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The Psychology of the Hulk

Robert Bruce Banner has numerous split personalities that come out when he changes into the Hulk.

One of the most interesting aspects of the development of the Incredible Hulk is the fact that what was once a very simple character has grown into one of most complex heroes in the Marvel Universe. These chapters have been rewritten many times, with the paraphrase online. I won't bore you with all the details of the Hulk's profound evolution, because you can read much of it in the Wiki entry on the emerald green Goliath. But here is a brief analysis: Robert Bruce Banner has numerous split personalities, that come out when he changes into the Hulk. These split personalities have been with him since childhood, and we sometimes get a glimpse into Banner's years prior to becoming the Hulk.

In Peter David's brilliant Hulk story arc, "Tempest Fugit," we see a glimpses of the Robert Bruce Banner we never saw during the HULK SMASH! days of the 1960s and 1970s. Instead, we see the alienated high school youth, who is brutally picked on by his classmates. A brilliant genius, Banner is alone in the huge classrooms. These are supposed to be happy times for a teen... but they seldom are... and Banner knows this well. It was during this period of cruelty that he developed much of the hidden rage that would later explode in the form of the Hulk. No, we don't turn into the Hulk in real life, but sometimes those feelings of rebellion can manifest at a later date in another way. Maybe instead of the Hulk, we turn into the difficult or rambunctious employee who causes problems in the office.

Stan Lee originally conceived the Hulk as as modern day version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. In Lee's original version, the symbolism was very transparent and lacking in depth. The depth of the character would not fully flesh out until decades later because as long as you center on the Hulk, the character remains somewhat one dimensional. When you start to look at Banner the character becomes much more three dimensional, and defined.

Of course, the Hulk is not a modern day version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. He is a modern day version of the reader. The Banner who was beat up in High School is/was the reader. Comic book fans come from a certain background. They get beat up in high school, you know.

"Tempest Fugit" also looks at another aspect of Banner's rage: Adolescent sexual tension in the form of rejection.

Sexual tension is clear in this storyline in the flashback sequence, where a young Bruce Banner tries to save a girl he has a crush on. Of course, this blows up in his face, because geeks and nerds who misread a situation with a girl usually swim around a catastrophe waiting to happen. (I don't want to get too specific in regards to what happens in the plot of this story arc because if I give away too much of the plot and ending you won't really have a reason to pick the TPB up). This is not to say that Banner wasn't warned that the situation had the potential to major league backfire. The warning, however, was delivered in the form of the personality of the Hulk… an alter ego personality that is buried deep in the psyche of Banner. If the Hulk is another side of the coin that makes up Banner's personality then these sequences are rather unnerving. The Hulk obviously despises Banner. The problem is that the Hulk and Banner really are one in the same. As such, much of what is present in the form of the Hulk's taunts is basically Banner's own self loathing.

When you take into consideration the fact that the anger of the Incredible Hulk is such that he has smashed more than a city or two, it should not come as a surprise that the anger expressed is boiling anger that has long since been internalized as opposed to anger derived from external forces.

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