Incredible Hulk (2nd series) #457

Issue Date: 
October 1997
Story Title: 
Of Course You Realize This Means War!

Peter David (writer), David Brewer (guest penciler), Cam Smith and Andrew Pepoy (guest inkers), Jessi Kindzierski (coloring), Digital Chameleon (seps), John Workman (lettering), Bobbie Chase (unofficial fifth Horseman/editor), Bob Harras (editor in chief)

Brief Description: 

In Egypt, Juggernaut is able to hold his own briefly against the Hulk, now transformed in the Horseman of Apocalypse called War. Before too long however, War knocks Juggernaut away with relative ease. As they fight, Rick Jones and Janis reform Absorbing Man, who takes them towards Cairo to battle War. In Cairo, War is able to defeat Juggernaut and removes his helmet. Before he can deliver the killing blow, however, Absorbing Man arrives and stops him. Undeterred, War jams his sword into Absorbing Man, intent on destroying him. Janis steps in at that moment and shoots War with an energy blast from her staff, which knocks him away. Rick approaches War and tries to talk to him, but just then War turns and accidentally knocks Rick face first into a nearby wall. Realizing what he has done, badly injuring his friend, the Hulk rips off his implants and leaps away. After taking Rick to a hospital, Juggernaut and Absorbing Man deliver War’s sword to the New World Order. However, as they begin to inspect it, Apocalypse uses a remote self-destruction, destroying both it and the New World Order. Oblivious to this, the Hulk hitches a ride on a jet out of Cairo.

Full Summary: 

In Egypt, a rather long time ago (not that one could tell from the architecture), Akhenaten enters a tomb and calls out to the great Aten that he is there humbly. He states that the people wish to see him once more and he told them he might grace them with his godlike presence. Deeper inside the tomb, En Sabah Nur asks Ozymandias if he hears him calling out for him. Ozymandias says that it matters not. Only that he hears him is of consequence.

En Sabah Nur points out that the “humble” Akhenaten calls from without, desirous of his presence. Perhaps he should indulge himself for being worshipped by those who once tormented him is amusing. En Sabah Nur calls out to Akhenaten that he, Aten the cosmic pharaoh, possessor of the divine “Ka” shall honor his people with an audience presently. Akhenaten remarks to the great one that a being such as himself does not measure time as they mere mortals. Can he... can he tell him what “presently” means in their terms? En Sabah Nur replies yes, but he shall not. He then orders Akhenaten to go away while he still can.

As Akhenaten turns to leave, he informs En Sabah Nur that he will tell them that he is dwelling on matters of great consequence to their present state of affairs. While Ozymandias finishes chiseling his master’s likeness in the stone pillar, En Sabah Nur remarks that actually, he dwells in the future.

In Egypt today, the New World Order, with the questionable cooperation of Ozymandias, has sent a strike-team to investigate rumors of Apocalypse’s newest creation: the Hulk, made over into the Horseman named War. As the Juggernaut arrives on the scene, he tells the Hulk that when he picks up a new moniker for himself such as “War,” that gives him a lot to live up to. So let’s see what he has. Because nothing stops the Juggernaut! With that, the Juggernaut tackles War and drives him backwards. Other members of the strike-force include Rick Jones and his future descendant Janis and...

Leaning on the ground, Rick calls out to Crusher Creel, the Absorbing Man. He’s gotta be in the sand somewhere. Janis tells Gramps that he’s wasting his time. War blew him to bits, there ain’t enough for a spoon scraping. Sifting through the sand, Rick tells Janis to trust him, she doesn’t know the guy like he does. And judging from Bruce’s new look and how fast he took down Creel, frankly, he thinks Juggernaut could be next.

The Juggernaut is not particularly loyal to, or beholden to, the principles of the New World Order. He is loyal to only two things. Black Tom Cassidy, who will be aided by the money Juggernaut will earn for his participation in this business and to his credo that he is unstoppable. And despite War’s unimaginable might and motivation, the Juggernaut continues to push his foe back until War suddenly stops their movement. Using the coil in his housing, he proceeds to wrap it around the Juggernaut’s leg and tosses him away with ease.

Watching on a nearby monitor, Apocalypse mentions to Ozymandias that it is as he thought. The power of the Celestials supersedes all but his own. The day of judgment is approaching, and the global upheaval from which a new era will emerge is upon them. Of all the X-Men’s non-mutant foes, Juggernaut seemed most puissant. He seemed a valuable test of Celestial might. He desired to learn whether his power could withstand his own and by extension, that of the Celestials. Clearly, he’s receiving his answer. They need now only pick up the pieces and prepare for the survival of the strongest. Meaning of course, himself.

