Template:Superherobox The Hulk, often called the Incredible Hulk, is a Marvel Comics superhero. Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, he first appeared in Incredible Hulk v1 #1 (May 1962), and has since become one of Marvel's most iconic characters, usually ranked second only to Spider-Man in terms of name value.
- 1 Publication history
- 2 Character biography
- 3 Personality and behavior
- 4 Powers and abilities
- 5 Related characters
- 6 The Hulk in other media
- 7 Bibliography
- 8 See also
- 9 External links
The Hulk was inspired by the story of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus and Robert Louis Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the dichotomy usually consisting of the simple-minded and emotional brute who springs from a quiet intellectual. Indeed, in contrast to the quiet Banner, the most famous version of the Hulk is as a childlike persona who just wants to be left alone, but is continually forced to battle foes determined to hunt him down. This is somewhat similar to that of Universal Studios's 1931 film, Frankenstein, another major influence on the character.
History of the comic
In the first issue of The Incredible Hulk, the Hulk was supposed to be gray. However, the publishers of the time had difficulties with printing a consistent and clear shade of gray, so after the first issue Stan Lee decided to make him green and that color stuck. Subsequent reprints of that story retroactively changed the Hulk's skin to green, creating the (false) impression that he had been that color from the beginning. Later in the series, in 1986, the Hulk reverted to gray, and remained that way until 1991.
In the origin story of the Hulk, Dr. Bruce Banner is a military scientist who has developed a new type of weapon called the "Gamma Bomb". As the bomb is being tested (in a fashion reminiscent of the Trinity atomic bomb test), Dr. Banner notices that a teenager, Rick Jones, has driven his car onto the test site. Banner races out into the open to bring the young man to safety, but the bomb explodes before he can reach safety himself. Banner is subjected to an incredible dose of gamma rays, and this is what causes him to transform into the rampaging Hulk. This story has a strong Cold War subtext to it: in addition to the Gamma Bomb test, the Hulk is promptly captured in the first issue of the book and brought to a country which is presumably the Soviet Union (though the name "Soviet Union" was never used in the book, the story ended with a statement about the end of "Red tyranny" and the story's reformed villain cursing a picture of then-Soviet Premier Nikita Kruschev). Later revisions of the Hulk's origin (especially for the TV series of the 1970s and the animated TV cartoons of the 1980s and 1990s) remove the military subtext and make Banner a civilian scientist (though still working on a military base in most versions bar the TV series).
At first Banner becomes the Hulk only when the sun goes down, reverting to his human form at sunrise, but soon he creates a machine that can transform him into the Hulk at will. (The more familiar trigger for the transformation, whenever Dr. Banner becomes angry or emotional, would not be established until later.)
The plots of many of the earliest Hulk stories involve General Thaddeus E. "Thunderbolt" Ross continually pursuing the Hulk, with his "Hulkbuster" U.S. Army group at his side. Ross's daughter Betty is a love interest for Bruce Banner and often criticizes her father for going after the Hulk so relentlessly without regard to her feelings for the Hulk's alternate identity (whom General Ross has little respect for in any case, referring to him as a "milksop" and bemoaning his daughter's infatuation with an intellectual). General Ross's right-hand-man, Major Glenn Talbot, is also in love with Betty but is an honorable man and is torn between pursuing the Hulk and gaining Betty's love in an honest way. Teenager Rick Jones is the Hulk's first and only friend for a time. Later on, another teenager named Jim Wilson becomes the Hulk's friend.
The Hulk appeared in the premiere run of his own comic book series created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby during the early 1960s, at the same time as other famous Marvel characters including the Fantastic Four, Thor, and Spider-Man. The initial Hulk series only ran for six issues before being cancelled by Marvel, due to low sales and the limited number of titles Marvel was then allowed to publish: in order to free space on the publishing schedule and give Spider-Man his own comic, The Hulk was cancelled. However, the character's brief run was popular enough to be noticed by creators Kirby and Lee. In interviews, Kirby stated that shortly after the official cancellation notice for the book was issued, he received a letter from a college dormitory stating that the Hulk had been chosen as its mascot. Kirby and Lee realized that their character had found an audience in college-age readers — a demographic that had been entirely ignored by comic books until that time. This inspired them to keep the Hulk alive through numerous guest appearances in other comic books, and by adding him to the founding ranks of the Avengers. Even though his membership in that group was remarkably short-lived (quitting the team in the second issue), he also featured as an adversary in 2 other issues. He teamed up with the Sub-Mariner in issue #3 and battled (then inadvertently helped) the Avengers in #5. Due to the Hulk's new-found popularity among Avengers fans, he was given a regular backup feature in Marvel's ongoing series Tales To Astonish which started four months after his last appearence in Avengers #5. It featured Stan Lee's writing with Steve Ditko illustrating. During that run, it was established that Banner's condition changed to that he became the Hulk when experiencing extreme emotional stress, most notably terror and especially anger. While the credit for this idea is unclear, it helped make the character a cultural archetype of uncontrolled emotion, and is by far the most famous element of the Hulk's backstory.
