Real Name: Samuel Sterns
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The Leader has superhuman mental acumen. As a result of the mutagenic process he has undergone he is (in theory) capable of knowledge and comprehension beyond the human ability to understand. He is potentially capable of mastering every worldly subject and capable of adopting concepts completely foreign to his environment. His ability to predict probable outcomes of tactical and strategic scenarios is so advanced that it borders on clairvoyance. His intuition is heightened to the degree that his hunches are almost always correct. The Leader has a perfect memory with the ability to recall every moment since the accident that gave him his powers.
In addition to his extraordinary intelligence, the Leader has psionic powers that enable him to mentally control non-gamma-mutated individuals upon touching them. He was once seen projecting a powerful psionic force blast capable of toppling over a severely weakened Hulk, as well as creating an illusion of himself in gigantic form, or disguising his appearance during the period he spent possessing Omnibus.
The Leader has also designed a large number of sophisticated weapons, vehicles, computers, androids, and synthetic humanoids. He is particularly adept at genetic engineering and manipulating radiation for various nefarious purposes. He has designed and constructed at least one space station and presumably space shuttles as well.
Despite the Leader's great intelligence, his effectiveness is greatly hampered by his great arrogance and immaturity, sometimes to the point of making rash and dangerous decisions that bely his great intellect. To many readers, the quintessential example of this is his continual desire to battle and/or exploit the Hulk who in turn keeps foiling his plans he otherwise would have likely ignored had he not been provoked. Also, despite his vast intellect, he seemingly does not have the desire or temperament to engage in globe-spanning plots of world domination (or at least not to the extent of other Marvel Universe geniuses such as Doctor Doom and Thanos), and rarely engages in such.
Although the Leader has on occasion transformed back into Samuel Sterns, he rarely does this due to the almost 'inverted Hulk' nature of this shift; just as Banner typically becomes less intelligent when transformed into the Hulk, when the Leader turns back into Sterns, he retains no memory of his life as the Leader because Sterns' brain is ill-equipped to cope with the evil and genius of his alter ego.
The Leader has also demonstrated an ability to return from actual physical death, even when his body is completely destroyed.
Samuel Sterns was born in Boise, Idaho. He was once an ordinary human being with average intelligence. A high school dropout, Sterns worked for a chemical research plant in a menial capacity. While moving radioactive materials into an underground storage area, some of the radioactive materials exploded, bombarding Sterns with gamma radiation. Sterns recovered, but found that the radiation had changed him from an ordinary human into a green-skinned, super-intelligent criminal with an oversize brain housed in a towering cranium. He embarked on various ambitious schemes, with the Hulk as his primary nemesis, consistently backed by a self-constructed army of super-strong, virtually invulnerable, plastic Humanoids. This included an attempt to rewrite the Earth's history by infecting the primordial ooze with gamma-radiation, recreating society in his image, with himself as a ruler.
After a period of time the gamma radiation in his body began to wear off. At first the Leader attributed his lapses in concentration to overworking his mind finding ways to defeat his greatest enemy (the Hulk). By the time the Leader realized what was happening, much of the intelligence that could have solved his plight was gone and texts that were once child's play to him were now hopelessly beyond him (he even forgot the access code of his secret base). In this period, he made cash however he could by means fair or foul, until he managed to convince the Gray Hulk to help him regain his intelligence by promising that he would help the latter to remain the Hulk full time (instead of only at night).
Rick Jones had been afflicted with a Hulk-like condition and the Hulk (using Bruce Banner's memories of gamma transfer) devised a machine to transfer all of the gamma radiation from Rick Jones to the Leader. However, this time the mutagenic process was slightly different resulting in a cranium that resembled an over-sized brain, rather than a towering forehead. He was also a lighter shade of green. As a side note this transfer also created a psychic link between the two.
