Greetings from the Odinson,
The Odinson continues his countdown to Halloween 2020 with a look at a Marvel Monster that may destroy everything he touches.
Countdown to Halloween 2020: Part 3 of 5 – A Gamma-Powered Force of Nature
From the kaiju and alien invaders of the Atlas Era to the ever-lovin’, blue-eyed idol of millions of the Marvel Age, there has been a grand tradition of fantastic Marvel Monsters. They come in all sizes and shapes: Titans like the arrogant Fin Fang Foom and the leviathan Jormungandr; Gargantuan like the prehistoric Devil Dinosaur and the shaggy Yetrigar; and Universal like the sinister Dracula and the savage Werewolf by Night. Morbius is a living vampire, the Lizard is an example of good intentions going bad, and all who know fear burn at the touch of the macabre Man-Thing. But, one Marvel Monster rises above them all to stand alone atop the heap – The Incredible Hulk.
Caught in the blast radius of a Gamma Bomb, brilliant scientist Bruce Banner was bombarded with radiation which had a profound effect on his physiology. In the aftermath, and his miraculous survival, Banner found that when the sun goes down, he transforms into a hulking grey-skinned monster with the power to crush anything in his path. Quickly his mutation evolved and his transformations began to become triggered whenever he became agitated, injured, or angry.
For years Banner and his hulking alter ego have been hunted relentlessly by the army and authorities. The government perceives this beast as a menace and destructive force. The Hulk has often been depicted as a sympathetic character. He is constantly hounded and being met with unprovoked attacks from all sides at every turn when all he ever wants is a reprieve. He says it himself over and over again. “I want to be left alone!”
But, is that true? Does the Hulk truly just want to be left alone? Let’s come back to that in a minute. Let’s first address the other question: Is the Hulk a destructive force? Does the Hulk destroy everything he touches? Let’s have a look.
In the beginning, Betty Ross is the young woman that falls in love with Bruce Banner. What kind of havoc does the dilemma of the Hulk introduce to her life? Well, it destroyed her relationship with her father, General Thunderbolt Ross, as he became obsessed with the monster. Her first husband, Glen Talbot, was killed in action trying to destroy the monster. After her marriage to Bruce Banner is ruined when the scientist once again becomes merged with the Hulk, she is driven into the arms of an abusive man and pursued by her husband’s foes. She eventually confronts the one responsible for her grief, the Hulk himself. But, her woes do not end there.
She is used by the Hulk’s enemy, the Leader, in a scheme against the behemoth. It is not long after reuniting with Bruce that Betty becomes pregnant, but has a miscarriage. From years of close proximity to the monster, Betty gets radiation poisoning, cancer, and eventually dies. Through the years Betty was transformed into the savage Harpy, the Red -She-Hulk, and ultimately the Immortal Monster she is today.
It seems a life with the Hulk in it has been especially cruel to Betty Ross.
Over the course of all these years, from day one, there has been one person that has unwaveringly stood by the Hulk’s side, and that’s Rick Jones. And what has that gotten him? A life time of guilt and pain.
Though to be fair, it could be said that Rick Jones is ultimately responsible for all the hardship in the life of Bruce Banner and the destruction caused by the Hulk seeing as how the scientist was exposed to the Gamma Bomb when he rushed out onto the blast site in order to save the reckless teenager’s life. Rick Jones is also responsible for exposing the truth that Bruce Banner is the Hulk.
Because of his association with the Hulk, Jones has been swept up into the world of superheroes like the Avengers, Captain America, Captain Marvel, and ROM and all the danger and drama that comes with that. He was transformed into a Hulk himself. His wife Marlo, who had a previous “romantic” encounter with Joe Fixit (the Hulk’s grey persona), is murdered then brought back to life by the Leader, the Hulk’s arch enemy. Rick Jones is severely injured and crippled when he is struck by a Bannerless Hulk. He is stabbed in the chest by the Hulk’s warbound companion Miek. He is transformed into another hulk creature known as A-Bomb, only to have that power taken away by the Doc Green Hulk. Currently, Rick Jones is Subject B, an immortal monstrosity under the control of the Leader. Finally, many decades into the future, when Rick Jones is a broken down old man, he is murdered by the Maestro, an evil persona of the Hulk that tells a dying Rick Jones the Hulk never liked him.
