2011 Top Marvel Characters #5

After nearly 1,400 ballots were cast, YOU the reader ranked your favorite comic book characters of all-time from 1-10. I assigned point totals to each ranking and then tabulated it all into a Top 50 list. We're now revealing that list throughout September. Here is the master list of all the characters revealed so far. The countdown continues...

5. Hulk (Bruce Banner) – 2286 points (41 first place votes)

The Incredible Hulk was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby as the ultimate Jekyll and Hyde tale. Scientist Bruce Banner is caught in an explosion of the gamma bomb he created, resulting in Banner becoming a violent, destructive green-skinned monster called the Hulk when Banner is stressed or becomes angry. The Army wishes to capture the Hulk, so Banner becomes a fugitive.

That basically was the plot of the book for many years, changed only really when Banner gained control for a time, and then, when writer Peter David began a long run, having Hulk become an enforcer for a Casino boss and then later, merging the various Hulk personalities into one cohesive “Professor Hulk,” who joined a secret peacekeeping group called the Pantheon.

Ultimately, though, Hulk returns to, well, smashing. A few superheroes got tired of it, so they sent Hulk into outer space to settle on an uninhabited planet (this was the beginning of Greg Pak's long and acclaimed run on the title). That plan did not work, as the Hulk's rocket ship was hit by space debris and ended up on a warrior planet, which he eventually conquered. Finally content, the Hulk was married with a pregnant wife. Then the shuttle he was sent in exploded, killing his wife and most of the citizens of his capitol. Now craving vengeance, the Hulk returned to Earth to avenge himself upon the heroes who sent him away. After conquering New York City, the Hulk discovered that it was not the heroes who exploded the ship but one of Hulk's own supposed allies! Following a devastating battle against the powerful Sentry, Bruce Banner gave himself up to government custody.

After a new Red Hulk showed up (in a new Hulk series by Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness), Bruce was freed to stop this new, even more destructive (well, at least more calculated in his destruction) Hulk. Bruce also encountered his wife, Betty Banner, who he thought to be dead. Betty had been revived by being turned into a Red She-Hulk! Things got even MORE complicated when the son of the Hulk (from the previously mentioned alien planet - he had been born after Hulk thought his alien wife had been killed) showed up to get revenge on his father. Eventually, Hulk developed a sort of ersatz group of Hulks, led by Bruce.

More recently, though, the Hulk was possessed by one of the Hammers of the evil Serpent during Fear Itself. Betty has become one of the select group of superheroes designed to stop these possessed warriors. When this is all over, Hulk is getting a new book, with Hulk and Bruce Banner being separated from each other! Written by Jason Aaron, it will be interesting to see what directions this new series will go!

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