So Sayeth the Odinson: Great Rivalries in Comics History: Hulk vs. Thing

Greetings from the Odinson,

History is full of epic rivalries – Hector vs. Achilles, Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier, the Dallas Cowboys vs. the Washington Redskins.  All across the board of pop culture there are some of the greatest rivalries – Coke vs. Pepsi, McDonalds vs. Burger King, Star Wars vs. Star Trek.  And comic books have an illustrious history of great rivalries.  Who’s faster – Superman or the Flash?  Who is cooler – Batman or Wolverine?  Who is a better shot – Green Arrow or HawkeyeMarvel vs. DC!

But there is one question that has been debated by fanboys and girls for over fifty years now – Who is stronger – the Green Goliath or Aunt Petunia’s favorite nephew?

Great Rivalries in Comics History: Hulk vs. Thing

Dr. Bruce Banner is one of the most brilliant scientific minds in the world who survived a ground zero detonation of a Gamma bomb.  Now, whenever he becomes angry or in times of great stress this meek, mild-manner man transforms into the monstrous juggernaut known as the Incredible Hulk!  Benjamin J. Grimm was a soldier, a pilot, and an astronaut, but on the fateful day he blasted off into outer space he and his crew were bombarded with mysterious cosmic rays.  Grimm was transformed into the rocky-skinned, man-monster the world has come to know as the Thing!

The Marvel Age of Comics kicked off in November of 1961 with Fantastic Four #1.  A few short months later Incredible Hulk #1 hit the stands and from the very beginning these two mountains of muscle where set on an inevitable collision course.  The seeds were planted in Fantastic Four #5 when the Human Torch makes a teasing comparison between his rocky pal, the Thing, and the Gamma-powered monster known as the Hulk.  Both the Thing and the Hulk’s strength quickly become legendary and it isn’t long before the water cooler debates begin.

And it isn’t long before the House of Ideas obliges.

Fantastic Four #12 (Mar. 1963) – This is the very first time our monstrous rivals cross paths.  When the Hulk is suspected of attacking a military base, Marvel’s First Family is called in to investigate and one of comic books greatest rivalries is born!

Fantastic Four #25 (Apr. 1964) – When the Incredible Hulk comes to New York City in search of his erstwhile sidekick, Rick Jones, he finds the Fantastic Four and the mighty Thing waiting for him.

Incredible Hulk #122 (Dec. 1969) – Bruce Banner returns to New York City in hopes that the brilliant Reed Richards has found a cure for his curse.  But when he transforms into the rampaging Hulk, it falls upon the Thing’s mighty shoulders to keep the Jade Giant busy long enough for Mister Fantastic to devise a way to bring the Hulk down.

Fantastic Four #112 (July 1971)
– Though this is not the first nor the last time our two Mighty Marvel Monsters collide, “Battle of the Behemoths” is most definitely one of the all time classics and a perfect example of why this is a rivalry for the ages.

Marvel Feature #11 (Sep. 1973) – The Thing makes his very first solo starring appearance in a title in grand fashion with a retelling of his origin and an epic throw down with his erstwhile sparring partner – the Incredible Hulk!

Fantastic Four #166-167 (Jan.-Feb. 1976) – Tired of meeting with defeat after defeat, the U.S. Government enlist Marvel’s First Family to come out to the Mid-West and help them once and for all take down the monster known as the Hulk.  A task easier said than done.

Marvel Two-in-One #46 (Dec. 1978) – The Hulk/Thing rivalry goes Hollywood when their battle spills over onto a movie set.

Marvel Two-in-One Annual #5 (1980) – The Hulk and the Thing have to stop beating up on each other when they get caught in the middle of a rivalry between the enigmatic cosmic titan known as the Stranger and Pluto, Lord of the Underworld!

Marvel Fanfare #21 (Jul. 1985) – The Hulk and Thing’s rivalry takes a macabre turn when Doctor Strange the Master of the Mystic Arts whisks them away into a caper wrapped in magic and horror.

