Incredible Hulk (2nd series) #404

Issue Date: 
April 1993
Story Title: 
Disarray, Thataway

Peter David (writer), Gary Frank (pencils), Cam Smith (inks), Joe Rosen (lettering), Glynis Oliver (colors), Bobbie Chase (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor in chief)

Brief Description: 

In Reno, Marlo’s brothers attempt to take Marlo into their care, but Rick Jones has nothing to do with it and forcefully shoves them out of the house. Inside the rain forest, the Hulk and Juggernaut handle the Avengers with rather ease. However, whenever Juggernaut gives the Hulk praise, Mentallo’s control over the Hulk weakens when the Hulk recalls that his father never gave him praise. Eventually, when the control over his mind is broken, it unleashes a massive psychic backlash which knocks everybody unconscious and knocks out the power at the Red Skull’s stronghold. When the Avengers awaken, they make their way to a building where a plane has crashed and they determine that they’re not going to find out what happened there. In another of the Red Skull’s headquarters, he addresses members of his new world order and goes to introduce their weapon. At that moment, he is informed by Doctor Perkins that “Project Piecemeal” has escaped. Shooting Perkins in the head, Skull tells his constituents that they appear to have had a small setback.

Full Summary: 

In the midst of the Amazon rain forest, the Incredible Hulk claps his hands while the Juggernaut encourages him. He tells him that’s it; he has those Avengers losers on the run. Show ‘em they stuck their noses in the wrong rain forest. As the Avengers team made up of Sersi, Hercules, Black Knight, Vision, and Crystal are knocked backwards, Crystal thinks to herself that clap killed any thought that this might not be the Hulk. That thunderclap of his is as earsplitting as she remembers.

Making his way over to the fallen heroes, the Juggernaut is stopped by the Red Skull’s voice over his earpiece who informs him that he wants him to offer the opportunity to surrender and leave peacefully. When the Juggernaut replies that he’s gotta be hosin’ him, the Skull tells him that he does not “hose” and to remember they are the trespassers. He purchased this land legally. Stirring up confusion in their own minds can only benefit them and impede their foes. The Juggernaut responds yeah, rubbin’ their noses in it ain’t such a bad deal.

Turning his attention to the Avengers, the Juggernaut informs them that they are trespassing and that they’ve got five seconds to turn and get their sorry butts out of there. This land was legitimately purchased. Preparing his blade, the Black Knight tells the Juggernaut that doesn’t change the face he’s a criminal as is, he assumes, his boss – no deal. Juggernaut says fine by him and orders Bruce to get ‘em. Confused, the Hulk asks “get?” The Juggernaut proceeds to point towards the Avengers and tells him them, get them. What is he deaf? They’re traitors. As the Juggernaut turns into Brian Banner and the Avengers into younger versions of himself in the Hulk’s mind, Brian orders him to do as he tells him and to not just stand there and look like an idiot. Rushing towards the Avengers, the Hulk exclaims yes, get them, get the traitors.

In Reno at a local grocery store, Betty Ross picks up a frozen chicken and asks the grocery clerk what the green tag means. The clerk informs her that’s a new government thing. Means the chicken was specially treated to make it grow bigger. Betty remarks that’s good and then asks what it was treated with. The clerk replies that he heard it was gamma rays. Shocked, Betty drops it and walks away. As she does, the clerk says to her that she could have just put it back; she didn’t have to curse at it. Betty then decides that she should just grab some frozen dinners and head home so she can help Rick take care of Marlo.

At Betty’s home, Rick Jones works with a comatose Marlo on doing the “eensy weensy spider” to no avail. Just then, he hears a knock on the door. When he goes to answer it, he sees two large men standing in front of him. Rick proceeds to ask them if he can help them. The men reply that they think he can. He introduces himself as Keith Chandler and his brother Ray, they’re Marlo’s brothers and they’ve come to take her home.

Back in the jungle, the Black Knight swipes at the Hulk with his sword but it does little good. Just then, Sersi tells him to stand to one side, she can take care of the green oaf. With that, she unleashes a blast from her eyes which knocks the Hulk backwards into a tree. Across the way, Crystal faces off against the Juggernaut and remarks that she can handle the Hulk’s partner. Using her powers, Crystal open up the ground and Juggernaut falls into the chasm. As she does, she states that at least the Hulk is obviously not in his right mind, but she has no sympathy for the Juggernaut’s kind.

