The Ever-Changing Hulk

While all the buzz in comics lately has been about DC's New 52, I was interested to see what Marvel would do with its relaunched Incredible Hulk.  This is the third time the title has started at #1 (originating in 1962, a relaunch in 1999, and now this) and likely it won't be the last, since the industry continues to attract new readers every time a series is restarted.  The Hulk, moreso than probably any other superhero, has gone through constant changes over the years, yet I still consider the character one of my favorites.

A blend of Frankenstein's monster and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the Hulk's various creators as the decades progressed have borrowed from The Fugitive and other sources.  Now the current artist (Marc Sylvestri) and writer (Jason Aaron) seem to be inspired by Conan the Barbarian. Also, as was done at least once before, the Hulk persona and the Bruce Banner persona have been separated into two different individuals.  I don't hate it, but it's not the path I want to see the character on for very long. 

As I wrote in a response to an interesting post on the blog Reporting on Marvels and Legends, I don't like the Banner/Hulk split -- my understanding has always been that they are NOT two separate individuals trapped in one body but two FACETS of the SAME person, so splitting them up should make each weaker (like that episode in Classic Star Trek when Kirk is split into an Aggressive Kirk and a Docile Kirk -- only the combined Kirk is ideal, with the flaws and strengths of each).  I also think the Hulk, and Banner, need to be likable. The Hulk is a misunderstood hero, a monster in the eyes of the world but a hero nonetheless.

Peter David handled the character perfectly during his legendary run on the title, finding a way to merge all the different "faces" of the Hulk with Banner's psyche, making him heroic and likable in the process while still showing him as a fragile and dangerous personality. 

So if done right, I can accept all the different variations -- the Savage Hulk, the Smart Hulk, the Silly Hulk, the Green Hulk, the Gray Hulk, the current Barbarian Hulk -- but I do hope the creators aim for some consistancy and never forget that he (both the Hulk and Banner as one person) is a hero.