As they talk, Rick Jones builds Creel back together out of the pieces he has found of him. Once he is done, Janis tells him that’s real sharp but now that he’s got all the pieces of that Creel guy together, well now what? Morphing into human form, Creel exclaims that now, he’s really hacked off. Grabbing the staff out of Janis’ hands, he tells her that he’s got use of the pig-sticker of hers and absorbs its power. Leaping into the air with Rick and Janis in tow, Janis proceeds to ask Creel what in the flark he is doing. Creel replies that he is usin’ the power he absorbed from her glow stick and blastin’ off. He then tells her to shut her yap. It’s time to see if they can get to Cairo while there’s still anything left. Rick asks if he means “anything left of Cairo.” Creel replies no, dimwit. He means of War, he still wants a piece of him!

At the mosque of El-Mudyad sheik, supplicants are prostrated in prayer. They pray for serenity, for fortune, for help. Unsurprisingly, none of them were praying to be almost crushed by a falling behemoth (the Juggernaut). But the gods are whimsical sometimes. Recovering quickly, Juggernaut goes in search of war but is horrified to find that, in some small measure, he does so reluctantly. He has never backed down from a fight, he will not now. But rarely has he been quite as apprehensive. But to his credit, one couldn’t tell from his demeanor. Inwardly, he is in turmoil, questioning all that he has ever taken for granted about himself. Outwardly, it’s business-as-usual. When War happens upon him from the sky, Juggernaut is able to react quickly enough and knocks him into some nearby cars.

At the headquarters of, respectively, the New World Order and Apocalypse; they each watch the Absorbing Man leaping towards Cairo with Janis and Rick Jones in tow. The shadowed members of the New World Order discuss that it’s a pity. From what they understand of this “Apocalypse,” he could have been a valuable addition to their group. But according to Ozymandias, world conquest, even though subterfuge as they espouse, isn’t his goal. On that basis, his power must be broken and his technology, including the altered Hulk must be theirs.

In Apocalypse’s headquarters, Ozymandias mentions to Apocalypse that they’ve dragged the young man Jones into this. Still, he poses no threat. Apocalypse replies that Jones is an anomaly. For one who has no powers, he has spent an uncommon amount of time in circumstances that would cripple or kill others. He then warns Ozymandias to never underestimate what youths may accomplish. Some can bring down empires. There was Merenptah, for example...

With that, Apocalypse recalls a memory from many years past. He mentions that he shall never forget the young Egyptian prince crouching, exhausted, scarred on the field of combat over a millennia ago having thwarted an invasion by the ‘sea peoples’ but only at a devastating cost to his army. When Aten (En Sabah Nur) approaches him, Merenptah asks him for his help. Aten asks help him? His ancestor, the boy king came to him in his arrogance and said that the power of gods was too much to rest in the hands of a single god. His dynasty restored polytheism. Walking away from him, Aten tells him to let that be a lesson to him, for he could have averted this disaster. Remember who survives, not the weak. Not those who think they are greater than he. No, only the strong and he is the strongest of all.

Meanwhile, in Cairo, Juggernaut and War continue to trade blows back and forth. While they do, Juggernaut asks Hulk where the old boastings and the battle cries are. Why isn’t he bellowing about how he’s the strongest one there is? Could it be because he knows it’s not true? As he punches Juggernaut into a nearby building, War tells him no, because it’s just too obvious.

Once Juggernaut crashes into the nearby building, debris breaks off and descends towards the people in the streets below. Using her staff to destroy the falling pieces, Janis mentions to Rick that she’d say they went this way awright. She then tells Gramps that she thinks they have two things to deal with. Making sure no one gets killed during their tussle and grabbin’ their attention. Laying on the ground with War looming over him, Juggernaut tells him that he’s just lucky when he gets his hands on...

Using his sword, War pries the helmet off of Juggernaut and raises his sword. As he prepares to deliver the killing blow he asks so nothing can stop the Juggernaut? There’re two things that can – his power and Juggernaut’s imminent beheading.

At that moment, the Absorbing Man appears and lands with full force on War’s head, driving him into the street beneath him. When he does, Creel asks him if he missed him. This time they dance a different waltz. This time he absorbs his power at his speed which’ll still be fast enough for him to cram it up his...

Using his immense power, War knocks Creel off of him and leaps out of the hole. Punching Creel in the face, War tells him that he still doesn’t understand. He’s never beaten him, but in the past he’s bothered him. Jamming his sword into Creel’s chest, he tells him that was for those times. Calling out to Bruce, Rick tells him that he’s not a killer, he...

When War doesn’t stop attacking Creel, Rick realizes that he’s not getting through to him at all. Shooting War away from Creel using the energy surging out of her staff, Janis tells “Gramps” that it’s like she said before, first thing is to get his attention. Rick tells her good move and then tells her to stop calling him Gramps. Making his way over to War, Rick tells Bruce to listen to him. This Apocalypse guy did this to him. Pure love of destruction isn’t what he’s all about. He then tells Bruce to turn around and listen to him. ‘Cause there’s no way that he’s just letting him win. No way he’s going to...

Turning around quickly, War backhands Rick with all his might. Some time ago, the Hulk, casually irritated swatted a deer. The animal was killed upon impact. Now granted, the deer did not know judo or karate. The deer never learned self-defense from Captain America or stopped a war with the simple power of his mind. It was just a simple, mortal deer. Rick Jones has all these achievements to his credit. But in the final analysis, when he hits a nearby wall face first, he’s no less mortal.

In shock, Janis, who has seen all manner of horror in her fairly short lifetime, is amazed at her capacity to feel sickness and mourning. She had thought all emotion burned out of her by now. She is both pleased and sorrowful to learn that she was wrong. Holding Rick in her arms, Janis yells at Hulk to scan what he’s done to him. Looking at Rick laying there, War hears his father telling him well done. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. He bets he thought he was rid of him – surprise!

With a scream of terror and revulsion, the Hulk tears away his implants. It’s not mere removal of armor, for the pieces are melded with his skin. He is literally ripping pieces from himself. And then, just like that, he leaps into the sky and he is gone. Putting his helmet back on, Juggernaut mentions to Creel so much for War. He left them a souvenir; his sword. That’s good enough for him. Creel replies same there and asks if they ditch the kid. Juggernaut points out that he and the girl helped save his hide. That should be worth something, even to him. They should get him to a hospital first and then they can blow this burg. He’ll make sure the NWO pays time and a half when they bring ‘em the sword.

Back in the fourth century, B.C., in Egypt, Alexander of Macedonia approaches the temple of Aten with his followers and calls out to him. He states that they were told by some local priests that he is considered a god? Well, he Alexander of Macedonia, has taken Egypt from the Persians. And know this, “god,” he is now pharaoh. And he has spoken to an oracle and knows that not only is Zeus the preeminent god but upon his death, he shall be a god as well. He shall be his equal! No, his superior! Egypt and the civilized world will have no need of him. So cower within, like the fallen god he is.

Inside the walls, Aten asks no need of him he says? Acceptable since he has no need of it. But someday the world will fall and he will be forgotten. Alexander and his “greatness” and he (Aten) will still be there. As he begins to laugh out loud, Alexander and his men turn and run away in fear.

Today, in the headquarters of the New World Order, the members of the group wonder at the sword that lies on the table before them. One of them remarks that it’s an amazing architect. The metallurgy alone will consume months of... Before he can finish his thought, the image of Apocalypse emanates from the eye of the sword. He tells them that it is months they do not have. He is Apocalypse and he has served a minor purpose to him. He has provided a convenient testing area for equipment that will enable him to monitor the upcoming Celestial cataclysm and use it to his advantage. When the scientist asks what cataclysm, Apocalypse informs him that it will be of no concern to him and bids them farewell. As soon as he does, the sword explodes and completely destroys the New World Order and its facilities.

In his headquarters, Apocalypse says to Ozymandias that so many people believe they have spoken to gods, so many seek to elevate themselves. He is reminded of the tale of Noah, who knew the flood was coming but only he had the foresight to prepare for it. He wonders, is he Noah, or God? On reflection, he is some of both. He should think after all the truly great who walk the world are those who are genuinely touched by God. And that touch does not fad, no matter how long one lives. As he speaks, the Hulk hitches a ride on a jet and leaves Cairo.

Characters Involved: 

The Hulk/War

Absorbing Man
Unnamed and unrecognizable members of the New World Order

Rick Jones
Janis (Rick’s granddaughter from the future)

Various unnamed Egyptians

In the past:
En Sabah Nur/Aten
Alexander of Macedonia
Various unnamed Egyptians

Story Notes: 

Apocalypse’s story of his times in Egypt as a young man was depicted in Rise of Apocalypse 1-4.

The Incredible Hulk is the second person to portray the Horseman War for Apocalypse. He was preceded by Abraham Kieros and will be followed by Deathbird and Gazer.

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