The Elders of the Universe possess nearly infinite amounts of power, and with it, they do as they wish without fear of reprisal. Their endeavors brought them to Earth several times where they pit one or more super-powered individuals against each other for their own amusement. The Grandmaster is the most notorious of the Elders to do this – making wagers with other beings at the expense of those he deems less significant than himself. Such was the case when Grandmaster and the Collector decided to play a game where the losing group would forfeit their very lives. The Grandmaster chose to begin with the Hulk and allowed him to choose his teammates, so Hulk chose the original Defenders: Silver Surfer, Namor and Doctor Strange. The Collector began with the Hulk's newest nemesis, the Red Hulk, and he chose Baron Mordo, Terrax and Tiger Shark to be his Offenders.
Each of the Offenders were paired up against a separate member of the Defenders and given different combat zones on which to do battle. The respective power levels of every duo proved to be too balanced out, with neither side gaining the upper hand until the Red Hulk killed his opponent – the Hulk. The Grandmaster inserted Red Hulk back into the game as Psycho-Man was in control of Terrax and the Silver Surfer within the Microverse. Red Hulk demolished Psycho-Man right before he killed Terrax with his own axe and absorbed the Power Cosmic within the Surfer – breaking his neck afterwards. The murderous rampage of the Red Hulk didn't stop with the Heralds of Galactus as he rode the Surfer's board into the Dark Dimension and slew Tiger Shark, Namor and the extremely powerful Dormammu. His overconfidence gave way to arrogance, and the Red Hulk flew to the planet Zenn-La where Dr. Strange and Baron Mordo were held in the clutches of Galactus. Red Hulk obliterated his teammate along with the last Defender, and he had the gall to challenge Galactus too. Not one to be trifled with, Galactus was infuriated when the red menace dropped the lifeless body of the Silver Surfer into his palm, and the Devourer of Worlds drained the cosmic energy from the Red Hulk's body before sending him back to the Elders who orchestrated this game from the start.
Both the Grandmaster and the Collector were displeased with the Red Hulk's performance, and the Defenders were resurrected to deal with him. The Red Hulk would not be denied his victory, and he brutally attacked the Grandmaster. The Hulk halted the assault of his red counterpart and slammed Red Hulk into a mountain, but it was too late. The Collector claimed his brother was dead, but the Defenders still wanted their reward for participating – the lives of their loved ones to be restored. The Collector wouldn't honor the deal the Defenders made with the Grandmaster, and each of them was returned to their respective time lines with no memory of what transpired, but the pain of their loss would be forever present in each of them. As for the Offenders, the Grandmaster revealed, before his demise, he brought them back to life and put them back where they belonged also with no memory of the event.