In the early 60's, shortly after the beginning of Marvel Comics with the Fantastic Four, a second series was released: The Incredible Hulk.
As the Marvel Universe took shape with Spider Man, The Avengers, The X-Men and Daredevil titles, The Hulk stood apart from all the other Super Heroes in that his was not just a hero story; it was a monster story. A horror story.
Funnily, the character first appeared in an early Fantastic Four story as a comic book character.
Dr. Bruce Banner was exposed to Gamma radiation, which caused him to transform into a super-strong, thuggish brute dubbed “the Incredible Hulk”. It was a Jekyll and Hyde story, or a werewolf story. Dr. Banner attempted to cure himself of his curse, because while the Hulk did do some good here and there, he was also an unpredictable force of destruction.
This would become emphasized more in later years, as the Hulk became more and more powerful and less and less intelligent.
The character spent years (in real time, maybe less in comic book time), wandering the world and looking for a cure. It's this version that was explored in the popular 1970's/80's TV show.
Banner himself eventually gained a disturbing backstory, with an abusive father who killed Bruce's mother. It gave weight to Banner's repressed rage and pain, which would be the psychological reason for the Hulk's birth.
Over the decades, the character went through many changes as Banner's condition mutated. He was briefly able to maintain his own personality and intelligence as the Hulk, but it fell apart eventually.
When he was savage, the Hulk would battle many of the superheroes in the Marvel Universe, and they would comment that “the madder he gets, the stronger he gets!”
The savage Hulk would say things like “Hulk SMASH!” and “Hulk is strongest one there is!”, and “Puny Banner!” to refer to his hated alter ego.
At one time, under the writing of Peter David, the many personalities of Banner and the various versions of the Hulk were combined into one personality, a confident, cocky, powerful dude with the genius of Banner and the bad attitude of the original Hulk. These were some of the greatest superhero comics in the 90's, by Peter David and Gary Frank.
Gary Frank is a phenomenal artist, and Peter David's humor allowed the Hulk title to stand apart from the grim, serious comics of the time.
As the years went on, the Hulk went crazy again, was banished from Earth and became a gladiator on an alien planet (PLANET HULK), and returned to wage war on the Earth (WORLD WAR HULK).
I haven't read these, but they sound cool, and I believe the next THOR movie will feature the Hulk, and will play with the Planet Hulk story. Neat!
He was always my favorite hero, with his extreme power, horror movie vibe, and psychological complexity. I was sad that his two movies were so unappealing to me, and thrilled that the character was done such justice in the first Avengers movie. Hooray!
Anyway, that's a brief discussion of the Hulk, one of the more unusual and interesting characters in the superhero pantheon.
See you next time!
Banes at 12:00AM, June 16, 2016
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