Quote1 You've had it for a long time. Since the day we met. ... That moment that changed everything for both of us. The day the Hulk was born. You never stopped hating yourself for that, Rick. Even though you were just a kid who couldn't have known. ... The guilt is why you won't let yourself turn back into Rick Jones. But Rick -- even if I don't live through this, you've got to know. It's not your fault. I forgive you... It's not. Your. Fault. Quote2
-- Bruce Banner

Appearing in "How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the A-Bomb"Edit

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Synopsis for "How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the A-Bomb"Edit

After sending Thundra back to her own time, the Red Hulk is suddenly attacked by A-Bomb. The Red Hulk quickly realizes that the now simple minded A-Bomb has suddenly become loyal to MODOK and the Leader. As the two fight it out, the conscious mind of Rick Jones tries to fight off its conditioning, thinking back to the events that led up to his transformation into A-Bomb.

He recalls how at the end of World War Hulk he was gravely wounded by Miek who stabbed a spear through his chest. He was rushed off the battlefield by what he thought was a SHIELD unit. However, once he was brought to Gamma Base he quickly learned that it was a front for AIM and that he was a prisoner of MODOK and the Leader. He recalls hearing them talk about needing the Abomination's DNA to save his life. Calling out the name of Emil Blonsky, the Red Hulk gets him to think about where that DNA came from, recounting how he was the one who killed the Abomination. As the Red Hulk continues to pummel him, A-Bomb's mind drifts back to after the experiment when he was first transformed. It was then that he was freed by his wife, Marlo, whom MODOK transformed into the Harpy. Thinking back to how he helped the green Hulk defeat the Red Hulk, the Red Hulk reminds him how Samson reigned him in when he attempted to warn the Hulk about what the Intelligencia was up to. Rick recalls how he was taken back to the Intelligencia's hideout where he was mentally conditioned by Samson with a hypnotic suggestion ordering him to kill Bruce Banner. Made to remember, A-Bomb reveals that this was all a ruse to figure out what happened to him and he disappears. The Red Hulk is furious that he had been manipulated once again.

Rick returns to Bruce Banner's cave where he tells everything to Bruce. When Banner feels guilty for sending A-Bomb to fight the Red Hulk, Rick brushes it off, saying that he likes being A-Bomb. Bruce, however, points out that he may have been conditioned to like it. When Rick goes to leave, the Red Hulk arrives, knowing that he would have went back to Banner. Furious at being attacked, the Red Hulk starts beating into A-Bomb again. But before he can defeat Rick, Bruce Banner emerges from the cave wearing the Redeemer Armor to battle the Red Hulk. The Red Hulk tries to fight back, but A-Bomb pulls him back, explaining that they don't want the armor damaged. When Red Hulk asks why, A-Bomb explains that it is for him, that he still has orders from Samson implanted into his head. This puts an end to the battle and the trio start a camp fire to talk about this recent development. Bruce explains that they are planning to trigger the orders so that they don't have to worry about it later. Bruce deduces that A-Bomb might get trigged if Bruce Banner's life is put at risk. He then asks the Red Hulk to try crushing his head. When Banner calls out for help, it triggers the hypnotic suggestion in Rick's mind and he attacks Bruce.

Protected by the Redeemer Armor, Bruce tries to get through to Rick, get him to fight this mental conditioning. He reminds Rick how he stood up against the Hulk during the war on New York, how he had been manipulated by the Leader in the past, how he felt when Captain Marvel died of cancer. As A-Bomb begins tearing apart the armor, Banner also reminds him of how he was an ally to Captain America and the Avengers. Stripped of the armor, Bruce flees into the cave with A-Bomb not far behind. He suddenly realizes what it is that is driving Rick: the guilt he feels over the accident that turned Bruce into the Hulk. Cornered, Bruce tells Rick that it wasn't his fault, and this act of forgiveness is enough to free A-Bomb from his mental conditioning. With Rick back to normal, Bruce congratulates A-Bomb for helping defeat their foes this day.

Continuity Notes

Chronology Notes

Flashbacks in this story affect the chronologies of the following characters:

Solicit Synopsis:

FALL OF THE HULKS…A-BOMB STYLE! Rick Jones, formerly Hulk and Captain America’s sidekick, has become a hulking blue creature that can take a punch and melt into the shadows…powers he’ll need to survive the gamut of evil cooked up by M.O.D.O.K.! Join Jeff Parker (AVENGERS VS. ATLAS, THUNDERBOLTS) and Carlos Rodriguez as the event of the year HULKS on.

See AlsoEdit

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