Hulk Month

Take 10: Hulk's Incarnations

The 10 most awesome versions of the Hulk

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By Ryan Penagos Every week, a secret cabal of Marvel staffers gathers to discuss the best of the best when it comes to the House of Ideas. To say Hulk's had some identity issues over the last 40-plus years would be a bit of an understatement. Ol' Greengenes has been green, red, gray, smart, dumb and crazy. Throw in a myriad number of alternate-reality versions and you've got a potpourri of Hulk goodness. To celebrate Hulk Month here on Marvel.com, the Secret Cabal has selected the top 10 incarnations of Marvel's Jade Giant. 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 Marvel.com, and can be considered subjective at best. Enjoy!

10. The Rick Jones Hulk First Appearance: INCREDIBLE HULK v1 #325 (1986) Why He Makes The List: "Rick Jones Hulk: Big. Green. Mullet. Really, is there anything else you need to say? The Hulk mythos started with Bruce saving Rick and becoming a monster in the process, so for it to come full circle, even for just a bit, was satisfying. Now, if only A-Bomb (Rick Jones as Abomination in the current HULK series) could have a mullet…" - Cabal Member RunawayJ Spotlight Comic: INCREDIBLE HULK v1 #331—Rick Jones has transformed into a Hulk and only Bruce Banner can stop him!

9. Earth X Hulk First Appearance: EARTH X #5 (1999) Why He Makes The List: "The dystopian world created by Alex Ross and Jim Krueger put the screws to most Marvel mainstays in one way or another, but Hulk's change was one of the more drastic. Physically split from each other, Bruce Banner was blinded and de-aged, while the Hulk morphed into an ape-like creature, acting as Banner's eyes. The twisted image stands as one of Hulk's coolest metamorphoses." - Cabal Member Agent M Spotlight Comic: EARTH X #5—Bruce and Hulk make their entrance.

8. Banner-less Hulk First Appearance: ONSLAUGHT: MARVEL UNIVERSE #1 (1996) Why He Makes The List: "Hulk proved he was the strongest creature around during the Onslaught saga when he turned the tide for Earth's heroes. But his heroism came at a price: Hulk's battle with Onslaught physically split the Jade Giant from Banner. Though Banner leapt to aid the other Marvel heroes, jumping into Onslaught's energy void, Hulk was left behind. The now untethered Hulk smashed through the Marvel Universe, causing a heaping amount of trouble—and fun stories—before merging with Banner during 'Heroes Return.'" - Agent M Spotlight Comic: ONSLAUGHT: MARVEL UNIVERSE #1—Hulk beats the tar outta Onslaught!

7. Zombie Hulk First Appearance: ULTIMATE FANTASTIC FOUR #23 (2005) Why He Makes The List: "The only way to make the Hulk—the biggest, meanest, scariest Marvel character—even wilder is to zombify him. You just can't go wrong with zombies. It's a fact." - Agent M Spotlight Comic: MARVEL ZOMBIES #1—Zombie Hulk and friends set their sights on a shiny feast.

6. The Maestro First Appearance: HULK: FUTURE IMPERFECT #1 (1992) Why He Makes The List: "The Maestro, a future version of Hulk who's more or less conquered the world is older, wiser, stronger, meaner and just plain better than Hulk in every way. And he's crazy. Like, super mega crazy. Having slaughtered every hero and villain in his way and jacked up on excess radiation, Maestro was only defeated by his own hubris. Well, that and the crazy." - Agent M Spotlight Comic: WORLD WAR HULK #1—See what a conquering, über-powerful Hulk is capable of.

5. Ultimate Hulk First Appearance: ULTIMATES #4 (2002) Why He Makes The List: "Hulk's physical state has always been driven by his psychological and emotional issues. Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch took that to the next level, making Ultimate Hulk the personification of Bruce Banner's id. Bristling with rage, lust, hunger and manic insanity, this Hulk really is the ultimate." - Agent M Spotlight Comic: ULTIMATES #5—Hulk, naked and angry, tears New York City apart.

4. Gray Hulk First Appearance: INCREDIBLE HULK v1 #1 (1962) Why He Makes The List: "Not as powerful as your 'standard' Green breed of Hulk, Gray Hulk makes up for it with a good chunk of Banner's IQ intact and a mean streak three miles wide. This difference in attitude and skill-set (he acted as a Las Vegas leg-breaker named Mr. Fixit for a time!) turns a simple shift in hue into a classic incarnation." - Agent M Spotlight Comic: HULK: GRAY #1—Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale put their signature stamp on the Gray Goliath.

3. The Green Scar First Appearance: INCREDIBLE HULK v2 #92 (2006) Why He Makes The List: "The Hulk has almost always gotten by on strength alone—and why not—so 'Planet Hulk' provided a nice change of pace as the Green Goliath found himself needing to learn new skills in order to survive the savage planet of Sakaar. Resultant training in the use of weapons and battle tactics, as well as a reliance on allies, provided us with perhaps the deadliest Hulk incarnation of all: the Green Scar. With a monster fueled by more rage than ever before, but able to back that anger up with the savvy of a combat veteran on the rampage, it's a wonder the Marvel Universe survived 'World War Hulk.'" - Cabal Member Annihilator882 Spotlight Comic: INCREDIBLE HULK v2 #92—Hulk lands on Sakaar and gets more than he bargained for.

2. Savage Hulk First Appearance: TALES TO ASTONISH #64 (1965) Why He Makes The List: "With the strength of a god and the intellect of a child, savage Hulk has become the most iconic Hulk iteration of all. Nearly unstoppable, the big green guy has been pouting and pounding his way into the hearts of comic readers for decades, providing for some of Marvel's most amazing battles and pathos-filled stories." - Annihilator882 Spotlight Comic: INCREDIBLE HULK v1 #181—Savage Hulk tangles with Wolverine and the bloodthirsty Wendigo!

1. The Professor First Appearance: INCREDIBLE HULK v1 #377 (1991) Why He Makes The List: "After three decades of a mindless, childlike Hulk smashing his way through the army and throwing tantrums, fans were ready for something new by the time the '90s rolled around. The intelligent 'Professor' Hulk, who combined the strength and extroverted bravado of past incarnations with the intellect of Bruce Banner, stood from what had come before by acting like a true super hero. There's something just flat out cool about a Green Goliath who can back up his inimitable strength with witty one-liners and suave comebacks." - Annihilator882 Spotlight Comic: INCREDIBLE HULK v1 #390—Hulk picks up two giant guns...and a pair of bunny slippers...to take down his enemies.
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