- Bruce Banner and the Hulk were first split by Roy Thomas, allowing them to exist as separate entities but with a dangerous connection.
- Captain Universe separated Banner and the Hulk to fulfill a specific mission, but they were eventually merged back together.
- Banner formed the “Hulkbusters” to hunt down and destroy the Hulk after successfully separating from him, but they were eventually merged back together with the help of Vision.
In the latest Drawing Crazy Patterns, where we spotlight five recurring themes in comics, we examine five times that Bruce Banner and the Hulk were split from each other.
I have a feature (that I haven’t used in a while) called Always Kind of Wondered, which is a feature spotlighting instances from comics where a comic book writer has clearly said, “Hey, why doesn’t Character X ever do Action Y?” The feature is generally about the “second generation” of comic book writers and beyond. The term “second generation” is to describe the comic book writers who grew up reading comic books, as the first generation of comic book writers (your Bill Fingers, Gardner Foxes, Jerry Siegels, Stan Lees, Jack Kirbys, John Broomes, Edmond Hamiltons, Otto Binders, etc.) obviously didn’t read comic books while growing up because there WERE no comic books until these creators CREATED them.
Well, an example of something that I’m sure occured to the second generation of comic book writers is, as soon as the Hulk was introduced as a sort of curse for Bruce Banner (to transform from a mild-mannered scientist into a giant monstrous being), to wonder what would happen if the Hulk and Bruce Banner ever SPLIT from each other. And sure enough, it was a member of the second generation of comic book writers, Roy Thomas, who did it first. Here are five times that it is has happened!
The villainous Darkseid is one of the most imposing characters in comics, and as a result, he is a very effective final page reveal in comic stories
The first time the Hulk and Banner split, there was a catch
In Incredible Hulk #130 (by Roy Thomas and Herb Trimpe), after one of the Hulk’s rampages, when he turned back into Banner, the scientist found himsel near a school that he had worked with a professor on Gamma Ray theory. He decided to see if he could find his old teacher to come up with an idea on how to rid himself of the Hulk, but instead, he found an old classmate of his. The classmate agreed to help him, and after some experimenting, they instead split Banner from the Hulk!
However, Banner soon realized that they weren’t TRULY split from each other, so that if either of them were to be killed, the OTHER would die, as well. His scientist buddy then revealed that he actually RESENTED Banner for being the more famous scientist, so he actually tried to kill Banner, figuring that he could be known as the man who killed the Hulk, but then the Hulk showed up and inadvertently saved Banner’s life. The Hulk head off, but Banner teamed up with Iron Man to merge him back together with the Hulk in the next issue.
Captain Universe showed off how powerful the Uni-power could be by splitting Hulk and Banner
In Incredible Hulk Annual #10 (by Bill Mantlo, Rick Leonardi, Al Milgrom, Bob Wiacek, Chic Stone, Dan Green and Frank Giacoia), the Hulk was attacked by missiles by the U.S. government, but AS the missiles landed, the Uni-power happened to show up. The Uni-power, also known as the Enigma Force, is a mysterious energy that takes over beings, and transforms them into Captain Universe, a powerful hero who has a specific mission that, when it is complete, the Uni-power heads off to take over someone else for the next mission. Here, the Uni-power split Bruce Banner from the Hulk so that the Uni-power could turn Banner into Captain Universe…
Once the mission was completed (with the Hulk teaming up with Captain Universe), the Uni-power merged Banner and the Hulk back together.
Once split, Bruce Banner vowed to hunt the Hulk down
In Incredible Hulk #315 (by writer/artist John Byrne and inker Keith Williams), Doc Samson succesfully separated Bruce Banner and the Hulk…
The Hulk escaped custody, however, and was now a purely mindless threat to everyone, so Bruce Banner (who was in bad shape following the separation, thus needed to use a wheelchair for a while) formed the “Hulkbusters” to destroy his former alter ego (Bruce took the time to also finally marry Betty Ross)…
Eventually, Vision of the Avengers helped to merge Banner and the Hulk back together.
Over the years, a number of characters have shouted out “you just signed your death warrant” in X-Men comics (and other Chris Claremont-written books)
Heroes Reborn forced the split of Banner and Hulk
During the Onslaught crossover, the heroes of the Marvel Universe took on the evil being known as Onslaught. They had to crack his armor, and so the Hulk was unleashed on the villain, and the Hulk managed to break open Onslaught’s armor, as shown in Onslaught: Marvel Universe #1 by Scott Lobdell, Adam Kubert, Joe Bennett, Dan Green, Art Thibert, Tim Townsend and Jesse Delperdang…
The power of the explosion from the armor being cracked, though, split Banner and Hulk…
With Onslaught’s armor cracked, he was spilling out a ton of dangerous energy. The human heroes present had to sacrifice themselves to absorb the energy (mutants couldn’t do it), and Banner was one of the heroes who sacrificed themselves. In reality, the heroes were transported to another world, which was part of a storyline called Heroes Reborn. The Hulk remained on Earth, separated from Banner, but when Heroes Reborn ended, the heroes returned and Banner and the Hulk were reunited.
Bruce Banner being split from the Hulk by Doctor Doom turned Banner into a mad scientist
In 2012’s Incredible Hulk #1 (by Jason Aaron, Marc Silvestri, Michael Broussard, Joe Weems, Rick Basaldua and Sal Regla), the Hulk is recruited to face off against a mad scientist — none other than Bruce Banner!
As revealed in Incredible Hulk #5 (by Aaron, While Portacio, Allen Martin, Rick Ketchum and Scott Hanna), the Hulk had made a deal with Doctor Doom to separate the Hulk and Banner’s minds, placing Banner’s in a cloned body. The deal was that Doom would get the use of Banner as his science slave, but Hulk betrayed him and took Banner away and imprisoned him. Banner escaped, but it turned out that the separation process had unhinged him. The Hulk and Banner fought against each other, until a gamma bomb seemingly killed Banner. In reality, the explosion had re-merged the two, with Banner now trying to actively mess with the Hulk by putting him into terrible positions while in control of their shared body. Ultimately, they hashed out their issues with each other and agreed to work together once again, entering into some measure of balance. For a time, at least.
Remember, everyone, that these lists are inherently not exhaustive. They are a list of five examples (occasionally I’ll be nice and toss in a sixth). So no instance is “missing” if it is not listed. It’s just not one of the five examples that I chose. Thanks to reader Mike for the suggestion! If anyone has suggestions for a future Drawing Crazy Patterns, drop me a line at email@example.com!
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