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Hulk (comics)

From Academic Kids

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)

Contents

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 common incarnation, the Hulk has little intelligence and 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 aftereffect of child abuse and latent multiple personality disorder.

The Hulk has been featured in several mediums, most notably a popular late 1970s/early 1980s television series and a 2003 film.

History

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Cover to The Incredible Hulk #1. Art by Jack Kirby.

The Hulk was inspired by 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 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 they decided to make him green and that color stuck. 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. At first he becomes the Hulk when the sun goes down, but soon the more familiar transformation occurs whenever Dr. Banner becomes angry or emotional. 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"). 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 non-military scientist.

The plots of many of the earliest Hulk stories involve General 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. 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.. The Hulk was then given a regular backup feature in Marvel's ongoing series Tales To Astonish. After several years, the Hulk's popularity was enough to cause the book to be renamed The Incredible Hulk, 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 affected his son, who 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 the care of Nurse Meachum, who barely tolerated the boy. When Bruce showed talent with an erector set that he was given for Christmas, Brian became convinced that his son was a monster. His mother eventually tried to flee with Bruce, but was killed by Brian before she could.

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 in a loner in high school, and spent time at an old, abandoned shed building "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 that the incident would be forgotten if they moved. The time bomb that Bruce built drew the attention of the U.S. Army Department of R&D (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 for the military under the supervision of now-General Ross, working on the development of a weapon involving gamma particles that would destroy buildings and other structures while keeping people unharmed.

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 these out 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, 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 of time.

Early history of the Hulk

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Cover of The Incredible Hulk #181, featuring the first appearance of the popular X-Man Wolverine.

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 inTales to Astonish. Despite what some sources say, the personality of the Grey Hulk of Incredible Hulk #1 bears only a minor resemblance to the Grey Hulk/"Joe Fixit" of later years, showing none of the guile which would define that incarnation of the character.) The most famous incarnation of the character - the "Savage Hulk", who almost invariably spoke in the third person - would only appear gradually over the run in Tales to Astonish, with the trademark speech pattern finally 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 truly 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 reemerged.

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 split Banner and the Hulk into two separate beings 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

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The Grey Hulk as "Joe Fixit"
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 & 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 US Government for years of hounding him by taking down a US-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.

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The Merged Hulk, surrounded by other Pantheon members
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. 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. As of 2005, David is signed for a year, including the (now five-part) "Tempest Fugit" story, with a longer run possible depending on sales.

"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, impreganting 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.

The end?

According to "Hulk: The End" by Peter David and Dale Keown, Bruce Banner's life ended 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."

Related characters

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.

Incarnations

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The four main Hulk incarnations. Clockwise from top left: Bruce Banner, the Savage Hulk, the Grey Hulk ("Joe Fixit") and the Merged Hulk ("the Professor")

Banner's Multiple Personality Disorder has spawned several distinguishable Hulks:

Bruce Banner

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.

Savage Hulk

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, from the time when Brian Banner used to beat him. 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 a 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 personality manifested in Banner's body three times - once while he was the "main" Hulk, a technique was tried to prevent Banner 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 "Joseph", 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 "Joe Fixit" period, 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.

This Hulk was grey-skinned for all but his earliest appearances, and is the smallest and weakest of the Hulks (although these are very much relative terms; he still towers over the average human). 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 attempt to retcon this, with Doc Samson claiming that he just released another incarnation from Banner's mind. The veracity of this is in doubt, however, as Samson had been shown to have had little control over the merger process. 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 remerge (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 detatchment, 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, the tallest of the "main" Hulks, partially because, 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 forgoes 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.

Peter David states that the personality for the Merged Hulk was originally modeled after Val Kilmer's role as "Chris Knight" in the film Real Genius.

The Maestro

Main article: Maestro (comics)

The Maestro is a version of the Merged Hulk from a future timeline. He possesses all of the Hulk's mental and physical power at their full potency, and 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.

Other incarnations

There were a number of periods where the Hulk presented was neither of the Savage nor Grey Hulks, but showed clear traits of both, usually with green skin. Notable instances of these include:

  • Unleashed Hulk: During a fight with the villain Onslaught, Banner's persona was separated from the Hulks. As Banner went missing this Hulk became a nexus gateway to the "Heroes Reborn Universe" created by Franklin Richard's. This Hulk had a deteriorating physical condition and his strength levels were very erratic.
  • Post-Heroes Reborn Hulk: When Banner and the Unleashed Hulk were remerged, Banner's influence moderated the above Hulk somewhat, making him a more level-headed version of the Savage Hulk.

