Mark Ruffalo has been quite vocal in recent months about how the Hulk’s presence in Thor: Ragnarok may represent a new era on film for the Green Skinned Goliath. This got me thinking that we may see those two arch-rivals fighting tooth and nail again (like most of the superheroes will be doing at the cinema this coming year). Now, that me got thinking about how many incredible (see what I did there?) scraps with other heroes The Hulk has had in the pages of Marvel comics over the years.
Now, because there are so many to choose from I’ve decided to not include short fights that barely last for three frames. I’ve also omitted fights that were comically short or too slapstick in nature (maybe with one exception).
So sit back, brother and ask yourself what’re you going to do when Hulkmania runs wild on you?!?!?
Wait that’s the other other guy. Probably best not to mention him…
Doc Samson Vs Savage Hulk (Incredible Hulk Vol 1 #314)
Having finally made his way back to Earth from The Crossroads Of Infinity, with a recently returned Banner taking up room in his head The Hulk is visibly disorientated and easily confused… Oh and it doesn’t help that he’s hallucinating too.
Doc Samson learns of his return decides to return to the birthplace of The Hulk, the site of the original Gamma-Bomb, since The Hulk always seems to be drawn back there. Doc Samson & Jade Jaws have a history of entertaining and surprisingly close skirmishes in the past, so there were a great many to choose from. In this scuffle, however, John Byrne’s tremendously detailed art work shows how squaring off with the The Hulk is never good for your health (or the local topography).
As they trade blows we see each and every scratch and bruise showing up on Samson’s fair skin. For all intents and purposes, it’s a Dragonball Z style fight before DBZ was even invented!
Machine Man Vs Savage Hulk (Incredible Hulk Vol 1 #235-237)
A late Jack Kirby creation X-51: The Machine Man (basically a more compelling Inspector Gadget) is framed by The Evil Corporation for kidnapping one of The Hulk’s friends. I shit you not, that’s their actual name. Isn’t that a bit on the nose even for Marvel?
To cut a long story short they fight, work it out and stop The Conglomerate… Sorry, Corporation.
That is how most stories like this go, however this unusual match up makes for an interesting fight as in round one Hulk pretty much obliterates and tears X-51 limb from limb pretty easily, only for X-51 to make an almost immediate come back by pulling himself together, proceeding to whack Hulk with his severed arm.
Yes that’s right!
That alone is worth entry on this list. He then throws every trick in the book (including telescopic limbs and levitation) at The Hulk to keep the jade giant occupied. It’s a bizzare battle but it’s a good one.
Daredevil Vs Savage Hulk (Daredevil Vol 1 #163)
I love a good underdog story, who doesn’t? This is a VERY Marvel underdog story. Daredevil finds The Hulk stumbling around New York and having defended Bruce Banner in court in the past he decides to put him up for the night and send him on his merry way in the morning.
Sadly things don’t go DD’s or Dr. Banner’s way, and one horrendous subway ride later we find The Hulk rampaging through Manhattan. What soon follows is one of the most mismatched fights in all of Marveldom, but there lies the beauty of this issue. It’s that grit and determination to never give up, to never be afraid in the face of adversity, that is so embedded in the character of Matt Murdock that really shines through in this issue and makes for such a compelling story. He even goes so far as driving a bus into The Hulk only to be flung through the window. DD ends up spending the next few weeks in the hospital after this donnybrook all the while Ben Urich has discovered his true identity, and all of this classic is drawn in beautiful noir style by Frank Miller.
Silver Savage Vs Green Scar (Incredible Hulk Vol 2 #95)
The Illuminati decide that The Hulk is simply too dangerous and send him off-world to a planet with no intelligent life for him to harm, so that he can happily live out the rest of his life and finally be left alone. Unfortunately (wouldn’t you know it?) something goes wrong. Hulk ends up being stranded on the war-torn planet of Sakaar, enslaved by its tyrannical ruler the Red King and forced to compete in his gladiatorial games. It’s not long before the Silver Surfer is enslaved too and they throw down in their most physical match up yet. With both combatants wearing slave discs their abilities were limited and made this much more of a fair fight than usual, and the climax to this fight put one Hell of a smile on my face.
Zeus Vs Incredible Hulk (Incredible Hulks Vol 1 #622)
After going literally through Hell during The Chaos War Bruce Banner feels like a rest. The Hulk deserves a better life and he blames The Olympian Gods for it! So, Hulk goes through every Greek Myth you can think of to reach Zeus and he’s not best pleased when he encounters the King of the Gods. In the ensuing battleThe Hulk gets his ass handed to him, but does manage to get a few good shots in. But an angry green giant is no match for a God and at one point the Hulk is bleeding internally and vomits up green blood. Zeus is a vicious God and gives Hulk a torture worthy of myths & legends for his impudence. This brutal story just goes to show the amount of damage The Hulk can take and how far he is willing to go through for the sake of his loved ones.
