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The Controversial Behind-the-Scenes Origin of the Hulk's Father

It would not be overstating things to say that 1985's "Monster" from Incredible Hulk #312 was one of the most influential Hulk issues in the history of the character. However, over the years there has been a whole lot of controversy over how the issue actually came to be. We will take a look at it now.

The reason why Incredible Hulk #312 is so important is because it reconceptualized the origin of the Hulk. Bill Mantlo, Mike Mignola and Gerry Talaoac looked back to Bruce Banner's relationship with his father, Brian Banner, and we see that the abusive Brian Banner helped to, in effect, create the Hulk decades before the Hulk was literally born, by building up the abuses suffered by young Bruce.

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We see that Brian Banner was worried about the birth of his son and how it might endanger the life of his wife. He also worries about the radiation that he was exposed to during his atomic research and wonders if it might have an effect on his unborn son. We mostly see that Banner is an alcoholic jerk who only cares about his wife and not his unborn son.

Later, we see that Brian Banner is resentful over the attention that his wife gives to their son...

When he discovers that his young son is a genius, he assumes that the radiation caused him to be a mutant and he begins to abuse his son, which leads to young Bruce seeing his father as a fantastical monster...

Here is the main kicker in the issue. The idea that Brian Banner's abuse of his young son effectively created a sort of hidden monster within Bruce. This monster was then years later "unleashed" by the gamma radiation that Bruce was exposed to in the Gamma Bomb explosion...

A "temporary insane" Brian Banner later killed his wife, Rebecca, and tries to kill Bruce, as well, when Bruce was visiting her grave...

Messed up stuff. Peter David later retconned in that Bruce accidentally killed Brian in that fight at the graveside.

Peter David was heavily influenced by Mantlo's work in "Monster" in David's run on Incredible Hulk.

In the famous Incredible Hulk #377 (by Peter David, Dale Keown and Bob McLeod), Banner and the two competing Hulk personas live through Banner's memory of his abusive father...

When his mother is killed in front of him, young Bruce further shuts down. The older Bruce is haunted by his younger self's inability to react to the pain, but we see exactly what happened from bottling all of his emotions in for so long...

In the end, Bruce is able to confront his memories of his father and forgive himself, which allows him to temporarily merge with the other Hulk personas to form a single Hulk personality...

Obviously, David wasn't the only person to be influenced by this angle on the creation of the Hulk. Many writers since, including notably Paul Jenkins and Greg Pak, have revisited Mantlo's story. It is one of the most important Hulk issues ever.

Now, the question becomes, of course, whose idea was it to do that story?

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