The Incredible HulkOne of Marvel Comics' original breakthrough characters, The Incredible Hulk is Dr. Robert Bruce Banner's alter ego, a large green beast possessed of superhuman strength and endurance.
The story of the Hulk was essentially a loose, space age adaptation of the story of 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 has been 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.
In the first issue of the Incredible Hulk comic book, 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 they decided to make him green and that color was preferred and so it stuck. For a period later in the series, the Hulk was indeed printed gray.
In the origin story of the Hulk, Dr. Bruce Banner was a military scientist who had developed a new type of weapon called the "Gamma Bomb." As the bomb was being tested (in a fashion reminiscent of the Trinity atomic bomb test, Dr. Banner noticed that a teenager (Rick Jones) had driven his car onto the test site. Banner raced out into the open to bring the young man to safety, but the bomb exploded before he could reach safety himself. Banner was subjected to an incredible dose of gamma rays, and this was what caused him to transform into the rampaging Hulk. At first he became the Hulk when the sun went down, but this was soon changed to the more familiar transformation whenever Dr. Banner became angry or emotional. This story had a strong Cold War subtext to it; in addition to the Gamma Bomb test, the Hulk was 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"). Later revisions of the Hulk's origin (especially for the TV series of the 1970s and the animated TV cartoon of the 1980s) removed the military subtext and made Bruce Banner a non-military scientist.
The plots of many of the earliest Hulk stories would involve General "Thunderbolt" Ross continually pursuing the Incredible Hulk, his "Hulkbuster" U.S. Army group at his side. Ross's daughter Betty was a love interest for Bruce Banner and would criticize her father for going after the Hulk so relentlessly irregardless of her feelings for the Hulk's alternate identity. General Ross's right-hand-man, Major Glenn Talbot, was also in love with Betty Ross but was an honorable man and was torn between pursuing the Hulk and gaining Betty's love in an honest way. Teenager Rick Jones was the Hulk's first and only friend for a time. Later on, another teenager named Jim Wilson became the Hulk's friend.
For over twenty years, the Hulk would rampage across the face of Marvel Comics, engaging in titanic battles and leaving destruction in his wake. He became the ultimate personification of "brute strength" in comic books, something that not even Superman would be able to match in terms of sheer, raw power. Futhermore, the Hulk's strength can increase further when he is further provoked into more intense anger which leads to his enemies often underestimating his power at critical moments.
Occasionally the Hulk would gain a decent intelligence, only to lose it again; during the mid-1980s, Bruce Banner "lost control" of the Hulk and he became a truly mindless, rampaging monster. Shortly after this, however, writer Peter David took on the mantle of the Incredible Hulk and made some drastic changes to the character. He returned the Hulk to his original "grey" state -- his skin became gray instead of green, and he gained a brutish intelligence which got him a job as a Las Vegas casino enforcer. 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 Gray Hulk which embodies his more antisocial cunning side and the Green Hulk which embodies his inner child and repressed rage. Eventually, Doc Samson, a scientist who had his body enhanced by a controlled gamma radiation exposure managed to merge Banner's personalities into one healthy personality which balanced Banner's intellect and conscience, the Gray's cunning and confidence and the Green's body. David spent the next decade taking the Hulk on a series of adventures that many fans considered to be a change of direction that breathed new life into the character.
In addition, 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 took on the Hulk condition as the She-Hulk. However, her form allowed her to keep most of her original personality albiet with more assertiveness and self confidence.
The Incredible Hulk's supervillain enemies include
- The Leader: A villain whose own exposure to gamma radiation made a superintelligent 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 foolhardy scheme, he interfered with it to successfully save their lives. Although they survived and gained superpowers, they swore revenge on Banner for supposedly cheating of the chance to gain even more power.
- While not a supervillain, Wolverine of the X-Men made his first ever appearance in Marvel Comics as a villain in the Hulk series.
VITAL STATISTICS OF THE HULK
- Name: Robert Bruce Banner
- Aliases: Mr. Fixit
- Height (as Hulk)- 7 f/2.1 metres
- Mass (as Hulk)- 1048 lbs/475.4 Kg
- Eye color (as Hulk)- Green
- Hair color (as Hulk)- Green
- Intelligence Level as:
- Hulk - Below Normal
- Banner - Genius
- Gray Hulk - Gifted
- Gestalt Hulk - Genius
- Strength Level (as Hulk) (Superhuman Class 100 on average):
- Calm - Superhuman Class 90
- Enraged - Potentially Incalculable
- Endurance Level - Superhuman; variable up to incalculable
- Stamina Level - Superhuman
- Agility - Normal
- Reflexes - Normal
- Intelligence Level as: