Dave Galanter
December 1st 1969 - December 12th 2020
He was loved.

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Location: Brasil
Member Since: Wed Oct 15, 2008
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In Reply To
Sir PoetTree

Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 4,871
Subj: Great post, as usual.
Posted: Mon Feb 19, 2018 at 12:28:48 pm EST (Viewed 319 times)
Reply Subj: The Immortal Hulk --"What part of 'incredible' don't you get?"
Posted: Mon Feb 19, 2018 at 02:34:52 am EST (Viewed 640 times)

Previous Post

So the Hulk, probably more than any other mainstream superhero, has died and come back to life. It's happened so many times, and there are anecdotal descriptions that it's an innate facet to who he is, that you might be inclined to consider it part of his natural power-set. And that's not even invoking the times he's survived & healed from what would otherwise be fatal injuries. He's straight-up died and come back to life numerous times.

As the Maestro testified after being atomized by the Gamma bomb and tacitly coming back to life:

"Death doesn't have the same meaning to us as it does to normal beings. It won't last. Given enough time, we come back. Three minutes, three hours, three decades... we always beat the odds and return."

An accounting of various times the Hulk has been killed, only to be reborn thereafter:

'Tales to Astonish' #69

Bruce Banner is shot & killed by a military machine gun. He ceases breathing and his heart stops. He is pronounced dead. In the next issue, an Army medic confirms that he examined him and there was no possibility he could have revived. The omniscient narration describes Bruce Banner's "lifeless" body. It is soon revealed that at least one of the bullets shot Banner in the head.

The military has his body in holding at one point, when Rick Jones steals it, loads it into a truck, and sets off across the desert to reach the secret laboratory Banner had built to research the Hulk and experiment on himself. Jones believes that transforming him into the Hulk could yet save his life, all while acknowledging that he is actually dead. He places Banner's dead body beneath the Gamma-ray projector and zaps him with a thousand volts of energy. In the next moment, he transforms into the Hulk and instantly comes back to life.

However, due to a bullet still being lodged in his brain, Bruce Banner's psyche is more in control of the Hulk's body. Not exclusively, as there seems to be an amalgam of their personalities; Rick Jones notes that this "Bruce" is "colder, fiercer, more violent" than before, but still with his scientific acumen. Banner notes that as long as he stays in his Hulk form, he cannot die.

Two issues later, fighting the Leader's hordes and trying not to change back into his human form, which would (again) kill him, the depiction of Banner/Hulk's willpower --a topic we'll circle back around to with the Maestro's resurrection later on-- is touched upon in explaining its role in keeping him alive:

"So strong is his resolve.. so unshakable his willpower... that the desperate flow of energy from his own brain actually strengthens the muscles of his body." --'Tales to Astonish' #72

(next issue)

"He uses all his tremendous willpower to stop himself from changing back to Bruce Banner! For, minus the Hulk's strength, the bullet in Banner's brain will instantly destroy him!" --'Tales to Astonish' #73

In this issue, the Leader uses lasers to dissolve the bullet while Banner/Hulk sleeps. He expects him to be unconscious for days, but the Hulk awakens having entirely healed from the procedure in less than an hour and the Leader --who has superhuman intelligence-- states that he doesn't understand how he was able to live with that bullet in his head.

By my accounts, this is the first instance of the Hulk's power explicitly & mysteriously defying death. But it wouldn't be the last. To give some perspective about how long ago this death-defying aspect of his power-set was established, these issues were published in 1965 --3 years after the character was first created. So for 53 years since then the Hulk has been portrayed as having an innate immunity and/or resistance to death, or at least staying dead, as a narrative facet of who & what the character is.

Moving on....

Narration from,


"Nothing can kill him!"


"The Hulk cannot be killed -- the Gamma-Ray bomb which spawned him has made him indestructible!"

(then the Hulk dies again in...)


The Skrull-constructed Nulltron Bomb erupts with surprisingly little violence, instead unleashing radiation which instantly polarizes the molecular structure of all within its range -- effectively short-circuiting the life-functions of the Green Goliath.

But a short time later:

When the man-brute at last awakens --he is still not alone! The Mighty Marvel Department of Deathless Data informs us that, "The Madder Hulk gets, the Stronger Hulk gets" ... and his emerald adversary has never been madder than now!


Doc Samson is racing to save Bruce Banner's life, who has succumbed to the stress of a Gamma-Control Harness he was using to combat the Leader & is on the verge of death. Samson believes changing him into the Hulk is the only thing that can save him, but he is unable to transform him. The narration reads:

Samson does not bother to elaborate -- he's too busy trying to find a heartbeat... a reflex... the smallest vital sign.

(but he cannot)

"We lost him, General. Bruce Banner... is dead."

Samson mournfully places Banner's lifeless form on a table and covers his face with a sheet. General Ross says a few words before Samson interrupts:

"Please, General -- no eulogies. Not now. It's too late for words now."

But as the tired old soldier and the weary scientist turn away from the last mortal remains of Dr. Banner -- the form beneath the shroud suddenly begins to grow... to expand... to move -- until, finally, two massive hands reach out, rending the fabric to shreds! And the Incredible Hulk Lives Again!

