The above image is from an article entitled The Many Colors of Hulkdom which you can read here.
As a kid, I sat down faithfully week to week with my family to tune in to the adventures of Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno as David Bruce Banner and the Incredible Hulk. I was hooked on the story of a man plagued by a metamorphisis that would take over whenever he became angry or outraged. Unlike some friends of mine, I was never scared of the big green guy. I never saw him as mean or unfriendly…unless it was to those who were mean and unfriendly. In fact, The Incredible Hulk was my hero. He was the savior of anyone who had been picked on, bullied, or backed into a corner and had no escape.
A lof of people have a hard time wrapping their head around the Hulk. In fact, most people prefer the Hulk in his gray, smart, “darker” incarnation. Not me. My Hulk is the big green, super-strong, albeit unintelligent Hulk. That is not to say that I don’t like the Hulk in any incarnation. I think all forms of The Incredible Hulk have their merit. Big, green, and dumb is my favorite though. Why? Because I believe that the green Hulk represents the core of who the character is supposed to be. The Hulk is the personified rage and passion of Robert Bruce Banner. The Hulk is that which Banner would never openly allow himself to be. In fact, I remember an issue of The Incredible Hulk where Banner found himself inside of his own psyche unable to think or speak coherently. The Hulk, however, was speaking intelligently and coherently. The reason for this was the two were in the emotional center of Banner’s brain, and when it comes to emotions, Banner is incapable of expressing himself. Erego, the gamma radiation that Banner was blasted with manifesting itself as Banner metamorphosing into a creature fueled by sheer emotion.
I’ve said before that I really enjoy the superheroes who have strength based super powers. Well, just ask him and the Hulk will tell you, “Hulk is the Strongest one there is!” And strong he is friends. In fact, shown to the left is one of my favorite covers of all time. It’s my favorite not because it’s full of color or has an incredibly epic splash of hundreds of heroes done up Georg Perez style. It’s my one of my favorite’s not because it shows an iconic/epic battle that the reader will get to sit in on in the pages to follow. Its my favorite because it is the Hulk…standing strong…UNDER A MOUNTAIN! I remember reading Secret Wars #4 for the first time and being so stressed. During the Secret Wars, Bruce Banner had control of the Hulk, so as he stood holding up the mountain, he was losing strength because he was so rational about the situation. Reed Richards stepped in and started insulting the Hulk making him angrier and angrier…why? To make him stronger. For we all know that “The madder Hulk gets, the stronger Hulk gets.” Another thing I love about this cover is the fact that the only one standing in that picture is The Hulk, and not only is he standing, he’s holding UP THE FREAKING MOUNTAIN! That’s strength. And, as I’ve said repeatedly I enjoy the super power of super strength for some reason.
I also relate to the Hulk in that he has always been misunderstood. Throughout the history of the Hulk, he has sought to be left alone while at the same time accepting friendship wherever and from whomever he can find it. It seems a paradox that his mantra would be “Hulk wants to be left alone” while he ferociously clings to the friends he has made in his journey. I guess to explain my connection to this aspect of the Hulk, I have to get somewhat personal. I think everyone knows what it’s like to be picked on, or to feel like no one understands you. Some people experience those feelings and move on. Others, however, allow their lives to be shaped by feeling like an outsider or like they have no friends. I’m not talking about being emo and lame. Rather, the people who have had to deal with real wounds left by uncaring words tossed in their direction. People who are genuinely nice and good, but just don’t fit the mold that other’s think they should fit into. Again, I’m not talking about whiny kids who choose to be different, I’m talking about the chunky kids, the kids who didn’t grow fast enough, or grew too fast, the girls who blossomed too early or too late, the clumsy kids, the kids who had enough different about them from everyone else, that they were an easy target to get picked on. We have that feeling of wanting to run away from everything, but at the same time we wish for just one good friend who will look past what makes us different and just hang out with us. Being from that group of kids, I always understood the Hulk’s frustration with the army and those who hunted him down, and I understood his joy at finding a friend who liked him for who he was and tried to understand him.
I guess the main reason I appreciate the Hulk though (the green, dumb Hulk) is that he is a good guy. He looks out for the weak. The smashing he does is always in retaliation to someone attacking him. He doesn’t lash out for no reason. Is there collateral damage from the battles the Hulk goes through? Yes. Why are people always quick to point that out though and slow to mention how many people SHOULD have been hurt in an Avenger’s battle with Kang or the FF’s latest battle with Doctor Doom? I guess the point I come to is that The Hulk would never intentionally hurt someone who doesn’t first try to hurt him. In fact, given the choice, the Hulk will protect those who are in harm’s way when they are unable to protect themselves. That’s a hero. Plain and simple.
I’ve talked mostly about the green, dumb version of the Hulk that most people seem to dislike more than the other incarnations. It needs to be said that I enjoy the Hulk in any form. I like the gray Hulk, I like the big green smart (Professor) version of the Hulk that Peter David created. I enjoyed the Hulk of Planet Hulk and World War Hulk. However, I feel all of those incarnations lacked the innocence of the Jade Giant. None of them lacked his heroism, though. I think World War Hulk was a morality tale of sorts that showed what happened when one’s rage goes unchecked. The Hulk allowed himself to be manipulated into going on the attack against those who sent him off planet in the first place. In the end, it was one of those he had chosen to trust who was responsible for the death of his wife and millions of others on Planet Hulk. (I know the planet’s name wasn’t Planet Hulk…I just like calling it that. It was Sakaar.) In the end of World War Hulk, though, the Hulk nearly sacrificed himself to save New York. The gray version of the Hulk would never admit it, but he always winds up doing the right thing. The “Professor” version of the Hulk, while still hunted and misunderstood, was the most blatantly heroic of the Hulk incarnations.
The Hulk is an interesting look into the rawest most extreme parts of the human psyche. He is also a reminder to try to look for the good in even the most different of people around us. He is a warning to never let anger and rage go unchecked. He is a good hearted soul who is driven by such raw emotion that he can be a most viscious foe or the fiercest friend a person has ever known.
I know for most the Hulk would never be considered in the top 2 of their favorite Super Heroes. For me, that’s just another reason that he’s there. I feel like I “get” the big guy…in any incarnation…except this red guy….who is that fella? To read more about the Hulk, pick up some of the items below and help out the site.