Incredible Hulk (3rd series) #85

Issue Date: 
October 2005
Story Title: 
Terra Incognita, part three

Peter David (Writer), Jorge Lucas (Artist), Carlos Lopez and William Muray (Colorists), Randy Gentile (Letterer), Andy Brase (Cover Artist), Nathan Cosby (Assistant Editor), Mackenzie Cadenhead (Associate Editor), Mark Paniccia (Editor), Joe Quesada (Editor in Chief), Dan Buckley (Publisher), Special Thanks to Rachael Smith

Brief Description: 

As human refugees begin to flood Australia, something sinister begins to occur, as humans volunteering for AIM medical research for money begin to disappear one by one. Scorpion discovers a girl being dragged away by AIM guards, but takes the girl as she suspects something suspicious. She then learns from the girl that people have begun to disappear and that she and her boyfriend, Jon, ran away, but he was captured. Meanwhile, Banner finds himself seduced by Dr. Rappaccini, and even discovers that he once had a fling with her in high school. The next day he deals with a few government matters, including the fact that there are too many immigrants. After his meetings, he is confronted by Scorpion, who informs him of the missing person’s situation. The two disguise themselves and volunteer for the medical program, but end up discovering a secret lab where the missing humans are being transformed into cyborgs by Dr. Isaacs. Watching from a remote location via security camera is Dr. Rappaccini, who realizes that things are about to turn ugly.

Full Summary: 

Nights falls in Sydney, Australia, now free from the tyranny of Governor Exodus and the forces of the House of M. However, something even more sinister is occurring in the streets. By the waterfront, two guards subdue a man who desperately attempts to escape them. As they stop him, he claims he did not do anything, but the guards question him on the location of his female companion.

They cuff the man, who tells them that Australia is supposed to be the land of the free with the Hulk running things now. Why are they arresting him? The guards look at the man and tell him that it is free, but he is volunteering to keep it that way. The angered man tells the guards that he wants to speak with Bruce Banner, but is told that perhaps he should speak to God…he might put in a good word for him.

Watching from the waters of the bay, a woman says to herself, as Jon is being escorted away, that he Hulk will save him.

The next morning in his office, the Hulk smashes his desk into pieces in an attempt to destroy the paperwork on it. His advisors all run for cover, as the beast goes out of control.

In bed, Monica Rappaccini tells Bruce that is story of hulking out over mere paperwork is quite funny. Bruce tells her that it isn’t; what if it really does happen? He seriously thought about doing that today. Monica rubs his chest and tells him that she doesn’t think that he thinks about these things… they just happen. Banner tells her that there are a lot of gray areas, though she insists that there are some green ones as well.

Angered, Bruce grabs her hand and tells her that it isn’t a joke. If he loses power over something as idiotic as paperwork, it is bad. Monica rolls over and tells Bruce she gets it, but he is not sure that she does. Monica affirms that she does. A calmer Bruce tells her that it is critical she understands, but Monica silences him with a kiss.

The two cuddle in bed, and Bruce tells her that it is amazing. He feels comfortable with her, as if they have known each other longer than just a few weeks. Monica smiles and tells him that they actually have known each other longer. They had a fling in college. Bruce smiles and tells Monica that it’s ridiculous. Monica explains that she was visiting her friend in the States at DSU. She just dumped Bruce for coming on too rough for her. Monica, however, was young and liked it a little rough. During a frat party that weekend they both had a lot to drink.

Bruce tells Monica that this is insane. They never met. The only fling he ever had was with some undergrad student named Nicky. Monica smiles as Bruce puts two and two together. Nicky is short for Nicole… except for when it’s short for Monica. If its any consolation, says Monica, she got over the fact that he didn’t call the following week… or ever.

Embarrassed, Bruce apologizes, as college was a difficult time for him. Adulthood hasn’t been a cakewalk either. Monica hushes Bruce and tells him that it is okay. They now rule Australia, a place for anyone who feels their mutant governments are giving them short shrift. They are doing so much work and having a little fun on the side. Isn’t worrying about the past a waste of energy?

Elsewhere, as the sun rises, the woman hiding in the waterfront as guards took away Jon climbs up a ladder onto the docks, but she is immediately spotted by more guards. They grab the terrified woman as one of them aims his gun at her, stating that she must come with them. A voice nearby asks what the woman has done. The girl sees the newcomer on the dock and calls for help.

The guards look at a nearby boat with a young girl, in shorts and a top, ready to go out fishing. The girl asks one more time about the nature of the captured woman’s crimes. One of the guards tells her that it isn’t any of her concern. The young girl throws off her hat, revealing her green hair underneath. She is Scorpion.

One of the guards doesn’t recognize Scorpion and comments that he did not know the circus was in town, but the other guard quickly shushes him. The guard quickly stops his comments and explains to Scorpion that they both work for A.I.M. and they are under orders to bring in this girl as she is a security threat.

Scorpion grabs the girl from the guards, not trusting them, and tells them that, since she is higher ranked than them, she assumes her clearance is higher than theirs. To that end, she will take the girl into custody. The guards begin to interject, but Scorpion powers up her fist menacingly. The guards back off and leave.

Scorpion takes the terrified girl down into her boat. The refugee thanks Scorpion, but Scorpion tells the girl to just be glad she got up early to fish. Besides, she looked pathetic enough for her to take her side over the smug A.I.M. agents. Scorpion kneels in front of the girl and reminds her that she is soaking wet. Not caring, the girl tells Scorpion that they took Jonny.

Before Scorpion can follow the girl’s logic, she tells a story of how they were looking for subjects for routine medical stuff. They even promised room and board. She and Jonny just arrived and the offer was tempting. However, things went wrong and people began to disappear. They thought they were next so they ran, but Johnny was caught. Worried, Scorpion consoles the girl. The girl asks Scorpion to please find Jonny. He has a tattoo of Captain America’s shield on his arm. Scorpion promises the girl that she will find Jonny.

Sometime later, Bruce sits in his office with Monica and a few advisors. He asks one of the men to promise that this will be the last meeting for the day. One of them promises, while another brings up the recent housing reports. Banner recalls that there is not enough housing. The advisor confirms this and begins to suggest something, when another advisor interrupts him. He hopes his colleague isn’t suggesting putting a cap on immigration. The other man tells him that they have to consider it. The first man reminds him of the outback as there is plenty of space there, but the man prompting for a cap calls it a security risk. Monica agrees, as well as Banner, who thinks of the Aborigines who live out there. Banner then decides that they will put the immigrants to work building new houses. There must be builders, contractors, architects among the refugees.

The advisor suggesting the cap informs Banner that it will require materials they do not have. They would have to trade with mutant governments, who are all uncooperative so far. Not phased by this, Banner calls in Adam West. Adam comes in and Banner tells him to record a memo for him that must be circulated to every government in the world. Banner then begins and merely states that the world must cooperate with them, or Hulk will smash; yours truly, and etc. and etc.

Adam asks Banner if he wants that read back, but Banner is sure Adam got it all down. He then orders the boy to circulate it as soon as possible. As Adam leaves, Banner asks the advisors if there is anything else. One advisor gets up and brings up another topic. The people adore the Hulk, as he is a symbol of strength against mutant oppression. His presence reminds everyone of who is in charge. Banner gets up, knowing what the advisor wants. He wants the Hulk to make a public appearance. The advisor agrees, perhaps a trot onto the balcony would do.

Banner, annoyed, states that he wants to give people thrills. How about for fireworks they set off an atomic bomb? The Hulk does not trot out and he does not do shows at night. He hides inside Banner and when he comes out people bleed and buildings collapse. Banner opens the door to leave and asks the advisor if he understands that. Yes, replies the man. Banner adjourns the meeting and closes the door behind him.

Banner walks down the halls alone, and calls his advisors idiots. Banner then wonders what he has been pulled into when he walks past a statue of an Aborigine. Suddenly, the statue begins to talk to Banner and tells him the Dreamtime will not last much longer. However, it can still do much damage. People are disappearing. How can Two-Minds not hear the screams? Banner turns, surprised, but suddenly another voice calls him. Banner turns to see Scorpion, who tells him that they might have a situation.

Sometime later, in a dark building on an empty street, a couple walks into an office and addressed the man at the desk, asking him if he was looking for volunteers. The couple, dressed with hats and sunglasses, is told that they are at the right place for the medical experiments. The man asks what sort of experiments are being conducted, but is assured that he will be fine and not to worry. Annoyed, the man tells the A.I.M. soldier at the desk that he didn’t answer his question. The soldier smiles and hands the man a release form, asking him to sign it first and then they will talk. Suddenly, the woman tells the A.I.M. officer to sleep and they will take over from there. Scorpion then uses her powers to string the officer, who falls unconscious.

Banner and Scorpion begin to search around the room, though Banner is not sure of what. Scorpion suggests that they look for incriminating papers, journals, or a secret passage to an underground lab. Banner searches through some papers, but finds only release forms. Scorpion asks him to check the desk for a hidden switch or something. As Scorpion runs her hands across the wall, Banner tells her that he knows she is part of a spy organization, but sometimes her imagination runs wild. Suddenly, Banner accidentally hits a button under the desk, causing the wall in front of Scorpion to move. Since she was leaning on it, Thasanee ends up falling down a flight of stairs.

Banner rushes to the top of the stairs and calls down to Scorpion. He hears the girl moan that she is fine, so Banner apologizes for the “imagination” joke. Scorpion tells him that his apology is of no help and then asks him to come down to help her check for broken bones. Banner heads down and helps her up, commenting that her Scorpion uniform gives her added protection. Yes, well, replies Scorpion, a girl can’t get enough protection these days.

The two head down a hallway as they hear something from that direction. It sounds like a clanking sound. The two then emerge into another room, where Scorpion is shocked and demands to know what is going on. Banner and Scorpion look down into a large oval room, where hundreds of workers are overseeing hundreds of “volunteers” who are being transformed into cyborgs.

The two are spotted quickly, and the alarm goes off. Banner wonders if they can ever make a red alert alarm that wasn’t annoying, but Scorpion reminds him that it isn’t their concern. She rips off her hat and jacket as an army of cyborgs approach them. Banner tells her to handle things for a moment, as he leaps off the ledge and onto the floor below. He thought he was done with staff meetings today but it seems as if he is wrong. He hates being wrong. Banner then transforms into the Hulk.

Scorpion then begins to defend herself against the army of mindless cyborgs, but is quickly put into a chokehold by one of them. As she struggles she notices a tattoo of Captain America’s shield on the cyborg’s arm. Scorpion apologizes to Jon as she throws him off of her.

On the main floor, Hulk trashes the cyborgs with ease as all the AIM workers run out of the room. A group of cyborgs surround Hulk and begins shooting at him with their machine gun arms. Annoyed, Hulk asks the cyborgs if they are kidding him. He then is prepared to smash them when suddenly a voice calls out for all the units to stand down.

Suddenly, Dr. Isaacs runs into the room and asks Hulk what he is doing there. As the cyborgs stand down and the alarm goes off, Scorpion stops Isaacs and tells him that they are the ones asking questions here. Before Banner turned into Hulk, he speculated that Isaacs was building an army here.

Dr. Isaacs admits to Scorpion that they are building an army. They have to understand. The mutants are not going to stop. The situation must be stopped. Hulk mutters that they are building an army to fight mutants to reclaim Earth for humans. Dr. Isaacs confirms Hulk’s comment. Angered, Hulk looms over Isaacs and tells him that he hates armies and he hates humans. Hulk then demands to know why he wasn’t told. Dr. Isaacs tells him that Dr. Rappaccini thought it would be best if the operation was kept secret. To know why, he would have to ask her.

In a secure location somewhere unknown, Dr. Monica Rappaccini watches the situation via security cameras. “Houston,” says the sinister doctor, “We have a problem.”

Characters Involved: 

Bruce Banner/Hulk

Dr. Isaacs, Dr. Monica Rappaccini, Scorpion II, Adam West/Machine Teen (A.I.M.)

Jon and his companion
Various “volunteers” and cyborgs
Various A.I.M. agents

Story Notes: 

This is a tie-in of the House of M crossover, which had a prelude in Excalibur (2nd Series) #13-14, and its main story is in House of M #1-8. Other tie-in issues include House of M: Spider-Man #1-5, House of M: Fantastic Four #1-3, House of M: Iron Man #1-3, Uncanny X-Men #462-465, New X-Men (2nd Series) #16-19, Cable/Deadpool #17, Black Panther (3rd Series) #7, Mutopia X #1-4, Wolverine (3rd Series) #33-35, The Pulse #10, The Pulse: House of M Special Edition, Exiles #69-71, Secrets of the House of M, Captain America (5th Series) #10, and New Thunderbolts #11. None of the tie-ins are needed to understand the main story in House of M #1-8.

While serving as an Avenger, Wanda’s reality warping powers slowly deteriorated her mind and she lost all grip on reality. Desperately wanting children again, she reconjured them back and went mad, thinking the Avengers as her enemies and killing Ant-Man II, Hawkeye, and Vision during the Avengers Disassembled event in Avengers (1st Series) #500-503. In the end, the heroes could do nothing, but let Dr. Strange turn off her mind temporarily. Wanda was then taken by her father, Magneto, to Genosha where she has been from Excalibur (2nd Series) #8-14. When the Avengers and X-Men gathered in House of M #1 to decide the fate of Wanda, her powers were used to change reality so that Magneto ruled the world, populated mostly by mutants. The heroes who would most likely interfere were given new lives, which made it impossible for them to rise up against Magneto, while others were given their greatest desires to preoccupy them. Almost the entire world population has no memory of the old world.

According to the Secrets of the House of M one-shot, Bruce Banner was almost murdered by his insane father, who thought he would be a mutant as his own genes were mutated thanks to working with radiation. Banner was saved by the police, but his mother was unfortunately murdered. His father was shot dead by the police. Bruce later went to college and was asked to work for the defense department to create a super-army, but met little success. Pressure from General Ross led to a lab accident that bombarded Banner with gamma rays, thus transforming him into the Hulk. Ross hunted down the Hulk who defeated his opponents in San Diego, before fleeing into the ocean. Banner awoke in Australia and joined the Aborigine people, vaguely remembering his time as the Hulk. Magneto himself asked Banner to join him, but Banner declined and has been with the Aborigines since.

Adam West is better known as Machine Teen.

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