Soon after this, the Leader would steal the seemingly lifeless body of General Thunderbolt Ross from the back of an ambulance, simply because it was there, and later managed to revive it as a mindless vegetable, which he used as an armored enforcer.
Following this the Leader engaged in a scheme to detonate a gamma-bomb in a small-town city, killing over 5000 people, and the few, now enhanced, survivors provided him with valuable research subjects and superhuman enforcers. With their help, he built a self-sufficient society called Freehold in the Arctic, populated with civilians dying from radiation poisoning. Some time afterward he gave the Hulk information how to find his brother, Philip Sterns, the Madman, since he thought it would be best to put the latter out of his suffering, due to his original personality being slowly and painfully eaten away by the Madman persona.
After Jones' suffered a great mental trauma due to the death of his girlfriend Marlo Chandler, his pain was enough to cause the Leader considerable discomfort, motivating him to work towards the revival of Marlo. At this time Freehold was targeted by a rogue branch of HYDRA terrorists, employing the U-Foes and his followers to invade the covert Pantheon organization, of which Hulk was a member, to coerce them to help him in defending it. He employed something he ironically called the Deus Ex Machina in conjunction with his follower, the gamma-enhanced reverend nicknamed Soul Man, who falsely believed himself to have been blessed by God with spiritual power, rather than given nearly godlike abilities by the Leader, in an effort to revive Marlo and siphon off Soul Man's power for himself. Rick Jones became convinced to accept the help after seeing the mindless, but mobile, body of Thunderbolt Ross.
The Hulk, manipulated by the leader of the Pantheon, Agamemnon, attacked the facility. At the same time, HYDRA decided to storm the base, leading to a multi-sided battle. The Hulk eventually personally attacked the Leader, who, along with Soul Man, seemingly perished in the crossfire. The machine was likewise demolished, causing Marlo to enter a state similar to Ross, but both eventually fully recovered.
The death of the Leader left his follower Omnibus in control of Freehold. Omnibus used mind-control to manipulate several U.S. chiefs of staff, and engineered many high-profile terrorist strikes to incite global warfare, as he reasoned that it was inevitable, and hurrying it along offered him opportunity to enable his personal society to survive and inherit the Earth. Omnibus was eventually exposed by his fellow Freehold citizens, judged to die in the cold, and was eaten by a polar bear. It was hinted that the Leader was influencing Omnibus somehow but it was never made clear how; given the nature of Omnibus' abilities, it is possible that his mere imagining he was somehow possessed made it a practical reality.
A while later, the Hulk, who in his Bruce Banner persona was suffering from a degenerative nervous condition (which would ultimately kill him) was confronted by the Leader once again. Apparently he really had perished when the Deus Ex Machina was destroyed, but his disembodied consciousness had evolved beyond the need for a body. Although he was in the process of building a new body out of random organic materials, in a secluded cave near Gamma Base, he was preparing to leave this level of reality behind altogether, transcending both beyond the physical and his old goals. But before he did so, he intended to cure Bruce Banner for reasons all his own. After he had done so, he abandoned his body. However, later still his consciousness once again contacted Banner, apparently shocked by what he had discovered "beyond the veil"; he was unable to return, however, and was not heard from again until much later.
During a time of great personal duress for the Hulk and Bruce Banner, who had begun to merge their personas, it became clear that Home Base, a secret organization who had relentlessly pursued the Hulk in order to obtain his genetic material, was secretly led by the Leader. In the end, after all his other agendas had failed, the Leader finally managed to mind-control the Hulk and guided him towards his secret base, with the intention of taking his indestructible body for himself. But because of intervention by Nadia Blonsky, Betty Ross, Doc Samson and Iron Man, the plan failed and the Leader died again. These events, bizarre and nebulous as they seem, may or may not have taken place in this form... they may be partly true, or entirely a construct by the extra-dimensional demon Nightmare in a bid to avenge himself on the Hulk.
