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Ultimates (1st series) #13

Issue Date: April 2004

Story Title: How I Learned To Love The Hulk

Staff: Mark Millar (writer), Bryan Hitch (pencils), Paul Neary (inks), Paul Mounts (colors), Chris Eliopoulos (letters), MacKenzie Cadenhead (assistant editor), Nick Lowe (assistant editor), C.B. Cebulski (associate editor), Ralph Macchio (editor), Joe Quesada (editor-in-chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

Brief Description:
Bruce Banner transforms back into a rampaging Hulk. Captain America lies to Hulk, telling some stories that Kleiser was all over Bruce Bannerís former girlfriend, Betty Ross, while he was in solitary. This upsets the Hulk even more and, in a furious rage, rips Kleiserís body apart! With yet another lie, Cap manages to get Hulk destroy the Chitauriís mother-ship. The Air Force takes care of the rest. Meanwhile, Iron Man, Black Widow and Wasp are witness to how Thor teleports the Chitauriís bomb away to Nastrond, a place in Asgard. With the Chitauri threat over, the Hulk remains. Hawkeye manages to shoot an arrow, filled with an antidote made by Banner, right in Hulkís chest, and he reverts back to an unconscious Bruce. In the next days, the Ultimates are praised for their victory, though many people believe that the entire invasion was just a plot set up by S.H.I.E.L.D. to justify the many billions of dollars they coughed up to set up their base. They are invited to a party in the White House, though Thor doesnít join them because he doesnít like the current president. While dancing, Cap and Janet make up after their fight, and kiss. Fury smiles, and has a nice glass of champagne because they saved the world.

Full Synopsis:
A bound Bruce Banner gets thrown out of a helicopter. Nick Fury fears the worse. One of the helicopterís pilots reports to Captain America that the package he ordered has been dropped. Cap thanks the pilot, and orders all units to fall back and prepare for weapon of last resort.

In the air, Banner yells and calls everyone crazy. He crashes on a bunker and, on impact, it collapses. Fury is impressed. Suddenly, the bricks of the former bunker start to move, and a rampaging Hulk emerges!

Fury hopes that Cap knows what heís doing. Cap notices Kleiser sneaking up on them, and pushes Fury to safety while he handles things. The Hulk attacks Cap too, and holds him responsible for Bannerís confusion, and that he makes fun of him like everyone else, while Cap was supposed to be his friend. Hulk grabs Cap by his throat and wants to suffocate him. Cap manages to push the giant hand down, and fakes to Hulk that this isnít about him, or about Banner. Itís about Bannerís girlfriend, Betty Ross.

Hulk gets even angrier and demands to know what Cap knows about her. Cap smiles and says he doesnít know much about her, but lies and points to a naked Kleiser, and makes Hulk believe that he was all over Betty while Banner was in solitary. Hulk throws Cap away. He screams, and attacks Kleiser by pushing him on the ground a few times.

Fury calls Cap a genius. Cap himself reports to all units to fall back, since now only a super-soldier situation. He also demands from the technical support to make a bee-line for the Widow and the Wasp. A half destroyed Kleiser, with his true face half revealed, manages to get up. He runs towards an army truck nearby, picks it up and throws it right on Hulk! Kleiser mentions to the brute that he has been fighting Steve Rogers before Hulk was born, so he canít see why people think that the goliath will defeat him. He calls Hulk stupid. Hulk, standing up, tells Kleiser otherwise: heís the stupid one, becauseÖ he went and made Hulk angry!

Five hundred feet below, the Widow defends Wasp, while she tries to make contact to Fury and the others. But she fails to reach anyone. Widow tells her to keep trying, or else theyíll die within fifteen minutes. Wasp jokes thatís just what she needs: more stress. That reminds Natasha of Tony Stark. He earned his first college degree by the age of eleven. Ex-MIT. He practically designed the Internet. She wants Janet to try reach Stark on-line and tell him to get down to them and switch the bomb off for them. Janet finds that brilliant and goes for it.

However, she accidentally reaches a fighting Hawkeye. He gets distracted by the call and is shot in his shoulder! He angrily shouts to Janet to go off-line this instant. Iron Man has patched into the signal, and tells Janet that he can reach her, but he doesnít want to because he and Thor are the only ones providing air-support. Janet tells him to just leave and let the Air Force handle things. Tony doesnít know what sheís talking about, since nobody showed up!