After several years, Astonish, which at the time featured the Hulk and Sub-Mariner in half-length stories, was split up into two full-length comics. The Incredible Hulk continued the numbering of Astonish with issue #102 (1968), where its run continued until March 1999, at which point the series restarted with a new issue #1. The third and current Hulk series premiered in April 1999, with the title being returned to The Incredible Hulk with issue 12.
The Hulk also was a long time member of The Defenders.
Bruce Banner before the Hulk
Bruce Banner dealt with a difficult childhood. His father, Brian Banner, was convinced that his work with radiation at Los Alamos had resulted in a mutant son, whom he had never intended to have. Although Bruce's mother Rebecca loved the boy, this only led to Brian becoming jealous and hating Bruce all the more. He used excuses to keep Bruce away from his mother, often leaving him in the care of Nurse Meachum, who barely tolerated the boy. When Bruce demonstrated an abnormally high intellect, Brian took it as proof positive that his son was a monster and began physically abusing both Bruce and Rebecca. Rebecca eventually tried to flee with Bruce, but was killed by Brian in the attempt.
Bruce initially refused to testify against his father, but was eventually convinced to reveal the truth, leading to his father being institutionalized for many years. In the meantime, Bruce was left in the care of Brian's sister Susan Drake. (Susan divorced her husband while Bruce was in high school and took the name Susan Banner again. Note that some early sources state that Susan was actually Rebecca's sister.) As a coping mechanism, Bruce developed an imaginary friend that he called "Hulk". This Hulk shared qualities of both the later Savage and Grey Hulks, but physically resembled the Savage Hulk. Bruce continued to use this technique at least into his high school years.
Banner was a loner in high school, and spent time at an old, abandoned shed making "gadgets", including a time bomb. This bomb was attached to a boiler in the school by Banner's "Hulk" persona in revenge for a beating that Bruce had received, but Bruce's "normal" personality disabled the bomb. Susan was offered a deal by the school so that the incident would be forgotten if they moved. The time bomb that Bruce built attracted the attention of the U.S. Army Department of Research & Development (and, in particular, of a Major Thaddeus Ross), who saw potential in Bruce as a weapons designer and took a hand in his education.
Bruce was transferred to the aptly named Science High School, but remained an outsider even to his classmates there. He eventually went to graduate school, where he was at the top of his class. He also drew the attention of fellow classmate Phil Sterns, whose obsession with Banner would later lead to him turning himself into Madman. It was also there that he met future neuro-psychologist Angela Lipscombe, who may have been his first serious romance. The two broke up when Bruce entered a period of depression after having several applications for grants turned down as institutions dismissed his theories predicting the spontaneous formation of gamma particles in a vacuum. After leaving college, he began working on the development of a weapon involving gamma particles that would destroy buildings and other structures while keeping people unharmed. Ross, now a general, approached Bruce on behalf of the military and attempted to convince Bruce to alter his design to that of a localized destructive weapon. Bruce refused.
It was during this period of time that Brian Banner was released from the institution and briefly moved in with Bruce. Brian's insanity led to an attack to kill Bruce at the site of Rebecca's grave, but instead led to Brian's death at Bruce's hands. However, Bruce blocked out these memories, choosing instead to forget that his father had moved in with him at all. Instead, he remembered meeting his father again at the site of the grave, having a confrontation, and then watching his father leave. The police reports would state that Brian Banner was killed by muggers, and Bruce went on to believe this until the truth was revealed to the Hulk years later.
Bruce Banner continued his work on the Gamma Bomb (altering its design at Ross' request) and at the same time began to develop a relationship with Betty Ross, the General's daughter. The Hulk would make his first physical appearance during this period.
Early history of the Hulk
The Hulk's personality and intelligence level has varied wildly over the years, even from his earliest days. In his very first issue, he is easily confused, and rather brutish. In his second, as well as assuming his trademark green skin color, he acts almost as an outright villain. In the third, he becomes the mindless thrall of Rick Jones, and in the fourth, Bruce Banner gains the ability to impose his personality over the Hulk - although this is short-lived, as the personality which later becomes associated with the Grey Hulk emerges in issue 5 and 6 (and this remains his dominant personality in many of the guest appearances he makes in other comics between cancellation of his series, and his reappearance in his own strip in Tales to Astonish.) The most famous incarnation of the character - the "Savage Hulk", who almost invariably spoke in the third person - such as his famous catch phrase of sorts, which he would cry out whenever a specific object or person particularly annoyed him: "(object) make Hulk angry! Hulk smash (object)!" The Savage Hulk began appearing periodically over the run in Tales to Astonish, with the trademark speech pattern first appearing in TTA #66.
Later, due to a side-effect of a teleportation beam, Bruce Banner gained control of the Hulk's body, and the ability to transform at will. Gradually, though, he again cycled downward, losing intelligence and gaining aggression in Hulk form. Finally, due to the interference of the dream-demon Nightmare, Banner committed "psychic suicide," causing the Hulk to become a near-mindless, rampaging monster, which the sorcerer Doctor Strange banished to an inter-dimensional "Crossroads". While there, the "Savage Hulk" personality gradually reasserted itself, and finally Banner himself re-emerged.