(The Hulk/Banner dies again in...)


In Asgard, surprised by the Hoarfen Wolf, monstrous offspring of Fenris & a Frost Giant's sister, the Hulk is seen being devoured alive in a mouthful of green blood. The narration explains:

'And then... they died.'

(continuing into the next issue)


The Hulk and his cohort Agamemnon are transported to Hel, where Hela confirms they are in fact dead. Narration reads...

With the Hoarfen's first two kills in its bowels, it howled its triumph and sought more prey.

Agamemnon tells the Hulk he knows the way back to life out of Hel, but that the Hulk would have to fight their way out. Eventually, Hela tells Agamemnon, who is apparently an old lover of hers, that the Hulk might triumph over her undead --leading to his resurrection-- but that she could make the battle last for an eternity, as time bends to her will here. Agamemnon promises to return if she lets them go. Tearfully, she allows the Hulk to leave and he is reborn in the mouth of the Hoarfen Wolf --where he promptly breaks its jaw and sends it scurrying away.


Cable and Storm, battling an Onslaught-controlled Merged Hulk, combine their powers to nail the Jade Giant with a combo lightning/psionic blast assault, and it kills the Hulk. Cable says:

"My God... I... I think he's dead."

Cable dives into the Hulk's mind with a psychic blast and finds the cocoon in which Onslaught has Bruce Banner captive, and breaks him out. Simultaneously, Storm jolts the Hulk's chest with a powerful bolt of lightning and he is instantly brought back to life.

(Which brings is back around to....)


The resurrection of the Maestro from his total atomization at the end of 'Future Imperfect'. In this issue, the nature of how the Hulk's power relates to death is explained in greater detail. Maestro reveals that ever since his own death, he has --through sheerly the strength of his spirit-- been calling him back to the place of his birth (and Maestro's death) to siphon Gamma energy from his body so that he could come back to life.

"I knew that, ultimately, you held the key to my return. I absorb Gamma radiation, Bruce. I told you that. And what better source to keep absorbing it from, to reenergize myself ... than you?"

Bruce insists that dead is dead. But as the Maestro explained:

"Death doesn't have the same meaning to us as it does to normal beings. It won't last. Given enough time, we come back. Three minutes, three hours, three decades... we always beat the odds and return."

.... which certainly helps explain, and fits perfectly with, all the instances from his continuity I've detailed here in which Banner or the Hulk were straight-up killed, only through either the regenerative powers of the Hulk or their respective ingenuity, willpower, or strength of spirit were they able to literally come back to life --even with instances wherein they had passed on to some nether-realm or metaphysical dimension beyond. As the Maestro explained, they always found a way.


"But, even as the Green Goliath's strength is Incalculable, so too are his recuperative powers!"

Indeed, as Bruce is talking with the Maestro in issue #460, the Hulk's body begins moving and narration implies that the Hulk is sleepwalking as his soul wandered the earth or other spheres of existence, which is what was happening as Bruce Banner interacted with the spirit of the Maestro in their shared limbo.

Bruce finally comes back to his body, fully alive, and leaves the scene. Hours later the Maestro's skin-&-bones body is seen crawling from the ground where it's slowly been reforming over years, and has finally accrued enough energy to return to biological life. The narration explains that Robert Bruce Banner has returned.

These depictions detail not only the innate power of the Hulk's physical body to resist death, but also touch upon the mystical qualities that have always been a hallmark of the character. He's not just a big, strong creature. He is a quasi-mystical, multi-dimensional, shape-shifting monster with power that has been described as unlimited from day-1.

Furthermore, there is an elemental aspect of his soul that has long attracted demons, demigods, and abstracts to seek either his power or servitude many times throughout the years, from Nightmare, to Mephisto, to Satannish, to Shaper of Worlds, to the Beyonder, to the Dark Dimension's Sorcerer Supreme. All of them have felt compelled to the unique nature of the Hulk's spiritual essence, seeking to usurp him or ensure he belonged to them in the afterlife.

He has virtually always been portrayed as a mystical, elemental force of nature that literally cannot ultimately die. As continuity clearly conveys.

All of this arose from an ongoing debate with zvelf he recently reminded me of, and it had me reminiscing on how consistently the Hulk & Banner have been shown cheating death throughout the years. Of course, the most recent instance is when Hawkeye killed Banner in 'Civil War II' #3, which has led to the brewing appearance of what's being called 'The Immortal Hulk' --with the attached image as a teaser.

Some people may complain. But it occurs to me that it's always been this way.

"What part of 'incredible' don't you get?"


Help me. I'm still down here. In the darkness. In the shadows. With him. He won't stop. Don't you understand? No matter what. He won't Die. Oh, God, what if... what if he can't?

A certain group of fanboys must hate Marvel right now (LOL - "they're run by a bunch of Hulk fans") O\:\-\)

Proud Member of the Holy Church of Hulk!
He's coming! He can't be stopped!
He can't die!
You have to get away!
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