Suddenly, the Black Knight warns his fellow Avengers to look out for the trees that are being hurtled towards them. Leaping into action, Hercules tells him that his warnings are appreciated but the prince of power has the situation well in hand. Punching away the trees, Hercules calls out to the Hulk enough of this, is he a warrior or a landscape artist. He challenges him to face him without the benefit of shrubbery. During the onslaught of trees, the Vision is hit with one that takes him out. As the Hulk begins to stomp towards Hercules, one of his fellow Avengers calls out to him to wait. Hercules tells them nay, the time for waiting is gone. Now is the time for Hercules to bestow the gift of battle on one who has earned it in strength, if not in character.

As the two behemoths begin to clash, Hercules informs his fellow Avengers not to intercede. Let this fight be his and his alone. After pulling himself out of the hole in the ground, the Juggernaut stands between them and tells the godling not to worry, he’ll keep ‘em occupied.

At the Red Skull’s headquarters, Doctor Perkins observes “Project Piecemeal” in its containment tube hooked up to a number of machines and remarks to his assistant that its heart rate is speeding up and that it looks like it may be starting to come around again. Poor devil, he doesn’t know which would be worse – letting it die or letting it live. He then orders his assistant to monitor it carefully. They wouldn’t want it to build up a tolerance to the tranquilizers. But if it does act up, pump another tranq dose into the biofluid.

Inside the control room, two pilots inform the Red Skull that they expect to be there in twenty-two minutes. After the Skull asks them if their passengers are comfortable, the pilots inform him that they’re cautious and suspicious but the ride is smooth and they believe in the cause. The Skull tells them good and to see that it remains so. The passengers on the plane represent the inner sanctum. He then tells the pilot to tell them that all is going according to plan. Turning his attention to Mentallo, Skull asks him if he still has the Hulk firmly in his control. Mentallo states that he does and that the most difficult part was the initial battle. But now he has him fairly solidly locked in.

As he continues to battle Hercules, the Hulk sneers that he is going to get the traitors. Punching him to the ground, Hercules says to him that he dares to side with evil and then have the temerity to accuse them of treachery. For that, he shall…

When he leaps at the Hulk, Hercules is kicked away and knocked into Vision who was recovering from the tree he got hit with earlier. At that moment, the Black Knight tries to slice the helmet off of Juggernaut’s head but is punched into a tree for his troubles much to the dismay of Crystal. Putting his hand on the Hulk’s shoulder, Juggernaut proceeds to tell him that it looks like the Black Knight’s on the rocks. He then tells Bruce that he’s doing great, great. With a puzzled look on his face, the Hulk asks that he’s doing great? Inside the Red Skull’s stronghold, Mentallo remarks that’s odd, the Hulk bucked his control for a moment. Something happened, but he’s not sure what.

Before the Hulk can ponder what the Juggernaut just said to him any further, a funnel cloud surrounds the two behemoths. The Juggernaut informs the Hulk that it’s the weather witch showing off. Hovering above them, Crystal asks “weather witch,” she’s an elemental. If it’s of the Earth’s, it’s hers to command. And they have mad the supreme mistake of ticking her off. Fighting the wind, Juggernaut tells her that she’s tossing some breezes and some shaking ground at the unstoppable Juggernaut and incredible Hulk and she’s talking to them about mistakes? Get real. Crystal then tells Sersi to let ‘em have it. As she cowers behind a tree, Crystal asks Sersi what she’s waiting for, for them to get to her – attack, now!

Using her eye-blast, Sersi proceeds to shoot the Hulk in the back. As she does, she mentions to Crystal that she just didn’t want to upstage her. Turning towards the Hulk, Juggernaut mentions to him all that for a love tap that’ll buy ‘em maybe another five seconds. He then tells Bruce to get up, he can beat her, he can beat ‘em all. Looking at the Juggernaut, the Hulk sees his father and hears him tell him that between the two of them they can beat the world. Nothing can stop them, not if they stick together. Looking up at him like a child, the Hulk says if… if they stick together… He shouldn’t rat on him but... but he let mom down. Told them it was an accident… Grabbing him by the wrists, Juggernaut tells the Hulk to stop whining and just do it. With that, he tosses the Hulk into the Avengers and knocks them all down.

In Reno, Betty reaches home and sees Doc Leonard Samson walking up to her home. As Betty calls out to him, Samson turns around and says that he came by to chat with Rick about something but it can wait. Betty replies that’s good, because the groceries can’t. She then asks him if he’s staying for dinner and Samson tells her that he will. He then asks her if she hears shouting ins…

Just then, two men are knocked out of the house by an irate Rick Jones. Rick then yells at the men that Marlo’s staying with them, do they get it? Lying on the ground, Keith Chandler tells Rick that he’s gonna regret that. He doesn’t care who he learned judo from. He’s not her family, they are. This isn’t over. After Rick slams the door, Samson tells Marlo’s brothers that Rick is a really nice guy when you get to know him.

