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- You were playing a blues riff on the harmonica, do you remember? That day on the atom bomb testing range, all those years ago. "That'll Be The Day That I Die". Ironic, considering.
- -- Bruce Banner
Appearing in "The Lone and Level Sands"Edit
- Hulk (First appearance) (Only in flashback)
- Rick Jones (First appearance)
- Marlo Chandler (First appearance) (Only in flashback)
- Doc Samson (First appearance) (Only in flashback)
- Gen. Thunderbolt Ross (First appearance) (Only in flashback)
- Betty Ross (First appearance) (Corpse) (Only in flashback)
- Col. Cary St. Lawrence (First appearance) (Only in flashback)
- Betty Jones (First appearance)
- Thor (First appearance)
- Silver Surfer (First appearance)
- Human Torch (First appearance)
- Abomination (First appearance) (Dream)
- Jarella (First appearance) (Dream)
- Namor (First appearance) (Dream)
- Gargoyle (First appearance) (Dream)
- The Thing (First appearance) (Dream)
- Jim Wilson (First appearance) (Dream)
- Absorbing Man (First appearance) (Dream)
- Wolverine (First appearance) (Dream)
- Spider-Man (First appearance) (Dream)
- She-Hulk (First appearance) (Dream)
- U-Foes (First appearance) (Dream)
- Doctor Strange (First appearance) (Dream)
- Leader (First appearance) (Dream)
- Captain America (First appearance) (Dream)
- Iron Man (First appearance) (Dream)
Synopsis for "The Lone and Level Sands"Edit
It is the tenth anniversary of the death of Elizabeth Banner, and the Daily Bugle is planning a retrospective. So they have sent one of their senior staffers, Pete Parker, to interview the people involved. Unfortunately, part of what makes the story so fascinating is that most of the players are unreachable, and so Parker calls on one the last ghosts of the Age of Wonders: Rick Jones. Jones is initially reticent, but eventually agrees to set the scene...
It had been night when Betty Banner died, and Rick had been asleep. His wife, Marlo, had been up late reading when the news had come in, and her scream had been enough to wake Rick. By the time they were both able to go in, Bruce Banner was being held in administrative segregation, partially because he had tried kill himself right after Betty died, but mostly because the base commander, Thaddeus Ross, Betty's father, blamed Bruce for the death. A barrage of weaponry designed to go off if Banner's heart accelerated ringed the room as Rick went in to talk... only to discover that Bruce had cracked, and was imagining a grand going-away party of all his friends and foes. As Rick tried to talk his friend back to reality, Bruce had started rambling about the poem "Ozymandias" by Percy Bysshe Shelley, which concerns a statue in a desert. A plaque on the statue trumpets a ruler, but for all the ruler's claim of being the strongest one there is, "Nothing beside remains. Around and about the remain of that colossal wreck, the lone and level sands stretch far away."
Saying goodbye to Rick, Bruce hid from his pain in the Hulk, not activating the guns because his heart never accelerated. He leapt away. Hulk sightings were sporadic for the next few months as Hulk tried to find ways to bring Betty back, but none could be found.
While Bruce was gone, his superhero friends arranged Betty's funeral. Per her request, she was cremated and buried in a closed casket, which started some conspiracy theories. But for all that, the funeral was truly something to see. Afterwards, Bruce began trying to kill himself, as the Hulk, who wanted to live, would let Banner get just far enough to be amusing, and then change, destroying the specific plan.
Several months later, Rick, his legs healed, couldn't sleep. Marlo having left him, Rick began playing the harmonica, only to feel his blood go cold when he discovered that Bruce had broken into his house for a brief chat. Looking like a normal man with glowing green irises, he apologised for going missing, and for missing the funeral. He called his suicide attempts a "permanent solution to a temporary problem", and said his life had left him with a message he thought he should give Rick: the most powerful and important force in the human world is love. Telling Rick "Sometimes it's better to burn out than fade away," he left. It was the single most frightening night of Rick's life. It was also the last time he saw the Hulk in the flesh.
Thaddeus Ross' interminable crusade against the Hulk had restarted by then, though Ross himself would die a few months later during the Hell on Earth War. In the aftermath, Hulk had paired off with Cary St. Lawrence, to surprising effect.
Parker is enthralled by the story, and muses at why it happened the way it did. Rick asks if it even happened. Drawing on his long friendship with both superheroes and physicists, he points out that parallel timelines and sub-optimal future worlds are scientific fact. It is entirely possible that their whole universe is nothing more than a dark potential world and the Hulk's real life is something... incredible.
At this point, Rick's little daughter Betty comes in and wants to be tucked in. Rick loves his child, but the combination of his emotional rant and his little girl causes him to cry, and he ends the interview. He talked long and loud, spinning Parker a tale of derring-do and tragedy about two of his greatest friends in the world, and now, for his own sanity, he must ask Parker to leave. He has said enough.
Appearing in "Epilogue"Edit
Synopsis for "Epilogue"Edit
General Ross preserves Betty's body in stasis, rather than having her cremated as everyone believes.
- This issue marks the end of Peter David's 11 year run on Incredible Hulk
- No trivia.
Links and ReferencesEdit
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