When the Hulk finally returned to Earth, Doc Samson, a green-haired scientist whose strength had been enhanced by a controlled dose of gamma radiation some years before, managed to capture the Hulk and remove Banner from the Hulk's body by the use of a "nutrient bath". While Banner, finally free of his curse, was finally able to wed Betty Ross, Samson rebelled at plans to execute the again-mindless Hulk and accidentally freed the violent brute in attempting to prevent the execution. After much rampaging, it was discovered that Banner and the Hulk were dying from the separation, before the Vision managed to reunite them. This merger proved unstable, with Banner's head emerging from the Hulk's torso while the Hulk's personality flicked back and forth from "Savage" to "Grey" (although his color remained green). Finally, they got the Hulk back into the nutrient bath to stabilize him, but Rick Jones also fell in, emerging as a green, Savage Hulk-like creature, while Banner briefly emerged as a gray Hulk until the sun hit his skin, reverting him back to Banner.
The Peter David years
Shortly after the re-emergence of the Gray Hulk, writer Peter David took on the mantle of writing the Incredible Hulk, a role he would hold for almost twelve years. David had the craftily intelligent Grey Hulk ally with the Leader to restore the Leader's intelligence by draining Rick Jones' gamma power, in return for the Leader making it possible to allow him to remain the Hulk in both day and night (since the Grey Hulk now appeared during the night, and Banner during the day). While the first step was accomplished, an explosion meant the Leader escaped without having to make good on his promise. Soon after, the Hulk apparently died in a Leader-induced gamma bomb explosion, but actually escaped and took a job as a Las Vegas casino enforcer named "Mr. Fixit," working for casino boss Michael Berengetti, with no Banner to trouble him. For a time, he lived a hedonistic life, including a brief relationship with Marlo Chandler. When Banner reemerged, however, "Joe Fixit"'s life began to fall apart, since he could no longer appear in the daytime - with his problems helped along by the well-meaning Glorian, whose desire to turn the Hulk into a "noble, self-sacrificing individual" led him to a deal with the being Cloot (actually the demon Satannish), and the destruction of the Hulk's life, terrifying Marlo into dumping him and Berengetti into firing him. Finally, with the Hulk realizing that he'd go to the same Hell as Glorian was being dragged down to too, eventually, it boiled down to him and Cloot playing Craps for his and Glorian's souls: if the Hulk won, Cloot could never take him or Glorian. If he lost, Cloot got them both immediately. The Hulk rolled the pair of giant dice, over twice as tall as himself, and jumped to land as they bounced, to make them roll a double-6. As Cloot complained about the Hulk's "cheating" and tried to take Glorian anyway, Glorian's master, the Shaper of Worlds intervened, saying that with Cloot's deal broken, he had no power. Cloot vanished, swearing to get Glorian and the Hulk someday, and the Shaper warning the Hulk to think about his future life "and after."
Later, David expanded on an earlier story that established that Banner had an abused childhood which fostered a great deal of repressed anger which triggered a latent case of multiple personality disorder. The three dominant personalities are the quiet intellectual Banner, the Grey Hulk which embodies his more antisocial cunning side, and the Savage Hulk which embodies his inner child and repressed rage. Doc Samson, with the assistance of the Ringmaster, managed to prompt the merger of Banner's personalities into one apparently healthy personality which embodied Banner's intellect and conscience, the Grey's cunning and confidence and the Savage's color and strength. (Doc Samson would later claim, when something resembling the Merged Hulk emerged alongside his apparent component parts, that this was just another personality released from Banner's mind, who became known as the "Professor." However, since it was shown at the time of the merger that Samson had little control over the process, exactly how much truth there is to this remains unknown.) This "Merged Hulk" shortly thereafter joined up with the group known as the Pantheon, all of whom took their names from Greco-Roman mythology. The immortal leader and patriarch of the family, Agamemnon (from whom all of the other members were descended to some degree), and Ulysses convinced the Hulk to join them between his desire to do good in the world, and his desire to stick it to the U.S. Government for years of hounding him by taking down a U.S.-supported government with an abominable human rights record, among other things. As he joined, however, Delphi, the Pantheon's prophetess, saw "violence, death and pain, and a soul no longer sane" in the future: the Hulk laughing maniacally, while covered in blood.
The Hulk spent some time with the Pantheon. The merger of personalities began to destabilize beginning with a battle with the Leader and the reanimated body of General Ross that led to both foes' deaths. As the Pantheon's home and headquarters, the Mount, crumbled around him and Delphi's vision of insane anger came true, the Savage Hulk came out in Banner's body, thanks to the Merged Hulk's feelings of helplessness, frustration, and rage. After this, the Hulk went into hiding for some time, hampered by the "Savage Banner" coming out whenever he got angry. Finally, in battle with the psychic creature Onslaught, he was once more physically separated into both Hulk and Banner. Banner went on to be teleported to the Heroes Reborn universe, and the Hulk left behind was not mindless but soulless, a mixture of the Fixit and Savage personae. The Hulk became a conduit of energy between the two universes, growing physically stronger, but coming ever closer to dying; meanwhile, Banner relived an altered version of his life, becoming a Hulk similar to the Savage Hulk again, in the other universe. Eventually Banner (along with the others who ended up in the other universe) returned home, and Banner was reunited with the soulless Hulk in the process, although the Hulk's personality was not significantly changed.
Finally, just as Banner looked like he was about to settle down with Betty, she died of gamma radiation poisoning. Although Banner and an again-resurrected General Ross believed the source of the poisoning to have been Betty's close relationship with Banner, it had actually been caused by the Abomination, who hated the Hulk for having kept him away from his estranged ex-wife. The Abomination was exposed and defeated in retaliation by the Hulk twice: first as the Professor, who saw reason to forgive the Abomination, and again as the Savage Hulk, who was manipulated by Ross into beating the Abomination nearly to death.
In 1998, Peter David followed up on a suggestion by his editor Bobbie Chase to kill the character of Betty Banner. In a recent interview in Wizard, David said that his wife had left him that year he was writing the comic and that his wife reminded him of Betty and that he was Banner. So when the time came David killed off Betty. When David went with this suggestion, executives at Marvel used this as an opportunity to push the idea of bringing back the Savage Hulk (who had not really appeared in the years that David had written the book). David disagreed, believing that there was limited story potential in doing this, and the disagreement quickly led to David and Marvel Comics parting ways. At this point, Peter David had written nearly every issue of The Incredible Hulk for almost twelve years. Interestingly, the author chose to use his final issue (which was the issue after the death of Betty) to summarize where he might have taken the character given the opportunity.
The third Hulk series
When Peter David left the Hulk, Joe Casey was brought in to serve as a termporary writer. During his short run on the series, he brought the character in the direction that Marvel had requested earlier (focusing on a mute Hulk), but met with little critical success. Casey soon found himself reluctantly ending the series (something which he pointed out in the final issue that he was somewhat uncomfortable doing) when John Byrne was brought back for a second run on the series, now retitled simply "Hulk" and renumbered back to issue #1, with Ron Garney doing the art.
Although Byrne spoke of his plans for the first year, creative differences between him and Marvel led to him leaving before his first year was up. Erik Larsen briefly filled scripting duties in his place, continuing the story of the Savage Hulk. Shortly thereafter, the title of the book was returned to The Incredible Hulk with the arrival of Paul Jenkins, who wrote a story arc in which Banner and the three Hulks (Savage, Gray and the Merged Hulk, now considered a separate personality and referred to as the Professor) were able to mentally interact with one another, each personality taking over their shared body for a time.
Jenkins had a fairly successful run for several years until he was replaced by controversial author Bruce Jones. Jones was initially lauded for his unusual take on the Hulk, which seemed to harken back to the Bill Bixby TV series (see below) to some extent. Jones' run featured Banner using yoga to take control of the Hulk as he was pursued by a secret conspiracy (later revealed to be led by The Leader) and aided by the mysterious Mr. Blue (later revealed to be the resurrected Betty Banner). As the series continued, Jones received criticism regarding the comparatively slow pace of his stories and his controversial re-interpretations of several of the characters. By the time he had left, Jones had written 43 regular issues of the series (plus the four-issue mini-series Hulk/Thing: Hard Knocks), making him the fourth most prolific Hulk writer (behind Peter David, Stan Lee, and Bill Mantlo).
The Hulk went into a temporary hiatus with the departure of Jones (filled primarily by the above-mentioned Hulk/Thing: Hard Knocks mini-series), after which Peter David returned as writer. David had initially signed a contract for the six-issue Tempest Fugit mini-series, but, with the series in hiatus, it was decided to make this story part of the regular book instead. David then signed on to complete a year on the title.
"Tempest Fugit" has already had possibly lasting effects on the series, including expanding the Hulk's backstory. Perhaps more importantly, it revealed that Nightmare has been manipulating the Hulk for years, tormenting him in various ways for "inconveniences" caused to him by the Hulk. This included manufacturing events that appeared to be real, impregnating the comatose Betty Banner (who would give birth to his daughter "Daydream"), and taking him to an island where he was forced to go through a series of seemingly random obstacles. In the wake of Nightmare's revelations, it is uncertain how much of the Hulk's history from the last few years really happened.
After a four-part House of M tie-in story arc featuring the new Scorpion, plus a one issue epilogue to that arc set in the Marvel Universe, David is due to leave the title once more, this time citing the need to do non-Hulk work for the sake of his career . Daniel Way is due to do at least one arc following David's departure.
According to "Hulk: The End" by Peter David and Dale Keown, Bruce Banner's life ended/will end in a future where humans had wiped themselves out, along with nearly all life on earth. The only survivors were the Hulk and an evolved breed of cockroaches, who regularly swarmed on the Hulk and would eat his organs. Like a modern Prometheus, the Hulk would continually rejuvenate and then again be attacked by the creatures. Bruce Banner died of a heart attack after living a long life, but the Hulk continued to survive, finally fulfilling his oft-stated wish to that "Hulk just wants to be alone," but at a price: Once The Hulk's rage subsides, he will revert back to Banner, which will lead him to his final death.
