Immortal Hulk writer Al Ewing discussed the Leader's rivalry with Bruce Banner and why he makes the perfect foe for the Green Goliath.
WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Immortal Hulk #38 by Al Ewing, Joe Bennet, Ruy Jose, Belardino Brabo, Paul Mounts & VC's Cory Petit, on sale now from Marvel Comics.
Since his return to the land of the living, the Immortal Hulk has battled many of his old foes. Among them is the hyper-intelligent Leader, who writer Al Ewing describes as the perfect match for the Green Goliath.
"He's uniquely placed as the Hulk's arch-enemy - not an equal type of force against the Hulk, like the Abomination, but an opposite one," Ewing said in an exclusive interview with CBR. "Which means he shares the Hulk's status as an archetypal figure -- as I've said in previous interviews, if Hulk really is the strongest one there is, then 'will this villain prove stronger' is a non-question. Enemies have to challenge him on different ground or either the story is dull or it doesn't feel real."
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Ewing also said that he knew he had to introduce the Leader during his run on the book, and the events of Immortal Hulk #25 laid the groundwork for that. "But he had to be introduced in a way that fit the horror tone of the book, and the person you thought you knew actually being possessed by an evil invasive entity is a horror trope as old as horror itself."
The Leader is the alter ego of Samuel Sterns, a former janitor. Sterns was caught in a blast of gamma radiation, which hiked up his intelligence to superhuman levels. He has fought constantly with the Hulk over the years, creating several gamma-powered creatures to serve on his behalf. He has joined forces with other villains including the Intelligencia, which is comprised of the Marvel Universe's deadliest minds.
The Leader has been behind several events in Immortal Hulk, utilizing gamma radiation to control Hulk's old friend Rick Jones and college student Del Frye through the Green Doors. The Leader also utilized a Green Door to resurrect She-Hulk after she perished during the events of Empyre. He also gained a foothold in the Hulk's mind, assuming the persona of the Worldbreaker and viciously beating down Banner's other Hulk personas.
However, he recently suffered a vicious beatdown at the hands of Banner's most dangerous personality -- the Devil Hulk. As a result, one of his avatars has been destroyed and his body has been severely damaged. In addition, one of the most dangerous versions of the Hulk is on the loose.
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Collier Jennings (1206 Articles Published)
A freelance journalist based in Seattle, Collier enjoys all facets of pop culture, namely comics and anime. Spider-Man is his favorite fictional character of all time.