At present, the Leader has a body incorporating traits from both his previous incarnations; it is unknown exactly how he acquired it, but it may have been relatively easy, given his history.
The Leader was recently captured by S.H.I.E.L.D's Hulkbusters, and brought to trial for his crimes. He was represented by Attorney Mallory Book from She-Hulk's firm Goodman, Lieber, Kurtzberg & Holliway. During the trial, Ms. Book argued that the Leader was not responsible for his actions since the Gamma exposure forcibly changed his personality. To prove her point, Book compared She-Hulk to Jennifer Walters, revealing that Jennifer was much more promiscuous in her She-Hulk form. In the second day of the trial, Leader's humanoid droids arrived to rescue him. Instead of escaping, the Leader called off the attack, opting to see the trial to its conclusion, as he correctly predicted that his defence was going to win. He was found not guilty. It is as yet unclear whether this person is indeed the original leader, or the Samuel Sterns of "Earth-Alpha", the inhabitants of which had been swapping places with their 616 counterparts for while prior to this trial.
Now a free man (whichever one he may be), the Leader teleported the Hulk's allies, the Warbound, to Nevada. There, he used Hiroim of the Warbound, harnessing his tectonic power to activate a Gamma powered shield over a portion of the desert.
First Appearance: Tales to Astonish (1959) #62
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View a chronological listing of this character's appearances
Age of Ultron (2013)
#10 Amazing Heroes Swimsuit Special (1990)
- 'Age of Ultron: Book Ten'
Avengers Assemble Featuring Captain Citrus (2014)
Breaking Into Comics the Marvel Way! (2010)
Crossover Classics (1991)
Cutting Edge (1995)
#1 Dark Reign Files (2009)
- 'Different Madness!'
DC Special Series (1977)
#27 Deadpool & the Mercs For Money [I] (2016)
- 'The Monster and the Madman'
Deadpool Killustrated (2013)
Defenders: From the Marvel Vault (2011)
Der Unglaubliche Hulk Comic-Taschenbuch (1980)
Fall of the Hulks: Alpha (2010)
#1 Fall of the Hulks: Gamma (2010)
- 'Meeting of the Minds'
Fall of the Hulks: M.O.D.O.K. (2010)
#1 Fall of the Hulks: Red Hulk (2010)
- 'Intelligencia vs Insmelligencia'
#1 Fall of the Hulks: The Savage She-Hulks (2010)
- 'The Power Cosmic'#2
- 'The Deal'#3
- 'How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The A-Bomb'#4
- 'Best Case Scenario'
#1 Fantastic Four (1961)
- 'The Savage Sex'#2
- 'The Savage Sex: Part 2'
#535 Fantastic Four: World's Greatest Comics Magazine (2001)
- 'To Be This Monster'
#6 Hulk (1978)
- 'Mayhem on the Moon!'
#20 Hulk (2014)
- 'Man Nor Beast'#21
- 'The Best Laid Plans'#22
- 'Dogs of War'#23
- 'Who Is the Red Hulk?'#25#28#40
- 'Omegex: Part 2'#41
- 'Omegex, Part 3: Finality'
#13 Hulk Family: Green Genes (2009)
- 'The Ω Hulk Chapter Nine'
Incredible Hulks (2012)
Marvel Feature (1971)
Marvel Saga: The Official History of the Marvel Universe (1985)
#21 Marvel Super-Heroes (1967)
- 'Book XXI: The Struggle for Power!'
#89 Marvel Treasury Edition (1974)
- 'Many Foes Has The Hulk'
#5 Marvel Universe Hulk: Agents of S.M.A.S.H. (2013)
- 'The Hulk on the Rampage!'
Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A to Z (2008)
Red She-Hulk (2012)
#66 Savage Hulk (2014)
- 'Route 616. Part Four: Another Time And Place'
#1 Shame Itself (2012)
- 'The Man Within'#3
- 'The Man Within Part Three of Four'#4
- 'The Man Within Part Four of Four'
#4 Space: Punisher (2012)
- 'Back to Bone'#18
- 'Planet Without a Hulk, Part 4: Illuminated'#19
- 'The Gamma Defense'
Spider-Man and The Incredible Hulk (1981)
nn Strange Tales (2009)
- 'Southwest Showdown!'
Strange Tales II (2010)
Tales to Astonish (1959)
The Adventures of the X-Men (1996)
The Avengers (1963)
#17 The Incredible Hulk (1968)
- 'Four Against The Minotaur!'
Annual 11 The Incredible Hulk (2000)
- 'The Day the Earth Turned Green'#115
- 'Lo, The Leader Lives'#116
- 'The Eve of Annihilation!'#117
- 'World's End?'#123
- 'No More The Monster!'#124
- 'The Rhino Says No!'#129
- 'Again, The Glob!'#139
- 'Many Foes Has The Hulk!'#146
- 'And the Measure of a Man is... Death!'#147
- 'The End of Doc Samson!'#157
- 'Name My Vengeance: Rhino!'#158
- 'Frenzy on a Far-Away World!'#159
- 'Two Years Before the Abomination!'#208
- 'A Monster In Our Midst!'#209
- 'The Absorbing Man Is Out For Blood!!'#213
- 'You Just Don't Quarrel With The Quintronic Man!'#216
- 'Countdown to Catastrophe!'#221
- 'Show Me The Way To Go Home'#223
- 'The Curing of Dr. Banner!'#224
- 'Follow the Leader!'#225
- 'Is There Hulk After Death?'#277
- 'What Friends Are For!'#278
- 'Everybody Loves a Parade, Right?'#280
- 'Alone In A Crowd!'#281
- 'Again Arsenal!'#283
- 'Follow the Leader!'#284
- 'Old Soldiers Never Die!'#331
- 'Inconstant Moon'#332
- 'Dance with the Devil!'#338
- 'Mercy Killing'#339
- 'Native Son'#340
- 'Vicious Circle'#341
- 'The Savage Bull Doth Bear the Yoke!'#342
- 'No Human Fears'#343
- 'Beyond Redemption'#344
- 'Pyrrhic Victory'#345
- 'Closing Curtain'#346
- 'Whys and Wherefores'#366
- 'Countdown The Leader'#367
- 'Countdown, Madman'#393
- 'The Closing Circle'#397
- 'Welcome Home'#398
- 'A Convocation of Politic Worms'#400
- 'Deus Ex Machina'#436
- 'Head Cases'#438
- 'Fragmented Personality'#439
- 'The Big Bang'#441
- 'Hulk Fiction'#460
- 'Homecoming'#603#604#606#606 (Marko Djurdjevic Variant)#607#608#609#610
The Marvel Encyclopedia (2006)
HC The Marvel Masterpieces Collection (1993)
- 'The Marvel Encyclopedia'
The Mighty World of Marvel (1972)
The Mighty World of Marvel (2009)
#27 The Mutant Misadventures of Cloak and Dagger (1988)
- 'The Red Hulk Versus The Thing!'
#9 The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe (1983)
- 'To Battle the Avengers'
#6 The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Deluxe Edition (1985)
- 'K-M: From Kang to Man-Bull'
#7 The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe: Hulk 2004 (2004)
- 'Khoryphos to Magneto'
The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe: Master Edition (1990)
The Savage Hulk (1996)
The Uncanny Inhumans (2015)
What If...? (1989)
#34 Wolverine (1988)
- 'What If... No One Was Watching The Watcher?'#53
- 'What If the Iron Man of 2020, Had been Stranded in the past?'
World War Hulks (2010)
WWH Aftersmash: Warbound (2008)
The Incredible Hulk (2008)
Video Game Appearances:
The Hulk (2003)
The Incredible Hulk (2008)
Thunderbolts (Marvel)(05 - Ross' Thunderbolts)
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