However, it should be noted that the death of the Banner persona by heart attack may have erased completely the Banner persona, leaving only the Hulk as the sole personality. In effect, granting both Banner and the Hulk the separation that they craved over the decades.
However, Marvel's "The End" series is widely considered by most fans to be non-canon and, therefore, isn't part of Marvel continuity.
Personality and behavior
The Hulk is the alter ego of Dr. Robert Bruce Banner, a genius in nuclear physics. As a result of exposure to gamma radiation, Banner often becomes one of a number of large, superhumanly strong, green or grey creatures.
Although the Hulk is classified as a superhero, he and Banner share a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde-like relationship. In his most well-known incarnation, the Hulk has little intelligence or self-control and can cause great destruction. As a result, he has been hunted by the military and other superheroes and Banner considers the Hulk a curse.
Although an atypical superhero, the Hulk has consistently been one of Marvel’s most popular. In recent decades, comic book writers have portrayed the character as a symbol of inner rage and Freudian repression. The Hulk's existence has been explained as an after-effect of child abuse and latent multiple personality disorder.
Banner's Multiple Personality Disorder has spawned several distinguishable Hulks:
The core personality. Although on occasion he has been able to usurp the Savage Hulk's body, he has generally been limited to human form and strength. Banner is a genius and a talented scientist, possessing a mind so brilliant that it cannot be measured on any known intelligence test. However, he has often been emotionally repressed throughout his history, interspersed with periods of depression and acceptance of the Hulks. When Banner was able to usurp control of the Savage Hulk's body, his inability to get as angry as the Hulk limited the strength level he could achieve.
The most well-known of the comic book Hulks and generally considered the strongest of all incarnations. This Hulk also was the one with the longest consistent tenure, despite not appearing for more than a year in a row since the early 1980s. The Savage Hulk diverged from Banner during early childhood, due to Brian Banner's abuse. He possesses the IQ and temperament of a young child. He typically refers to himself in the third person, and often claims that he wants to be left alone in an attention-seeking way, and has frequent "Hulk [will] smash" temper tantrums. Banner's transformation into the Savage Hulk is generally triggered by Banner's anger.
The Savage Hulk is normally depicted as green-skinned and heavily-muscled with a loping, ape-like gait. The mouth area of his face is greatly enlarged, and his nose is extremely short as a result. He rarely wears upper body clothes (which are almost always ripped off in transformation), but usually wears the remnants of Banner's trousers (which are often colored purple). The Savage Hulk's strength-level in a calm state ("calm" for him) is approximately 85 - 90 tons. His strength greatly increases with rage and surpasses "Class 100" strength fairly quickly. This is due to a greater efficiency in energy usage than an increase in actual power. During his enraged state, he is able to lift weights far past 100 tons. He was once seen supporting the weight of a mountain on his shoulders, but the limit of his strength, is yet unknown.
The Savage Hulk personality has manifested in Banner's body three times - once while he was the "main" Hulk, a technique was tried to prevent Banner from becoming the Hulk, but it backfired, causing the Savage Hulk to manifest in Banner's body. Later, when he twice broke free from the Merged Hulk, a psychic failsafe that the Merged Hulk subconsciously created caused similar results.
When Banner was separated from the Hulk and drawn into the Heroes Reborn universe, he became a Hulk which resembled the Savage Hulk there due to Franklin Richards reverting the heroes he placed there to the forms he was most familiar with. However, this was apparently not the true Savage Hulk persona.
Grey Hulk ("Joe Fixit")
The Grey Hulk personality briefly appeared (with green skin) towards the end of the Hulk's original series in the 1960s, and again re-emerged in the mid-80s with the grey skin which would become associated with this incarnation just prior to the start of the lengthy Peter David run. The character's most notable spell was as a Las Vegas enforcer called "Mr. Fixit". Berengetti, the man he was working for, referred to the Hulk as "Joe", so this was later combined to form "Joe Fixit".
Significant differences between the personalities of the original Grey Hulk and the version that emerged in the 1980s lead to some debate as to whether these are the same version of the Hulk. In early issues after the re-emergence of the Grey Hulk, the character is referred to as the original Hulk, so it is possible that these differences are simply a result of these being variations of the same personality, just as the Savage Hulk has gone through many variations. However, not all agree that these truly are the same character.
The Grey Hulk diverged from Banner during late adolescence or his college years, as the repressed Banner attempted to deny his sex drive. He has average intelligence, although he would occasionally display knowledge and intellectual ability that were normally associated with Banner. He is cunning, crafty, hedonistic, arrogant, and hard-to-reach, although he has a conscience he often tries to hide. He is the only Hulk who has both manipulated and actually attempted to be rid of Banner, as Banner has often attempted to "cure" himself of being a Hulk. For most of the Grey Hulk's existence, he would generally appear only at night. According to the Leader, the Grey Hulk persona of this period was strongest during the night of the new moon and weakest during the full moon, with the reverse holding true for Banner. There are indications that this is because of Banner's shame of this side of his personality: He only lets it come out when it is dark, and no one can see him. This is supported by the fact that the Grey Hulk has occasionally been "let loose" during the daytime; during those daytime appearances, the grey Hulk was somewhat weaker and experienced a painful burning sensation due to his body's desire to transform back into human form.