Spider-Man Vs Savage Hulk (Amazing Spider-Man Annual Vol 1 #3)
The Avengers want to offer Spidey a spot on the team but certain parties are unsure if he is trustworthy enough. They decide to test his heroic mettle against none other than The Hulk (talk about a baptism of fire). Spidey goes on his quest and once he finds Hulk he handles himself quite admirably against the big brute, even learning his big secret and at one point even manages to stagger Earth’s Mightiest Mortal. But Spidey loses his seat at the Avengers’ table because he can’t find it in his heart to bring Bruce Banner’s alter ego in, because he realises that they are both science nerds with an inordinate amount of bad luck. Much like the Daredevil’s Hulk fight it’s a great character piece as much as it is a great scrap.
Thor Vs Savage Hulk (The Defenders Vol 1 #10)
The Avengers/Defenders War was one of the first big inter-title crossovers that now swamp the industry. If you wanted this complete story you needed to keep up with both books, which was almost unheard of at the time . Sure, it had been done before but not for so many issues and not in such an epic style.
Dormammu & Loki team up searching for several pieces of The Evil Eye; an object of extreme power, and manage to turn both teams against each other. Thor Vs Hulk is just as classic a rivalry as The Thing Vs Hulk, there’s a lot of history between these two characters. This is probably my favourite fight between the two because the stakes are so high and it makes the battle all that more intense with some spectacular moments such as Hulk sending Thor for a spin by grabbing his cape and Thor trapping The Hulk under his hammer. It ends, as so many of these fights end, with no clear victor but that makes me glad in way because it will continue to add to that wonderful phenomenon of fan speculation that we all enjoy…
Bruce Banner as Captain Universe Vs Savage Hulk (Incredible Hulk Annual Vol 1 #10)
The Enigma/Uni-Force is a sentient energy field that discovers a threat and imbues the right someone with cosmic powers to combat a particular threat (essentially Marvel’s Green Lantern Corps). The chosen someone becomes a brand new Captain Universe with an array of powers including energy manipulation, flight and super strength.
Bruce is physically separated from his other half while being given these abilities. Naturally the long-suffering Dr Banner uses this as an opportunity to stop The Hulk once and for all. Little does he know it is actually to avert WWIII. Now, I had to include a fight with Banner because it’s such a long fought battle of wills, but it had to be a physical fight and not just in Bruce’s tortured psyche. The Captain Universe angle made it a match where both were on equal pegging.
I dare you not to enjoy these two fighting atop a nuclear missile that’s seconds from launch…
Fantastic Four & The Avengers Vs Savage Hulk (Fantastic Four Vol 1 #25-26)
In the era where every other story arc is a Universe Spanning Crisis of Infinite Proportions it’s easy to be blasé but back in the day, this inter-title match up was a big deal! The Thing is a boxer and street brawler; an all around more tactical fighter, whereas The Hulk is powered only by brute strength which dwarfs The Thing’s and only increases the angrier he gets.
But,The Thing’s grit & determination are his real superpower and should not be underestimated. Hulk comes to NYC to destroy The Avengers (what a film that would make) only to bump into The FF first.
He smothers The Human Torch’s flame straight off the bat and with Reed ill and The Invisible Woman not yet well-versed in her new force field powers, its all down to Ben Grimm to stall this behemoth.
In this knock down, drag out fight they manage to destroy half of NYC from Yancy Street to The Hudson River. Even after wrecking buildings, bridges, cars, pavements and even boats the fight shows no signs of ending until Marvel’s First Family rally together, including a heavily bandaged Torch (they must be made out of unstable molecules too who knew?). The finale ends with both teams fighting Hulk on a construction site and it’s an absolute classic from a top-of-their-game Stan & Jack in The Merry Marvel Manner.
Wolverine Vs Grey Hulk (Incredible Hulk Vol 1 #340)
Marvel’s favourite Canadian amnesiac mutant is the best there is at what he does…Which apparently is fighting The Hulk!
It’s a little known fact that Wolverine’s first appearance was in The Hulk’s own book, in a triple threat match with The Wendigo thrown in for good measure… No mean feat for the tough but diminutive mutant. However, I picked this fight for this list, wherein both are currently on important missions but get sidetracked by the notion of settling old scores when they bump in to each other.
