Doctor Strange and the Defenders just met Marvel’s very first Hulk, and they’re one of the strangest creatures the Marvel Universe has ever seen.
WARNING: The following contains major spoilers for Defenders #3, now on sale from Marvel Comics.
The latest incarnation of Doctor Strange’s Defenders have been sent hurtling back through time and reality itself as they hunt one of Marvel’s first villains, despite having no control over where or when they end up. So far, they’ve battled against the Sixth Cosmos’ Devourer of Worlds and Lovecraftian wizards amidst fantastical and terrifying landscapes, but nothing could have prepared them for their most recent destination or what they find there.
In Defenders #3 by Al Ewing, Javier Rodriguez, and VC’s Joe Caramagna, the Defenders just landed in the middle of a prehistoric uncharted reality where they encounter Marvel’s very strange first Hulk.
When Doctor Strange first assembled his new team of Defenders, the group was ripped back through time by the same wild magic that was used to bring them together. This mystic transportation left them stranded in the Sixth Cosmos, the reality that preceded the modern Marvel Universes. After driving back Omnimax and stopping the Devourer from consuming Galactus’ homeworld Taa, the team was once again pulled back further to the Fifth Cosmos. This time the Defenders faced off against the ancient, evil sorcerer Moridun. When Harpy defeated the villain, she and the others were again ripped through reality.
Unlike their prior journeys, the Defenders don’t tumble through a mystic portal, but rather a massive Green Door. These ethereal passageways have been one of the most important parts of the Immortal Hulk saga, acting as the means for all Gamma Mutates to resurrect after death. This time, the trip through the Green Door causes Harpy to awaken in her human form of Betty Ross. The rest of the heroes are laid out unconscious in a colorful yet barren desert. Despite her compatriots’ current state, Betty isn’t alone in this new world, and she comes face-to-face with a Hulk with four faces.
This wild new figure stands as tall as any other Hulk save for its lack of any neck. The Hulk here has four heads embedded in its torso, each of them bearing a vastly different emotion on its otherwise identical face. Not only that, but each of them is speaking in word bubbles filled only a hue of CMYK color. The fact that the monochrome speech patterns match up with the same colors of magic which the Defenders individually embody might mean that this new Hulk is connected to the team in some way.
Unlike the Sixth and Fifth Cosmos which had their own histories before Defenders, the Fourth Cosmos has only ever been mentioned once before in 2017’s Ultimates 2 #100 by Al Ewing, Travel Foreman, Filipe Andrade, and Marco Lorenzana. Also known as the Pilgrim, the Fourth Cosmos is all but a total enigma at this point, although that might be changing very soon thanks to its most prominent inhabitant.
There might not be much that readers can say for certain about this shocking new Hulk, but there is no doubt that they will have an important role to play in the next chapter of the Defenders’ story. Whether they are connected to the heroes themselves, the Fourth Cosmos as a whole or the Gamma energy which has been so inextricably tied to the Hulk is yet to be seen, but this Hulk has only just started to reveal their secrets.
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