Following a ferocious battle in the soft drink bottling plant where he transformed into the Hulk, Banner escaped Blonsky to Guatemala, before making his way back to the United States of America. Returning to Culver University, he found that Betty Ross was still working there in the Cellular Biology Department, and was dating psychiatrist Leonard Samson.
He also found his old friend Stanley Lieber, a pizzeria owner, who gave him a job as a delivery boy. Banner used this job to sneak past a university security guard to continue his research, only to discover that the government got rid of all the details of the incident. One night Betty visited the pizzeria, discovered Banner, and the pair reunited shortly thereafter.
General Thaddeus Ross received a tip-off from Leonard Samson to Bruce Banner's whereabouts and staged a military attempt to capture the scientist on the Culver University campus. The soldiers chased Banner into the library and locked him into a walkway. Ross ordered tear gas fired through the window, which caused Banner to transform into the Hulk. Banner jumped out the window and was attacked by the Strategic Operations Command Center. Banner fought back and destroyed several Humvees.
Emil Blonsky was again thrown into the fray, this time with biological enhancements of his own. Blonsky was able to hold his own against Banner for a short time before retreating, and Ross sent in a Humvee with experimental high-tech Stark Industries Sonic Cannons. The Cannons slowed Banner down but Banner was able to destroy the Humvees. Blonsky again confronted Banner and Banner kicked him 40 feet across the field and into a tree, leaving Blonsky in a critical state with bones crushed throughout his body.
Betty Ross approached Banner as an Apache Helicopter began firing on them. Banner blocked the gunfire and threw a piece of debris at the helicopter, knocking it to the ground. Banner shielded Ross from the explosion before Hulk and an injured Betty Ross fled the scene to Smoky Mountain National Forest.
When Emil Blonsky recovered and found Bruce Banner again, he arrested him and Betty Ross and brought them to General Thaddeus Ross. Not soon later, Blonsky forced Samuel Sterns to make his blood similar to Banner's. This turned him into an immense beast that only the Hulk could defeat. The battle that the two of them fought in became known as the Duel of Harlem.
Jack McGee and Jim Wilson were interviewed by WHiH World News about what they witnessed. McGee called one of the combatants "an incredible hulk"; this ultimately became the moniker of Banner's alter ego.
Thaddeus Ross' role in spearheading the response to the emergencies at Culver University and Harlem would be cited by President Matthew Ellis as examples of the newly appointed Secretary of State's experience with super-powered individuals and the incidents involving them, during an interview with WHiH News anchor Christine Everhart on May 3, 2016 in which he gave his vote of confidence in Ross' ability to negotiate a governmental relationship with the Avengers.
In chronological order:
- The Avengers Prelude: Fury's Big Week (concurrent events)
- The Avengers (computer screen)
- WHiH Newsfront