In "When We First Met", we spotlight the various characters, phrases, objects or events that eventually became notable parts of comic lore, like the first time someone said, "Avengers Assemble!" or the first appearance of Batman's giant penny or the first appearance of Alfred Pennyworth or the first time Spider-Man's face was shown half-Spidey/half-Peter. Stuff like that.
The other day, a friend asked me when Tony Stark and Stephen Strange, who are paired together in Avengers: Infinity War, met for the first time in the comic books. Not just as Iron Man and Doctor Strange (although I gave that answer) but also as specifically Tony Stark and Stephen Strange.
Well, reader Garrett M. then decided to ask in response to that piece, "What about when Bruce Banner first met Doctor Strange? Was it during the Defenders, or way before that?"
And Sam Hurwitt then made a joke about "Puny Banner meeting Dumb Magician," so I figured I'd use that for the piece's headline. Hopefully it's not woefully obscure for everyone!
Naturally, Garrett is thinking about this because while Strange and Stark have more scenes together in Infinity War, Strange and Banner are also together during the film, as well, especially at the start of the movie when everyone discovers the threat of Thanos....
Now, in comic book history, Doctor Strange and the Hulk actually have a long and stories history as allies. They were founding members in the Defenders, the Marvel superhero team that was based on the concept of "Hey, you know those three powerful guys who would never work as part of a team? What if we made them all a team?"
That concept was then expanded to add in a FOURTH member who did not work well as part of a team, at all, the Silver Surfer. And yet, despite the concept's whole basis being "This doesn't make sense," it all really worked rather well.
The Hulk was famous for the nicknames that he would give his Defenders teammates. A while back, I collected all of them into a piece. His nickname for Doctor Strange was "Dumb Magician" (originally it was just "Magician"). Doctor Strange's relationship with Hulk was also notable for the strange fact that the Hulk was able to see Doctor Strange even when Strange was in his Astral Form. Generally speaking, it was likely intended as one of those "kids and people who see the world like kids do, like the Hulk, can see magic" deals, but it might just be that the Hulk has some special affinity for magic. It has never really been shown for real either way, as far as I can tell. Does anyone know if the Hulk was still able to see Doctor Strange's astral form even when he had the intellect of Bruce Banner?
Okay, so we know that they knew each other in the Defenders, but was that the first time that the Hulk and Doctor Strange met? And when did Bruce Banner and Doctor Strange first meet?