruce again says he’s not lying. Brian calls him a little monster and adds that from now on he’ll do as he’s told – won’t he. Both the Hulk and young Bruce reply “yes sir.” Seeing the Hulk reply “yes sir” while under Mentallo’s control, the Red Skull says good. Very, very good.
In the jungle surrounding the Red Skull’s stronghold, the Avengers have landed. The Black Knight informs his fellow Avengers that the building they flew over is up ahead. That’s as good as a place as any to start poking around. Crystal then warns them to hold it, the earth is shaking. The Black Knight replies that he doesn’t feel anything but the Vision points out that Crystal is correct. He is starting to detect a seismic disturbance. Sersi agrees and states that it’s getting louder. When the Black Knight asks if it’s an earthquake, Vision tells him no, they are running footsteps.
At that moment, the Juggernaut bursts through and knocks the Avengers to the ground. As they get up, Sersi asks if that’s the one who… The Black Knight tells her that it is the one who bills himself as “unstoppable” – the Juggernaut. The Juggernaut replies that’s him awright babe. Hercules responds that they will see “babe” if he is as advertised. Just then, the Vision tells Hercules that force is unnecessary when a touch of subtlety will suffice. With that, Vision begins to phase his hand through the back of the Juggernaut’s helmet. He indicates unstoppable of no, a simple hardening of his fingers will dispatch h…
Before the Vision can finish his thought, he is punched out by the Hulk, wearing a new uniform that has the Red Skull’s logo on the belt. Upon seeing the Hulk, the Juggernaut tells him good timing and that the people in front of him are his enemies and he is to destroy them. Subserviently, the Hulk replies yes sir much to Crystal’s concern.