Hulk and Thing: the Big Change (1987) – Easily one of the most entertaining installments on this list, Big Change features a Mighty Marvel Team-Up with the two strongest heroes at the House of Ideas and a last-page gag that leaves the reader grinning ear-to-ear.

Fantastic Four #320 (Nov. 1988) and Incredible Hulk #350 (Dec. 1988) – The diabolical Victor Von Doom masterminds a rematch between his two hated enemies in the hopes that they will destroy one another once and for all.  This throw down between these long feuding rivals is different as this time Ben Grimm has recently mutated into a more powerful form (see Fantastic Four #310) and the Hulk has recently devolved back into his original less powerful yet more cunning grey form (see Incredible Hulk #324).  This makes for one of the most unique and entertaining punch outs on this list.

Fantastic Four #374 (Mar. 1993) – Once before, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Ghost Rider, and the Hulk united to save the Fantastic Four.  Now they have reunited to take the FF down.  But the Thing and Hulk’s rivalry takes a back seat when Wolverine attacks and leaves a scar on Grimm and opens up wounds that won’t be resolved until Fantastic Four #395.

Down to Earth (1994) – Easily one of the most humorous installments on this list, this tale features the Sentinel of the Spaceways, the Silver Surfer, returning to Earth to team-up with the Fantastic Four to solve a mystery.  But when they run into Ben Grimm’s erstwhile sparring partner along the way and the Hulk delivers pure gold when he tells the Thing, “Don’t make me beat you up in front of your friends, Grimm.”

Hulk and Thing: Hard Knocks (2004)
– Think you know everything there is to know about the Thing/Hulk rivalry?  Think you have it all figured out?  This is the tale that turns everything you think you know about this classic rivalry on its ear.

Fantastic Four #533 (Jan. 2006) – When Bruce Banner is called to the desert to deal with a Doomsday weapon the inevitable Hulkout occurs and the Human Torch and Thing are called in to deal with the Gamma-fueled situation.

Bonus Round (Interesting Twists on a Classic Rivalry):

Thing #5 (Nov. 1983) – When the Puppet Master enslaves She-Hulk, it falls upon the mighty Thing to show Bruce Banner’s cousin that she’s not quite ready for the Big Leagues.

Fantastic Four #265 (Apr. 1984) – Speaking of the She-Hulk, when Ben Grimm goes on a sojourn (see Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars and Rocky Grimm, Space Ranger), Jennifer Walters takes the Thing’s places as a member of the Fantastic Four.

Fantastic Four #321 (Dec. 1988) – The boys take a break as Bruce Banner’s cousin, the Savage She-Hulk, takes on Ben Grimm’s ex-girlfriend, the Ms. Marvel turned Thing, in a Mighty Marvel display of Girl Power!

Incredible Hulk #365 (Jan. 1990) – When the Hulk seeks the help of Reed Richards with his radiation poisoning, the Grey Behemoth runs into the rocky fists of  the Ms. Marvel turned Thing!

Monsters Unleashed – When the Fantastic Four goes missing and are presumed dead, in a bizarre twist, a team of replacements that includes Spider-Man, Ghost Rider, Wolverine, and the Hulk in Thing’s strongman role assembles and sets out to solve the mystery.

These are the tales that have shaped Hulk vs. Thing into one of the all time greatest comic book rivalries over the years.  Be on the look out for future installments of Greatest Rivalries in Comic History including Hulk vs. Wolverine, Superman vs. the Flash, Hulk vs. Thor, Punisher vs. Daredevil, Superman vs. Captain Marvel, and more!

This is Odinson bidding thee farewell

About Odinson

I am a lifelong comics fan and pop culture enthusiast. Comic books, novels, games, television, movies, I love it all. From fantasy to science fiction, drama to comedy, as long as the writing and execution are interesting, I love it, and I want to talk about it.

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