Real Name: Unrevealed
Identity/Class: Extraterrestrial magic user
Group Membership: None
formerly Agent Becarra, Captain Cybor, Doctor Strange (Stephen Strange), the Hulk (Bruce Banner), N'Garai, Xeron the Star-Slayer
Enemies: Hulk (Bruce Banner), N'Garai, the U-Foes (Ironclad/Mike Steel, Vapor/Ann Darnell, Vector/Simon Utrecht, X-Ray/James Darnell)
Known Relatives: None
Aliases: "The Rogues"
Base of Operations: The Crossroads
First Appearance: Incredible Hulk II#301 (November, 1984)
Powers/Abilities: The Puffball Collective, as its name implied, was a collection of sentient white fluffy aliens, appearing almost like snowflakes or dandelion weeds. The Collective had the ability to shape itself into just about anything, though it could not necessarily assume any consistency. For example, the Collective formed itself into the shape of the Hulk a number of times, but it could not recreate the Hulk's strength or his invulnerability. If struck, it still scattered into thousands of pieces, only to reassemble itself seconds later.
The Collective had a degree of telepathic ability. It did not display particularly powerful, Professor X-ish levels of telepathy, but it could read the Hulk's surface thoughts and pick out the form of Banner from the Hulk's mind. In its later appearances, the Collective was able to transmit the memory of its true identity directly into the Hulk's brain. It also had some degree of magic capability, though this was never explored in depth.
Height: Not applicable
Hair: Not applicable
History: (Incredible Hulk II#308 (fb)) - The Puffball Collective was known as a rogue element of a larger collective from a world (known as the Collective World or the Demon World of the N'Garai) connected to the Crossroads dimension. The rogue part of the collective dabbled in magic that the rest of the collective abhorred. Using their forbidden magic, "the Rogues" summoned the N'Garai demons into the Collective World. When the rest of the collective learned of this, it exiled "the Rogues" to the Crossroads.
Eventually, the incredible Hulk was exiled to the Crossroads by Doctor Strange. The Puffball Collective immediately saw an opportunity to get back to its homeworld. The Collective tried again and again to befriend the Hulk, forming into the shape of food and physical forms it thought the Hulk would find pleasing, only to be attacked by the green brute. Likewise, the Puffball Collective was powerless to follow the Hulk into the different worlds connected to the Crossroads, scattering into thousands of pieces every time it tried to enter one of the portals.
(Incredible Hulk II#301) - The Puffball Collective approached the Hulk, having learned the English language from Hulk's thoughts, even though the Hulk no longer understood English or any other language. The Collective formed itself into different shapes in the hopes of communicating with the Hulk - including the shape of the Hulk himself and his alter ego Bruce Banner - but nothing penetrated the Hulk's savagery. The Hulk constantly lashed out at the puffballs that composed the Collective, striking at them with his fists or, in one case, inhaling the collective in and blowing him back out at one of the many portals of the Crossroads.
(Incredible Hulk Annual I#13) - The Collective continued to try to win the Hulk over by transforming itself into what the Hulk wanted most: food, but the Hulk knew it was only an illusion and struck out at the Collective like before. Hulk eventually entered the World of Symbionts portal, through which the Collective tried and failed to follow. After an adventure that saw Hulk gaining and losing a friend (a recurring event in the Hulk's Crossroads adventures), the Puffball Collective made his first bit of headway. As the Hulk returned exhausted from the World of Symbionts, the Collective transformed into a bed and the Hulk uncharacteristically took advantage of the gift, falling into a deep sleep.
(Incredible Hulk II#302) - The Collective used his psychic and/or magical abilities to make the Hulk a map of the Crossroads. Hulk only had to lift a finger to a spot on the map to receive a mental image of what waited on the other side of the portal. Pointing at one point on the map, the Hulk saw the image of a woman with green skin and, possibly reminded of his old lover Jarella, Hulk headed immediately to the corresponding portal. The Puffball Collective tried to stop the Hulk, explaining that he wanted the Hulk to bring him along, but once again the Collective was expelled from the portal when he attempted to do so.
(Incredible Hulk II#303) - After the Hulk's demoralizing adventures in the City of Death, he returned to the Crossroads to find the Collective waiting for him, once again calling the Hulk a "friend" and trying to convince the Hulk of his truth.
(Incredible Hulk II#304) - Sensing that his green companion was starving, the Collective attempted to convince Hulk to find a world with food. Since the Hulk could not understand his words, the Collective antagonized the Hulk by turning itself into the shapes of weapons and "attacking" the Hulk. The Collective did no harm to the Hulk, but managed to get the Hulk to leap at it, passing through the Collective and into a portal to another world rich with food.
After yet another heart-wrenching adventure that saw the Hulk find a good friend and lose him over a short span of time, the Hulk returned to the Crossroads. This time, the Collective was not the only one waiting for him. The Hulk's old enemies the U-Foes were there, with the Collective as their captive.
(Incredible Hulk II#305) - The Puffball Collective helped Hulk against the U-Foes, not only by physically distracting the U-Foes with its form, but its knowledge of the worlds around the Crossroads helped the Hulk know which portals to send his enemies through (e.g. tricking the metal villain Ironclad in a world of sinking quicksand, tricking the radioactive X-Ray into a world of radiation-devouring monsters, etc.). The battle instilled the Hulk with some trust in his strange Puffball companion.
