Following the resurrection of Adam Warlock and the defeat of the Man-Beast on Counter-Earth, the Recorder puts the Hulk on a rocket back to his own Earth. While the Hulk departs as friends and peacefully, he soon forgets why he is in the rocket and beginning to think that he is being held captive once again tries to break out. He manages to do this just as he is entering Earth orbit. The military picks up both the Hulk and his rocket in free fall and fire missiles at both. While the rocket is destroyed, the Hulk is merely knocked out, and crashes to the ground. There while unconscious he reverts back into Bruce Banner.
Banner revives unsure of where he is, but soon learns that he is in the Appalachia mountains when he is found by Clay Brickford and his family. Taken into their home and given clean clothes and some foot, Bruce is surprised when another member of the Brickford family comes home from the mines for dinner: A creature named Lincoln. Bruce doesn't recall that as the Hulk he met this creature in the past -- a creature known as the Missing Link, which seemingly died in when it's body hit critical mass during it's previous battle with the Hulk. However, it's fragments reconstituted and he was taken in and raised by the Brickfords, taught how to speak English and put to work in the mines. Bruce also takes up a job there and finds that the work is hard and mostly fruitless, and he soon becomes close friends with Lincoln. When watching the creature playing with he Brickford children, both Bruce and Lincoln become concerned when Jimmy-Jack Brickford suddenly collapses from stomach contractions. After the boy is put to bed, Bruce privately comes to the conclusion that Jimmy-Jack must be suffering from radiation sickness. Secretly going into town, Banner buys a Geiger counter and takes it back to the Brickford home. Waiting for nigh fall Banner checks the family while they are sleeping and realizes that they are all suffering from radiation exposure and that the source of the radiation is coming from none other than Lincoln. Banner's heart sinks upon the realization that such a loving and peaceful creature is unknowingly killing the people that he loves most.
Meanwhile, at Hulk-Buster base, Glenn Talbot has just arrived following his escape from Russian captivity. His return home is met with joyful tears from his wife Betty. When Colonel Armbruster shakes Talbot's hand he is surprised to find that his digital watch has shorted out. Dismissing this as a technical malfunction on the watch's part, Armbruster escorts Glenn off to his official debriefing.
While back in the Appalachias, Bruce tries to explain to Lincoln of the danger he poses to everyone in town. Not understanding, and thinking that Bruce is trying to drive him away maliciously, Lincoln swats him away, accidentally knocking Bruce down a mine shaft. Before he can hit the ground, Bruce transforms into the Hulk, who can only understand Lincolns reaction as an attack and jumps back to the surface and begins a fight with him. The two fight across the mining pit, and as the battle rages on the radioactive energies within Lincoln begin to surge out of control. Realizing what Banner had said to be true, Lincoln is too late and cannot jump away before he once more reaches critical mass and explodes. In the aftermath of the blast, the local dig Lincoln out of the rubble and carry him off, telling him that they are helping him out of friendship. The Hulk, digging himself out overhears this and decides to let Lincoln go, silently watching him be carried away by friends and people who care about him, something that the Hulk has always longed for.