Hulk Month

Take 10: Hulk's Sparring Partners

The 10 opponents who bring out the best and worst of the Green Goliath



By Ben Morse Every week, a secret cabal of Marvel staffers gathers to discuss the best of the best when it comes to the House of Ideas. When you look at the greatest battles in the history of the Marvel Universe, you'll find the Hulk involved with a fair majority of them. But ol' Greenjeans can't do it alone, and luckily for him, he's had plenty of folks willing—or dumb enough—to spar with him over the years. To help kick off Hulk Month here on, the Secret Cabal has selected the top 10 bruisers who have given Bruce Banner's monstrous alter ego his most memorable matchups. For each candidate, you also get a special spotlight comic courtesy of Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited. As always, these picks reflect the personal choices of the Secret Cabal, not the official opinion of Marvel or, and can be considered subjective at best. Enjoy!

10. THE SENTRY First Battle: SENTRY/HULK #1 (2001) Why He Makes The List: Two physically unassuming men who find themselves to one degree or another trapped by the godlike beings they can become, the Sentry and the Hulk share an unsurprising friendship that can explode into an intense brawl at any minute. Also: they're both nuts and powerful beyond measure, wonderful ingredients for a brouhaha. Spotlight Comic: THE SENTRY #3—A Sentry/Hulk team-up leads to unexpected violence and disaster!

9. HERCULES First Battle: TALES TO ASTONISH #79 (1966) Why He Makes The List: Hercules savors a hearty battle like few other things in his immortal existence, so any time he has an opportunity to test his mettle against the Hulk, the Lion of Olympus leaps at the chance for a brawl of mythic proportions. There's an element of unrestrained whimsy when these two titans clash that you can't help but smile at. Spotlight Comic: TALES TO ASTONISH #79—When the Hulk unwittingly crashes Hercules' train, let the smashing commence!

8. THE JUGGERNAUT First Battle: INCREDIBLE HULK v1 #172 (1974) Why He Makes The List: Given how often he crows about being "unstoppable," it's always satisfying to see the Juggernaut hit the roadblock of the Hulk's incredible fists. When Hulk battles Juggy, it's like seeing the nastiest schoolyard bully in history finally get taught the lesson that no matter how big and bad you may be, there's always a radiation-spawned monster who may be just a bit scarier. Spotlight Comic: J2 #3—The Hulk smashes through the generation gap when he butts heads with the Juggernaut's son!

7. SHE-HULK First Battle: INCREDIBLE HULK v1 #321 (1986) Why She Makes The List: Family feuds don't get any more explosive than this. Few people in the Hulk's world care about the man behind the monster more than his cousin Jennifer Walters, aka She-Hulk, whose life he saved and transformed with a fateful blood transfusion. Though their clashes have been rare, when these two do lock horns, it tugs at the heartstrings while also making for one helluva fight. Spotlight Comic: AVENGERS v3 #75—The two gamma-irradiated relatives cut loose against one another as She-Hulk goes savage and cousin Bruce interjects!

6. THOR First Battle: AVENGERS v1 #3 (1964) Why He Makes The List: Arguably the two strongest physical beings in the Marvel Universe, Thor and the Hulk will never be far from a collision course. It's the pay-per-view main event of the Marvel mythos, with no screen wide enough to capture the action. The contrast of the golden-tressed Thor's flowery speech to the Hulk's brutish bellowings provides the icing on the cake. Spotlight Comic: JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #112—In the midst of an Avengers fracas, Thor and Hulk break away for some hammer-to-fist combat!

5. IRON MAN First Battle: AVENGERS v1 #1 (1963) Why He Makes The List: On the surface, Iron Man vs. Hulk would seem to be the classic brain vs brawns match-up, but scratch that and you may recall that Bruce Banner started out as quite the smart cookie, something that undoubtedly bothers Tony Stark to no end. The Hulk hovers over Stark as the ultimate nightmare of what happens when science goes awry, which could explain why he spends so much time building elaborate armors to stop him and also why Iron Man seems to bring a little more emotion to the table when he engages his emerald foe. Spotlight Comic: WORLD WAR HULK #1—Hulk returns from exile to outer space and confronts his betrayers, beginning with the Hulkbuster armor-clad Iron Man!

4. DOC SAMSON First Battle: INCREDIBLE HULK v1 #141 (1971) Why He Makes The List: Unlike just about everybody else on this list, Leonard Samson doesn't detest the Hulk or even dislike him; on the contrary, his entire motivation most of the time revolves around trying to help the Green Goliath. On the one hand, every time Samson and ol' Greenjeans come to blows you feel bad for the Doc as yet another good natured attempt at settling things with words has failed. But on the other, it's kinda fun to watch the Hulk shut the super shrink's big mouth. Spotlight Comic: INCREDIBLE HULK v2 #44—Bruce Banner is on the run once more, but as usual, Doc Samson stands in his way!

3. WOLVERINE First Battle: INCREDIBLE HULK v1 #180 (1974) Why He Makes The List: For fans of truly gory battles where neither combatant holds back or gives an inch, Hulk vs. Wolverine equals violent nirvana. With both men possessing nigh-unstoppable healing factors, they can claw and smash at each other all day and all night and then start round two. Nobody in the Marvel Universe loves a good, bloody scrap quite like Wolverine and whenever he takes on the Hulk he gets all he wants—plus a whole lot more. Spotlight Comic: INCREDIBLE HULK v1 #181—In the Canadian wilderness, Wolverine and the Hulk hunt Wendigo and each other!

2. THE ABOMINATION First Battle: TALES TO ASTONISH #90 (1967) Why He Makes The List: Of all the Hulk's foes—not the heroes he ticks off but his actual villains—none can match him on a physical level when it comes to power, but the Abomination comes the closest, a fact that makes Hulk mad…and you know the rest. For Bruce Banner, fighting Emil Blonsky means staring into the cracked mirror and seeing a man who willingly became a monster using Banner's own methods in a bid for power. Both Banner and Hulk detest everything the Abomination represents, cranking the intensity of these gamma-spawned showdowns off the geiger counter. Spotlight Comic: TALES TO ASTONISH #90—Emil Blonsky becomes the Abomination and wastes no time going after the Incredible Hulk!

1. THE THING First Battle: FANTASTIC FOUR v1 #12 (1963) Why He Makes The List: The epic and endless feud between the Hulk and the Thing bears resemblance to some of sports' most compelling rivalries, pitting the plucky underdog Ben Grimm and his endless supply of heart against an unstoppable foe. However, while the Thing may be the sentimental favorite in many respects, on the flip side of the coin one must pity the poor Hulk who gets often unfairly derided as a mindless monster while his rocky rival basks in the love of fame and family. It's the story of two men the world sees as monsters battling because they can't stand one another, in large part because each possesses qualities the other envies; a no-holds-barred slugfest with more depth than you might think. Spotlight Comic: HULK & THING: HARD KNOCKS #1—Marvel's two hardest hitters sit down for a beer, then get up for a brawl!
Need to catch up on your Hulk reading? Looking for the perfect stories starring the Jade Giant? Check out our list of the 10 Collections marked as required reading by any Hulk fan! Read classic Hulk stories in Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited! Take pictures with a life-size Hulk statue at select theaters nationwide! Visit the official "The Incredible Hulk" movie site! Remember, "The Incredible Hulk" comes to a theater near you on June 13!

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