Back in the rain forest, the Hulk holds Crystal by the neck and prepares to punch her out. As he does, Juggernaut holds the Black Knight and tells Brucie to finish her, he’s the champ, the best, no one can top him. Turning around, the Hulk sees Brian Banner holding him when he was a young child and sneers. When he does, Mentallo can tell that something is wrong. Letting go of Crystal, the Hulk begins to stomp towards the Juggernaut (his father in his eyes). While he does, he says to him that for years, all he wanted from him was praise. A few crumbs of encouragement. And all he gave him was anger and sneering. He browbeat him before mom’s death, he browbeat him after. Even after he tried to cover for him, he heaped abuse. And now, now he’s praising him, now?

Punching the Juggernaut in the head with a thunderous blow, the Hulk knocks his helmet off and demands to know who he is. Mentallo informs Skull that the Hulk is breaking loose, tearing down the illusion. Skull then orders the psi-power to be increased to full. Continuing to punch the Juggernaut in the stomach, Hulk says that he’s not his father and again demands to know who he is and what he’s doing in his head. When the Hulk grabs hold of his head in pain, the Avengers look on in astonishment. Skull orders Mentallo to beat the Hulk down, flood him with even more hideous images.

Over at “Project Piecemeal” Doctor Perkins mentions to his assistant that its readings are off the scale and orders more tranq into the solution. Turning around, the Hulk sees his father looming over him surrounded by a number of demons and monsters, yelling at him to obey him this insta… Cutting him off, the Hulk tells him no, he rejects him and he rejects all of this. He’s mucking with his head and nobody does that to him, nobody! He then yells at the top of his lungs to GET OUT!! When he does, it knocks everybody to the ground with the exception of Vision.

Helping the Hulk up, Vision mentions that his systems are now functioning normally and points out to him that he seems to have rendered his teammates unconscious. When the Hulk asks how, Vision informs him that one would surmise a type of psychic backlash, implying that some sort of machinery was in use to mentally enslave him. Vision then points up to the sky and points out an aircraft crashing to the ground. Since no flight paths were authorized over this area at this time, logic would indicate it is a private craft connected with whoever attacked them and enslaved him. Although it would seem past tense would be the more appropriate manner in which to discuss it.

Sometime later, the Hulk and the Avengers make their way to the crash site while Vision keeps the Juggernaut under control. When they see the flames emitting from the building, the Black Knight tells Crystal to get them under control. Not that it will be in time to save the building. The Hulk adds that there doesn’t seem anything left to save. The whole structure’s trashed from the plane crashing into it. The Black Knight then asks why he has the funny feeling that they’re never going to find out what happened there.

Inside the secret lair of the Red Skull, he addresses a number of people listening to him. He thanks them all for coming and regrets the inconvenience, but even that has turned to their advantage. That they survived the crash, he would expect no less. But with the simple expedient of setting the plane ablaze, stocking it with conveniently charred corpses and sacrificing the building, the Avengers and Hulk can assume this project has met a fiery end. But it’s only begun. He then welcomes them all to the first meeting of the new world order. There, in the subterranean back-up headquarters, they shall have their equivalent of the United Nations. No more petty bickering or internecine warfare. They will draw up pacts, agreements; they will have strength in unity. And with that strength will come the destruction of their adversaries.

Silvermane speaks up and tells Skull that he has a lot of words, is there anything else. Skull informs him yes, far more. Gyrich sent them an operative to investigate them. That operative became the raw material to create the living symbol of their combined might. He then orders Doctor Perkins to bring it in. Perkins regretfully informs Skull that in all the confusion with those awful mental pictures, the project escaped. Shooting Perkins in the head, the Red Skull tells the men around him that it appears they have a small setback.

Characters Involved: 

The Hulk

Black Knight (Dane Whitman), Crystal, Hercules, Sersi, and Vision (all Avengers)

Red Skull
Silvermane and other unseen members of the Red Skull’s inner sanctum
Various guards under the employ of the Red Skull

Doc Leonard Samson
Rick Jones
Betty Ross
Marlo Chandler
Keith and Ray Chandler (Marlo’s brothers)

Doctor Perkins (scientist) in charge of “Project Piecemeal”

In the Hulk’s memories:
Brian Banner (Bruce Banner’s father)
Bruce Banner in various times of his life

Story Notes: 

Marlo Chandler was stabbed and killed by Jackie Shorr, a deranged lady who claimed to be Rick Jones mother. [Incredible Hulk (2nd series) #398] Her catatonic state is a result of a mishap during the Leader’s partially successful attempt to resurrect her. [Incredible Hulk (2nd series) #400]

Hulk will face Piecemeal in Incredible Hulk #407-408.

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