Both the Incredible Hulk and his puny counterpart Robert Bruce Banner have changed over the years, but some things have remained the same. What’s always consistent is the Hulk’s incredible strength. On the low end when he was grey, it was around Class 70 (able to lift/press 70 tons), but when he was mean and green his strength was Class 100. Although Superman was originally able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, Hulk can jump several miles in one stride. Hulk also has some weird powers too, such as being able to see astral projections and the innate ability to return to the site of the Gamma Bomb explosion that birthed him. As strong as he is, arguably his greatest strength is his resilience, because the Incredible One has taken a crazy amount of punishment over the decades and lived to tell the tale.
Superheroes get punched all the time, but how many people have been punched into outer space? How many heroes have fought literal Gods or been turned into stone? If you thought Wolverine had an amazing healing factor, wait until you see what Hulk has lived through, and then you’ll really find out why he’s referred to as “incredible.” Here are the 15 most brutal injuries the Hulk has survived.
15. BLACK BOLT’S SCREAM
Black Bolt is the leader of an off-shoot of humanity called the Inhumans, who live on the moon. The Inhumans have weird powers. His wife Medusa (also his cousin) has the ability to control the movement of her prehensile hair. Their pet, Lockjaw, is a giant teleporting dog… who used to be a man. It’s complicated. Black Bolt has the ability to emit a ridiculously powerful sonic scream. Banshee and Angar the Screamer got nothing on him.
When he merely whispers, he can cause earthquakes, and if he wants to, he can shatter whole planets with just a word. So, when Hulk went charging at Black Bolt, he had no choice but to hit him with his sonic scream at point blank range. Everything around him was destroyed but Hulk came back, literally asking for more.
14. SKIN TELEKINETICALLY FLAYED OFF
The U-Foes are basically the villainous version of The Fantastic Four. They flew into space to get exposed to the same cosmic rays that the FF did and they successfully gain superpowers. The man that financed the operation was Simon Utrecht, who develops telekinetic powers and goes by the name Vector. When Banner retained his intelligence while having Hulk’s strength, he joined a think-tank group called the Pantheon, a group populated by superhumans that operate out of a hidden base in the Nevada desert.
At one point, the Hulk’s nemesis, the Leader, used the U-Foes to attack the Mount, the headquarters of the Pantheon. Vector and Hulk faced off, and using his telekinesis, Vector sheered off most of the skin and muscle from the Hulk. After swatting away Vector, he fully regenerated within a few moments, but man that looked like it hurt.
13. EATEN BY COCKROACHES
In 2002, Marvel released Hulk: The End, a one-shot that depicted a possible ending for Bruce Banner and his alter ego. Due to nuclear warfare, the Hulk is literally the only person left on the planet. The comic is wonderfully compelling, given the fact that there aren’t really any other characters in the book. Remember when you were told that only Twinkies and cockroaches would survive a nuclear disaster? Let’s just say this book doesn’t have any cream-filled snacks (maybe Galactus ate all of them).
Every so often, flying mutant cockroaches swarm down upon the Hulk and literally devour him. (Un)Fortunately, thanks to all the radiation that Hulk has been absorbing, he can pretty much grow himself back from nothingness, but it’s gotta hurt and he’s gotta be tired of doing so after the first 100 times. That’s what happens when the “strongest there is” just means “the last thing to eat.”
In The Incredible Hulk #343, audiences were introduced to The Rock and Redeemer, two of the newest henchmen of The Leader. Rock and Redeemer were former members of the Hulkbusters but after the group disbanded, they were recruited by the Leader to get revenge against the Hulk. Redeemer wore a suit of armor that had a large arsenal of weapons. Rock was encased in a rocky substance that could float and shift into different shapes.
During a battle between Hulk, Rock and Redeemer, the Rock creates an incredibly long and sharp protrusion and impales the Hulk with it. The injury is so profound that he has to crawl to the nearby Gamma Bomb to diffuse it. Whoa, a bomb? Sounds like being impaled by a rocky lance was just the beginning of his problems.
11. POINT BLANK BLAST BY HAVOK
Be careful of the Summers brothers. Scott Summers is the mutant Cyclops whose optic blasts is strong enough to puncture holes in steel. Alex Summers is also a mutant and goes by the name Havok. Alex absorbs cosmic energy and projects it outwards as energy blasts. Havok in the past has worn special containment suits to give him more mastery over his powers. Whereas Cyclops’ blasts are concussive, Havok’s energy projections are more deadly because they also employ heat and radiation.
When X-Factor fought the Hulk in Incredible Hulk#391, Havok deduced that he could absorb directly the gamma radiation from the Hulk’s own body while attacking him with plasma blasts. The combination was enough to almost immobilize the Hulk, and eventually Havok’s blast threw Hulk miles away from the battle scene, but because of the size of the explosion, people thought he was incinerated.
10. PUNCHED INTO OUTER SPACE
In Amazing Spider-Man #328 Peter Parker was going through a series of changes. For reasons he would learn later, he was becoming more and more powerful. He was getting much stronger (strength way beyond Class 100), he developed the ability to fly, even fired energy beams from his hands and eyes. The Hulk’s timing couldn’t have been worse. Would Hulk have fought Spider-Man knowing that Spidey was the current host of Captain Universe?
Arguably no, but while the two fought, Hulk understandably found himself on the losing end of the fight. The battle climaxed with Spider-Man punching Hulk into outer space. Although he survived the punch, he had a new problem: because the grey Hulk transformed at night, if he were to remain in space he would transform back into Banner once the sun rose. Fortunately Spider-Man flew into space and brought Hulk back down to Earth before that happened.
9. SHOT IN THE HEAD
Who Shot The Hulk was a storyline that launched Volume 3 of Hulk #1. Technically, it’s Bruce Banner that was shot. In fact, the woman that did it was a good enough marksman to shoot Banner in the head and neither kill him nor trigger the Hulk transformation (jeez, they must have borrowed Deadshot from DC). It picks up from the end of Indestructible Hulk #20 where for a brief period, The Hulk became an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Banner is rescued from the people that shot him, coincidentally, by Dr. Aaron Carpenter, a person he went to college with, as well as a woman who the Hulk saved as a child during a battle with Zzzax. Hulk escapes but suffers from intense headaches and when he becomes Banner, he’s a simpleton. The brain damage is so profound that it takes a modified injection of Extremis by Tony Stark to heal the injuries.
8. DESTROYED BY ZEUS
The Hulk was joined by his son and other gamma powered persons, resulting in a slight rename of the book to reflect the larger cast of characters. In Incredible Hulks #601, the Hulks go to Mount Olympus (yes, that one) and the Hulk goes up against Zeus himself. If you’re wondering how the Hulk does against a God, it goes about as well as expected.
In just a few punches, Zeus shatters the Hulk’s rib cage and collapses his lungs. Although Hulk gets some good shots in, he is soundly defeated and chained to a rock where he is tortured in a similar way to how Prometheus was. This match up is almost as epic as WWE’s Summerslam 1989 when Zeus took on Hulk (Hogan)! Almost.
7. GUTTED BY WOLVERINE
One of the greatest comic book rivalries has to be between Hulk and Wolverine. It pits the sheer brute strength of the Hulk against the animalistic savagery of Logan, who made his first full appearance in the pages of The Incredible Hulk #181. Wolverine’s adamantium claws are sharp enough and strong enough to rip through Hulk’s skin and in What If #31 Wolverine kills Hulk by repeated attacks to Hulk’s throat (and that was when he was the stronger green incarnation).
In Incredible Hulk #340, the gray Hulk faces off against Wolverine, who takes advantage of his lower-powered status and slices him up something fierce. The attack is brutal and takes out the Hulk, and although the gray version is weaker, he gets angrier faster. This is probably what had him heal with such speed, otherwise Hulk would have been a goner.
6. FROZEN IN ICE BLOCK
The X-Men have had a lot of powerful members on their roster. Cyclops was a savvy tactician and had intense optic blasts. Colossus was incredibly strong and resilient due to his metallic skin. And then there’s Iceman, who by his own admission never really lived up to his potential. At one point, Iceman had problems controlling his own powers and eventually wore a belt that offered him the command he needed.