This Hulk was grey-skinned for all but his earliest appearances, and is the smallest of the Hulks (although these are very much relative terms; he still towers over the average human and is much larger than the largest man) and has the lowest base level of strength, which at the upper limits allow him to lift 75 tons in a calm state (The Grey Hulk still has the capacity to increase his strength according to his rage, but it starts out at a much lower level than other incarnations.). Otherwise, he looks like a less extreme version of the Savage Hulk, with normal length arms and less of a hunched back. He dresses in made to measure suits when he can. When left in Banner's clothes after a transformation, Banner's clothes are often left on in whatever condition they were in after transformation.
The Grey Hulk was romantically involved with Marlo Chandler for some time while Banner was "submerged" by sorcerers from Jarella's world. The two eventually broke up, and Marlo became involved with (and later married) Rick Jones.
Merged Hulk ("The Professor")
This Hulk was created by the merger of Banner and the two above Hulks. A later story would retcon this, with Doc Samson claiming that he just released another incarnation from Banner's mind. This Hulk's most notable spell was as an associate, and later the leader, of the Pantheon.
This form is devoid of most of Banner's emotional hang-ups, but can still be prompted into insane rage, as when he killed the Leader and later destablised enough for the Savage Hulk to re-emerge (albeit in Banner's form, due to a "psychic failsafe").
The Merged Hulk, or Professor Hulk, possesses Banner's intelligence, the Grey Hulk's cunning, and the Savage Hulk's strength. However, he also possessed Banner's detachment, the Grey Hulk's arrogance, and a much lesser degree of the Savage Hulk's propensity for anger and mood swings. After the "Savage Banner" began to emerge, he was forced to restrain his rage to avoid becoming "helpless in mind and body".
The Merged/Professor Hulk is green-skinned and is the tallest and largest incarnation. Despite his exaggerated musculature, he looks basically like a scaled-up human and walks normally. He has a proportionally larger version of Banner's face, and always dresses in clothes appropriately sized for him (although he occasionally foregoes shirts and shoes).
This aspect of the Hulk is one of the most controversial. Peter David, who created this personality, considered him to be a true unification of the existing personalities. Paul Jenkins, who was the first author to refer to this personality as "the Professor", considered him a separate personality, able to co-exist and even communicate with the other existing personalities.
Moreover, Peter David in a interiew with Wizard said that the merged Hulk is whole Bruce Banner not the Professor
- Main article: Maestro (comics)
The Maestro is a version of the Hulk from a future timeline. He possesses all of the Hulk's mental faculties and was actually more physically powerful than the "Past Hulk" due to the absorption of excess radiation (a past nuclear war ravaged this "future" world), but completely lacks any compassion or morality. The Maestro ruled his world, "Dystopia", until the time-travelling Merged Hulk sent him back in time to the detonation of the Gamma Bomb that first created the Hulk. The Maestro, at Ground Zero, apparently died, but would years later regenerate in a weakened state, and temporarily take control of the Destroyer, after which he was apparently buried in a rockslide.
There were a number of periods where the Hulk presented was neither the Savage nor Grey Hulks, but showed clear traits of both, usually with green skin. Notable instances of these include:
- Post-Onslaught/Unleashed Hulk: During a fight with the villain Onslaught, Banner was separated from the Hulk. As Banner went missing this Hulk became a nexus gateway to the "Heroes Reborn Universe" created by Franklin Richard's. This Hulk may have been a combination of the Grey and Savage personalities, judging from his behavior. Due to separation from Banner and an influx of energy from the Heroes Reborn Universe, the Hulk had a deteriorating physical condition which caused his strength to increase steadily while his durability was very erratic. At one point, the "Unleashed Hulk" was impaled by landing on a jagged street sign.
- Post-Heroes Reborn Hulk: When Banner and the Unleashed Hulk were remerged, Banner's influence moderated the Hulk somewhat, making him a more level-headed version of the above Hulk. With Banner's return, this Hulk no longer suffered from a deteriorating physical condition.
Other incarnations of the Hulk (unofficially named) include :
- Mindless Hulk: Created when Banner committed a "psychic suicide", whereby Banner retreated deep into his mind, leaving behind a Hulk that was violent, animalistic, and incapable of speech. Still, the Mindless Hulk exhibited a range of emotions, befriending a number of alien beings and mourning their losses. It has been strongly implied in the comic book (specifically, in issue #310) that the Mindless Hulk could be another personality of Banner's.
- Bannerless Hulk: Created when Banner was physically separated from the Hulk's physical form by use of a "nutrient bath", removing (according to Samson) all memory and personality from the Hulk's body. Unlike the "Mindless Hulk", the only emotion this creature demonstrated was rage.