In the air, Thor prepares for a moment that will be written down in the history books. While fighting with his Mjolnir hammer, he watches as the Air Force finally magnificently arrives, and destroy many of the Chitauri airships.

Hulk has heard enough talk, and furious rips Kleiserís body apart! However, the head is still intact and makes fun of him. Hulk tells him to shut up, and rips the head apart, too!

Meanwhile, Cap and Fury order their men to get a helicopter in the air, and to bring them to the Hulk. The Hulk tries to calm down, and laughs because Kleiser thought he was going to defeat him just because he was smart. Hulk knows that brains only do not win battles, since Banner had brains and people walked over him. Hulk thinks heís the strongest one there is. From a speaker, Captain America shouts at the Hulk. He makes him look to the Chitauri airships. Cap fakes that he was talking to one of the pilots earlier, and lies that they called Hulk a sissy-boy. Hulk gets angry again, and jumps to the airships, shouting that heís straight!

Five hundred feet below, Iron Man apologizes, but he has no idea how to switch the bomb of. Janet asks Tony if heís not even going to try. Tony explains the first rule of business: manage time efficiently. However, Tony has a back-up plan. He drags the bomb outside, so that Thor can deal with it. He contacts Thor to come immediately down to them, since they donít have much time.

Natasha approaches Tony, and wants him to know that sheíll always treasure that special moment they had in the menís room back at the base. That pre-battle relief really meant a lot to her and she swears to him that heíll always be honored for the sacrifice he is about to make. Iron Man doesnít get it. Natasha talks about flying the bomb into space and that heís going to give up his life for the rest of the world. Tony calls her ridiculous, and explains that he wants Thor to teleport the bomb off-world and as far away from Earth as possible.

Natasha and Janet call Tony stupid. Tony mentions that Thor is always showing off about how his Hammer can take him to Asgard and all that, so now Tony wants to see if he can transport the bomb in some mystic realm or something. Janet thinks sheís going to be sick. Natasha shouts that Thor is a former mental patient and no god at all. Suddenly, Thor enters the place, with a glowing light behind him.

Thor charges his hammer with raw energy. Iron Man, Black Widow and Wasp rush outside. Suddenly, the place falls apart! Natasha still shouts at Tony and asks him if he send the bomb to Nebraska or Canada or somewhere. Suddenly, a flashlight appears, and Thor stands triumphantly in front of them! He explains to Natasha that nobody is going to die. He took the bomb and dropped it in the wastes of Nastrond. He tells them also not to worry, as Nastrond has been an endless desert since it tried to rise up against noble Asgard may years ago and is now home to little more than Fafnir the Dragon. He believes that the worst they are going to feel is a minor ripple in three-dimensional Earth-space and he doubts that itíll last more than a second.

Natasha wonít buy it. She turns her back around, and suddenly feels something. Blue rays suddenly surround them, and disappear as soon as they came. Natasha canít believe it. Thor was right! He asks the man how he did it. Thor takes a look at Natasha, and simply smiles.

S.H.I.E.L.D. helicopters land and ask them aboard, since they are going to flatten the whole area in t-minus ten minutes. Tony, Natasha, Thor and Janet climb aboard. They go up, and Janet looks out of the window. She notices Hulk, and surprised asks if itís really him. The Hulk succeeds, and destroys the Chitauriís mother ship. Thor believes that they just let the one thing lose which is worse than an alien invasion. Fury tells him to shut up, and asks Hawkeye if heís ready to do what Cap asked from him. Clint is and is ready to shoot Bannerís antidote at him at word, and thinks that his arm isnít that badly injured after the shot he took.

The helicopter follows the Hulk, who tries to escape. Fury notices that they are right under each other, and orders Hawkeye to take the shot. He does, and hits Hulk with a green arrow! However, it doesnít seem to work. Hulk still stands. Heís angry and jumps towards the helicopter, wanting to kill them. He approaches Hawkeye, who panics and begs for help. However, just then Hulk reverts back to Bruce Banner, who lies unconscious on Hawkeye. The threat is over.

