The Incredible Hulk

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The Incredible Hulk is a fictional character that appears in comic books published by Marvel Comics. The character first appeared in The Incredible Hulk #1 (May 1962), and was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. After physicist Dr. Robert Bruce Banner was caught in the blast of a gamma bomb he created, he was transformed into the Hulk, a giant, raging monster. The character, both as Banner and the Hulk, is frequently pursued by the police or the armed forces, often as a result of the destruction he causes. While the coloration of the character's skin varies during the course of its publication history, the Hulk is most often depicted as green. Hulk is one of Marvel Comics' most recognized characters.

The character has appeared in a television series, with spin-off television movies, starring Bill Bixby as Dr. Banner and Lou Ferrigno as the Hulk; in animated series in 1966, 1982 and 1996; and in two feature films: Hulk (2003), directed by Ang Lee and starring Eric Bana as Banner, and the The Incredible Hulk (2008) directed by Louis Leterrier, starring Edward Norton as Banner.

Publication history

Debut and first series

The Hulk debuted in The Incredible Hulk #1 (May 1962), by writer Stan Lee, penciller and co-plotter Jack Kirby, and inker Paul Reinman. In the first issue, the Hulk was grey. Writer and Marvel editor-in-chief Lee had wanted a color that did not suggest any particular ethnic group.[1] Colorist Stan Goldberg, however, had problems with the grey coloring, resulting in different shades of grey, and even green, in the issue. Stan Lee picked the uncommon color, green. From issue #2 (July 1962) on, Goldberg colored the big brute's skin green.[2] Green was used in retellings of the origin, even to the point of reprints of the original story being re-colored, for the next two decades. The Incredible Hulk vol. 2, #302 (Dec. 1984), reintroduced the grey Hulk in flashbacks set close to the origin story. This was reaffirmed in vol. 2, #318 (April 1986), which showed the Hulk was grey at the time of his creation. Since then, reprints of the first issue have displayed the original grey coloring.

The original series was canceled after six issues, with the finale cover-dated March 1963. Lee had written each story, with Kirby penciling the first five issues and Steve Ditko penciling and inking the sixth. The character immediately guest-starred in Fantastic Four #12 (March 1963), and months later became a founding member of the Avengers appearing in just the first two issues of that superhero team's eponymous series (Sept. & Nov. 1963), and returning as an antagonist in issues #3 and #5 (Jan. & May 1964). He then guest-starred in The Amazing Spider-Man #14 (July 1964).

Around this time, co-creator Jack Kirby received a letter from a college dormitory stating the Hulk had been chosen as its official mascot.[3] Kirby and Lee realized their character had found an audience in college-age readers.

Tales to Astonish

Tales to Astonish #60 (Oct. 1964). Cover art by Jack Kirby and Sol Brodsky.

A year and a half after the series was canceled, the Hulk became the backup feature in Tales to Astonish in issue #60 (Oct. 1964). In the previous issue, he appeared as the antagonist for Giant-Man, star of the book. These new stories were initially scripted by Lee and illustrated by the team of penciller Steve Ditko and inker George Roussos. Other artists later in this run included Jack Kirby from #68-84 (June 1965 - Oct. 1966), doing full pencils or, more often, layouts for other artists; Gil Kane, credited as "Scott Edwards", in #76 (Feb. 1966); Bill Everett (inking Kirby, #78-84 (April-Oct. 1966)); and John Buscema. Marie Severin finished out the Hulk’s run in Tales to Astonish; beginning with issue #102 (Apr. 1968) the book was retitled The Incredible Hulk, and ran until March 1999, when Marvel canceled the series, and then restarted the title with a new issue #1.

This run of stories introduced readers to recurring villains such as the Leader, who would become the Hulk's arch-nemesis,[4] and the Abomination, another gamma-irradiated being, but stronger than the Hulk.[4] In issue #77 (March 1966), the Hulk's identity became publicly known.


The Incredible Hulk was published through the 1970s and also made guest appearances in other titles. In 1977, following the debut of the eponymous television series, Marvel launched a second title, The Rampaging Hulk, a comics magazine targeted to the show's audience.[4] Writers also introduced Banner’s cousin Jennifer Walters, the She-Hulk, who was featured in a title of her own. Banner gave some of his blood to Walters in a transfusion, and the gamma radiation affected her, but she maintained most of her intellect. Banner’s guilt about causing her change became another part of his character.

