Leader is a male comic supervillain who features in Marvel Comics.
He had a brother by the name of Philip Stern. (Incredible Hulk v1 #367)
He was an ordinary labourer where he was working to load waste material in the sub-cellar of a chemical research plant. It was then that an experimental gamma ray cylinder exploded causing an accident with him being caught in the explosive effect and being bombarded by Gamma Rays. Typically, people were killed with even a fraction of the dosage experienced but he managed to survive. He was taken to the hospital where he was seemingly not affected but began to develop his intelligence and a craving for knowledge. This was until one day he collapsed and when he awoke his cranium had elongated and his skin turned green. (Tales to Astonish v1 #63)
With his great intellect, he organized a vast spy ring as the Leader sought to take over the reins of government. (Tales to Astonish v1 #63)
As part of the Intelligencia, he alongside M.O.D.O.K. approached General Ross where they pair offered him power to save his country along with the means of resurrecting his daughter. They warned of the return of the Hulk which came to pass when as the Worldbreaker he arrived during the events of World War Hulk. The Leader worked to control the satellite weapon used against the Hulk that siphoned his gamma energy allowing for the arrest of Bruce Banner where L.M.D.'s disguised as S.H.I.E.L.D. took him into custody to Gamma Base that was under the Intelligencia's control. Whilst there, General Ross agreed to the terms where the gamma energy was used to transform him into the Red Hulk who was to serve as their operative. (Hulk v2 #23)
The comatose Stern was then recovered by Ross who had need of his intellect. Thus, he used the unique radiation that turned him into the Red Hulk on the Leader. This led to his own transformation that saw his skin turning red and he became known as the Red Leader. Ross purged his short-term memory leaving Sterns amnesiac but allowing the Red Hulk to use his intelligence for his operations as the head of a new Thunderbolts team. (Thunderbolts v2 #3)
Around this time, he began to operate in seclusion when he was contacted by an artificial intelligence called Project Omega. The A.I. had been the creation of Doc Green that was a new intelligent incarnation of the Hulk created from his use of Extremis. However, the serum was wearing off and the A.I. went rogue to continue his creators mission even though they had become at odds with one another. Project Omega informed Sterns that Doc Green was on a crusade to remove gamma mutations from the planet and had intended to target the Red Leader. To aid him, he developed countermeasures for a serum Doc Green was using to depower gamma mutates. At this point, the Red Leader created a new gamma mutation that he sent to battle Doc Green when the Hulk arrived at his lab. The mutate was killed and Doc Green used a serum on the Red Leader before departing the scene. The countermeasures then came into effect where they restored his gamma mutation though he was no longer the Red Leader now but rather his original green incarnation. Project Omega then resumed contact with Sterns and intended to form a partnership with him as the A.I. had now taken a new name which was Gammon. (Hulk v3 #13)
He was later imprisoned at a remote facility operated by Shadow Base where he was consulted about a means of killing the Hulk whose return had led to new abilities that made him immortal. However, Stern had no desire to work with the Base as he wanted to kill his arch-enemy himself. Thus, he killed the guards and briefed himself entirely on his quarry. It was then that he learnt of a genetically altered being with the powers of the Hulk called Weapon H and factored the renegade Weapon X experiment into his plans. He secretly monitored Weapon H and through hidden means infected him with a Gamma-virus whereupon he leaked information about him to Bruce Banner. Banner sought to confront Weapon H who he deemed a threat leading to a fight between the two Hulk-like beings. Both became infected with the virus whereupon the Hulk was debilitated and the Leader revealed himself on the scene with him demanding Weapon H kill his foe. Weapon H refused and the Leader decided to threaten his family but this resulted in Clay Cortez taking his rage out against Stern's who was forced to flee. He was nearly killed until the sudden arrival of Wolverine who had come on the scene. (Hulkverines v1 #1)
Afterwards, he departed the company of Dr. Alba in order to continue his experiments regarding the Green Door. It was then that he intercepted from the next universe that warned of a calamity that would bring about their cosmos's destruction with this centering on the Hulk. Thus, the Leader looked to ensure this reality came to pass where gods and devils formed their own existence where he intended to fully open the Green Door. (Immortal Man v1 #34)