Wolverine is trying to keep a lid on his bezerker rages and this grey version of The Hulk is not so monosyllabic for a change. This was one of the first times I’ve ever read such a ferocious and vicious fight. So much so that Wolverine describes Hulk as a cancer (Meow! put those claws away…Actually don’t, keep fighting). This might’ve been one of the first stories in which I ever saw the Hulk actually bleed and the damage Wolverine does is severe. One of my favourite moments is when Hulk pulls out one of his signature moves The Thunder Clap which normally sends people flying but this one just manages to ruin Wolvie’s heightened sense of hearing instead. By the end both come to their senses and go their separate ways, but neither were ever the same again…
Bi-Coastal Avengers Vs Mindless Hulk (Incredible Hulk Vol 1 #321-322)
Having been physically separated from poor Banner, The Mindless Hulk escapes on yet another rampage so both West & East Coast Avengers teams come together and come to the terrible realisation that the only way to stop The Hulk this time may be to kill him once and for all.
That’s two whole teams of heroes, and they struggle to even knock him off his feet, even though to her credit an elderly Japanese scientist did it earlier in this very issue (Don’t ask).
Even such heavy hitters as Hercules, Namor, Wonder-Man and Iron Man can’t even really make a dent, the best they can do is distract and anger him, all the while the small town they are in is slowly but surely being annihilated and to add insult to injury Hulk precedes to sucker punch his cousin which makes The Avengers possibly madder even than The Hulk himself….
Deadpool Vs Incredible Hulk (Deadpool Vol 2 #37-39)
Deadpool’s girlfriend is the personification of Death… but he doesn’t get to see her all that much since he can’t die and all. So, in a bid to finally pop his cork he goes Hulk hunting. To make sure he’s nice and angry , the Merc with a Mouth fires a nuke at The Hulk who (admirably) refuses to kill him… until Deadpool sets off a second one.
The fight that ensues including The Hulk being used as wrecking ball and a school bus full of children getting thrown into the mix is just a lot of fun to see. It’s also fun to see a mostly intelligent Hulk getting slowly more angry after being pestered and pestered by Deadpool and it features an explosive ending that you might not see coming…
Iron Man Vs Savage Hulk (Iron Man Vol 1 #131-132)
:Who needs a Hulkbuster anyway? In another classic story The Science Bros try to cure Banner of his anger issues by installing a gamma pacemaker of sorts. As you can probably guess, things don’t work out.
Hulk starts tearing up Stark International but luckily Iron Man is on the scene. In this all-out war I’m surprised that more people weren’t injured with landmarks toppling and private jets being hurled, they even spend a decent amount of time wrecking the docks. This all culminates with an absolutely superb splash page of carnage which neither would recover from any time soon.
Astonishing X-Men, New X-Men, X-Factor & The Juggernaut Vs Green Scar (World War Hulk: X-Men #1-3) :
After the events Planet Hulk he’s back for vengeance on The Illuminati, even the relatively blameless Charles Xavier. Professor X didn’t even make the actual decision to send him into space. Xavier gives himself up willingly but The X-Men aren’t going to let their mentor go without a fight.
This fight was actually better than most in the WWH main event in my opinion. The Green Scar version of The Hulk is possibly his most powerful incarnation and it shows as he solidly decimates three different teams and one of his arch foes single-handedly. Again, they all get their own licks in (like Shadowcat attempting to cripple him by phasing him into the ground or Elixir cancelling out his healing factor and Wolverine cutting his eyes out). But all this mutant might is no match for Hulk, who goes on to bend Colossus into a pretzel and absolutely own The Juggernaut…Bitch. For all that and more I highly recommend this one.
Everybody Vs Mindless Hulk (Incredible Hulk Vol 1 #300)
Nightmare is a bit of an arsehole! After a lengthy spell tormenting Bruce Banner he finally convinces him to commit psychic suicide, leaving The Hulk without human side to rein in his boundless rage.
As this story begins he decimates SHIELD’s jet-fighters & ground troops in minutes. Next up is the brave but foolhardy Johnny Storm but Hulk snuffs out his flame almost instantly with a just clap of his hands and renders him unconscious. He punches Luke Cage through a skyscraper, uses The Vision’s own density powers against him and even breaks Iron Fist’s hand. It turns out that the only one who even has a chance at holding him at bay is his old sparring partner Thor, in a battle that shakesthe very foundations of the city. In the closing events of this issue it changed the status quo for the book for well over a year and had a lasting impression on the Marvel Universe.
Hope you enjoyed my little walk down Destruction Drive, Adios Muchachos!!
P.S. All of these stories are available on the Marvel Unlimited App.