Superhero Secrets: The Incredible Hulk

Hulk Smash Puny Secrets!

Narrator: “The Creature is wanted for a murder he didn’t commit. David Banner is believed to be dead and he must let the world think that he is dead, until he can find a way to control the raging spirit that dwells within him….”

The Incredible Hulk

How many secrets can the Hulk have? He’s a big, green, rage monster who wants to smash whatever is pissing him off. When he’s calm, Dr. Bruce Banner wanders the world searching for a cure. Rinse and repeat, right? Yeah, no.

The Hulk is hiding a lot behind his enormous emerald frame. So what are The Hulk’s secrets? Let’s find out. 

#5 Xemnu: the Original Hulk

Joe:You can destroy me, but I’ll never help you! I’ll never betray my race! Never!” 
Xemnu:Fool, you have no choice! You must obey me. No living thing can defy The Living Hulk!

Journey Into Mystery #62

Bruce Banner is the most famous Hulk, but he wasn’t the first. Marvel used to try out concepts and characters by putting them into their sci-fi books. Our first Hulk Secret is his predecessor, Xemnu: the Living Hulk.

An electrician named Joe Harper discovered a crashed spaceship and a shaggy alien cyborg. Thinking it might still be alive, he brought the creature to his garage and charged it with electricity until it revived. The alien introduced himself as Xemnu, a criminal who crash landed on Earth after escaping a prison world.

Xemnu used hypnosis on humanity to make them construct a spaceship. He planned to return home even though the take-off would destroy Earth. Joe broke out of the hypnosis and sabotaged the rocket, weakening it, and leaving Xemnu trapped in space.

The alien criminal returned to Earth and began gathering power so he could hypnotize everyone again. Joe tracked him down and seemingly destroyed Xemnu by reflecting a psionic blast with a mirror.

Xemnu has fought the Hulk several times. He recently took the title of Hulk back after brainwashing the world into thinking that he was a hero and Bruce was a monster. Luckily, Hulk was able to remember the truth and defeat Xemnu.

#4 Were-Hulk

Hulk:The gamma rays… they changed me into this when darkness fell.
Rick Jones:It would have happened to me if you hadn’t saved me. That’s why I’m gonna stay with you.
Hulk: [attacks him] “Fool! I am glad it happened! I would rather be me than that puny weakling in the picture! I don’t need you! I don’t need anybody! With my strength, my power, the world is mine!

The Incredible Hulk #1

Anger and fear trigger Hulk’s transformations, but that wasn’t always the case. He’s a modern day Jekyll and Hyde, but he once bore similarities to werewolves.

Bruce Banner was mutated by gamma rays while trying to save a trespassing teenager. That night he transformed into a super-strong, gray-skinned monster called The Hulk. The creature planned to conquer the world, but reverted to Banner when the sun rose.

Banner realized that he would transform every night and began searching for a cure. He created a machine that allowed him to transform into The Hulk during the day, but the monster retained his tyrannical personality.

Banner’s use of the machine and Hulk’s radiation damage warped the transformation, eventually overloading the machine and destroying it. The new transformation was triggered by rage and changed Hulk’s color from gray to green. And the rest is history.

#3 Multiple Hulk Syndrome

Immortal Hulk: [rising out of the ground in Bruce’s mind] “I’ve been buried before, and it got me mad, but only so mad. But then… then you hurt [Savage Hulk]. And you hurt Banner. You hurt Banner, Sterns. And when you hurt Banner…
Devil Hulk:I take that real personal.

Immortal Hulk #38

The Hulk didn’t spontaneously come into existence. It took time, pressure, and pain to create him. And he is not alone. Our third Hulk Secret is the number of alter egos trapped in Banner’s head.

Bruce’s father, Brian, was a psychopath and domestic abuser who believed that Bruce was a monster. His abuse caused Bruce to develop Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) and create alter egos as a defense mechanism. The Hulk transformation gave them an outlet into the real world.

