The Many Faces Of The Hulk

By: Henry Hanks, Contributor     @hankstv /

With the release of "Thor: Ragnarok," fan favorite "The Hulk" returns to the big screen for the fifth time (and the third with Bruce Banner portrayed by Mark Ruffalo).

The "Thor: Ragnarok" plot for the big green giant borrows heavily from a popular storyline, but more on that later. 

The Incredible Hulk has gone through many changes since his introduction 55 years ago, and remains one of the most popular Marvel superheroes, in many ways because he's unlike any other hero. There is the obvious literary comparison to Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, or to a lesser degree you could compare aspects of the Hulk to Billy Batson / Shazam (Captain Marvel), but the Hulk had and has a unique flare that we all love. 

The 1962 debut of "The Incredible Hulk" showed us how Dr. Banner's exposure to gamma rays changed him into a big grey - that's right, grey - hulk. The color was quickly changed to green by Stan Lee, which worked out better for the colorist.

Just like in the movies, Hulk spent a good portion of the 1960s as a supporting character, as his original title only lasted six issues. However, amalgam title "Tales to Astonish" which Hulk initially shared with "Giant-Man" before co-starring with "Sub-Mariner" was changed to "The Incredible Hulk" with issue # 102 in 1968, and he has had his own book pretty consistently ever since.

The Hulk was also an original member of the Defenders in the 1970s. Yes, the original Defenders weren't quite as "local" as Netflix portrays them, but we'll hash that out some other time. 

Many of comics' best writers such as Len Wein and Bill Mantlo worked on the character through the '70s and early '80s as the Hulk gained mainstream fame with a live action TV series on CBS starring Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno. Like Spider-Man, the Hulk was a household name.

We'd also be doing the big green guy a disservice not to mention Herb Trimpe, who shepherded the art on hulk for almost a decade. Originally from issue # 106-142 and after a short hiatus, again from issue # 145-193. Among other characters, this run introduced a relatively minor character to the Marvel U.... Wolverine..... Speaking of Wolverine, with this week's rumblings of a Marvel 21st Century Fox takeover, maybe we could actually see a Wolverine Vs. Hulk movie come to fruition. Wouldn't that be something!

Peter David spent 12 years writing "The Incredible Hulk," in the late 1980s and 1990s, bringing a more serious tone to the series, dealing with child abuse and dissociative identity disorder.

The grey Hulk, a being driven by greed instead of anger, was introduced at this time, and suddenly multiple hulks were possible.

This was expanded upon in 2008 with the introduction of the red Hulk (aka Hulk's longtime enemy, General Thunderbolt Ross).

Writer Greg Pak also gave us the popular storylines "Planet Hulk" (which is loosely adapted in "Thor: Ragnarok") and "World War Hulk."

Marvel introduced a new Hulk, Amadeus Cho (aka the "Totally Awesome Hulk") in 2015, while the events of "Civil War II" led to Hawkeye killing Bruce Banner, who requested that he be killed before he transformed into the Hulk again.

So with Banner still alive and well in the movies (next up: "Avengers: Infinity War"), it remains to be seen if he will be brought back in the comics... but this being the world of Marvel, I wouldn't bet on him being gone for too long.