The Incredible Hulk's M.O. errs toward smashing crap, yelling self-aggrandizing slogans, and the mysterious power to perpetually be within a five-mile radius of a purple sweatpants factory. But it's unfair to stereotype the Green Goliath as a one-note behemoth. The truth is, comic writers over the decades have woven a diverse tapestry of stories about a giant, emotionally disturbed man with radioactive isotopes for melanin.
But would all of these stories go over in the multiplex? Goodness, no. Here are ten Hulk plot points that are slightly less absurd than that one time Nick Nolte transforming into a gamma-powered hobo god.
10.) The Hulk becomes a giant pile of tumors
In Warren Ellis' 1995 "everything that can go wrong in the Marvel Universe does go wrong" alternate reality miniseries Ruins, Bruce Banner saves his friend Rick Jones from the gamma bomb, like in normal continuity.
But instead of becoming a character cherished enough to adorn toilet paper, he becomes a massive lump of malignant yuck.
9.) The Hulk tries to mate with She-Hulk
Let's now avert our gaze to this in-continuity Hulk story, in which the Hulk experiences radioactive Pon farr and tries to bang his cousin. In 2000's Incredible Hulk annual, the Hulk is feeling particularly horny and requires a mate who can withstand his primal lovemaking. He preens by smashing up Central Park and then selects She-Hulk as his chosen paramour.
She rejects him and the Hulk leaps off to hump some mesas or plateaus or whatever topographical feature he grinds against when his crotch is frustrated. I presume this is why he can't bring himself to attend Avengers reunion cookouts anymore. Which brings us to our next point...
8.) The Hulk successfully mates with She-Hulk
The Hulk finally got his wish in the 2008 alternate dimension story arc Old Man Logan, which featured Bruce Banner as the main villain of a post-apocalyptic California. After going insane and becoming so irradiated he doesn't need to transform into Hulk, Bruce breeds with She-Hulk and pumps out an entire brood of superhuman yokels. Yes, this story has Hulks running around sporting trucker hats. (That's evil backwoods Hulk at the top, by the way. You could hit a home run with a follicle of that back hair.)
7.) The Hulk assaults a PBS party
For those of you keeping track at home, you'll remember that those 1970s kids' comics known as Spidey Super Stories are the gift that keeps on giving. These young-readers comics were particularly remarkable for transforming otherwise erudite superheroes into blabbering weirdos. The opposite applies to Hulk here — instead of becoming stupider, he starts quoting Kermit the Frog. Classic!
6.) The Hulk drowns his sorrows in a hundred Tibetan bikini models
In Marvel Comics' sort-of-different Ultimate Universe, Bruce Banner finds peace through meditation, zen Buddhism, and tantric sex with a harem of nubile Tibetan ladies. He is understandably annoyed with Wolverine, who interrupts his Bodhisattva slumber party.
5.) Batman beats the hell out of the Hulk
Your eyes do not deceive you — this scene played out in 1981's Batman Versus The Hulk crossover. As further evidence that Batman can do absolutely anything, the Dark Knight ends up besting the Hulk after the Joker recruits the man-monster.
Of course, Batman wins only after Hulk tries to snap the Caped Crusader à la Bane. This page is ridiculously prescient of the summer 2012 movie season.
4.) Hulk murders an entire disco gang at the behest of yappy children
Hostess Fruit Pie ads are the gossamer chains of stupidity that hold the universe together, but this strip is particularly egregious. A bunch of children begin caterwauling about pastries, so the Hulk transforms the least imposing criminals since the Apple Dumping Gang into an asphalt burrito. Notice how nobody is calling the paramedics.
3.) Hulk hides from Iron Man and Thor by dressing as a clown and juggling a pachyderm and a pinniped
Incidentally, this scene occurred in the very first issue of Avengers, way back in September 1963. Hey, the Hulk was never known for his subtlety.
2.) Hulk is unable to orgasm on command
The year was 1984, the kind of year when an alien with the power to overwhelm sentient beings with sexual pleasure could join the Avengers. That character was Starfox, the brother of the cosmic despot Thanos. Even if Starfox had succeeded in psionically drowning the Hulk in sexy thoughts, his O-face alone would cause the Earth to spin off its axis.
1.) The Hulk is almost raped by gay men in a YMCA
And in a story arc that will forever live in infamy, we have 1980's Rampaging Hulk #23, wherein the Hulk takes a break from fighting The Leader or Abomination to be ambushed by two marauding homosexuals. These guys must have been going crazy, being probably the only two gay dudes in the Marvel Universe at the time. Writer Jim Shooter (rather rightfully) caught a lot of shit for this strip throughout the years. So yeah, this is basically the Cruising of comic books, and that very last panel totally tosses all of the drama out the window. For a similar moment, see Spider-Man's secret.