The most famous alter is the Savage Hulk, Bruce’s inner child lashing out at threats. The gray form named himself Joe Fix-It and acts like a gangster to represent Banner without inhibitions. The Professor has Banner’s intellect and a lesser amount of Hulk’s strength because they are working in sync. This is Hulk’s current form in the MCU.

The Green Scar is a vengeful, reserved warrior created by Banner to give Hulk control. The Devil Hulk/Immortal Hulk was the first alter created. He is a protective father figure who will slaughter anyone who hurts Bruce, the other alters, or innocents. The newest alter is Titan, who has described himself as Hulk’s Hulk. Not much is known about him at this time.

Of course, these aren’t all of Banner’s alters. There are dozens more. But if you ever see the Hulk, it’s safe to assume you’re dealing with one of the ones listed above.

#2 Hulk Smashed

Skaar:You want to kill me? Send out your king. Send out The Hulk. Send out my father!

Planet Skaar: Prologue

The Hulk has met many people while on the run. It was only a matter of time before he found a woman he liked and had a few kids. Our penultimate Hulk Secret is his children, Skaar and Lyra.

While Hulk was trapped on a planet called Sakarr, he married a warrior named Caiera. Shortly after becoming pregnant, Caiera was killed when their spaceship exploding. Hulk believed several heroes had sabotaged the ship and left to avenge his family, unaware that Caiera had used her lava powers to save their unborn son. He soon rose from the magma and became Sakarr’s greatest warrior: Skaar.

Skaar made his way to Earth and fought his father for abandoning him. He eventually mellowed out and became an anti-hero, similar to Conan the Barbarian as a Hulk. Skaar is not as strong as his father, but is an expert fighter and can manipulate lava like his mother.

Lyra comes from Earth-8009, a post-apocalyptic world where men and women are at war. She is the daughter of Hulk and a villain called Thundra. She was sent to the main universe to find replacement parts for the female army’s artificial insemination machines. Lyra accomplished her mission, but chose to stay and find her own path.

Lyra grows weaker when she gets angry and has learned to enter a trance to maintain total peace while fighting. She struggles with sexist views against men and has few qualms about killing foes. Lyra eventually met her aunt, She-Hulk, who has helped acclimate Lyra to her new home and become a mentor.

#1 Heaven and Hell

One Above All:Would you build, or break? You are my creation. I made you the counterweight. To ask of you. Are you Geburah or Golachab? And what of chesed? What of mercy? What will you become? For the left hand is strength. But the right hand is mercy.

Immortal Hulk #50

The gamma bomb gave Hulk his power, but what gave the bomb its power? Gamma radiation is strange enough in our world, but flat-out otherworldly in Marvel. The final Hulk Secret is the true source of his powers.

The Hulk had changed. Devil Hulk was in control of their body and the only way to transform was for Bruce Banner to die and resurrect as the Hulk. He was plagued by visions of a Green Door whenever he came back. Hulk’s investigations revealed that gamma radiation comes from Hell. Even worse, they and the Green Door were controlled by a malevolent being called The One Below All.

The One Below All is an all-powerful monster who hates everything that exists. It cannot interact with the physical universe, so it created Green Doors to spread its power into hosts. This manifests as gamma radiation. The One Below All created the Hulks and other gamma monsters to find a host that can kill everything. If a potential host dies, they can pass through the Green Door and resurrect.

The Hulk struggled to resist the One Below All and succeeded by strengthening his bonds with his alters. The One Below All then became the One Above All, Marvel’s version of God. He explained that Hulk’s true purpose was to be his opposite. A destroyer who leaves room for new growth and a savior who can resist the One Below All, his own Hulk form. Banner then left Hell, finally content with who he and his alters are.

Didya Get All That?

Even The Hulk can’t smash these secrets

Image: Mark Ruffalo as Smart Hulk / Bruce Banner in Marvel Studios’ She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, exclusively on Disney+. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. ©Marvel Studios 2022. All Rights Reserved.

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