But before he had the belt, X-Factor fought in The Incredible Hulk #336. To prevent Cyclops from being injured, he used his powers against Hulk with unexpected results. The Hulk was frozen in a giant block of ice so immense and cold that even the Hulk couldn’t escape from it. Iceman himself was surprised that he could stop the Hulk.
5. MENTAL TRAUMA OF MOM DYING
The Incredible Hulk #312 was a crossover with the limited series Secret Wars II. Although it’s an extension of the larger series involving the Beyonder, there are some very key moments in the comic by writer Bill Mantlo that would impact future writers for decades. The issue examines the Hulk’s painful childhood and makes the claim that the monster was always inside of him but took a Gamma Bomb to release it.
Bruce Banner as a child unfortunately has to witness the abuse and eventual death of his mother at the hands of his father. These memories not only haunt Bruce and Hulk, but also have been weaponized and used against him. In The Incredible Hulk #403, Mentallo is able to use the Hulk’s childhood trauma as a means of brainwashing him. Who knew the strongest mortal on Earth could be that vulnerable?
4. SNAPPED HIS OWN NECK
In 1992, the limited series Incredible Hulk: Future Imperfect was released to great fanfare. In it, The Hulk was brought to a nightmarish future by Rick Jones to combat the Maestro. After some deduction, Hulk realizes that the Maestro is a future version of himself. The Maestro is bald, has a thick beard, and is much stronger than the Hulk brought from the past.
In this alternate timeline, the Earth is devastated by a nuclear war, and the Hulk/Maestro absorbs the radiation up like a sponge. During their battle, the Hulk tries to help some innocent bystanders who almost got killed by a falling building. The Maestro comes up from behind and snaps the Hulk’s neck. It doesn’t kill him but puts him out of commission for a bit, completely paralyzing him from the neck down.
The four part series called Countdown premiered in The Incredible Hulk#364. An unknown party has poisoned Bruce Banner, but before the poison can kill him he transforms into the gray Hulk. At this time, the Hulk’s transformation was triggered by the sun setting, so the Hulk has to keep alive while also trying to find out who poisoned him. Because it’s a specifically tailored poison, the angrier Hulk gets, the faster the poison spreads, putting him in quite the predicament.
Fortunately the gray Hulk, although significantly weaker, was quite wily and used his brains to outwit such opponents as The Abomination and The Thing. Eventually, he learns that the culprit was a new villain that went under the name Madman, and in his weakened state must fight him to get the cure.
2. TURNED INTO STONE STATUE
In 1989, Marvel had an ingenious crossover called Acts of Vengeance in which supervillains borrowed a page from Alfred Hitchcock’s Strangers On A Train. Villains organized attacking each other’s archenemies, banking on the fact that they would not be prepared to face unfamiliar foes. Paul Pierre Duval, also known as the Grey Gargoyle, was sent to take down the Hulk. GG has the ability to turn you to stone if he touches you with his right hand.
He’s also no dummy; instead of fighting the Hulk he finds Bruce Banner and turns him into stone. Battle won, right? At this point in his existence, Hulk was gray and transformed not when Bruce was angry but when the sun went down. When the sun set, much to the Grey Gargoyle’s surprise, the rock statue Banner transformed into a rock statue Hulk, who was able to eventually overcome his stone form.
1. SURVIVED GAMMA BOMB EXPLOSION
Could the most brutal injury that Hulk survived be the one that caused his own creation? It was writer Bill Mantlo that proposed the Hulk was inside Bruce Banner all along and all it took was the Gamma Bomb detonation to release him. It is Bruce Banner who is actually the real Hulk, a virtual pressure cooker filled with rage towards his abusive father and towards the unfair hand the world has dealt him.
Was the Gamma Bomb the injury that broke the camel’s back, so to speak? Was it the Gamma Bomb that served as the final straw for Bruce Banner before he released his incredible anger upon the world? By surviving the Gamma Bomb explosion, Hulk showed the world who the strongest mortal on Earth really was, and that person is Bruce Banner.
Are there worse injuries out there that the Hulk has survived? Help us round out our list in the comments!
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