The Incredible Hulk (Origins)
Robert Bruce Banner was born to atomic scientist Dr. Brian Banner and his wife, Rebecca. Although deeply loved by his mother, Bruce’s father who was mentally unstable harbored a deep jealousy and hatred for him. Brian was convinced that his work in atomic science had altered his genetic structure and because of this he also feared that Bruce would grow up a genetic freak, when actually, Bruce was just a very gifted and intelligent child. While growing up Bruce was subjected to Brian’s drunken rages and abuse, as was his mother. Tragically, Rebecca was killed by Brian when she attempted to take young Bruce and leave him. His mother’s murder and his father’s arrest left Bruce in the care of his aunt, Mrs. Drake, and he grew up a social outcast due to the trauma of being abused by his father as well as witnessing his mother’s abuse and murder at the hands of his father.
After graduating high school, Bruce began studying nuclear physics at Desert State University and later at the California Institute of Technology. He gained employment with the military at Desert Base, New Mexico under the command of General “Thunderbolt” Ross, who was overseeing the test of Banner’s newly-created Gamma Bomb. It was here that he met Ross’s daughter, Betty and the two found a mutual attraction. On the day of the bomb’s scheduled detonation Banner saw someone in the testing area. Hoping to rescue this person, Banner went into the testing area where he encountered the person he’d seen; a young teenager named Rick Jones, who had sneaked onto the test site on a dare. Banner managed to push Jones to safety. However, rather than delay the countdown and halt the detonation as instructed, Banner’s assistant Igor Starsky, (in reality, a foreign secret agent named Igor Drenkov) allowed the countdown and the subsequent detonation to occur. This resulted in Banner being caught in the Gamma Bomb explosion and thus exposed to an incredibly massive amount of gamma radiation. Banner and Jones were later picked up by the base’s military personnel and taken back to Desert Base where they were placed in isolation and observation due to their exposure to gamma radiation. They were still in isolation at sundown when Banner transformed into a gray, monstrous, and lumbering brute for the first time. This brute was quickly dubbed “the Hulk” by military personnel.
While the Hulk’s original series failed to last more than six issues, writer Stan Lee felt that the Hulk would work best as a reoccurring character in other titles, and finally settled on the Hulk being a co-founder of the Avengers. By the next issue, he wrote the character off the team, and delegated him as a reoccurring menace until he was given co-billing in the Tales to Astonish title alongside Giant-Man and the Wasp. Featuring the art talents of Steve Ditko, Jack Kirby, Bob Powell, John Romita Sr., Bill Everett, John Buscema, Gil Kane, Marie Severin, and finally Herb Trimpe, the Hulk’s popularity continued to soar until taking over the title completely with issue #102 in 1968. Roy Thomas soon took over writing chores for Lee and Herb Trimpe settled in as regular penciler for the next eight years.
Thomas and Trimpe continued as the regular creative team for the title until Thomas accepted the role of Editor-In-Chief in 1972. Top writers of the era such as Gerry Conway, Steve Gerber, Archie Goodwin, Steve Englehart rotated through various stints until Len Wein settled in as regular writer with The Incredible Hulk #179 . Wein’s run is most notable for the introduction of Wolverine in The Incredible Hulk #181 . Artist Herb Trimpe moved on to other assignments in 1975, allowing Sal Buscema to take over for the next decade (starting with issue #194 and ending with #309, taking very few breaks along the way.) Roger Stern took over for Wein, who began to delve into the psychological aspect of the Hulk (most prominent during the Peter David run.) Bill Mantlo took over for Stern and embarked on a six year stint that saw the Hulk and his supporting cast grow and change in numerous ways. In 1982, Mantlo had Bruce Banner take control of the Hulk’s body, gain world-wide acceptance and then descend into mindless madness before handing the book over to John Byrne, who separated Banner and the Hulk and married off Bruce and Betty.
