The Duel of Harlem, dubbed Harlem Terror by the press and the Harlem Incident by S.H.I.E.L.D., pitted the giants Hulk and Abomination against each other on the streets of Harlem. It began when Emil Blonsky transformed into the Abomination and fled to the streets following an experiment gone wrong at Grayburn College. Following the capture of long-wanted scientist Bruce Banner, he was suddenly released from General Thaddeus Ross to unleash Hulk once again, as it was their only hope against Blonsky's rampage.
Although there was military and local NYPD interference, their involvement proved to be of little value after the Hulk arrived on the scene. The two beasts sparred in brutal close-quarters combat on the streets of Harlem, both vying for supremacy of power, and chasing each other across the rooftops of Harlem. The duel met its climax on a building rooftop in ruins: The Hulk managed to save General Ross and his daughter Betty Ross from an explosive helicopter crash, and escaped to British Columbia, leaving the defeated Blonsky in Ross' captivity.
Bruce Banner and Betty Ross were trying to get an antidote for Banner's Gamma Radiation condition, so they went to Samuel Sterns at Grayburn College, whom Banner had been working with indirectly for more than a year through the computer messaging aliases of "Mr. Green," and "Mr. Blue." Banner tested the antidote, which seemed to work, but only temporarily. General Thaddeus Ross and his squad captured Banner and Betty.
Emil Blonsky made Dr. Sterns infuse him with gamma radiation. When he did, the mix of the Super Soldier Serum and gamma radiation transformed Blonsky into an "Abomination." Taking on the mantle, Abomination then threw Dr. Sterns into a container of Banner's blood, which leaked into a scar in Stern's forehead, which made his brain grow and gave him a higher level intellect.
As both Banner and Betty Ross were taken into custody, Blonsky, now a hideous titan known as Abomination, began rampaging through the city in a bid to draw out Hulk. Banner, realizing that he was the only one who could stop the Abomination, was able to convince General Thaddeus Ross to release him. Banner suggested that he could aim Hulk's aggression towards the Abomination. After Ross questioned him about his ability to control Hulk, Banner convinced the general by pointing out that all of them were responsible for the disaster. Ross ordered the pilot to land the helicopter close to the scene, to which Banner told him to keep it high and drop him out the back door.
Following an attempt by Betty to keep him on the helicopter in fear that he may not transform, Banner jumped out, counting on the fall to trigger a transformation. Banner's plan succeeded and he transformed into Hulk. Hulk emerged from a crater, roaring down the street. He ripped off the remains of his shirt, and began to run towards the Abomination, who did the same.
Hulk charged toward Abomination, who speared him off his feet. Hulk smashed a police car in half and used the pieces as boxing gloves. He punched Abomination repeatedly into the pavement so hard it created a crater.
Hulk prepared to give him one more punch, but Abomination kicked him through a wall into a nearby building. Abomination climbed the wall and General Thaddeus Ross ordered the helicopter to open fire on him, chasing him to the roof. The helicopter chased Abomination across the rooftops, then he lunged and grabbed the helicopter just as Hulk arrived and grabbed him. The two goliaths' wrestling caused the helicopter to crash on the ruins of a building and crush Abomination. Betty and the general tried to get out before Abomination appeared unharmed and taunted Hulk once more.
The two faced off again and Abomination pinned Hulk against a wall and stabbed him in the chest with his exposed elbow while mocking him. Meanwhile, the destroyed helicopter was leaking fuel and releasing sparks, threatening to cause a fire with Betty and the general still trapped inside it. However, seeing Betty in danger made Hulk angrier, so he overpowered Abomination and slammed him into the wall just as the helicopter caught fire. Banner clapped his hands together, creating a shockwave that blew out the fire, saving Betty and and the general.
Abomination hit Hulk with a concrete pillar on a chain, then turned his attention to the Ross'. As he was about to kill them, Hulk yelled "Hulk, Smash!" and smashed the ground to create a big crack in which Abomination's foot got caught causing him to lose the chain and the pillar hit him in the head. Hulk grabbed the chain and wrapped it around Blonsky's neck. After a final struggle, Hulk managed to strangle Abomination into submission. Banner prepared to kill Blonsky with the chain, but Betty told him to stop.
The police and several witnesses arrived to the scene only to find that Hulk had already won the battle. Knowing that Abomination was defeated, Hulk dropped him to the ground, stomped him, and roared to declare his victory. Banner delivered an unconscious Blonsky to Ross who asked to call Nick Fury. Hulk shared a brief moment with Betty, but when the army appeared, he decided that staying would only put Betty in more danger and left the scene with the army in hot pursuit. General Ross silently allowed Hulk to escape, having understood that his power is too great.
Bruce Banner fled north to Bella Coola, British Columbia, Canada. Thirty-one days on the run, he had found himself a secluded place to rest. Having discovered that Hulk's behavior indeed can be controlled, he began practicing a new technique of initiating his transformations in a controlled manner rather than suppressing them.
Thaddeus Ross gave up on turning Hulk into a weapon and Emil Blonsky was imprisoned under his custody. Frustrated and humiliated by the failure of the project he worked on for five years, he went to a bar to get drunk before running into Tony Stark. Stark mockingly told General Ross that the Super Soldier program was "put on ice" for a reason and that a team was being put together. Blonsky was requested to be in the team, but as planned Stark annoyed Ross so much that Ross refused to release Blonsky and tried to have Stark removed from the bar. In reply, Stark bought the bar, and scheduled it for demolition.
Thaddeus Ross' role in spearheading the response to the emergencies at Harlem and Culver University 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 World 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.
|Appearances for Duel of Harlem|
In chronological order:
Behind the Scenes
- The creative team of What If...? originally wanted to depict the Duel of Harlem in What If... The World Lost Its Mightiest Heroes? for the scene of the Hulk's death, but ultimately chose to use the Battle at Culver University instead because it "led itself" better to the story.
- The Art of the Avengers timeline
- The Avengers Prelude: Fury's Big Week
- Tony Stark's file from a deleted scene from The Avengers
- The Incredible Hulk
- Marvel One-Shot: The Consultant
- Daredevil: 1.03: Rabbit in a Snowstorm
- The Avengers
- WHIH Newsfront Exclusive: President Ellis Discusses the Avengers
- Breaking Down Fury’s Big Week with ‘What If…?’ Head Writer A.C. Bradley – Exclusive Interview