One of Marvel’s mightiest heroes, there’s no one quite like the Incredible Hulk. Often perceived as a force of nature, the Hulk is notorious for getting stronger and more powerful over the course of a fight. Already one with an overwhelmingly surly demeanor, the madder the Hulk gets, the stronger he gets. After Bruce Banner was transformed into his raging alter ego, he would struggle for the rest of his life to control the beast within. Banner’s struggle has become so infamous, other creators couldn’t help but be inspired. Granted, you could argue the Hulk is rips off Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, along with the DC Comics’ Solomon Grundy, but once Bruce Banner graced the page, he outshone those who came before.
Now, whenever there’s a large, super strong figure, readers always think back to the Hulk. Creators often make characters that are actually supposed to be amalgamations of everyone’s favorite jade giant. Other times you have writers and artists who are simply trying to get away with ripping the character off and hoping that nobody notices. Rest assured, someone always notices. Today at CBR we’re looking at eight rip-offs who are weaker than the Hulk, as well as seven who are actually stronger.
15 WEAKER: SMASH
One of the most infamous Hulk rip-offs was the character Smash. The only real difference between Hulk and Smash was that Smash’s skin color was purple, rather than green. He came with tattered pants, a bad attitude, and wore a chain around his neck for some reason. The story behind Smash was that Rob Liefeld and Marvel Comics were having issues when he was working on Captain America and Avengers for Heroes Reborn. Liefeld left Marvel with pages already made for the next Captain America issue.
He was going to have Cap fight the Hulk. Instead, Liefeld revamped these pages into a new series, Agent America, and he modified the Hulk to become Smash. It might be a rarity, but this is one instance Liefeld wasn’t trying to create a rip-off. He merely had some Hulk pages he didn’t want to see wasted.
14 STRONGER: DOOMED
After the Superman event known as "Doomed", in which Doomsday’s spores infected the Man of Steel, there was an alien spore that also infected Metropolis University college student Reiser. The virus turned him into a version of Doomsday. Unlike the Kryptonian behemoth however, whenever Reiser transformed, he was somewhat smaller; he still boasted otherworldly power.
When Reiser transformed into Doomsday, he would lose control of his emotions and occasionally go on rampages. It didn’t help matters any that he was unable to communicate while in his transformed state. He slowly began to administer some level of control over himself while he was Doomsday. Still, despite his intentions and wanting to be a hero, many civilians and heroes presumed he was a villain. Doomed was a unique and interesting approach to the Hulk concept.
13 WEAKER: MONSTRESS
"Crisis on Infinite Earths" effectively rebooted continuity for every DC superhero. For many, this wasn’t much of a problem, but there were a few specific groups, like the Legion of Super-Heroes, that the Crisis affected negatively. It completely tore apart their continuity; DC tried to fix things when Zero Hour launched. With a new timeline, writers were free to add kooky and bizarre heroes to the Legion; one such hero was Monstress.
She was a larger than life character, a super strong hulk who embraced her life as a superhero in a way unlike most other characters. She was originally introduced as a one-off, which was likely why she was given green skin like the Hulk. Though when she became an official member of the Legion and it looked like she’d stick around, her skin color was changed to yellow.
12 STRONGER: MAUL
In the early ‘90s, Image Comics wasn’t afraid to completely rip-off popular Marvel or DC Comics heroes. Such was the case with Maul, who was a member of the superhero team WildC.A.T.s. Maul was a massive hulking brute of a superhero that shamelessly mirrored the Hulk. The two characters were virtually identical. Yet with Maul, he wore a ridiculous spandex bodysuit that covered his body and head. It was pretty awful. Maul’s skin, was purple, and his outfit was green, a switcheroo from the Hulk’s green skin and purple pants. Unlike the Hulk however, it was hard to tell where Maul’s outfit ended and his skin began.
The resident powerhouse for the WildC.A.T.s., Maul is half human, half alien, and could increase his body’s size, giving him greater strength. The size increase caused the genius to become dumber. His power was a double-edged sword.
