Culture & Lifestyle
Published June 15, 2023

'HULK: THE FIRST 60 YEARS' - A Celebration of the Green Goliath

Explore Bruce Banner decade by decade in deluxe format from Titan Books, coming soon!

Who is the Hulk? A monster who destroys everything in his path? A hero as strong as the gods? A tragic figure haunted by his own trauma? Or a courageous Avenger with the heart of a child? Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby at the dawn of a new age of Super Heroes, the Hulk was born from the combination of the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with the ever-present nuclear threat of the 1960s. Coming June 27, 2023, Titan is proud to present HULK: THE FIRST 60 YEARS, available for pre-order at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Bookshop and wherever books are sold.

HULK: THE FIRST 60 YEARS

Over the first 60 years of the Hulk’s publishing history, some of the greatest comics creators in the world have joined hundreds of thousands of fans in asking the same questions. Each creator has given a different interpretation, often building on ideas from those who came before. The combination and conflict between the Hulk and his alter ego Bruce Banner has made for one of the most popular and complex Super Heroes of all time.

Created by writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby, the Hulk has been thrilling readers since he made his comic book debut in The Incredible Hulk #1, first published in May 1962. He has journeyed from being an outcast, shunned by society, to a hero with powerful enemies and has even fought alongside the Avengers. And this is his incredible story…

The fine folks at Titan were kind enough to provide an excerpt from HULK: THE FIRST 60 YEARS  for you to enjoy here on Marvel.com. Let's turn back the clock to this incredible moment in Marvel history, the origin of Bruce Banner and the Hulk!

IGOR’S BETRYAL AND THE TRANSFORMATION

The Incredible Hulk #1 (May 1962) introduced a character – who couldn’t be called a “hero” – who was much more complex, created during a failed gamma experiment. A careless young man called Rick Jones, with a future in the Marvel Universe (he would be Captain America’s new Bucky, Captain Marvel’s human alter ego, and much more), got past the military blockade around the scientist’s bunker on a dare, right as Doctor Banner was preparing to release the Gamma Bomb. A character with a strong moral compass, Banner saw that Jones was oblivious to the impending disaster and rushed over to get him out of the way; he took a heroic risk to save Jones. 

The Incredible Hulk #3
Cover by Jack Kirby and Dick Ayers: The Hulk (and Rick Jones) against the U.S. Army. Antimilitarism is one of the themes of the series. The Incredible Hulk #3 (Sep 1962).

His assistant Igor had been waiting for this. Instead of stopping the test, he seized the chance to make it go wrong. The bomb exploded. Jones was saved, but Banner was hit by the gamma-ray bursts. He seemed unscathed but had actually absorbed radiation that, after a few minutes, would turn him into a monstrous creature. Only Jones saw Banner change form: everyone else thought he was missing, maybe dead.

The six pages of his first story already included all the themes that would torture Banner/the Hulk (as well as his readers), starting off with his painful, uncontrollable transformation, the persecution he experienced for being different and misunderstood, and his miserable life on the run. “Is He Man or Monster or… Is He Both?” cried the cover of The Incredible Hulk #1. That wasn’t the first time a character called “the Hulk” appeared in a story. The anthology Journey into Mystery #62 (November 1960) had introduced a giant, hairy monster with hypnotic powers who wanted to take over the world. This “Hulk” would return in issue #66 (March 1961) and later would join the Marvel timeline as “Xemnu.” The new Hulk was very different: enormous, destructive… and gray.

Bruce Banner Transforms
The dramatic transformation from Dr. Bruce Banner into the Hulk. The Incredible Hulk #1 (May 1962). Script by Stan Lee. Art by Jack Kirby (pencils), Paul Reinman (inks), Artie Simek (letters).

The series’ main supporting characters were also there from the start. General Thaddeus E. “Thunderbolt” Ross, who witnessed the test, personified the army’s blind hate: with his white hair, cigar, and over-the-top methods, hunting down Banner/Hulk would be his reason for living. He was a straight-shooting soldier, and there was only one person he loved: his daughter Betty, who was also in the bunker the day of the explosion. Betty was fascinated by the brilliant scientist, who seemed fragile and in need of protection: at first, she seemed like a girl almost completely dominated by her father, but over the years her personality would be explored.

There were no hints about Banner’s origins. There was a future, tragic discovery in store for readers… Confused and angry, Hulk fled right after the explosion and took on Gargoyle, his first rival. He was also a scientist, but a Russian one, who had turned into a monster. Kirby’s art was powerful, and the script had some cinematic passages, brought to life with Lee’s slangy, engaging dialogues. 

The Incredible Hulk
Pinup from The Incredible Hulk Annual #1 (Oct 1968), with all the artistic versions of the Hulk.

HULK: THE FIRST 60 YEARS is available for pre-order at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Bookshop and wherever books are sold.

Order your copy today and experience a celebration of 60 rage-filled years of Marvel’s immortal, incredible, and savage hero, the Hulk!

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