Did you ever think about what life must be like for Bruce Banner? Imagine and endless stream of "rude awakenings"... on a missile headed toward Manhattan... in the hold of a sinking ship filling with water... on a sacrificial alter with a knife raised high above your chest... and so on.

The Time: June 1967

The Place: New York City

The Situation: On the lam!

You are Robert Bruce Banner, scientist. Caught in the heart of a nuclear explosion, a victim of gamma radiation gone wild, you now find yourself transformed in times of stress into seven feet, one thousand pounds of unfettered fury, the most powerful creature to ever walk the Earth: The Incredible Hulk!

#92: It has been a full month since you last transformed from your emerald alter ego. You have been cobbling together a make-shift apparatus in the dingy flophouse in which you live designed to rid yourself of your curse forever. You activate the device and the sensation of a thousand live wires flows through your body. You immediately realize you have failed. But the stress has caused your heartbeat to quicken... your pulse to speed up... it's happening again! You try to fight it, but it's no use. You're feel yourself growing bigger... stranger...


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#109: "Where--am I? What happened--? Too weak! --can't even sit up! I'm in--some sort of--primeval jungle! But--where?? And how--how did I get here?" Before too long, you find yourself captured by a group of "swamp men" who are taking you to be sacrificed. A blond white man who introduces himself as Ka-Zar rescues you. He tells you od a place of mystery... a place of danger. He leads you to a glowing cave where you find a machine glowing with atomic radiation. After studying the machine for an hour, you discern its sole purpose is to gradually alter the Earth's rotation! "The weather will begin to change, " you conclude. "Storms and tidal waves will sweep the surface! No corner of the globe will offer safety! Unless the machine is reversed it will mean The End of the World!

Just then the Swamp Men attack! "Wait! you exclaim. "What's happening to me?? The tension--the fear--is changing me--but-- it mustn't happen now! I can't--I can't become'--"


#110: "My head... starting to throb... everything aches... brain dizzy... feeling weak! It--it can only mean... one thing... I'm... changing... again! WHAT'S THIS??! A gigantic lifelike robot... about to crush me! What nameless nightmare have I awakened to now?? He... stormed right past me... as thought my presence meant nothing to him! there can be only one explanation... Seconds ago... I must have been... the Hulk! That's the one he's after! How could he suspect... he's just walked past his enemy?!! The machine! Now I remember! It contained an alien... atomic force... threatening to change the axis of Earth! If it isn't stopped... mankind is doomed!"

You make your way to the cave and begin working on the machine. "I've deciphered the alien circuits at last! Now, all I need is a few more minutes... to do what must be done! ...to alter the circuitry... and restore our planet to its proper axis! The giant robot... that calls itself Umbu... he's found me again! I can hear him... outside the cave... but I can't stop now! Too much is at stake! Everything... depends on... the next few seconds!! If I fail... it means the end of... all human life! But I can't fail! I've altered the circuits... bypassed the failsafe! Now... all I need do... is find... and then remove... the master control unit! There's no further sound... from Umbu! Everything has stopped! HE TOO WAS DEPENDENT UPON THE MASTER CONTROL!"

Then, exposed to the machine's deadly radiation for too long, your frail body falls to the ground dead.


I could keep this up, if not forever, then for a pretty long time. But this is a good place to end it, with Bruce Banner's "death" (his fourth overall, for those of you scoring at home). If I ever come back to this thread (and I may, someday), I'll try a different tack. Although there are many good transformations yet to come, I think I've proven my point. As Bruce Banner himself once put it: "Every time I transform back from the Hulk, I'm someplace else... as though my life were a series of jump-cuts in a blasted movie!

I believe that they've established in more recent continuity that "gamma mutates"  can't stay dead.

Jeff of Earth-J said:

I could keep this up, if not forever, then for a pretty long time. But this is a good place to end it, with Bruce Banner's "death" (his fourth overall, for those of you scoring at home). 

Quite so. Over in the Tales to Astonish discussion I made several references to Immortal Hulk. For the record, Bruce Banner dies of a bullet to the brain in Tales to Astonish #70, the Abomination beat the Hulk to death in #90, the Enchantress killed him in Hulk #102, and now he has died of radiation exposure in #110. 

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