Al Milgrom stepped in briefly after Byrne left, and changed the Hulk back to his original gray-skinned form, paving the way for Peter David to take over in 1987. Paired with such artists as Todd McFarlane and Jeff Purves, David continued chronicling the gray Hulk and later had him adopt the identity of “Joe Fixit”, a Las Vegas leg-breaker. David continued as writer for the next several years, as he paired with Dale Keown and merged the green and gray Hulk personalities with Banner’s, creating a new Hulk incarnation. From there, the character continued to progress, regress and change in various ways until David left the title in 1997. Joe Casey replaced David until the title was relaunched under a new name “Hulk” under writer John Byrne and artist Ron Garney. Byrne soon left and the title returned to its original heading of the “Incredible Hulk” with Paul Jenkins at the helm until Bruce Jones took over in 2002. The next several years saw the Hulk and Banner on the run from a mysterious agency that was later revealed to be led by long-time Hulk nemesis the Leader. Taking over from Jones was writer Greg Pak, who began with the “Planet Hulk” story-line that saw the Hulk banished to another world by other super heroes and returning for revenge in “World War Hulk”. The title was soon cancelled and given to Hercules, rebooted as “Hulk” under writer Jeph Loeb and featured a new story and focused on the mysterious Red Hulk for the next two years. The title was again returned under its original numbering and continued after the mystery of the Red Hulk was revealed and re-named “Incredible Hulks”, featuring all the gamma related characters from the last several years. The title was cancelled as Greg Pak left to other projects and relaunched again as “The Incredible Hulk” with incoming writer Jason Aaron and artist Marc Silvestri.
After absorbing the radiation from a gamma bomb explosion, Bruce Banner became a giant, grey version of the Hulk at night (he would not transform into the subsequently-standard green Hulk until much later). Banner’s first adventure was when he was captured by the Russian villain, The Gargoyle, whom Igor Drenkov/Starsky, a communist spy who was working undercover as a scientist with Bruce Banner, had informed of Banner’s transformation. The Gargoyle wanted to know the secret of the Hulk so he could reverse his own horrible radiation-damaged face. In return for Banner’s help, he released both Banner and Rick Jones, having kidnapped the latter in an effort to force Banner to cooperate. Jones would soon become Bruce’s sidekick, travelling with him and attempting to control the Hulk’s rage. Because of Banner’s lack of control over the Hulk, he was declared a menace by General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross, who mobilized Army personnel under his command to track down the Hulk under orders to capture him — and to destroy him if at all possible. However, Banner would gain some control over the Hulk with radiation treatments and become a founding member of the Avengers. However this would not last long and misunderstandings with team members led to The Hulk leaving The Avengers. Banner regained the ability to conceal his condition for some time, but that would not last and he commenced to wander the country as both Banner and the Hulk.
The Hulk would battle many foes over the years such as The Leader, Abomination, Rhino, Absorbing Man, and The Wendigo. He has even found himself in Communist China battling both The Mandarin and The People’s Liberation Army. During this time the Jade Giant has traveled to outer space a number of times, battling the High Evolutionary’s New Men in Wundagore II (Tales To Astonish #94, August 1997), The Sagittarians and The Galaxy Master (Incredible Hulk #111, January 1969). The Hulk’s adventures would often lead him into conflict with other heroes such as Spider-Man ( Amazing Spider-Man Annual#3, November 1966), The Fantastic Four, The Inhumans ( Incredible Hulk Annual #1, October 1968) and The Silver Surfer (Tales To Astonish #93, July 1967), as well as former team mates The Avengers. In one notable encounter, The Hulk teamed up with fellow anti-hero Namor The Sub-Mariner to battle The Avengers (Avengers #3, January 1964). However Hulk soon lost interest and abandoned the Prince of Atlantis to fight Earth’s Mightiest Heroes on his own. The conclusion of this tale led to The Avengers discovering the frozen WW2 hero Captain America.
During Banner’s wanderings, he paid a visit to his cousin Jennifer Walters, a lawyer in Los Angeles. But in the course of their visit, she was shot by a henchman of the crime boss Nicholas Trask for defending a thug of his, Lou Monkton, whom he was framing for murder. All Banner could do to save his cousin was give her a blood transfusion. Because of this, she was turned into the heroine, the She-Hulk. Soon after, the Hulk was captured by Dr. Leonard Samson ( Doc Samson), and the two discovered that the only way to cure Banner of being the Hulk was that the two would have to separate their bodies. Banner was placed in a ‘nutrient bath’ that separated the cells that were uniquely his from those of the irradiated Hulk. Being separate, they each gained their own body and personalities, but the Hulk becomes an even greater threat without Banner’s mental and moral restraint. Banner would soon create a team called “The Hulk-Busters” to track down and stop the Hulk. Banner soon chose this time to ask Betty Ross to marry him.
