It's been a tumultuous few years to be a Hulk in the Marvel Universe. Since 2016, we've seen Bruce Banner die, Thunderbolt Ross incarcerated, Rick Jones (the former A-Bomb) executed, She-Hulk traumatized by Thanos, and more. But with Bruce Banner returning to life in Avengers and Jennifer Walters back to her old Shulkie-self for "Fresh Starts" Avengers, things might just be looking up for Marvel's Gamma-gang.
Looking around Marvel Comics, there are more active Hulks than most might realize - sure, some like Thunderbolt Ross, Lyra, or Rick Jones are still either inactive or sadly deceased (and then there's Doc Samson - not technically a Hulk, but unseen since his unexplained resurrection in Civil War II), but we count at least seven Hulks smashing around the Marvel U right now.
With "Fresh Start" giving Bruce Banner a new title and "Legacy" seemingly closing the book on Amadeus Cho's time as the character and sending She-Hulk over to Avengers, we're ready to get out our Geiger Counters, strap into our Hulkbuster armor, and go hunt down some Hulks.
The original Hulk, Dr. Bruce Banner was the first to bear unfortunate curse of Gamma-irradiated rage strength. Often misunderstood, always evolving, Banner’s Hulk has been a villain, an Avenger, a scientist, an adventurer, and a savage monster – basically, he’s set the precedent for nearly every Gamma-powered hero and villain in the Marvel Universe.
Banner died in the crossover Civil War II - shot by Hawkeye with a special arrow Banner himself designed to stop him from becoming the Hulk again. Since his death, he’s come back several times, including having his body resurrected by the Hand and being temporarily revived by the evil Steve Rogers (who was also indirectly responsible for Banner’s death) to be used as a weapon.
Now, as part of Avengers' "No Surrender," Banner has been resurrected again as part of the game between Grandmaster and Challenger. He’ll be back in the title role of his own series when Al Ewing and Joe Bennett launch their horror-tinged Immortal Hulk in June as part of Marvel’s “Fresh Start” relaunch.
For the last few years, the mantle of the primary Hulk has been carried by Amadeus Cho, a young super genius who was a protégé to Banner, a sidekick to Hercules, and a hero in his own right before taking on the Gamma-powered persona of the Hulk.
Cho gained his powers by absorbing Banner’s Gamma radiation and “freeing” him from the Hulk. Though he required transformation into the Hulk, Cho maintained his intelligence while Hulked out and used a special device to monitor his transformations.
After Banner’s death, Cho co-founded the Champions, a team of young heroes who sought a better way to fight evil than their older counterparts. Now, heading into Marvel’s “Fresh Start,” Cho’s Totally Awesome Hulk was renumbered as The Incredible Hulk as part of “Marvel Legacy” – but the wording of that title's last solicited issue (May’s #717) insinuates an end, which brings a close to the title’s current story in which Cho finds himself out of control as the Hulk.
She-Hulk, a.k.a. Jennifer Walters, might be the rare exception to the rule that being a Hulk kinda sucks. After receiving a Gamma-irradiated blood transfusion from her cousin Bruce Banner, Walters found she could Hulk out - and though she does possess a stronger, more savage form like her cousin, Walters spends most of her time as She-Hulk, a fully intelligent, self-possessed version with the best qualities of Walters and the Hulk.
She-Hulk has been an Avenger, a member of the Fantastic Four, and a practicing attorney in her Hulk form. Following massive trauma she suffered at the hands of Thanos in Civil War II, She-Hulk reverted to her more savage Hulk form, but after a long journey (and a title change from Hulk back to She-Hulk in “Marvel Legacy”), Jennifer has once again gained full control as She-Hulk with the conclusion of her solo title the just released She-Hulk #163. She’ll be a core member of the new Avengers roster as part of Marvel’s “Fresh Start.”
An evil, future version of Bruce Banner from an alternate timeline, the Maestro is a Gamma-powered super genius with all the strength of his heroic self, and possessed of an even more devious intellect.
Maestro has been part of the mainstream Marvel Universe since 2015’s Secret Wars, having played a key role in the series Contest of Champions, and, most recently, squaring off against Old Man Logan in his “Marvel Legacy” story.
Skaar is the Hulk’s son, born in his time on Sakaar during “Planet Hulk.” Having inherited powers from both his father the Hulk and his mother the alien Caiera the Oldstrong, Skaar has the strength and durability of a Hulk and the connection to the Power Cosmic shared by his mother’s people.
Skaar was last seen in Civil War II following the death of Bruce Banner, the human form of his father the Hulk. He hasn’t been seen since, but with his father now returning, he may pop up once again.
And of course, Skaar had a brother, Hiro-Kala, who possessed his mother’s Old Power but not his father’s Gamma powers.
When Hulk’s longtime nemesis Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross cut a deal with MODOK and the Leader to make him a Hulk, he didn’t just make a name for himself as the Red Hulk, he started a parallel legacy of Gamma-powered anti-heroes that’s still going strong.
First his daughter Betty Ross became a Red She-Hulk, even serving alongside the Defenders for a time. Though she and Thunderbolt are now depowered, the Red Hulk legacy endures with General Robert Maverick now possessing the Red Hulk power – though his days may also be numbered as part of Avengers' "No Surrender" arc.
Better known as H-Alpha (or Clayton to his friends), this Hulk/Wolverine genetic hybrid emerged as part of the "Weapons of Mutant Destruction" crossover in which Amadeus Cho and the former Weapon X squad teamed up to take on a group of evil geneticists bent on combining the DNA of the two old (and, at the time both deceased) rivals.
Fortunately for Cho and the mutants, while the plan actually succeeded, Clayton's heroic nature kept him from being the weapon his creators wanted. Unfortunately, they had a much more nasty back-up plan in H-Beta, Clayton's genetic successor, who Clayton was forced to kill to defeat.
Weapon H is now anchoring his own ongoing series as a hero with the strength of the Hulk and the claws and powers of Wolverine - an heir to two Marvel legacies.