"And there came a day, a day unlike any other, when Earth's mightiest heroes and heroines found themselves united against a common threat. On that day, the Avengers were born-to fight the foes no single super hero could withstand!"
As the Heroic Age dawns on the Marvel Universe and we prepare for a new chapter in the ongoing saga of Earth's Mightiest Heroes, each Friday Marvel.com will present a different column focusing on the one and only Avengers. From line-ups to costumes to villains to classic stories and beyond, we've got you covered on the history of Marvel's most prolific team of heroes!
So let the call go out: Avengers Assemble!
By TJ Dietsch
The Hulk’s not just a man or a monster—he's a state of mind.
Whether it’s Bruce Banner or somebody else sharing mental real estate with The Hulk, the general look has usually been the same, but the details differ. We like our Hulks big, strong and generally peeved off at the world while sporting anything from tattered purple rags to three piece suits. Never the most fashionable member of the Avengers, Hulk still has had his fair share of unique looks over the years, many of which you can see in this stroll down the Green/Grey/Red Goliath’s memory runway.
Skinny scientist Bruce Banner has always had more pressing matters at hand than fashion, which explains his never-ending supply of purple pants. More concerned with the next scientific discovery or controlling his murderous rage, Banner's wardrobe generally consists of a lab coat, shirt and those famous trousers that never seem to completely tear when he changes into his alter ego.
The very first appearance of Hulk in 1962's INCREDIBLE HULK #1 featured a gray version of the character, fitting co-creator Stan Lee's original vision. Gray proved a difficult color to make look right back in the early 60’s, so they switched him to the now famous green. Artist Jack Kirby set the foundation for the character: a monster in tattered rags full of rage who just wants to be left alone.
|Savage Green Hulk|
One month after debuting, Hulk got his iconic look: green with purple pants. The misunderstood hero has looked like this for most of his career with some significant diversions. He wore these duds—or lack thereof—when he became a founding member of the Avengers back in the team's 1963 debut. Though his membership only lasted one issue before he quit, Hulk's path has crossed over with Earth’s Mightiest Heroes several times since then. No matter the situation, Hulk tends to revert back to the semi-original look.
|Rick Jones as The Hulk|
One might think the ol' “just wearing tattered pants” look couldn't get more hillbilly, but then former Hulk sidekick—and the reason Banner got turned into a monster in the first place—Rick Jones came along. Jones helped merge the then-split entities of Hulk and Banner in 1987's INCREDIBLE HULK #324, but became a mulleted version of the gamma irradiated beast himself. The change didn't last very long and soon enough Jones returned to normal palling around with various super heroes before recently becoming A-Bomb.
In the same issue that changed Rick Jones into a green Hulk, Bruce Banner reverted back to the original grey incarnation, a version of the character not as powerful, but smarter than his jade counterpart. After rocking the tattered rags for a bit, Hulk took on the persona of Mr. Fixit, a Vegas mob enforcer, and finally got some style in his life, sporting suits and ties that inevitably turned to scraps when push came to smash.
Of course, it couldn't last. Soon enough—1991's INCREDIBLE HULK #377 to be exact—Banner's varying personality and super hero traits got thrown into a shaker and out poured a Hulk with Banner's intelligence, Fixit's guile and the green's brute strength as well as hue. Relishing his new body, Banner tended to show it off wearing a tiny black tank top and pants that actually fit. Hulk also joined a group of heroes called the Pantheon and occasionally donned full-on spandex and space suits depending on the mission.
|Hulk as War|
Apocalypse's Horseman War
Things went downhill for Hulk after that. His wife Betty died as did many of his friends and even an aspect of himself in the battle with Onslaught. But that wasn't all—in INCREDIBL HULK #456 in 1997, Hulk became Apocalypse's Horseman of War in a deal to save his life. Decked out in all kinds of armor, seemingly taking a page from the Death's Head fashion guide, Hulk didn't last too long in this look, soon overcoming Apocalypse's control.
|Green Scar Hulk|
Hulk got another fashion injection when the Illuminati sent him rocketing through space to a planet filled with monsters and Roman style gladiatorial combat. To be fair, the supposed heroes intended to send him to an uninhabited planet, but the ship got knocked off course. Anyway, Hulk became a pretty big deal on Sakaar going from lowly gladiator to king and upgrading his garb as he went along. Sure, it's retro, but who else can pull off that skin-and-metal look like Hulk?
Once again, things didn't go so well for Hulk as the ship that brought him to Sakaar blew up, taking a chunk of the planet, and Hulk's wife, with it. He came back to Earth with some of his compatriots and warred against the Illuminati. At the end, Banner lost, but soon enough we saw a mysterious new Hulk, this one colored red and intent on killing villains like Abomination. Red Hulk's identity remained a secret for a while, but we eventually learned that General Thunderbolt Ross resided underneath, with all of his own smarts and cunning in a massively powerful body. While still sporting the essential look of the classic Hulk, the red coloring really popped. Recently Banner pulled some strings and got Ross placed on the Avengers, but we'll see if he follows in his predecessor's footsteps and finds that he doesn't play well with others.
MaestroDebuting in HULK: FUTURE IMPERFECT, Maestro turned out to be a future version of Hulk gone insane after a nuclear war killed most of the world including the super heroes. All that extra radiation made him even stronger—truly the strongest one there is—but also drove him nuts. Sporting some textbook crazy old man gear, Maestro's got everything from the thick gold chain to the out of control gray beard.