THE INCREDIBLE HULK #1, 1962, STAN LEE AND JACK KIRBY
Billed as a “fantasy comic”, the story begins with the origin of the Hulk. Dr. Bruce Banner’s genius created the untested Gamma Bomb for the U.S. military; however, Banner has been delaying the test explosion for weeks because he has been exercising caution, much to the frustration of General Thunderbolt Ross. His daughter, Betty Ross, defends Banner after Thunderbolt expresses his rage. Banner does not get angry.
Igor, a scientist that apparently worked on some parts of the project, demands that Banner reveal all of its secrets, but Banner- still not expressing emotion- flatly states that he doesn’t make mistakes, and that the formula is locked in his room in the base. Banner tells Igor that he detests men that speak with their fists after Igor grabbed him. As Banner is beginning to launch the countdown sequence, a teenager sneaks onto the test site on a bet from his friends. Bruce orders Igor to delay the launch while he personally removes the kid.
Banner pushes the boy, Rick Jones, into a protective trench first. (I wondered why Banner didn’t order the launch sequence to be stopped, instead of delayed.) Banner seems to know it’s going to go off. Before he can make the jump into the trench, the bomb goes off miles away, and Banner’s back gets irradiated with a full dose of gamma radiation, in one of the most famous origin scenes in comic book history. (It should be noted that the TV show and movies don’t follow this origin.)
Banner’s facial expression of shock and horror remains the same even after Rick Jones brings him to a hospital back at the base. Rick is very grateful to Doc. The military is keeping Banner and Jones locked in a room, under observation, although Banner shows depression and hypothesizes that they are waiting for him to die. The full moon can be seen outside the window, and a Geiger counter (a device used to detect radiation) goes off the scale. Banner transforms into a grey monster. His first words: “Get out of my way, insect!” as he knocks Rick Jones down with the back of his hand. The monster knocks the wall down like cardboard, and is hit by an incoming army jeep. The jeep crumbles, but the monster’s shoulder hurts, as he limps away. Rick Jones tries to follow him. Soldiers are now mobilizing to hunt for it. One unnamed soldier describes it as a “hulk”.
The Hulk is moving back to Banner’s cabin by instinct, and he tells himself that he must get the (gamma) formula at “home”. The Hulk knows that it is the third cabin, which clearly shows that he retains some of Banner’s memories. (In fact, one could argue that Banner is exerting control over the Hulk here to go back to his cabin for the gamma formula, after all why would the Hulk care?)
Hulk and Jones stumble upon Igor, who is tearing apart the cabin looking for the gamma formula. Igor shoots the Hulk, but he is bulletproof, destroys the gun, and calls Igor a “puny human”. Hulk tosses Igor around, but Rick Jones begs him not to kill him. Hulk accidentally sees a picture of Banner and says that the face is “weak, soft” and he “hates it”. When Rick tells Hulk that he is Banner, the Hulk says that he remembers that the gamma bomb transformed him into this when darkness fell. A split second later, he tosses Rick, and says he is glad it happened, and says, “I’d rather be me, than that puny weakling in the picture”. He says that he wants to rule the world, and hints that since Rick is the only person to know who he is, that he must die. Thankfully the sun rises, and the Hulk reverts back to Banner, who says he can now think again.
The MP enter the cabin looking for the Hulk and/or Igor, who is a spy. Betty sees Banner, and is happy and concerned. Banner’s clothes are torn, and a MP sees that he has a shoulder wound. An MP takes the gamma formula for safe-keeping. Bruce bids Betty Ross farewell, and Rick Jones sees that they care for each other. Rick is kind of mocking them in his mind. After she leaves, Rick asks Bruce if he enjoyed the thrill of being the Hulk, but Banner is scared, and calls the Hulk a mockery of humanity, who is against reason.
Meanwhile, the imprisoned Igor sends a message through a device in his nail to behind the Iron Curtain, to the Gargoyle, his boss. The message is that the a creature of great power exists at this base. The Gargoyle- who is an ugly short communist with a large head and disfigured teeth- hops on a rocket to America to either kill it or imprison it, to show how powerful he is.
Back at the base, Banner is driving Rick out in the open since nightfall is close. Unfortunately, he transforms again, and the Hulk destroys the jeep, having no memory of the trip. Then he sees Betty’s cabin, and wants to visit it. She sees him, and faints; the Hulk mocks her for being weak. The Gargoyle shoots a mind controlling gun at the Hulk and Jones, and they follow him away. General Ross sees his daughter awaken, and she tells him about the Hulk. Thunderbolt swears eternal revenge against the Hulk for scaring her, although she is sympathetic with him.
The Gargoyle takes Jones and Hulk back on a rocket to the Soviet Union, and on the flight the mind-control wears off…and the sun rises, so the Hulk transformed back to Banner. The Gargoyle recognizes Banner as a world famous scientist, and is shocked he is the Hulk. The Gargoyle begs him to reverse the radiation effects that caused him to be a hideous mutant (the Soviets created the Gargoyle with bomb tests). Banner agrees, although Rick doesn’t want him to help a Red. The Gargoyle reverts back to a man thanks to Banner’s genius, and cursed the Soviet Premier (Khrushchev). The man sends Bruce and Rick back home, and sacrifices himself by blowing up his own base as the Red Army moves in on him.
As the first appearance and origin of the Hulk, this is CANNON. Any other future retelling years later, or TV, cartoon, or movie adaptations use this story for inspiration, but this is the one, true origin of the Hulk. Stan Lee and Jack Kirby made the Hulk the opposite of Bruce Banner, and although the Hulk is clearly inspired by Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Banner is more like a Los Alamos atomic scientist, not a mad scientists experimenting to make himself stronger. Lee and Kirby also used Frankenstein’s monster and the Hebrew’s golem as inspiration. Like Godzilla, the Hulk is a monster caused by an atomic age. He’s no hero in this issue, in fact, he almost killed a few people, including Rick Jones. He is attracted to Betty Ross, similar to King Kong.
It’s not clear how much memory the Hulk and Banner retain of each other’s lives, and how much control is exerted. Nor is it clear if Banner IS the Hulk or not, or a separate being. It seems as if all of Banner’s pent-up rage and anger comes out when he transforms into the Hulk at night. It is interesting that the Hulk hates Banner and much as Banner fears the Hulk.
Although the Hulk’s vocabulary is less than Banner’s, he can still speak, albeit in the 3rd person. In fact, he doesn’t waste words- he speaks simply and with primal passion. By no means is he dumb, just confused.
Regarding his strength levels, the Hulk got hurt by that jeep, and Banner’s shoulder sore. He also didn’t get hurt by Igor’s bullet, but the Gargoyle’s bullet seemed to have pierced his skin. He broke walls, jeeps, and guns.
By Damian Hospital, DailySkew