- Suppressed Rage Hulk: An incarnation that represents the guilt and rage that resulted from Banner's traumatic experiences, which never gained physical form. He appeared within Banner's mind in the form of a giant, Godzilla-like monster, and was soundly defeated by the Savage, Gray and "Professor" Hulks.
- Devil Hulk: A malevolent personality who attempted to usurp control during a period where Banner and all three primary Hulk personalities were active. This Hulk is the representation of his abusive father. This personality has not physically manifested and may not exist at all. Instead, it may be a false memory implanted by Nightmare's manipulation. This incarnation also appeared in the game Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction and claimed to be a "natural evolution" of Banner's gamma-irradiated psyche.
- Monster Hulk: For a time, through the practices of yoga and mediation, Banner gained a measure of control over the Hulk. During this "bleeding of the minds", Banner could impose his will and mind over the Hulk to a certain extent, and used some of the Hulk's physical strength in human form.
There have also been several occasions in which Banner possessed the Savage Hulk's mind ("Savage Banner"), or vice versa ("Banner-Hulk").
Powers and abilities
The Hulk possesses a variety of superhuman physical and mental abilties as a result of exposure to vast amounts of Gamma Radiation.
The Hulk's most well known superhuman power is his capacity for potentially limitless physical strength. The Hulk is capable of lifting roughly 100 tons while he is in a functionally "calm" state. The smaller "Gray Hulk" possesses a base strength level that is somewhat lower than the larger "Green Hulk" and can lift about 75 tons while "calm". However, his strength increases exponentially as adrenaline surges throughout his body during times of heightened emotional stress, most notably anger or rage. While in this enraged state, the Hulk is capable of lifting far beyond 100 tons. During the Secret Wars mini-series, for example, he was seen effectively holding up an entire mountain which was dropped on them by the Molecule Man until the heroes buried inside could find a way to blast their way out. The mountain was written weighing 150 billion tons.
The Hulk's strength extends to his legs as well, giving him the ability to leap several miles in a single bound. As his strength increases during times of anger, this ability increases dramatically. Under normal circumstances, the Hulk can leap 3 miles in a single jump but has been shown to jump almost into the upper atmosphere while in an enraged state.
Aside from possessing massive physical strength, the Hulk's body is highly invulnerable to injury. The Hulk's physique can withstand high caliber artillery cannon shells, impacts that are equivalent to more than a ton of high explosives, falls from great heights, corrosives, temperatures in excess of 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit (1650 °C), etc. without sustaining injury. It is virtually impossible to cause the Hulk injury through conventional means. However, it is possible to injure the Hulk but his body is able to heal itself from massive tissue damage and blood loss with high levels of superhuman speed and efficiency. Like his strength, it is believed that the Hulk's healing powers increase as he becomes enraged. So, much like his strength, the upper-limit of his healing powers remain a mystery. Due to, at least partially, his advanced healing, the Hulk's muscles produce considerably less lactic acids than the bodies of humans, providing him superhuman levels of stamina. Theoretically, the Hulk can exert himself at peak capacity for several days.
In addition to his physical power and healing ability, the Hulk has demonstrated a couple of supernatural abilities. First, the Hulk has the ability to "home in" on the desert base where he was created. This appears to have been caused by a connection with the spirit of the Maestro, his evil future self, which ties into his second mystical ability: The Hulk is able to see and hear ghosts, such as the astral form of Dr. Strange. This ability may be caused by Banner's fear that his father will return to seek revenge for his death.
The Hulk's body also has a gland that makes an "oxygenated perfluorocarbon emulsion", which creates pressure in the Hulk's lungs and effectively lets him breathe underwater and move quickly between varying depths without concerns about decompression or nitrogen narcosis. It is not known if the Hulk has always had this ability or if it has developed over time.
Bruce Banner has a cousin, Jennifer Walters, whom he once had to give an emergency blood transfusion when she was critically wounded. As a result, she takes on the Hulk condition as the She-Hulk. However, her form usually allows her to keep most of her original personality, albeit with more assertiveness and self-confidence.
The Incredible Hulk's main supervillain enemies include:
- The Leader: A villain whose own exposure to gamma radiation makes him a super-intelligent genius with an oversized brain.
- The Abomination: A Soviet spy who deliberately exposed himself to gamma radiation to become a reptilian version of the Hulk with his original personality and intelligence intact.
- The U-Foes: A quartet of villains who participated in an attempt to recreate the same accident that created the Fantastic Four. When Banner discovered them in the middle of their scheme, he interfered with it to successfully save their lives. Although they survived and gained superpowers, they swore revenge on Banner for supposedly cheating them of the chance to gain even more power.
The Hulk in other media
Movies and television
There have been numerable adaptations of the character. They include several animated television series in the 1960s, 1980s, and 1990s.
The Hulk first started out in animation as part of the Marvel Super Heroes animated television series in 1966. The 5-10 episodes were shown and were based on the early stories appearing in both Hulk and Tales to Astonish comics.
