The Incredible Hulk, or mainly just the Hulk, is considered one of Marvel’s most popular and enduring characters-spawning a well-known 70s-80’s TV series, as well as two films and having a major supporting role in Marvel’s cinematic universe Avengers films. Basically, in all his media, he’s a brilliant scientist working with gamma radiation, who gets caught in his experiments and, during times of stress, changes into a large, green brute with super strength.However, he’s generally known mainly for his “savage” incarnation-big, green, with a mop of wild hair, and childlike intellect. Most adaptations have reflected this, although they’ve never been as talkative as the comic counterpart.
However, the Hulk didn’t start out green and dumb, but gradually became that way as his creators-Stan Lee and Jack Kirby-worked on developing the character.
The Hulk however, started out grey in his first issue, and had a generally smaller, more grotesque, almost “Frankenstein” style look to him. He also seemed somewhat intelligent, but with a brutish mean streak. Instead of the transformations being related to stress or anger, they were nocturnal, like a werewolf. Even though starting with issue #2 his color turned green, the basic physical and mental look of this Hulk would last into the mid 60s before transition to the more savage look.
However, this Hulk would be revived in the late 80s, when a series of experiments intended to cure Bruce Banner go awry, reverting him to this initial state. This gray Hulk-after being presumed dead-briefly took a job as a Las Vegas casino bouncer and enforcer, Mr. Fixit (here with one of Wolverine’s semi alter-ego “Patch”) when the Banner persona was briefly supressed. He was also physically weaker than the savage incarnation.
It was later established that this Hulk inhabits a seperate place in Banner’s mind, and at one point, he could transform into both incarnations, which unfortunately led to a battle for dominance.
Eventually, Banner’s psychiatrist was able to merge the three personas into one-The “Merged” Hulk, aka the professor, who possessed the green hue, fighting prowess and strength of the savage hulk, the attitude of the grey hulk, but the general morality and intelligence of Bruce Banner. He largely stayed in this Hulk incarnation most of the time, which definetly saved his clothes from constantly being ripped out of shape…
Although given his heroics, that happened anyway…
This Hulk was the main incarnation for much of the early-to-mid 90s.
The next blog post in this category will explore some of the lesser-known incarnations (although still popular in their own way)-The Green scar, the “Grayvage” Hulk, the mindless Hulk, and the recent “Doc Green”.