During the wedding Banner became sick. It was revealed that Banner and The Hulk needed each other or they would die as they were losing their molecular cohesion. After being weakened by his sickness, the Hulk was captured by the Avengers. Accepting that the only way to stop the Hulk and save her husband, Betty asks the Avengers to spare the Hulk. With some help from “The Vision,” a synthezoid that was one of the Avengers’s greatest enemies, the robot Ultron (created by Henry Pym) from the remains of the original Human Torch, the two were re-joined together. Unfortunately, without The Vision’s presence, the cohesion remained unstable. Banner slipped into a coma and the Hulk was restrained. Dr. Samson decide that the only way to re-combine the two was to place them back into the ‘nutrient bath’ with reversed ionization. As they were preparing for the process, Banner and the Hulk, now restrained in the gamma base, begin transforming back and forth; Hulk to Banner and back again, arguing the whole time over who would control their body. Oddly, Banner began to push out from within the Hulk’s body, asking Samson and the SHIELD agents present to kill him and stop the Hulk permanently. Refusing to harm Banner, the SHIELD agents corralled the Hulk back into the ‘bath’. General Ross escaped his SHIELD escort during that time and attempted to ruin the ‘bath’ in hopes of permanently destroying the Hulk, but he was impeded by Rick Jones, who ended up being pushed into the nutrient bath himself. When the tank eventually ruptured, the Grey Hulk emerged, to the shock of everyone present.
At this time Banner would turn into the Hulk at nightfall and return to human form during the day. As the two traded off, each would try to find a way to destroy the other. For a time, Jones became a Hulk-like creature himself, but he was soon cured by the Leader. However, the process established a mental link between the two. General Ross was killed at this approximate time, but his body was stolen by the Leader, who afterwards kidnapped Betty Ross Banner. Bruce Banner, Jones, and Clay Quartermain set out to try and save her and destroy all of the remaining gamma bombs in the possession of the government and thereby foil the Leader’s plans to steal them. To slow down the Hulk’s search for him, the Leader returned Betty, and she revealed that she was pregnant. The Leader did succeed, in spite of Banner’s, Jones’s, and Quartermain’s efforts, in stealing a gamma bomb, which he detonated in a small Arizona town called Middletown. It seemingly killed the Hulk and created several new gamma irradiated servants for the Leader, whom he nicknamed Rock, Hotshot, Jailbait and Ogress. It seemed that the Leader had also resurrected the Redeemer, who was believed to be dead.
When Thanos the Mad Titan acquired the reality warping and wish fulfilling Infinity Gauntlet, he wished half of all living beings on Earth away. Scrambling to oppose the near omnipotent villain, the Avengers invited Hulk back onto the team to aid them in their attempts to thwart Thanos’ plans. Despite some tension between Hulk and the team, the new more intelligent Hulk managed to accept his place within the team.
The Avengers, and an assortment of other heroes, launched an attack on Thanos which ultimately failed with most of the heroes being defeated, destroyed or wiped off the face of the Earth entirely. The few surviving heroes; Doctor Doom, Drax, Firelord, Hulk and Thor were summoned back into battle by Doctor Strange to aid Adam Warlock in the final battle for the Gauntlet.
Following the resolution of the conflict, Hulk again parted ways with the Avengers, albeit on more amicable terms this time around.
The Hulk was taken into the future by Rick Jones’ granddaughter, Janis to fight his future self, Maestro, who had killed all the heroes and villains on earth and named himself emperor of the post apocalyptic world. Maestro was a tyrant who ruled his people with the fear of death to anyone who stepped out of line. He had the intelligence of Banner and was twice as strong as the Hulk, also possessing the Hulk’s more malevolent side. Merged Hulk went with Janis and met the future Rick, who was stuck in a wheel-chair. Rick had collected the remains of all the deceased heroes while leading the resistance. Hulk fought Maestro, but easily had his neck broken. Maestro then had his servants nurse the Hulk back to health. During their second battle, Maestro used a gun designed by Forge with the specific purpose of killing the Hulk. He didn’t succeed though, and Hulk sent him back in time to ground zero at the moment the gamma bomb that created him went off. After killing Maestro, the Hulk was sent back to the present. When he returned he was haunted by the thought of losing control and becoming Maestro.
