Sensational Comics #17
She-Hulk VS the Thing
In some off ways, Jennifer Ross was glad at the sight of her present surroundings. True, the blasted desert landscape didn't leave much to the imagination but it was real. No matter what had changed she could still count on that.
She could also count on trouble. Search planes and armed men had been combing the area since daybreak. "Looking for me, no doubt, but I can't let them find me." Ever since she returned to the land of the living, it seemed that she had been thrust into one danger after another.
Seeking momentary shelter by a large rock outcropping, she slowly sank down in the blessed shade. "I won't last much longer in this heat." She flapped her collar to try and cool herself. Her clothes, which she swore were simply borrowed thanks to an unattended clothes line, looked like they might drop before she did.
"Guess I can try this again." Standing, she closed her eyes and concentrated. At once she felt a tremor. Opening her eyes, she gasped as the familiar greenish hue began to spread across her tanned skin. The formerly loose fitting clothing stretched (and sadly tore in a few places but she didn't care about that) to accommodate her new dimensions.
"Ok, let's try to get some distance!" She looked around as a truck appeared over the horizon. Seeing it wasn't a military vehicle made her relax. An idea formed as she looked at the approaching truck. Grabbing two large handfuls of the rock in front of her, she wretched it free of the bedrock and tossed it into the road. The truck skidded to a halt, stopping inches before the rock.
"What the blue blazes?" The driver, a rough sort of fellow, exited the cab. His partner, a scrawny fellow with a beat up hat, poked his head out of the window.
"What the heck happened Jeff?"
"Dang if I know." Jeff's voice trailed off as he was enveloped in shadow. Spinning around, he found himself face to chest with the She-Hulk.
"Afternoon boys. I don't suppose you could give a nice gal a ride into town?"
Jeff swallowed audibly and tried to maintain the situation. "Um, there really isn't any room for passengers, ma'am."
"Then I'll ride in the trailer." She turned around and shoved the pile of rocks off the road.
"No room in there either!" Bob, sitting in the cab, shouted.
"Then I'll make some room." The She-Hulk said matter-of-factly. Casually opening the rear doors of the trailer, she tossed several couches and chairs out before climbing inside. She shot a glance to Jeff before she shut the doors. "I'm going to take a nap for a bit. Don't do anything stupid like try to alert the cops. I'd hate to wrap the main axle around your neck."
Jeff wiped what felt like three pounds of sweat off his brow before he secured the doors. Taking a final glance at the furniture sitting in the blazing heat, he hurried back to the front of the truck. "How am I going to write this one up?"
Betty Ross, meanwhile, had not been idle. With Dr. Banner, she had been in contact with various heroes and scientists. "How are the search parties doing?"
"So far no sign. We caught a few glimpses on the radar but it vanished just as quick." Major Talbot shook his head. "She's laying low, that's for sure."
Bruce Banner entered the room beaming. "Good news! I just got off the horn with Reed Richards! He and his team are on the way!"
"Great!" Betty sighed with relief. She knew she could contact the Avengers, but she had some doubts. "I know I can trust them in a fight, but how much could Lady Thor or Iron Man really do to help my mother?"
Hours had passed. The steady hum of the wheels and rocking motion of the trailer had lulled Jennifer to sleep. However, the sound of the truck slowing made her sit upright. "Have we stopped?"
Outside, Jeff and Bob nervously looked at the state trooper as he shined his flashlight under their cab. "Look fellas, orders are orders and I have to inspect every thing on the road." The trooper moved back towards the rear doors of the trailer when they were suddenly flung open. His hand went for his gun when a small figure jumped out and made a mad dash for the open desert. The trooper laughed as Bob and Jeff nearly fainted.
Still shaking his head, the trooper pulled out his ticket book. "For a second there, I thought I'd have to deal with the Hulk!" Chuckling, he issued a citation for Jeff. "Sorry about this boys, but picking up a hitchhiker is against the law in these parts."
"We read you General Ross." Reed Richards, better known as Mister Fantastic, switched off the radio receiver. Behind him were the other members of the Fantastic Four.
"So what's the plan stretch?" Ben Grimm cracked his knuckles.
"Are we going to tangle with the Hulk again?" Johnny Storm smirked. "Because I'd like to take on that tall drink of water myself."
"Cool it little brother." Sue Storm chided him. "The Hulk isn't the problem, right Reed?"
"Correct Sue. It appears that the Hulk's mother, the She-Hulk, is loose in the western United States and we are to bring her in without incident."
"She-Hulk? So the Hulk's a man?" Johnny raised his eyebrows in confusion.
"No," Reed sighed, somewhat exasperated, "I believe the difference in names can be traced back to a translation issue when a group of German agents first encountered her. For clarity's sake though, we'll refer to her as the She-Hulk."
"Yeah, yeah, glad we got that straightened out, but we are we going to do?" Ben tapped his foot impatiently, nearing cracking the floor tiles under him.
"The plan is simple, I hope. We'll fly out west in the pogo-plane and from there meet up with the Army. Using this gamma bath receiver, I hope to draw any excess gamma rays from her and restore her to normal."
"Then what are we doing sitting around here for, let's get a move on!" Ben groused. "I had to break a date with Alicia over this, but if we hurry I can make it back before the curtain goes up."
The Hulk landed with a thud. Leaping across country, she pulled out the special Geiger counter. "She's been this way, if those truckers were to be believed." She slipped it back into her backpack and stopped. "Can I fight her again? Could I win?" The empty desert gave no answer.
"Have to keep moving!" Jennifer dragged herself through the wastes. She had no destination in mind save for a general area. Something compelled her to go east. Not a particular city or landmark, just east. Stopping for a moment, she collapsed near a highway. "Do I follow it? A city might help, but what if I change again?" She tightened her shirt around her and redoubled the cord that served as a belt. Despite all the trouble she felt relaxed. "If I turn myself in, what if they stick in another prison? Or worse?" She tried not to think about it. Collapsing near an abandoned car, she fell asleep as the sun slowly set.
Once the sun was down, Jennifer underwent another change. Instead of green, however, her skin took on a grayish hue. The other She-Hulk stretched and looked around. "Army's no where in sight. Good!" She idly kicked the car, smashing it. "But what am I going to do now?" For once her rage was cooled. "That other women, the one like me; is she a weapon they are using against me?"
"Based on the reports, we can guess the She-Hulk's general whereabouts." Reed gazed over the radar screen. The Pogo-Plane soared over the area as the rest of the Fantastic Four all checked their instruments. "But we have to be careful."
"I know, innocent person inside the monster Reed. You don't have to remind me!" Ben grumbled as his monitor flashed. "Hey, I think I hit the jackpot!"
"She's about a half mile west of us and moving fast!" Sue signaled to Reed.
"Let's take her down and wait. I'd like to settle this without violence if possible." Reed slowed the engines and the amazing flying craft landed.
"Let's take it slow. I'll approach hr first, but if things go sour Ben I need you step in as fast as possible. Can you handle it old friend?"
"Did you forget who you're talking to? The day I can't handle a fight is the day of Bashful Benjy retires!"
The foursome waited as the grey skinned giant came bounded over the horizon. "Get ready team!"
As soon as the She-Hulk landed, Johnny lit up the entire area with his flame. Reed immediately moved forward, his arms up. "Easy, we don't want to hurt you!"
"Oh? Nice change of pace." The She-Hulk sneered at them.
Reed continued. "My name is Reed Richards. My team and I want to talk to you. We think we can help you."
"Thanks, but I don't need any help." The She-Hulk moved so quickly no one had a chance to react. She slammed her fist into Reed's chest. He was so taken by surprise his torso sailed back into Sue. The She-Hulk smirked.
"Huh, must be getting weaker. I thought my Sunday punch would do more damage than that!"
"Ok, we tried it your way Reed, now it's mine!" Ben charged the She-Hulk, he fists at the ready. "It's clobberin' time!" He caught the She-Hulk in the midsection with a punch that would have shattered steel.
The She-Hulk grunted and doubled over but stood her ground. "Not bad" she wheezed, "but next time, don't hold back on my account!" She brought her knee up and slammed Ben directly in the jaw.
Ben staggered back as Johnny stepped forward. "You had your shot, now it's mine! Flame On!" Johnny erupted into flame and took to the air. He surrounded the She-Hulk with a wall of flame.
"Not bad kid, but me? I took on the real Human Torch." Scooping up twin handfuls of dirt, she smothered a section of the flames and strolled away. Reaching, she broke a large cactus in two as Johnny swooped down.
Pulping the plant into a wet mush, she pelted Johnny with the wet innards; dousing his flame and making him crash.
"Enough!" Sue shouted. Concentrating, she placed a force field over the She-Hulk's head. The gray Amazon pawed at her face as she struggled to breathe.
Ben staggered back to his feet. "Aunt Petunia didn't raise no quitters! Thanks Susie Q, but I'll take it from here!" He shoulder tackled the She-Hulk, plowing her into the dirt. Despite the lack of oxygen, the She-Hulk reared up and wrapped her arms around Ben as he did the same to her.
The two titans squeezed as hard as they could. Sue concentrated harder, her brow wet with the effort as Ben heard a cracking sound. He gritted his teeth as the She-Hulk pushed against him, hauling him to his feet.
At once Ben felt relief as the She-Hulk's grip loosened. She collapsed in his arms. Releasing his grip, he stepped back as she dropped unceremoniously to ground. "Wow! That was not something I'd care to repeat!"
"You can say that again!" Johnny spat out bits of pulp and sand as he dug himself free. "So what now fearless leader?"
"Now we restrain the She-Hulk before she wakes up and call the Army." Reed rubbed his back. "Good work team, but our night's not over yet!"
Betty drummed her fingers nervously on the table. In her transformed state, she stopped when she broke through the metal. Standing up, she paced around. She received word that her mother had been captured but ever since then she had been waiting at a table outside the lab.
After another hour, the outside doors finally opened. Reed Richard walked out, his face weary.
"Yes, how is my mother?"
"It has been a difficult case. When she is gray she seems to have another personality altogether. Her green side, as best as we can determine, is close enough to her true personality."
"So what is she now, gray or green?"
"Gray, and it seems she will stay that way until daybreak."
He sat down and helped himself to the by now nearly day old coffee. "We've had a devil of a time restraining her. Dr. Banner was lucky enough to modify this old rocket testing silo but I'm not sure if it can withstand another attack."
"I want to see her." Betty was firm, but Reed shook his head.
"I'm sure you do, but that person in there isn't your mother."
"Dr. Richards, I haven't seen my mother in so long I've forgotten what her voice sounded like. Please, let me try to reach her."
Reed sighed. "I see your point, but Ben is going to stay close in case there's trouble, understand?"
The room was quiet as Betty entered. She expected thunderous banging and threats. The silence made things worse. The She-Hulk was chained to a large chair in the center of the silo. Her head was hung low. "Hello?" Betty spoke over the intercom.
The She-Hulk snapped her head up. "What do you want?"
"I just want to talk, that's all." Betty stepped forward. She was still in her Hulk form. She hoped that would open her mother up. At the very least, it would give her an advantage in case she broke free.
"So talk. It's not like I'm going anywhere."
Betty found herself tongue tied. After a few seconds, she blurted out the first thing that came to mind. "Do you know who I am?" She tried to sound authoritative.
"A clone? Some cheap copy those tin plated morons on this base cooked up?"
Betty visibly winced. Changing tactics, she gestured to the chains. "Why aren't you trying to escape?"
"Maybe I'm bored. Besides, I've gotten out of worse places before."
"True," Betty realized that once she changed back to her mother, the chains wouldn't fit. "However, while we have this time, I wondering if you know someone."
"Who? My social circle isn't exactly wide."
That sparked off a reaction. Almost at once, the She-Hulk strained against the chains." Ross! That little wimp! Where is she?"
"You don't know?"
"If I did, I'd crush that little fool with my bare hands!" the She-Hulk seethed. "You know where she is, don't you?"
"I wish I did." Betty shook her head.
"You're lying!" the She-Hulk roared. Straining against the chains, she rose from the chair as several of them gave way. Many held, keeping in the silo. She started to move closer to the observation window. "I'll make you tell me!" One of the larger chains started to give way. Betty stepped back, ready for anything when the She-Hulk collapsed.
Betty marveled as the gray skinned mountain of muscle shrank. Her skin returned to a normal pink tone. The chains easily slid off of her smaller frame. Betty rushed down the steps, changing back as she did.
Ignoring Reed's warning, she opened the blast doors and hurried inside. She stood over her mother's silent form. "Mom?"
"Who?" Jennifer looked up, her eyes tired. "Why did you call me that?" Realization dawned at once. "My God, Betty?" She stood up, easily removing the chains.
"Yes…" Betty found herself choking up. She threw her arms around her mother. Jennifer froze at first, but slowly returned the hug.
They were silent for several minutes, but their reunion was not going unobserved. Unseen by them, a small camera was recording and sending the scene to a remote bunker some mils away. The Leader observed the scene without emotion. "Fascinating; a reunion between the two might work to my advantage but there is an 84.7 percent chance of their strengthening their bonds. I can not allow that to happen yet."
His bright green fingers danced across a keyboard. Commands were sent and machinery put into motion. The Leader sat back in his chair and observed.
Back in the silo, alarms ran out. Jennifer and Betty looked around in confusion as an outer wall exploded. The Thing rushed into the observation deck. "I knew she was trying something!"
"Wait! She didn't do anything!" Betty tried to shout, but Jennifer pushed her aside.
"I'm through being the sap! If you want trouble, I'll bring it to you!" She easily grew green and towered over the Thing.
"Lady, you're speaking my language!" The Thing rushed towards her. The She-Hulk copied him. Theirs fists collided with a deafening crack.
"Stop it, both of you!" Betty tried to reason with them, but to no avail. "If I help my mother, they might think I've gone rogue, but if I help Mr. Grimm, she'll never trust me again!" Betty was torn with indecision.
The Thing and the She-Hulk continued their fight unabated. For every blow the Thing landed, the She-Hulk countered. Despite the bruising, Ben smiled. It had been far too long since he had a fight where he could use his full strength. As for the She-Hulk, she found herself enjoying the physicality of the battle.
"You're good!" Ben admitted.
"Thanks!" the She-Hulk dodged a right hook and countered with an uppercut that sent the Thing flying up through the silo wall. The jade giantess looked at her daughter and the open hole in the wall. "Betty, I can't stay here."
"Mom, wait!" Betty moved forward. "You can't leave; they'll track you down again!"
"So what else is new?" She shook her head. "They don't trust me, and I bet they don't trust you. Come with me Betty, we can fight them all!"
"Mom, I can't." She sadly stepped back. "If you stay, I'll fight for you. We can explain what's happened."
"They won't believe you. They'll just lock us away." The She-Hulk's eyes clouded. "I won't go through that again!" She jumped out of the silo in a single bound and was already off base in the second jump.
Betty looked sadly as she disappeared over the horizon. "She's got a point, but I have to catch her first before anyone else does. It looks like the Avengers are going to be needed after all."
Based on "The Incredible Hulk versus the Thing!" which was first printed in Fantastic Four I#25 (April 1964). Credits to Stan Lee (script), Jack Kirby (pencils), George Roussos (inks), Stan Goldberg (colors), Artie Simek (letters)
Next issue: The Avengers Take Over!
From They Call Me Bruce
Love it, but still wish you'd use chapters instead of making new stories
True, and thanks. Yeah, I suppose this can be annoying but it was a habit that I got into. Rest assured though, any new features will make use of the chapter feature
Wow, did you surprise me with a story like this. I mean, brining back the WW2 She-Hulk into modern times, who knows when she'll return, maybe even facing the Avengers along side Namor and Captain America, in sort of an alternative version of Avenegers#4? All this plus the Leader as the person who brought the She-Hulk back was just an added bonus. It also makes me wonder when we are going to see him again? Nice update indeed and I am truly impressed with how it turned out. Please I do wish for you to keep up the good work upon such a great series like this one
Hopefully this issue answered most of your questions.
Staring off with a flashback to John Marks (from#9) by the Leader (last seen, I believe it #5), then recalling#12 (with an old acquaintance of her mother's) was a great way to start unrolling the mysteries in this story. Since the Marvel series ended at#6, you've really made this version your own. The Leader debuted in Tales to Astonish#62 (December 1964), equivalent to a Hulk#16. For a minute there, I thought you were going to guest-star the Wasp
Well, the Wasp will be buzzing around here sooner than you think. In fact she'll be bringing the entire Avengers roster with her. What do you think about that?
And in upcoming issues
Tales to Astonish#16-Birth of Giant Girl!
Journey into Mystery#18-Mr. Hyde and the Cobra VS Lady Thor!
The Avengers#4-Versus the Sub-Mariner!
Amazing Fantasy#9-Taskmaster tackles the Tiger Cult!