(Incredible Hulk II#306) - After the attack of the U-Foes, more old acquaintances of the Hulk showed up. The huge energy-sucking monster Klaatu appeared in the Crossroads, as did the starship Andromeda whose vengeful crew hunted Klaatu across the cosmos (the Hulk having previously met them all). Seeking to recruit the Hulk into his crew as he had years before, the First Mate Xeron attempted to imprison the Hulk again. Still wanting to escape the Crossroads, the Collective convinced Xeron and Captain Cybor to take him along in order to keep the Hulk happy, but regardless of their agreement, the curse on the Collective still held. It again exploded into thousands of pieces the first time the Andromeda went through a portal.
(Incredible Hulk II#307) - Losing his only friend, the Hulk rebelled against Xeron and the crew of the Andromeda, smashing his fists into the ship exactly when the Andromeda was close to striking out at Klaatu. Knowing the Hulk would not behave without the Collective, Xeron turned the ship back to the Crossroads and was able to manufacture an energy field around the Collective, allowing him to join them through the portals of the Crossroads. Klaatu ultimately defeated the Andromeda again, killing almost all the crew, and the Hulk and the Collective returned to the Crossroads.
(Savage Hulk I#5) - The Collective briefly spoke with Doctor Strange and S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Becerra after they entered the Crossroads in search of the Hulk.
(Savage Hulk I#6) - The Collective welcomed the Hulk back after he returned from his time on a world of sentient insects.
(Incredible Hulk II#308) - Knowing it now had the Hulk's trust, the Collective lied to Hulk about its origins. The Collective claimed that before its banishment from its homeworld, it had innocently approached a strange monolith, that demons broke free from the structure and that the collective drove it from its homeworld.
Wanting to help his friend, the Hulk used his strength to rip apart the mystical chains that kept the Collective from his world's portal. Once entering the world, the Collective waited until the Hulk had fallen asleep and set one of the N'Garai demons upon him.
Just one of the demons was a match for the Hulk and the Collective unleashed a whole horde of them upon the Hulk. Before they went in for the kill, the Collective telepathically informed the Hulk of the truth: that it had summoned the demons to the world itself and that he now intended the set the demons loose upon all the worlds connected to the Crossroads.
At the behest of the Triad - fractured pieces of the Hulk's psyche that had just begun to manifest - the Hulk uncharacteristically chose the better part of valor and fled from the demons, triggering Doctor Strange's failsafe spell that teleported him directly back to the Crossroads. Once there, the Hulk closed the portal by linking the sundered chains back together. As the portal closed, the Hulk saw the demons turn on the Puffball Collective and presumably kill it for good.
Comments: Created by Bill Mantlo, Sal Buscema and Gerry Talaoc.
The N'Garai demons first appeared in Uncanny X-Men I#143.
The placement of the Savage Hulk issues in the chronology is based on the fact that the Hulk spoke in his Savage Hulk appearances. In the original Crossroads stories - with the exception of his brief connection to a symbiont in Incredible Hulk Annual I#13, the Hulk did not speak any English until Incredible Hulk II#307.
Profile by Mick Martin, The Anti-Grimm.
The Puffball Collective has no known connections to:
images: (without ads)
Incredible Hulk II#306, p1, pan1 (Puffball Collective, main image)
Incredible Hulk II#305, p11, pans2-4 (Puffball Collective distracting Ironclad)
Incredible Hulk II#308, p10, pans6-7 (Puffball Collective calling Hulk a fool)
Incredible Hulk II#301 (November, 1984) - Bill Mantlo (writer), Sal Buscema (pencils), Gerry Talaoc (inks), Carl Potts (editor)
Incredible Hulk Annual I#13 (November, 1984) - Bill Mantlo (writer), Alan Kupperberg (pencils), Gerry Talaoc (inks), Carl Potts (editor)
Incredible Hulk II#302 (December, 1984) - Bill Mantlo (writer), Sal Buscema (pencils), Gerry Talaoc (inks), Carl Potts (editor)
Incredible Hulk II#303 (January, 1985) - Bill Mantlo (writer), Sal Buscema (pencils), Gerry Talaoc (inks), Carl Potts (editor)
Incredible Hulk II#304 (February, 1985) - Bill Mantlo (writer), Sal Buscema (pencils), Gerry Talaoc (inks), Carl Potts (editor)
Incredible Hulk II#305 (March, 1985) - Bill Mantlo (writer), Sal Buscema (pencils), Gerry Talaoc (inks), Carl Potts (editor)
Incredible Hulk II#306 (April, 1985) - Bill Mantlo (writer), Sal Buscema (pencils), Gerry Talaoc (inks), Carl Potts (editor)
Incredible Hulk II#307 (May, 1985) - Bill Mantlo (writer), Sal Buscema (pencils), Gerry Talaoc (inks), Carl Potts (editor)
Incredible Hulk II#308 (June, 1985) - Bill Mantlo (writer), Sal Buscema (pencils), Gerry Talaoc (inks), Carl Potts (editor)
Savage Hulk I#5 (December, 2014) - Gabriel Hardman (writer, art), Corinna Bechko (writer), Mark Paniccia, Will Moss (editors)
Savage Hulk I#6 (January, 2015) - Gabriel Hardman (writer, art), Corinna Bechko (writer), Mark Paniccia, Will Moss (editors)
Last updated: 02/12/17
Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.
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