Savage Hulk #4

Issue Date: 
November 2014
Story Title: 
The Man Within part 4

Alan Davis (writer & penciler), Mark Farmer (inker), Matt Hollingsworth (colorist), VC’s Clay Cowles (letterer), Davis, Farmer & Hollingsworth (cover artists), Dale Keown & Jesus Aburtov (variant cover artists), Jon Moisan (assistant editor), Mark Paniccia with Wil Moss (editors), Axel Alonso (editor in chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)

Brief Description: 

Once again conscious, Professor X finds himself and his X-Men a prisoner of the Leader. With Xavier and his students each shackled in specially designed mechanisms to counteract their powers, the Leader directs his attention to Dr. Banner, who is still under the control of the gamma device he and Xavier were using in their attempts to cure him of his Hulk persona. Still not fully understanding the mechanism, the Leader begins to threaten Xavier via his students, distracting him as Banner begins to transform via the gamma device into a creature similar, yet very different, from the Hulk. Now possessing mental powers as well as physical ones, the not-Hulk uses his new telekinetic powers to free Xavier and the X-Men from their shackles. Wishing to save what victory he can, the Leader order his robots and Humanoids to attack, while he recovers the gamma device. However, the not-Hulk acts too quickly for the Leader and, having realized that it was actually a drone, destroys the Leader and sends a gamma feedback to the Leader’s base far away. Knowing what must be done next, the not-Hulk destroys the gamma device and thus any hope he has of curing himself in the future. As the not-Hulk then begins finishing off the Leader’s army, destroying Banner’s secret base in the process, the X-Men flee, taking Xavier with them despite his protests. In short order the base collapses, after which the fully-restored Hulk emerges from its rubble. At first, the Hulk seems intent on smashing Xavier and the X-Men next. However, when Xavier follows a hunch and offers no reaction to the Hulk’s threats, the Hulk soon loses interest and jumps off, leaving the X-Men in peace.

Full Summary: 

In his secret lab in the Nevada Desert, Dr. Bruce Banner sits unconscious in a reclined chair, luminescent green energy projected from a device sitting atop a telescoping arm pointed at his head. Standing a short distance away, the Leader announces to the captive Xavier and his X-Men that he finds it difficult to believe Banner’s pedestrian intellect could conceive of a device capable of… THIS! Banner hovers on the verge of transformation… his cells held in stasis at the instant their gamma energy is released.

As the Leader continues analyzing the device which Banner constructed and which Xavier improved upon, Xavier reaches out telepathically to Jean. However, it is Cyclops who telepathically responds, explaining that she can’t hear him. When Xavier seems startled by his reply, Cyclops explains that Jean transferred her telepathic link to him in case he regained consciousness. Asked what happened, Cyclops explains that the Leader’s robots attacked shortly after Xavier linked minds with Banner and collapsed. They were caught totally off-guard.

Oblivious to all of this, the Leader continues his analysis… Ignoring the Leader’s musings, Cyclops continues that the Leader has had them under observation since they arrived there, so he was prepared to neutralize their powers. The helmet on Jean generates strobe lights and high-frequency sound… to overload her senses and distract her from using her telekinesis. Jean shut off he senses and forged a telepathic link with Angel… so that she has a visual to direct her telekinesis and unlock his restraints. When Xavier compliments the tactic with the adjective “genius,” Cyclops replies that they’re not kids anymore.

Still unaware of the silent conversation going on behind him, the Leader declares the device incredible, noting that the matrix is evolving. Banner… or the Hulk is becoming something… other. Turning to Xavier, the Leader notes that he told Banner that he telepathically manipulated the procedure. How? If he removes this bomb, Xavier sugggests, perhaps he could demonstrate. Snarling his reply, the Leader orders Xavier not to dare toy with him. Did he initiate this? Told that he doesn’t believe so, the Leader then asks if it is a transformation. He has no idea, Xavier replies. Becoming angrier at Xavier’s apparent defiance, the Leader signals to his Humanoids, one of which grabs the Angel by his wings and begins to squeeze. Perhaps he can stimulate his recollection, the Leader suggests. The winged one may be aloof and disinterested once he’s been plucked.

So engrossed with his interrogation of Xavier, the Leader does not notice that the unwatched Dr. Banner has indeed begun to transform becoming once again green in color and more massive in size. NOOOO! what was Banner cries, transformed again into a gamma-spawned creature. No! he won’t be responsible… for the suffering of others! As the Leader once again draws his attention to Banner, each of the individual shackles holding the X-Men suddenly comes apart simultaneously. Immediately, Cyclops notes to Jean that that felt like telekinesis… from the Hulk! Not the Hulk, Xavier corrects, Banner! The struggle to contain the Hulk has massively increased his mental capacity.

Announcing that he has indulged this “farce” long enough, the Leader declares the experiment is over and orders his Humanoids to attack. Kill them all! As the army of Humanoids do as ordered, the Leader clarifies that the device is all that matters. With the X-Men distracted by his androids, the Leader diverts his attention to the gamma device and informs Banner that he won’t win this time. Still in the experiment’s chair, Banner is no longer human, though clearly not the Hulk. His entire head, both skull and mandible, are enormous. This isn’t winning, Banner replies. With that, the not-Hulk reaches out and grasps the Leader by the neck, adding that he surely anticipated failure… or he’d have been there in person instead of sending a drone… while he skulks in his lair.

With that, the not-Hulk uses his massive thumb to shear off the top of the Leader’s skull, revealing the innards of the robot’s cranium. Far away, via his monitor, the Leader watches the snarling not-Hulk inform him that, if he wants his gamma powers, he should take it. A moment later, to his horror, the Leader’s control console begins to spark and then explodes with a gigantic KOOM. The moment that follows is full of darkness and silence, as the Leader lies inert on the floor.

Back in the secret lab, the not-Hulk Banner tosses aside the Leader drone and goes to the gamma device. Gingerly, the not-Hulk disconnects the mechanism, much to the horror of the watching Xavier. No, Banner, don’t do it, he tells him. Don’t lose hope… they can try again! The not-Hulk Banner takes a moment to regard Xavier with eyes of pained resignation. Then, a moment later, he smashes the device.

As the not-Hulk continues to pulverize the device’s remains with more blows, Cyclops orders everyone out. Xavier begins to protest, but Cyclops overrules him, ordering Beast and Iceman specifically to get the professor out. Now! As the X-Men depart, the not-Hulk tears through what remains of the Leader’s robot and Humanoid army, demolishing it with both physical strength and mental powers.

Aghast at the power at hand, Havok notes how lucky they are that the big guy is on their side. Asked by Cyclops if he really is, Havok replies that he’s still got a big head and firing off telekinetic blasts. That’s precisely why they should run, Cyclops rejoins. If Banner’s dominance ended when he destroyed the device… then the Hulk now has a telekinetic capacity… equivalent to his strength. 

Mere moments after the team has exited the lab, the small mountain in which the lab was hidden collapses. Acting quickly, Iceman and Marvel Girl put up shields of ice and telekinesis respectively. From a distance, Colonel Talbot and his soldiers spy the resulting explosion. From an even further distance, retirees Jeb and Dorothy comfort each other.

Back at once was once Banner’s secret lab, the small mountain has finished collapsing. However, before all of the rubble is finished settling, a massive green fist punches through the rubble and the incredible Hulk is once again free, roaring into the night sky.

When Iceman notes that it looks like the Hulk’s rampage burned off the excess gamma power, Cyclops agrees. Now he’s back to being a regular scary green giant. Suddenly, the Hulk spies the X-Men and offers a growl, leading Marvel Girl to opine that it’s not over, as he looks like he’s still out for blood. Yeah, Cyclops agrees. Theirs!

A moment later, the Hulk spans the distance between him and the X-Men in a single leap. Cyclops orders Jean to put him down, but Xavier interjects, instructing her to leave this to him. Jean begins to object, but Xavier pleads with her to do as he asks. All of them, no matter what… everyone remain calm.

The X-Men hold their positions, as the Hulk stands before their mentor, literally hulking over him, his right arm raised, ready to smash Xavier to a bloody pulp. Time seems to stand still, as the Hulk and Xavier each remain motionless. The only thing that changes is the Hulk’s demeanor, which seems to grow even angrier… until finally he roars in Xavier’s face. When he received no reaction, the Hulk pauses for a moment… and then leaps off into the sky toward the rising sun.

Immediately, the X-Men are at the professor’s side. Is he okay, Marvel Girl asks. He looks exhausted. Just tied and disappointed, he replies. He failed. No way, the smiling Iceman replies. He Hulk would’ve hammered them all if he hadn’t “telepathed” him into backing down. No, Bobby, he didn’t, Xavier explains. He didn’t do anything. It was Banner… it was the man inside the monster.

Characters Involved: 


Angel, Beast, Cyclops, Lorna Dane, Havok, Iceman, Marvel Girl (all X-Men)
Professor X



Colonel Talbot

Army soldiers

Jeb and Dorothy

Story Notes: 

Chronologically, the X-Men next appear in the back-up story in X-Men (2nd series) #94, which served as a “pilot concept” story for the X-Men: the Hidden Years series.

The old couple which made a cameo are Jeb & Dorothy, whom Bruce Banner met and befriended in #1.


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