Hulk was tricked by Nick Fury and the Illuminati into going into space to shut down a rogue Hydra satellite called Godseye, which turned out to be one of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s own… programmed to set off all nuclear bombs on Earth. Godseye is programmed to adapt, and to match it’s enemies strength. It and Hulk engaged in a prolonged battle in space, but as it tries to match the Hulk’s strength, it exploded.
After finishing the mission, Hulk returned to the main shuttle, ready to return home. A broadcast from the Illuminati appears on the monitor, with the members of the Illuminati telling Hulk of their plans. They send Hulk farther into space in order to land on a lifeless planet in which Hulk could live quietly without harming any other beings. Enraged, Hulk begins to smash the ship, sending it off course. The ship goes through a wormhole, leading Hulk to the planet Sakaar, a harsh war-filled planet. Weakened, the Hulk was captured and enslaved.He was made to fight other slaves like him, in which only few survived, who later became the Warbound. He fought in the arena and bested his enemies with the help of his Warbound. Hulk and the other gladiators later escaped and went against the red king. He was named the Green Scar, Son Of Sakaar, the savior of their planet. Hulk defeated and made an alliance with Spikes, alien race that the red king used to kill his enemies with, along with much of nearby population. Hulk defeated the red king and became the new ruler of Sakaar. After defeating the red king, Hulk was viewed as a leader and a hero, so He and his queen Caiera (the oldstrong) ruled Sakaar and everything in Hulks life was finally Good. However, Hulk happiness came to an end when the ship that brought the Hulk on this planet was emitting warnings that’s it’s power systems were failing. the Ship exploded before the Hulk could get rid of it and so it destroyed all life on Sakaar. Enraged, Hulk blamed the Illuminati for this and set out on a quest for revenge with his Warbound.
The ship that brought Hulk to Sakaar soon explodes killing many of the planet’s inhabitants, including his wife and unborn child. In a rage Hulk leaves the planet for earth. Hulk decides to make the Illuminati members pay for what they had done. Hulk leads a raid against the heroes of earth, and has even attacked Professor X’s institute, though Charles had not voted for Hulks exile, he was meant to be one of the people who had given the chance to play God, But hulk lets him off the hook since he sees that Charles has already been through enough. Despite the heroes best efforts, Hulk still manages to get justice for his suffering, he tells the heroes to remember that his war didn’t kill anyone, and now they will forever know that they are killers and monsters. As Hulk finely finishes his War, Sentry appears and He and Hulk start to fight relentlessly. In the end however, Hulk emerges victorious , and as Banner and Rick are glad that everything is over, MIek savagely stabs Jones so that banner would Hulk out and resume his raid. Hulk brutally pummels Miek with the warbound try to stop him, and it was at this time when Miek reveals that he knew that the space ship was going to blow up, he just didn’t say anything so that the Hulk would do what a monster would always do which was destroy. Hulks anger starts to fluctuate greatly and he starts to produces mass amount of gamma energy. He begs the heroes to put him out before he “breaks the world”, so Iron Man shoots Hulk with a huge anti-gamma beam that finally reverts the Hulk back to Banner.
When the Hulk’s son, Skaar, travels to Earth on a quest of vengeance against his own father, Reed Richards tries to prevent the Hulk from encountering his son. His efforts were unsuccessful, as Skaar manages to tear through the Fantastic Four and the military. Eventually, the Hulk finally does encounter him. They brawled for a moment, ignoring pleas from Hulk’s Warbound. It was then that Skaar discovers that he has been fighting the Green Hulk, not his father, and that this version of the Hulk didn’t remember anything. Banner manages to rise up and proclaim “never again” and instead of releasing the powerful Green Scar Hulk, he goes to save civilians. Skaar proclaims that if he ever wants to fight, he will be out there, and leaps away.