Writers changed numerous times during the decade. At times, the creative staff included Archie Goodwin, Chris Claremont, and Tony Isabella, Len Wein handled many of the stories through the 1970s, working first with Herb Trimpe, then in 1975, with Sal Buscema, who was the regular artist for 10 years. Harlan Ellison plotted a story, scripted by Roy Thomas, for issue #140 (Jun 1971), "The Brute that Shouted Love at the Heart of the Atom".

1980s and 1990s

Following Roger Stern, Bill Mantlo took over the writing with issue #245 (March 1980). His Crossroads of Eternity stories, which ran from issue #300 (Oct. 1984) to #313 (Nov. 1985), explored the idea that Banner had suffered child abuse. Greg Pak, a later writer on The Incredible Hulk volume 2, called Mantlo's Crossroads stories one of his biggest influences on approaching the character. After five years, Mantlo and artist Mike Mignola left the title for Alpha Flight, and writer John Byrne worked on the series, followed briefly by Al Milgrom, before new regular writer Peter David took over.

David became the writer of the series with issue #331 (May 1987), marking the start of a 12-year tenure. David's run altered Banner's pre-Hulk characterization and the nature of Banner and the Hulk's relationship. David returned to the Stern and Mantlo abuse storylines, expanding the damage caused, and depicting Banner as suffering dissociative identity disorder (DID). David's stories showed that Banner had serious mental problems long before he became the Hulk. David revamped his personality significantly, giving the Grey Hulk the alias 'Joe Fixit', and setting him up as a morally ambiguous Vegas enforcer and tough guy. David worked with numerous artists over his run on the series, including Dale Keown, Gary Frank, Terry Dodson, Mike Deodato, Jr., George Pérez, and Adam Kubert.[4].

In issue #377 (Jan 1991), David revamped the Hulk again, using a storyline involving hypnosis to have the splintered personalities of Banner and Hulk synthesize into a new Hulk who has the vast power of the Savage Hulk, the cunning of the Grey Hulk, and the intelligence of Bruce Banner.

In the 1993 Future Imperfect miniseries, writer David and penciller George Pérez introduced readers to the Hulk of a dystopian future. Calling himself the Maestro, the Hulk rules over a world where most of the heroes have been killed, and only Rick Jones and a small band of rebels fight against The Maestro’s rule. Although The Maestro seemed to be destroyed by the end, he returned in The Incredible Hulk #460 (Jan 1998), also written by David.

In 1998, David followed editor Bobbie Chase's suggestion to kill Betty Ross. In the introduction to the Hulk trade paperback Beauty and the Behemoth, David said that his wife had recently left him, providing inspiration for the storyline. Marvel executives used Ross' death as an opportunity to push the idea of bringing back the Savage Hulk. David disagreed, leading to his parting ways with Marvel. His last issue of Hulk was #467 (Aug 1998), his 137th.

Also in 1998, Marvel relaunched The Rampaging Hulk, this time as a standard comic book rather than as a comics magazine.


Following David's departure, Joe Casey took over as writer though the series' relaunch after issue #474 (March 1999). Hulk vol. 2[5] began immediately the following month, scripted by John Byrne and penciled by Ron Garney. Byrne departed before the first year was over, citing creative differences. Erik Larsen and Jerry Ordway briefly filled scripting duties in his place, and the title returned to The Incredible Hulk vol. 3[6] with the arrival of Paul Jenkins in issue #12 (March 2000).

Jenkins wrote a story arc in which Banner and the three Hulks (Savage Hulk, Grey Hulk, and the Merged Hulk, now considered a separate personality and referred to as the Professor) are able to mentally interact with one another, each personality taking over their shared body. During this, the four personalities (including Banner) confront yet another submerged Hulk, a sadistic Hulk intent on attacking the world for revenge.[7] Jenkins also created John Ryker in issue #14 (May 2000), a ruthless military general in charge of the original gamma bomb test responsible for the Hulk's creation, and who plans to create similar creatures. Ryker's actions briefly result in Banner becoming the sadistic Hulk before the four other personae subdue the beast.

Bruce Jones followed as the series' writer, and his run features Banner using yoga to take control of the Hulk while he is pursued by a secret conspiracy and aided by the mysterious Mr. Blue. Jones appended his 43-issue Incredible Hulk run with the limited series Hulk/Thing: Hard Knocks #1-4 (Nov. 2004 - Feb. 2005) , which Marvel published after putting the ongoing series on hiatus.