11 WEAKER: LOOSE CANNON
In 1993 DC Comics decided to put out some annuals and would use the books to introduce new characters. The annuals tied together in an event book known as "Bloodlines". The premise focused on an alien invasion of Earth. During the attack, a handful of the people assaulted by the aliens and had their dormant metagene activated, turning them into superheroes.
One of the more popular characters to emerge from "Bloodlines" was Loose Cannon. He was a “loose cannon” of a cop who was permanently handicapped after a car accident. Depressed and suicidal, when he was assigned to investigate some alien-related murders, he tracked the killers but was attacked himself. He was transformed into a blue Hulk-like creature that only changed at night. The 2016 "Bloodlines" reimagined him as a handicapped teenager who was infected by an alien parasite. This Loose Cannon was friendlier than his ‘90s counterpart.
10 STRONGER: PITT
After Image Comics made unabashed imitations of the Hulk with Maul, they went and made another one. This time they called the character Pitt and he was quite a doozy. Pitt was as mean-looking as they came, what with wearing chains as a fashion statement and sporting a toothy smile that made him appear like a bona fide nut job. With a vest about a hundred sizes too small for his massive frame, and a ponytail that wouldn’t do him any favors at dinner parties, Pitt stood out as one of Image’s worst-dressed characters.
With super human strength and durability, the ability to use pain as a stimulant, and a set of retractable claws, Pitt was essentially an unstoppable hybrid of Wolverine and Hulk. With all of Hulk’s powers and more, Pitt is one character you wouldn’t want to fight.
9 WEAKER: BLOCKBUSTER
Over the years, there have been several Blockbusters. Though they all boast impressive super strength, there hasn’t been a Blockbuster nearly on the same level as the Hulk.
The first Blockbuster got his start in the '60s, when sales were rather low for both Batman and Detective Comics. To fix this, DC Comics brought in editor Julius Schwartz and Carmine Infantino. Together, they got the Dark Knight back on track, giving him the iconic yellow circle around his bat symbol on his chest and also expanding his rogue gallery. This involved borrowing some creative ideas from their competition over at Marvel and introducing the character Blockbuster. First appearing in Detective Comics #345, the Hulk-inspired Blockbuster was something of a simpleton with torn pants and was super strong.
8 STRONGER: MONSTER GIRL
Amanda, otherwise known as Monster Girl, stems from the Invincible comics universe. Before she was a superhero, Amanda took a class trip to Europe. When she was there, she fell in love with a boy whose grandmother didn't approve of their relationship. One day, the young man’s grandmother would catch the two sleeping together. Angered, the grandmother, who was also a practitioner of magic, put a curse on Amanda. Transformed into Monster Girl, which was pretty much the Hulk but in female form, Amanda initially hated herself. She eventually joined the Guardians of the Globe superhero team and would cement herself as one of Earth’s mightiest protectors.
Unlike the Hulk and other lumbering brutes, Amanda retained all her intelligence when she transformed. Additionally, after spending a practical lifetime on another world, she picked up formidable fighting skills, making her even deadlier.
7 WEAKER: RAMPAGE
Superman is particularly prone to have a wide range of villains, so it isn’t too surprising that one or two are Hulk rip-offs. When DC launched its first brand-new Superman ongoing series since 1939 in 1987, John Byrne was left in charge of the series. In Superman #7, Byrne introduced a gender-swapped rip-off of the Hulk in the character Rampage. Originally a mild-mannered S.T.A.R. Labs scientist, Kitty Faulkner was transformed into a foul-mannered monster known as Rampage.
While Rampage might not have possessed the Hulk’s strength, she was a progressive character in other ways. Back in the day, creators couldn’t reference a characters’ sexuality. However, there were plenty of suggestions that Faulkner might be bisexual in the S.T.A.R. Corps series, but it was never outright stated.
6 STRONGER: RED HULK
For decades, General Thaddeus Ross made it his personal mission to hunt the Hulk. Like Ahab and Moby Dick, Ross was possessed by unholy madness to eliminate the Hulk. After years spent wasted, trying everything under the sun to defeat the Avenger and failing, Ross took a drastic approach in dealing with his Hulk issues. In Jeph Loeb’s Hulk readers were introduced to the Red Hulk. Ross allowed himself to be experimented on so he could fight the Hulk on a even setting.