Personality and attributes
Following his transformation, he considered himself one of the greatest brains that had ever lived and that his former life as an unskilled labourer was meaningless with him seeing himself only as the Leader. (Tales to Astonish v1 #63)
The accident that transformed him gave him a brief glimpse of the Green Door but he could not remember his encounter with the realm beyond it. Thus, many of the events as the Leader involved encountering that realm again but he could only retain bits and pieces of his experiences from each of his deaths. Eventually, he came to encounter the entity beyond the Green Door and became horrified at its existence. (Immortal Man v1 #34)
Powers and abilities
It was said that his physiology was permanently altered as a result of his original gamma radiation exposure. (Thunderbolts v2 #3) His superhuman intellect contained was based slowly on raw brain power making him easily the smartest man on the planet. (Thunderbolts v2 #6) Unlike other minds, the Leaders was said to not be burdened with limitations with it being unique as it was able to comprehend things others could not do so. (Thunderbolts v2 #5)
Though given vast mental potential, he quickly reached the limit of what his brain was capable of accomplishing despite the fact that his intellectual capacity was boundless. This was because his physical body was incapable of containing that knowledge. Thus, he devised a means of storing large scale data through remote data storage which he achieved by uploading his brain onto the internet. Billions of tiny encoded data packets contained his vast knowledge that was hidden throughout cyberspace with it only being accessible by him or those that knew the code to unlock it. (Thunderbolts v2 #6) The vast amount of encrypted data was parsed among billions of networks on the internet with the decrypted and combined data essentially being the sum total of his intellect. It was able to search for the Leader and sought to establish a connection with him where it could communicate through electronic devices such as texts or phone call. (Thunderbolts v2 #11) This data was so vast that it could overwhelm normal minds and lead to their death. (Thunderbolts v2 #6)
Among his creations included:
- Kinetron Mitts : gloves connected to a backpack that reflected kinetic energy back at the attacker. (Incredible Hulk v2 #225)
- Sternbots : a type of nanobots able to alter a bodies cells allowing them to contain and use Gamma Energy. (Incredible Hulk v1 #717)
He often made use of creations known as Humanoids who he considered all-powerful and the only thing worthy of serving him. (Tales to Astonish v1 #63) The Leader was able to deploy large number of Humanoids at a moments notice by dropping capsules to the ground that grew into Humanoids. (Incredible Hulk v1 #610)
A result of him being a gamma mutation meant that he often resurrected with his body reforming sometime after a death. (Immortal Man v1 #34)
- The Leader was created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko where he made his first appearance in Tales to Astonish v1 #62 (December, 1964).
In other media
- In The Marvel Super Heroes, the Leader appeared as an antagonist in "The Incredible Hulk" segments of the 1966 animated television series where he was voiced by actor Gillie Fenwick.
- In Hulk, the Leader appeared as an antagonist in the 1990s animated television series where actor Matt Frewer reprised the role.
- In The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes, the Leader made a number of appearances in the animated television series where he was voiced by actor Jeffrey Combs.
- In Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H., the Leader appeared as an antagonist in the animated television series where he was voiced by actor James Arnold Taylor.
- In Avengers Assemble, the Leader appeared in the animated television series starting in Avengers: Ultron Revolution where he was once again voiced by actor James Arnold Taylor.
- In The Incredible Hulk, Samuel Sterns appeared in the live-action film where he was portrayed by actor Tim Blake Nelson.
- In Hulk, the Leader appeared as an antagonist in the video game that followed the live-action film where he was voiced by actor Michael Dobson.
- In Marvel: Avengers Alliance, the Leader appeared as a villain in the setting of the Facebook video game where he appeared in Spec Ops 32. He was shown as being responsible for kidnapping Betty Ross and turning her into the Red She-Hulk.
- In Marvel Avengers Academy, the Leader appeared as a playable character in the setting of the mobile video game.
- Tales to Astonish v1:
- Incredible Hulk v1:
- Hulk v2:
- Thunderbolts v2:
- Hulk v3:
- Hulkverines v1:
- Immortal Hulk v1: