WARNING: The following contains major spoilers for Al Ewing and Joe Bennett’s Immortal Hulk #5, on sale now. Additionally, this article contains depictions and descriptions of spousal and child abuse integral to the backstory of Bruce Banner, the Immortal Hulk.
Some people spend their entire lives trying to be better than their parents. For Bruce Banner, that quest is little-known but all-consuming. You don’t have to be particularly observant to note that Bruce has something of a temper -- one that’s made all the more dangerous by his penchant for hulking out and turning into one of the most powerful superheroes in the Avengers’ arsenal. Bruce has spent the better part of his life trying to master his anger and, as a result, the beast within, not just because he’s a docile scientist at heart and there’s an inherent danger to unleashing the Hulk, but because he was taught the impact of violence firsthand. Immortal Hulk #5 reintroduces Bruce’s teacher and his very first villain -- his father.
After a brief interlude explaining how Alpha Flight member Walter Langkowski has been losing control of his other, beastly half, Sasquatch, Immortal Hulk #5 picks up right where the previous issue left off. Walter was killed in a bar squabble and died on the operating table. Reporter Jackie McGee was able to finally track down Bruce Banner, only for a resurrected Sasquatch and Hulk to tear the hospital down around her. The fight isn’t all show, though. There is some narrative substance to the brawl that stretches all the way back to the earliest days of Bruce Banner, when he was being raised by a monster who referred to his own son as such.
The fight starts off with Bruce Banner trying to negotiate with the hero he still believes to be Sasquatch. Unfortunately, Sasquatch isn’t here Mrs. Torrance. The Alpha Flight member swiftly cuts Bruce’s throat, leaving him to die. This triggers the Immortal Hulk to emerge, who begins smashing and questioning in equal measure. This leads the thing inside Sasquatch to explain that it burrowed inside the hero through the Green Door. When Hulk demands to know who is behind the Green Door, who has possessed Sasquatch, the creature reveals itself to be none other than Brian Banner, Bruce’s abusive father. This revelation leaves Hulk reeling, but he recovers long enough to drain Sasquatch of his gamma energy, effectively depowering the hero in the process.
So, who could possibly be terrifying enough to frighten the Immortal Hulk? Buckle in.
To put it simply and succinctly, Brian Banner sucks. He’s a simpering, alcoholic man-child who hated the fact that he even had a kid and constantly berated his wife for getting pregnant. He also employed an evil nurse to care for his lonely son and, oh yeah, he’s terribly abusive to both Bruce and his wife, Rebecca. While the character was first introduced in Incredible Hulk #267, it wasn’t until Bill Mantlo and Mike Mignola’s Incredible Hulk #312 that readers got a good, long look at who Brian Banner really was.