He became the Red Hulk and unlike his green counterpart, he maintained all of the original’s strength, but none of the reservations. Additionally, Red Hulk kept his keen intellect; letting him strategize and utilize the combat training his human counterpart had received. Armed also with the ability to absorb radiation, the Red Hulk is one of Hulk’s mightiest foes.
5 WEAKER: BAT-HULK
If ever you wondered what it’d be like if Batman acquired the powers of the Hulk, you weren’t the only one. Unfortunately, to the disappointment of many, such a combination isn’t as awesome as you’d think. DC’s Silver Age in comics was a bizarre and wacky time; you could write a story about literally anything and it would work. Comic book writers like Bob Haney didn’t care for the conventions of comics and made own rules.
Haney in particular didn’t have a sense of continuity or making sure characters were consistent in various titles. He just did whatever he wanted. If you didn’t like it, that was too bad. One of the things he chose to do was poke fun of Marvel Comics by introducing the Bat-Hulk. It was a huge (hulking) Batman who lumbered around and first appeared in Brave and the Bold #68.
4 STRONGER: DOOMSDAY
Back in the early ‘90s, Superman comics weren’t exactly selling like hotcakes. DC needed to find a way to make the Last Son of Krypton relevant again. They opted to murder him. Of course they needed to find a character capable of killing the Man of Steel. They couldn’t find one, so they created Doomsday. Though Doomsday has become a character in his own right, at the time, and even now, it’s easy to see he was just an unabashed Hulk rip-off. The only difference was that he was grey and had bony protrusions coming out of his body.
After arriving on Earth, the Kryptonian monster went on a rampage across the United States. Seemingly unstoppable, Doomsday defeated Justice League before Superman is pulled into the battle. They fight for hours, until Superman and Doomsday hit each other with their last vestiges of strength, delivering deathblows to one another.
3 WEAKER: BEHEMOTH
In the early '70s, there was a crossover between the Justice League of America and the Champions of Angor; the two teams fight one another. The Champions of Angor served as stand-ins for the Avengers. Back at Marvel, the Avengers fought the Squadron Sinister, an evil analog of the Justice League. As it was, the Champions of Angor weren’t entirely like the Avengers, since they didn’t have their own Hulk character.
A couple years ago in Multiversity, Grant Morrison changed all that. He updated the concept of the Champions, re-naming them the Retaliators and made Earth-8 the “Marvel” world. In this world, superheroes were constantly fighting each other. Morrison made sure to create a Hulk stand-in this time around. He was named Behemoth and was essentially a guy who transformed into a giant angry baby.
2 STRONGER: ABOMINATION
Every superhero needs a villain who’s their polar opposite. Batman has Joker, Spider-Man has Green Goblin, and the Hulk has Abomination. It’s easy to make the case that the Leader and General Thaddeus Ross are more the Hulk’s primary antagonists, but not when it comes to sheer brute strength. Rarely has the Hulk ever come across a foe as monstrous and powerful as the villain Abomination.
Presenting Emil Blonsky, a Yugoslavian spy who desperately craved the power of the Hulk. Emil purposefully had himself infected with three times the amount of gamma radiation that the Hulk was originally exposed to. Instead of flat-out killing the crazy man, it turned him into the insane Abomination. Over twice as strong as the Hulk, he’s defeated the jade giant multiple times. Only through sheer luck and grit iron determination has the Hulk proved victorious.
1 WEAKER: BRUTE
Amidst the ‘70s, the former owner and publisher of Marvel Comics, Martin Goodman, tried his hand at launching a brand-new comic book company. Disgruntled over the fact that his son was let go from Marvel, Goodman endeavored to make a new company so he could work with his son.
The company was Atlas Comics, or Seaboard Comics. To Goodman’s dismay, there weren’t many comic creators who wanted to risk leaving Marvel for an upstart company. Even so, Atlas Comics started churning out their own line of comics, with most of their character rip-offs of popular Marvel heroes. One of the creators who came on board was veteran artist Mike Sekowsky. He ended up drawing the Brute, a shameless Hulk knock-off. Together with writer Mike Fleischer, they imagined a darker Hulk, one that actually killed several teenagers in the first issue.