That Time Every Superhero Caught the Hulk Flu

This is the Great Comic Book Detectives, where readers send in requests for the names of comic books that they remembered reading as kids and I try to find them for them!

After I ran one of these the other day, I got a whole pile of requests, which is great, keep 'em coming folks (just send your requests to brianc@cbr.com), but I got so many that I figured I'd feature another one today (going forward, they'll likely be a lot more spread out).

So here's reader George F. :

Hi Brian. Years ago I remember reading a comic book that featured Spider-Man. It was a "done in one" type of issue. The plot had the Hulk somehow bleeding into the New York city water supply and infecting the whole city with "Green Fever" that might have even been on the cover something like Spider-Man vs The Green Virus/Fever. Anyway the citizens of the city turned into like monster zombie kinda things and Peter had to save the day lol. Anyway he was also drinking the cities water BUT because of the Radioactive Spider Venom in his blood he didn't mutate but he did come down with a fever/flu. Can't remember how he saved the day but I believe the cover really did have the tag line Spider-Man vs Green Virus but when I google search Spider-man with green anything you get the Green Goblin haha. I have searched for this back issue but there are so many Spider Titles over the years it could have been a Marvel Team-Up kind of thing or I was reading a very old reprint in Marvel Tales book etc. Please help me I have been searching for like 10 years.

The trick, George, is that the issue in question wasn't a "Spider-Man" comic book at all! Or even a "Marvel Team-Up" book! No, the issue in question is "The Day The Earth Turned Green," which appeared in 1982's "Incredible Hulk Annual" #11. The issue, written by Bill Mantlo and drawn by Rich Buckler and Joe Sinnott, detailed a young scientist working alongside the Leader in trying to cure the Hulk. What she doesn't know, though, is that the Leader isn't actually trying to CURE the Hulk. Instead, he has used the Hulk's blood to create a virus that will mutate the rest of the world, starting with New York City, whose water supply the Leader has tainted with the virus (by causing heavy rainstorms for a week with the virus tainted in the rain).

Of course, being a jerk, the Leader doesn't tell her about this before he gives her some of the tainted water...

This was one of those great early 1980s Marvel comics where the whole interconnected universe was used, even though it was technically just a "Hulk" comic. Spider-Man does, indeed, play a major role as he is the one who figured out that the Hulk's genes are working in the virus and that a blood sample of the Hulk is what they need to win the day. However, Spider-Man actually DOES fall victim to the green flu in the comic. The Hulk, meanwhile, had escaped from the Leader and he knows that something is wrong with the water but he doesn't know what.

I really dug the way that Mantlo had heroes slowly drop one after the other, plus the extra dread of the heroes continuing to drink water while not knowing the danger that comes from it (although, honestly, that no one considered the water supply being tainted seems a bit off to me).

The Leader's full plan is pretty darn terrifying...

In the end, you have the Avengers trying to capture the Hulk, the Hulk trying to capture the Leader and the scientist trying to screw the Leader's plan up. It's a very satisfying, if tragic, ending.

So there you go, George! If anyone else has a comic book that they've been trying to find, drop me a line at brianc@cbr.com!

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