Other incarnations of the Hulk include:

  • Original Hulk: The first Hulk to walk the Earth. A comparatively malevolent and unintelligent creature who talked without using contractions, and who only appeared twice - once in Incredible Hulk (vol. 1) #1 with grey skin, and the following issue with green skin, although something impersonating this incarnation appeared recently in Incredible Hulk (vol. 3) #77 and #78.
  • Mindless Hulk: Created twice in quick succession when Banner was removed from the equation: first with a "psychic suicide", whereby Banner retreated deep into his mind, leaving the Hulk that remained violent, animalistic and incapable of speech, and secondly when Banner was physically removed by use of a "nutrient bath", with similar results.
  • Suppressed Rage Hulk: An incarnation that represents the guilt and rage that resulted from Banner's traumatic experiences, which never gained physical form.
  • 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 manifastion of his abusive father.
  • 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 use 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.

Powers and abilities

The Hulk possesses an incredible level of superhuman physical ability. His capacity for physical strength is potentially limitless, able to lift huge amounts or make leaps spanning several miles in his "Savage" or "Merged" forms. In most of his incarnations, and especially in the "Savage" incarnation, the Hulk's strength increases proportionally with his level of emotional stress, which is usually, though not always, quite high.

The Hulk has shown a high resistance to physical damage nearly regardless of the cause (whether it be artillery shells or falls from a great height), and has also shown resistance to extreme temperatures, poisons, and diseases. In addition, the Hulk's body can regenerate damaged or destroyed areas of tissue at an amazing rate, far faster than that of Wolverine's healing factor.

In addition to his power and healing ability, the Hulk has shown several supernatural abilities, including the ability to "home in" on the desert base where he was created and the ability to see ghosts, including the astral form of Dr. Strange. The former appears to have been caused by a connection with the spirit of the Maestro, whereas the latter may be caused by a fear that his father will return to haunt him.

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.

Movies and television

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Lou Ferrigno in the 1978 Incredible Hulk TV series episode "Married"
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The Hulk in a scene from the film Hulk

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 70's action The Incredible Hulk TV series starring Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno on CBS. This series, which took on the format of The Fugitive, was widely acclaimed and, in turn, spawned several made-for-TV movies, the last of which killed off the character. There were plans to bring him back from the dead when Bixby himself died and no further Hulk reunion films were considered.

After the show had ended in 1982, the Hulk returned to cartoon format (1982-83), airing with Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends as part of the hour. 13 episodes were produced and feature the major characters from the comics. The show used a series of stock transformation scenes. The She-Hulk and the Leader made an appearance in the show.

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 voiced by Lou Ferrigno as well. 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.

Video Games

Video Games based on the Hulk have appeared on many different systems, from the Atari 2600, to the Sega Genesis and SNES, to the Playstation 2, Xbox, Gamecube and even a computer game. Most have been based on the comics, although the most recent releases were drawn primarily from the 2003 movie.
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Hulk in Marvel vs Capcom2.

The Hulk has also appeared in many Marvel-themed fighting games by Capcom, starting with Marvel Super Heroes, in 1995, and through the Marvel vs. Capcom series. The version of the Hulk appearing in this game most closely resembles The Professor.

The latest playable incarnation of the Hulk is "Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction", from Radical Entertainment. Due for release in August 2005, this promises to be the most freeform Hulk experience yet. Empowered to rampage openly in the real world, the Hulk faces the challenge of his long-term nemesis, the Abomination. This game promises to offer a version of the Hulk's where his powers reach new heights.

Boasting "Unstoppable Movement" means Hulk can wallrun across any surface, climb any wall by dig his fingers into concrete, leap huge heights and distances - all under the player's full control. Hulk's combat abilities have also reflect this increased power; cars and buses are simply smashed out of the way, fully charged attacks will toss vehicles, enemies and unlucky pedestrians into the air. At his most powerful - when in "Critical Mass" - the Hulk can perform devastating groundsmashes that will clear enemies out for blocks nearby and level entire buildings.

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Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction.

More info on the Hulk videogames from Radical Entertainment can be found at http://www.hulkgames.com

Themed products

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The Hulk rollercoaster
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.

Bibliography

See also

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Peter Griffin (Family Guy) as the Hulk.

External links

it:Hulk (fumetto) pt:Hulk fi:Hulk sv:Hulk (seriefigur)

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