It does not pay to be the Hulk’s friend.
General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross was once a respected military man whose life was turned upside down as he became obsessed with destroying the Hulk. This obsession ruined his relationship with his daughter, Betty, destroyed his career, left him suicidal, and ultimately turned him into the very thing he spent years trying to destroy, a Hulk.
Colonel Glen Talbot, General Ross’ right hand man, got swept up in all the Hulk drama as his marriage to Betty Ross turned into a sham and he eventually met his end on the battlefield trying to destroy the monster responsible for so much strife.
The Hulkbusters were a team of six experts in various fields of study, including Bruce Banner, that were gathered together to destroy the Hulk. Their attempts to bring down the beast left one member dead and two crippled, both physically and mentally. Those two, their lives destroyed, were eventually snagged up by the Leader and transformed into cybernetic monsters themselves called Rock and Redeemer.
Setting aside all the beat downs Hulk has dished out over the years, the Superhero Community had been affected by the Hulk’s existence in some profound ways. Bruce Banner’s cousin, Jennifer Walters, had her life forever changed the day he gave her a blood transfusion that turned her into the She-Hulk. Doctor Strange was once forced to exile the Hulk, his former friend and ally in the Defenders, to the mystical realm of the Crossroads when the Hulk regressed into an out-of-control savage state. During the Onslaught Campaign, the heroes discover what the Hulk truly thinks about them as they learn he is willing to sacrifice their lives in a vision before the main battle. Again, years later, the Illuminati made the decision to exile the Hulk, this time to deep space, leading to the events of Planet Hulk and ultimately the devastation of New York City in World War Hulk. And, Bruce Banner’s apparent murder at the hands of Hawkeye was a catalyst which led to the second superhero Civil War.
Even the Hulk’s Foes tend to get swept up in and tossed out of his wake worse for wear. We’ve already seen the sad fates of two the Hulk’s most tenacious antagonists – General Ross and Colonel Talbot. The Leader, bent on world domination, cannot even put his super intellect to proper use because of his unhealthy obsession with the green brute that has always gotten it over on him no matter the scenario. Emil Blonksy was once a spy, but he has been transformed into the monstrous Abomination. In his time as the Hulk’s #2 sparring partner (first place forever going to the Ben Grimm), Blonksy, even though he owns a clean win over the Hulk, has suffered a nervous breakdown, been horrifically scarred by toxic waste, beaten near to death, and, worst of all, turned into a jobber for the rest of the Marvel U.
Finally, what about the World around Him? How is the world affected by the Hulk’s existence? During a battel with the Avengers half of New Mexico was laid to waste. In the aftermath of his battle with the Sentry at the climax of World War Hulk, the Hulk nearly shattered the eastern seaboard, threatening to collapse it into the Atlantic. Even at the very end of all things, the cosmos trembles before the awe-inspiring might and destructive power that is the Hulk. They don’t call him the Worldbreaker for nothing.
So, is the Hulk a destructive force of nature? Is he a menace and danger to those around him? Given the evidence presented, the Odinson would have to answer with a resounding yes. What if the Hulk was simply left alone? That is all he ever claims to want.
What happens when there is no one left to smash, nothing else to destroy?
In Peter David and Dale Keown’s classic tale Hulk: The End, which is set many, many decades into the future, the Hulk gets his wish. In a world devastated by nuclear holocaust, Banner is the sole remaining survivor of the human race and he wanders a post-Apocalyptic landscape with only a curious robotic observer and the cockroaches as company (giant, flesh-eating cock roaches). In The End, after all civilization is destroyed and society is long gone, the Hulk finally learns what it is like to be truly alone.
Be careful what you wish for.
Next week, the Odinson continues his countdown to Halloween 2020 with a look at the peculiar predicament of the Evil Twin.
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell
NOTE: Be sure to check out my book – Autumn Dawn: A Glen Haven Tale. Available in Paperback, on Kindle, and Audiobook.