Afterwards, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch triumph because they saved the world. Pietro smiles how the victory turned out to be just them, a couple of army guys at an Air Force base. Natasha doesnít know what they are talking about, since she hasnít seen either Pietro or Wanda during the whole event. Pietro smirks and tells her that, if she slows down any satellite pictures of the attack, he thinks sheíll find out thatÖ Natasha gets a headache: here we go again.

Meanwhile, Captain America stands alone behind some trucks and tanks, and barfs. A soldier approaches Cap and asks him to address the troops for a minute, since they are all pretty psyched out about what happened, and a few words from him would mean a lot to them. Cap agrees to come, but asks for a second to his own.

Later, Cap is joined by the other Ultimates, and they proudly step to the troops, and are cheered by them. Hawkeye finds it all unbelievable. He was in Kosovo and Afghanistan when they both got liberated. He was in Germany the night the Berlin Wall came down, but it was nothing like this. Now, they were up against spaceships and fighting aliens who were in league with the Nazis. Janet thinks that this victory means that they are now officially super heroes!

The next day, a moping Banner watches a salute to the Ultimates on national TV. He doesnít think that the people would cheer if they knew about all those 20,000 S.H.I.E.L.D. personnel that got killed in Micronesia. Heck, they defiantly wouldnít have cheered if they knew that it was the Hulk who ripped Kleiser apart. Bruce tells Betty, who stands outside his cell, that he can still hear Kleiserís bones crunching around in his mouth. He can still taste his blood at the back of his throat. Bruce feels sick, since he has been a vegetarian for the last fifteen years.

Betty apologizes, and says that she hasnít heard anything from what he said, since she was just thinking about those satellite pics of Hulk wolfing down Kleiserís intestines like some kind of wild animal. She smiles, and wonders if Bruce thinks that Fury would let them have some kind of conjugal visit anytime soon.

Elsewhere at the Triskelion base, Fury asks Cap if he can believe an article he has read. Fury says that Public Relations have just handed him an opinion poll saying that eighteen percent of the population thinks that S.H.I.E.L.D. faked the entire invasion. Cap doesnít understand. Fury explains that some people are saying it was all just a plot to justify their latest multi-billion dollar cash-injection from Congress, when everybody else was tightening their belts.

To be honest, Cap confesses that he too wouldnít know what to believe if he just watched the entire event at home in front of the television. They are approached by a S.H.I.E.L.D. scientist, who has another two and a half pounds of waste. He explains thatís approximately forty-three percent of the creatureís estimated body-mass right on schedule. Cap asks what all that means. Fury explains that itís just a little security measure. He mentions that the Hulk beat Kleiser up by chewing him up and digesting him. Well, he adds, with Kleiser being a shape-changer, Nick just wants to say that they have to catch whatever comes out the other end and lock it up with all the other little leftovers theyíve captured.

Cap thinks that Furyís joking. The scientist angrily says that Fury isnít, and he doesnít like doing it. The scientist leaves. Cap and Fury enter an elevator. Fury congratulates Cap again, and asks if he feels weird after fighting in public after all those years fighting secret missions in World War II, and finally defeating the Nazi threat. Cap doesnít know what Fury is talking about. Fury jokes, and tells Cap that heís feeling a word they might not have known back in 1945: Fury thinks that Cap has just experienced his first sense of closure.

Meanwhile, the Wasp sits in a hairdresser saloon in New York. Her barber doesnít understand something. He tells Janet that USA Today said that Thor was the one who took down that big mother-ship, but People magazine said it was Iron Man. Janet jokingly says that Tony owns a fifty-two percent stake in People magazine, so she tells her barber to go with USA Today. The barber thinks itís amazing to see yourself on a magazine cover. Janet says it is, and mentions that sheís got about 200 newspapers back home just waiting to be clippings. Even Thor told her that he has been online all week, doing Google searches to see what people thought of his performance. She excuses herself, as her cell goes off.

Itís Hank. He begs her not to hang up. An injured Hank tells Janet that he just saw her on the news and thought heíd give her a call. He explains that heís staying out at his Aunt Graceís place in Wisconsin and thought itís maybe time that they touched base. Hank asks Janet if she minds talking to him. Janet just tells Hank to say what he wants. Hank just wanted to say thanks for not going ahead with those charges against him. Even though he knows he deserved it. Hank tells Janet that she can tell Captain America that he has dropped all charges against him too.