However, the most famous TV adaptation was the live action The Incredible Hulk TV series, starring Bill Bixby as Dr. David Banner (the reason for the name change is unclear, but is popularly believed to have been the result of a network executive thinking the name "Bruce" had vaguely homosexual overtones) and Lou Ferrigno as the Hulk. This series, which aired on CBS from 1978 to 1982, took on a format very similar to The Fugitive, and was widely acclaimed (despite having very little in common with the comic books aside from the main character). It is arguably this version of the Hulk that is most recognizable in pop culture today; in particular, the elaborate (for the day) "transformation" sequences, Dr. Banner's heartfelt plea of "Don't make me angry—you wouldn't like me when I'm angry" (a catchphrase which soon became associated with the Hulk in general, but has its origins here rather than in the longer-running comics series) and the usual closing image of Banner hiking down the road, burdened by his curse as a whistful piano piece is played became signature (and much-parodied) elements of the series. The Incredible Hulk spawned several made-for-TV "reunion" movies in the late 1980s and early 1990s, often featuring the Hulk being challenged by another Marvel character (Thor and Daredevil in particular); the last of these films took the surprising step of killing off David Banner in its conclusion. Despite this, there were plans to bring him back from the dead when Bixby himself died (in 1993) and no further Hulk reunion films were considered.
After the show had ended in 1982, the Hulk returned to cartoon format, airing with Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends in a combined hour. 13 episodes of this series were produced, which was generally more faithful to the comics than the live-action series (in that it at least featured more comics characters, such as Rick Jones, Betty Ross, and General Ross) but failed to find much critical acclaim. Typical of many "superhero" cartoons of the era, the show used a series of stock transformation scenes. The She-Hulk and the Leader made an appearance in the show. Notably, this series (as well as the Spider-Man cartoon of this era) featured the voice of Stan Lee as a narrator.
In 1996, UPN brought the Hulk back to animated form again. Lou Ferrigno returned to play the Hulk, this time giving him his voice. The show had a mixture of both the comics and TV series. In 1997 the show's name changed to The Incredible Hulk, and She-Hulk featured in several episodes with the Gray Hulk. The Hulk also appeared in a Fantastic Four animated episode. At that time, the Hulk was voiced by Ron Perlman. He fights the Thing in the episode called "Nightmare in Green."
In 2003, Ang Lee directed a film based on the Hulk, which was released on June 20, 2003 to mixed reviews. The movie featured Eric Bana as Bruce Banner, Jennifer Connelly as Betty Ross and Nick Nolte as David Banner (Bruce's estranged father). The Hulk himself was a computer-generated imagery effect. Lou Ferrigno and Stan Lee shared a brief cameo in the film as security guards.
Computer and video games based on the Hulk have appeared on many different systems, including the Atari 2600, Sega Genesis, SNES, PlayStation 2, Xbox, GameCube, and personal computer. Most have been based directly on the comics, although the most recent releases were drawn primarily from the 2003 movie. The latest playable incarnation of the Hulk is Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction, which boasts a massive environment on a scale similar to Spider-Man 2, in which the Hulk's ever-increasing power can flatten buildings at its peak.
In addition to starring in his own games, the Hulk has appeared in several Marvel-themed fighting games by Capcom, starting with Marvel Super Heroes in 1995 and including the Marvel vs. Capcom series. The version of the Hulk appearing in this game most closely resembles the Professor. Naturally, Hulk is a very powerful character, who depends on powerful strikes and limited projectile attacks.
Due to the Hulk's popularity (especially with children), various Hulk themed products have emerged over the years including; action figures, clothes, jewelry, video games, cards, pins, posters, cars, games, lunchboxes, toys, pinball machines, all types of collectibles and even a Hulk rollercoaster in Orlando Florida. The Hulk is truly a pop culture icon and one of the most popular characters in the world today.
- The Incredible Hulk #1-6 (Marvel Comics, May 1962 - March 1963)
- Tales to Astonish #59-101 (Marvel Comics, September 1964 - March 1968)
- The Incredible Hulk #102-474 (Marvel Comics, April 1968 - March 1999)
- The Incredible Hulk Annual #1-20 (Marvel Comics, 1968 - 1994)
- The Incredible Hulk #-1 (Marvel Comics, July 1997, ISSN 0274-5275)
- Hulk #1-11 (Marvel Comics, April 1999 - February 2000)
- The Incredible Hulk #12-76, #77-present (Marvel Comics, March 2000 - September 2004, January 2005 - present)
- Hulk Weekly #1-69, Marvel UK title published between 1979-1981. Featured new material produced by the likes of Paul Neary and Steve Dillon.
- Official TV-series site at Scifi.com
- Office webpage of The Hulk movie
- Official webpage at marvel.com
- Official Marvel UK Store
- Marvel Picture Store
- A fan site with extensive Hulk information
- Radical Entertainment's Hulk Games website
- Hulk's Blog
- The Hulk Library
- Gamma Base - An Online Hulk Resource
- The 1982 Incredible Hulk Cartoon @ Toon Zone
- DRG4's Incredible Hulk the Animated Series Page (1996)
- NTSC-uk.com's review of The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction