Appearing in "Ghosts of the Future: Different Madness!"Edit
- US Army
- Thing (Illusion)
- Rhino (Illusion)
- Betty Banner (Illusion)
- Nazis (Illusion)
- Janis Jones (Illusion)
- Maestro (Illusion)
- Leader (Illusion)
- Undisclosed military facility
Synopsis for "Ghosts of the Future: Different Madness!"Edit
After being captured by Matt Talbot and his Hulkbusters, the savage Bruce Banner finds himself imprisoned in a secret military facility. Talbot then summons one of the Hulk's old foes, the Ringmaster to assist in studying what triggers the Hulk's transformations. The Ringmaster is initially uninterested in doing so. Talbot then offers to enhance the Ringmaster's hypnotic discs to create solid and life-like illusions. When this, and payment still doesn't sway the Ringmaster, Talbot threatens to have him stand trial for all the crimes he committed during his time as the leader of the Circus of Crime. With no other choice, Maynard Tiboldt agrees to the terms and is taken up to the lab to work on improving his device. Talbot, meanwhile, is furious that the President has requested that the Hulk not be destroyed, only studied. When it becomes clear that Talbot is about to disobey these orders, the gamma-mutate known as Omnibus (disguised as Lieutenant Dallas) uses his mental powers to dissuade Matt from following through on these thoughts and instead, to follow orders.
After five hours of work, and the influence of Omnibus, the military technicians are able to build a device that can create more powerful illusions. At first they entice the savage Banner with images of his Hulk form, then with images of two of his foes: The Thing and the Rhino. This puts Banner into a frenzy until that image is replaced with that of his wife Betty Banner. This calms Banner enough to revert back into the Hulk. When the Hulk realizes that he is in a prison, he tries to break out. The Ringmaster then makes it look like the bars have reformed, however, that when the device seems to go haywire, projecting images all its own. As the soldiers are being attacked by the illusion of a wild boar, the Hulk concentrates and passes through the illusionary bars and fights off the creature.
Suddenly, the entire room turns into a forest filled with Nazi soldiers. As the Hulk uses this as cover to escape, General Talbot orders his men to capture the Hulk. Suddenly, the Ringmaster is attacked by a massive creature resembling Uncle Sam. The Hulk leaps back and fights this "Uncle Sam" until the Ringmaster discovers that this is all a product of his very fears and tries to get them under control. Suddenly, the scenery changes to that of the middle east during Operation: Desert Storm. As they struggle against a sandstorm and the Republican Guard, the Hulk and the others are suddenly bowled over by an exploding SCUD missile. They survive the blast and they see a group of slaves being taken away by Arabian warriors. The Hulk recognizes one of the women as Betty and goes to free her. Seeing the slave master resembles his human form, Omnibus tries to get the illusion under control before this image can undermine his control of General Talbot.
As the Hulk fights off a swarm of snakes, Omnibus sends Talbot to shut down the main generators so they can turn off the illusion. The illusion of Betty then leads the Hulk away, leaving him to wonder if this is really his wife or not. She leads him to another area that resembles the future city of Dystopia. There the Hulk discovers Janis Jones and her rebels nailed to a wall. Pulling Janis free, she tells the Hulk that the Maestro returned and tortured them, her dying words are asking the Hulk if he had betrayed them. Suddenly, the Hulk is face-to-face with his future self, the Maestro -- or rather a realistic illusion of him. Maestro tells the Hulk that he controls everything around them and makes everything but Betty disappear. However, Betty is far from harmless, summoning a swarm of feroucious teddy bears to eat the Maestro alive.
Elsewhere, Omnibus and Talbot continue to try and search for the power source in order to shut it off. Suddenly, the are confronted by the Leader who appears as a massive head on spider's legs. He has the Ringmaster and the soldiers as his prisoner. Meanwhile, the Hulk is led through a maze by Betty where he ends up confronting the Leader-spider. As the two fight it out, suddenly the horrifying manifestation of the Ringmaster's father (a massive worm-like creature) and Talbot's image of his uncle Glenn Talbot (a massive ape in military uniform) spring to life. At this same time the illusion of Betty begins to rapidly age and turns to dust. With the situation getting rapidly out of control, the Hulk quickly spots the representation of the power source in this illusion and smashes it. The resulting blast causes the Hulk to pass out, reverting him back to Bruce Banner. In the aftermath of the entire episode, Talbot pays the Ringmaster off and sends him on his way. After the incident, Matt Talbot is pleased that he has gathered the proof needed to show how much of a threat the Hulk is and eliminate him once and for all.
- This story states that the Ringmaster's parents fled Germany during World War II. This should be considered a topical reference per the Sliding Timescale of Earth-616 as it would drastically age the character. Modern readers should instead consider it to be elder members of the Ringmaster's immediate family.
- Omnibus believes that the Leader is dead, as he seemingly perished in an explosion in Incredible Hulk #400. Unknown to him, the Leader has recently turned up alive in Savage Hulk #1.
- No trivia.
Links and ReferencesEdit
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