Janet tells Hank that this isnít the time and place to talk things out. Hank asks if he should call back. Janet doesnít want Hank to call her at all. Hank finds that awkward. Janet agrees. Hank tells her that obviously, he isnít going to be at the White House party tonight, but he thought that he and Janet could maybe get together for a coffee or something next week. He knows that the circumstances of them falling out were hardly ideal, but he doesnít see the reason for them to not be civilized about discussing the actual terms of the break-up. Janet gets angry, and tells Hank that he doesnít even know the meaning of the word civilized, and hangs up on him.

Later that night, the Ultimates have gathered at the White House. Natasha asks Hawkeye if he heard why Thor didnít come tonight. Apparently, he said on his website that he ďwouldnít set foot in the White House until America elects a new presidentĒ. She canít believe that. Hawkeye smiles and asks Natasha if sheís disappointed. Natasha tells him not to be ridiculous. She adds that her tastes are a little too expensive for a man who looks and smells like he sleeps inside a cardboard box. Besides, she thinks she has already found her next ex-husband and heís moving in on the First Lady in the corner behind them. They look at Tony, who is flirting up on the First Lady.

Meanwhile, Cap and Janet are dancing. She laughs and says that sheíll never forget the look on Capís face when she asked her to dance. She knows this wasnít how it was done back in the forties, but she have been twiddling her thumbs forever waiting for him to get off his backside. Steve doesnít want to hear any excuses, and finds the dames doing all the hard work is just one of the niftier things about the 21st century. He apologizes about Hank and everything. He thinks that she finds him the biggest clown in the world for the little fight they had. Janet admits that the reason she asked Steve to dance was so she could apologize. Sheís sorry for tearing strips off his back at the sick bay. She says that he just caught her at a bad time, thatís all. She honestly didnít mean a single word she said back there.

Steve says itís okay. He doesnít blame her for being angry with him. He says that the Hank thing was none of his business and he shouldnít even have got involved. Janet tells him that he did get involved, and was the only one that cared enough to get involved. They look at each other, and kiss. A surprised Steve asks what that was for. Janet apologizes, but doesnít know. She asks Steve to just keep dancing.

Fury, who has watched the kiss, finds it nice. He jokes that he thought that the guy was never going to get some. He walks through the White House alone, and enters the Oval Office. With a big smile on his face, he tells the guard that they are at ease, and can have a glass of champagne. After all, itís not every day that they save the world.

The party goes on for a while, and beautiful fireworks are all over the White House.

Characters:
Black Widow, Captain America, Iron Man, Hawkeye, Thor, Wasp (all the Ultimates)
Giant-Man/Henry ďHankĒ Pym

Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch (S.H.I.E.LD. shadow team & Brotherhood leaders)

Hulk/Bruce Banner
Betty Ross

Nick Fury
various S.H.I.E.L.D. agents (all unnamed)

Kleiser (Chitauri creature)

Notes:
Final issue of Ultimates (1st series). However, the story continues a few months after this story in Ultimates 2.

An angry Captain America fought Hank Pym in Ultimates (1st series) #9, because Hank had beaten up Janet after a fight about Cap, as Hank thought they were flirting. Cap injured Hank in the fight. Later, he tried to apologize to Janet, who lay in the hospital. But Janet didnít know what to say at the time and brutally told Cap to leave.

After the Hulk got originally loose and eventually defeated by the Ultimates, he was put in solitary under the Triskelion base away from all the rest of civilization. In his cell, Banner constantly tries to find a permanent cure to get rid of his alter-ego (Ultimates (1st series #5-6).

20,000 S.H.I.E.LD. agents were killed in a trap by the Chitauri in Micronesia in Ultimates (1st series) #11.

More about the shared past between Captain America and Kleiser can be found through-out Ultimates (1st series) #8-12.

In the openings page, thereís a special ďthank youĒ to Captain America creators Joe Simon & Jack Kirby, because Cap plays such an important role in this story.

The title of the story, ďHow I Learned To Love The HulkĒ could very well be based off of the 1964 Peter Sellers-Stanley Kubrick film, ďDr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.Ē

Issue Summary written by: Homer Jay


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