Peter David, who had initially signed a contract for the six-issue Tempest Fugit limited series, returned as writer when it was decided to make the story, now only five parts, part of the ongoing series instead. David contracted to complete a year on the title. Tempest Fugit revealed that Nightmare has manipulated the Hulk for years, tormenting him in various ways for "inconveniences" that the Hulk had caused him, including the sadistic Hulk Jenkins had introduced.[8] After a four-part tie-in to the House of M crossover and a one-issue epilogue, David left the series once more, citing the need to do non-Hulk work for his career's sake.

Planet Hulk and World War Hulk

Promotional art for World War Hulk #1 by David Finch.

In the 2006 crossover storyline "Planet Hulk" by writer Greg Pak, a secret group of superhero leaders, the Illuminati, consider the Hulk an unacceptable potential risk to Earth, and rocket him into space to live a peaceful existence on a planet uninhabited by intelligent life. After a trajectory malfunction, the Hulk crashes on the violent planet Sakaar. Weakened by his journey, he is captured and eventually becomes a gladiator who scars the face of Sakaar's tyrannical emperor. The Hulk becomes a rebel leader and later usurps Sakaar's throne through combat with the red king and his armies.

After Hulk's rise to emperor, the vessel used to send Hulk to Sakaar explodes, killing millions in Sakaar's capital, including his pregnant queen, Caiera. The damage to the tectonic plates destroys the planet and kills most of its population.

The Hulk, enraged, returns to Earth with the remnants of Sakaar's citizens, and his allies, the Warbound, seeking retribution against the Illuminati. After laying siege to Manhattan, New York City, the Hulk learns one of his allies was responsible for the explosion. He reverts to his Bruce Banner form and is taken into SHIELD custody.

Retitling and new Hulk series

As of #113 (Feb. 2008), the series was retitled The Incredible Hercules, still written by Greg Pak but starring the mythological demigod Hercules and teenaged genius Amadeus Cho, who wanted to help Hulk's forces in World War Hulk. The series focuses on the aftermath of "World War Hulk" storyline, and Hercules' and Cho's status as fugitives.

Marvel also launched a new volume of Hulk, written by Jeph Loeb and drawn by Ed McGuiness. The series opens with an investigation into the appearance of a new Hulk; a Red Hulk, and reveals that Bruce Banner is no longer comatose, and is imprisoned by the US military until he escapes and confronts the Red Hulk.


  • 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, continued numbering from Tales to Astonish)
  • The Incredible Hulk Special #1–4 (Marvel Comics, 1968–1972)
  • The Incredible Hulk Annual #5–20 (Marvel Comics, 1975–1994, continued numbering from The Incredible Hulk Special)
  • Hulk #10–27 (Marvel Comics, August 1978–June 1984, continued numbering from Rampaging Hulk)
  • The Incredible Hulk #-1 (Marvel Comics, July 1997, ISSN 0274-5275)
  • The Incredible Hulk '97 (Marvel Comics, 1997)
  • The Incredible Hulk/Sub-Mariner '98 (Marvel Comics, August 1998)
  • Hulk vol 2, #1–11 (Marvel Comics, April 1999–February 2000)
  • Hulk 1999 (Marvel Comics, 1999)
  • The Incredible Hulk Vol. 2 #12–76, #77–#112 (Marvel Comics, March 2000–September 2004, January 2005–January 2008, continued numbering from Hulk vol. 2)
  • The Incredible Hulk 2000 (Marvel Comics, 2000)
  • The Incredible Hulk 2001 ([[[wikipedia:Marvel Comics|Marvel Comics]], 2001)
  • Hulk Vol. 3 #1–present (Marvel Comics, March 2008-present)
  • Hulk Weekly #1–69, Marvel UK title published between 1979–1981. Features original material produced by the likes of Paul Neary and Steve Dillon.




  1. Comics Buyer's Guide #1617 (June 2006)
  2. Starlog #213 (July 2003)
  3. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named OyVey
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named HulkTIG
  5. The Unofficial Handbook of Marvel Comics Creators: Hulk (II) (1999-2000)
  6. The Unofficial Handbook of Marvel Comics Creators: Incredible Hulk (III) (2000-2008)
  7. The Incredible Hulk vol. 3, #13 (April 2000)
  8. The Incredible Hulk vol. 3, #81 (July 2005)


External links