Marvel: Every Version Of The Hulk, Ranked
The Hulk is among Marvel's greatest creations, but which version of the powerful character ranks as the best?
Hulk is an iconic character for a lot of reasons. Few comic book characters create such a visceral reaction in people – he's big, he's green (mostly), and he's awesome. He has changed a great deal since his early days in the Avengers. His storied history in Marvel Comics is one of evolution, not to mention decades of mainstream success with television series and now feature films.
Many versions of the Hulk have emerged in the comics and alternate realities, with all of them recently creeping back into the strange and fascinating reality of The Immortal Hulk.
9 World Breaker Hulk
The World Breaker Hulk is a continuation off of one of the most fascinating and popular iterations of the character in recent years – Planet Hulk (more on that later). The Avengers stranded Hulk on the planet Sakaar, where he eventually came to rule. His shuttle then exploded, the tradition killing his wife and many others.
Hulk came back to get revenge on the Avengers and Earth, becoming the fearsome World Breaker Hulk in the process. It looks pretty bad for everybody until the Hulk realizes one of his own trusted Warbound was responsible for the destruction of the shuttle.
8 Ultimate Hulk
This version of the Hulk is in many ways the most extreme. The Ultimate Comics line from Marvel in the early 2000s provided an opportunity for very different takes on classic characters. Few were more drastic than the Hulk. He was essentially a villain and in a gross trend unusually specific to the Ultimate line, a cannibal.
Ultimate Hulk was also gray, as he was actually at the beginning of the Marvel Universe in 1962. This Hulk would go on to become a member of the Ultimates (Earth-1610's version of the Avengers) and generally fight on the side of good, right up until the line ended.
7 Professor Hulk
The Professor Hulk was a result of a strange merger of the Hulk's distinct personalities toward the end of the '90s. This version of the character combined Bruce Banner, the Green and Gray Hulks and together they became at the time the smartest Hulk of all, the Professor.
Despite his more calm and intelligent demeanor, he was much bigger in stature than any other Hulk, and also much stronger. This new version of the character joined an organization called Pantheon.
6 Doc Green
Hulk has been evolving through a series of personas for several decades now, an idea that has taken on new resonance in the pages of The Immortal Hulk run by Al Ewing. A major persona he adopted in recent years was that of Doc Green. This super-intelligent version of the character emerged in the aftermath of the Fear Itself storyline when a brain-injured Hulk is rescued with the Extremis virus.
This greatly increases his own intelligence and consequently the Hulk's. A super-smart Hulk isn't always a good thing as the Maestro has shown (more on him later).
5 Joe Fixit
The Hulk started out as a very Jekyll and Hyde dichotomy between the brilliant Bruce Banner and not-so-much Hulk. That gradually started to change in the '80s and '90s. A stop along the path of evolution for the Hulk was the persona of Joe Fixit. Joe was the proper modern age introduction of the gray Hulk.
This Hulk was a mob hitman and enforcer completely invested with Banner's intelligence and cunning. This made him particularly dangerous. Thanks to the concept of the Green Door in The Immortal Hulk, Joe is not gone forever.
In the late '80s, writer Peter David took over writing The Incredible Hulk (shockingly because no one else wanted to) and immediately began crafting a narrative that sends the Hulk through some of his biggest changes ever. The culmination of this is arguably the introduction of the Maestro.
Maestro is a version of the character from an alternate future, where all his versions have fused together. He's by far the most dangerous version of the character ever. Maestro has since infiltrated the present and main Marvel timeline and continues to be a massive threat.
3 Planet Hulk
The Hulk has emerged as a character who can evolve and shift with the times. One of the best recent takes on the character emerged in the instant classic Planet Hulk storyline. The Avengers, being very un-Avenger-like, blasted Hulk into space because they were tired of dealing with him. He ended up on Sakaar and became a gladiator in an alien arena.
This gladiator version of the Hulk who marries a native woman and has children shares some similarities with the Princess of Mars, though Hulk's story ends much differently.
As with many things, original incarnations of superheroes tend to age pretty well (though not always, just ask Green Arrow). With the Incredible Hulk, the original version of Dr. Bruce Banner as envisioned by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby is still pretty great.
It's by far the most simplistic take on the character, who wouldn't actually become green until colorist Stan Goldberg struggled to make the original gray colorwork on the four-color page in 1962. All of the core elements that would make the character iconic are there from the beginning though.
1 The Immortal Hulk
The Immortal Hulk run from Al Ewing has dramatically revitalized the character, ironically by killing him. A lot. The book goes back to its monster roots by turning it into a straight horror comic, one of the best out there right now.
The introduction of the Gamma Mutate and Green Door concepts has not only added fresh intrigue to the mythology of the Hulk but confronts one of the most comic book aspects of comic books: death. Rather than play games with the conceit of a shock superhero death only to overturn it later, the book confronts it head-on, forever changing the character.