The greatest struggle of Bruce Banner’s life is the quest to find infinitely stretchable purple pants. The second greatest struggle of Bruce Banner’s life is the quest to finally, once and for all, cure himself of his affliction: when he gets angry, he transforms into a giant, savage, green engine of destruction known as the Incredible Hulk.
Bruce has almost never been happy with his condition; every transformation is out of his control, and the Hulk and him have never seen eye to eye on life they share. Banner is too puny and pathetic and cramps the Hulk’s style; the Hulk destroys peoples’ lives and keeps Banner away from the woman he loves and the scientific accolades he deserves.
He’s tried many times to finally rid himself of the Hulk, and each attempt seems like it’ll be the one to stick – but that’s never quite the case, is it? Here are 18 Times Bruce Banner Was Cured Of The Hulk, Once And For All.
18. At the end of his first series (Until the Avengers needed him)
The Hulk’s first comic book series, The Incredible Hulk, didn’t last too long. Debuting in 1962, it saw Bruce Banner struggling to reverse his strange condition. Only a few issues after he was first afflicted with the world’s worst temper, Banner invented a device that allowed him to turn from Banner to the Hulk and back again. Still, each transformation met with more resistance than the last, and in the end Banner decided it just wasn’t worth the suffering and the risk to be the Hulk at all. With Rick Jones’ help, he used the machine to finally remove the Hulk once and for all, and end The Incredible Hulk at issue #6.
Less than a year later, the Hulk would be needed once more, this time to do battle with Loki in The Avengers #1. No mention was made of Banner supposedly being cured, and the Hulk’s popularity was secured.
17. Reed Richards and Banner build a device to fix him, until a monster turns him back
The Missing Link was a radioactive beast that once defeated the Hulk by draining him of his gamma radiation, leaving puny Banner in his place. Of course, the transformation didn’t last long, but it led to Reed Richards building a device based on Banner’s notes that could finally cure Bruce of the Hulk, once and for all.
The machine threatened Banner’s life, but Reed was convinced to go ahead with his plan after seeing how happy and helpful a de-Hulked Bruce Banner could be. The machine worked, and turned Hulk back into Banner – until moments later, when the Missing Link showed up. This time the radioactive ogre had the opposite effect: he turned Bruce back into the Hulk. Thanks, Missing Link!
16. Bruce Banner improves on the device (until the Leader blasts him)
Bruce saw the effectiveness of Reed Richard’s design, and put his considerable intellect towards improving the device. Mr. Fantastic may be the smartest Marvel superhero, but Bruce Banner is unsurpassed in the field of gamma radiation, after all. Bruce developped improvements, and brought his notes with him to the Baxter building – only to turn into the Hulk, and battle the Fantastic Four.
Luckily, during the battle, Sue discovers Banner’s notes on the machine, and they are able to make his work a reality. This proved to be remarkably effective – Bruce gained full control over his Hulkification, and vowed never to transform again. He retired to live a quiet life with his love, Betty Ross.
…until her own father, and the Hulk’s nemesis, General Ross requested Banner turn into the Hulk one last time, in order to defeat the Leader. Banner complied, only for the Leader to show up at his wedding and blast him with a gamma device, effectively turning him into the mindless raging savage Hulk once more, without the ability to turn back.
15. Dr. Raoul Stoddard separates Bruce from the Hulk
Bruce Banner wasn’t the only gamma radiation expert in the Marvel universe; one of his closest rivals in that field, Dr. Raoul Stoddard, had been working on a way to separate Bruce from the Hulk for years. Using a device called the Gammatron, Stoddard apparently, finally, cured Bruce Banner of the Hulk.
For the time being, anyway. Banner soon discovered that Raoul hadn’t erased the Hulk so much as he’d created two separate, but connected, beings: one nerdy scientist, and one big screen rage machine. Killing one would kill the other, so they still couldn’t deal with the Hulk that way, and simply keeping the Hulk captured while Banner lived a happy life didn’t seem like a good plan, either. In the end, with Iron Man’s help (and in spite of Stoddard’s meddling), Banner had to re-merge with the Hulk.
14. Doc Samson drains it away (until he hits on Betsy Ross)
Dr. Leonard “Samson” Skivorski, Jr. is a classic Marvel scientists: ostensibly a psychiatrist, he’s also a prodigious inventor and biologist and male model and physicist. In a classic Hulk story, Betty Ross had been turned into glass, and Doc Samson saw a way to cure two birds with one highly experimental method: he took the Hulk’s “libidinal” energy and transferred it to Betty Ross, turning her and Banner human again.
Samson, though, took things a little too far after that – he took some of the Hulk’s energy and transferred it to himself, super-charging his body and turning his long hair green. He then began to romance Betty Ross, which irked Bruce Banner enough to actually reverse the process that had cured him. He wrestled Samson for Betty’s love; it was then that Doc Samson realized how much damage he’d caused, and backed off of Betty. Since then, he’s been a close friend of Banner’s and an ally to the Hulk.
13. Bruce travels back in time but kills Rick accidentally
In comic books, time travel is never simple – it appears to solve our heroes’ problems, only for there to be some terrible ironic cost associated with it. Maybe you interrupt your parents’ meeting, and erase yourself from existence; maybe you step on a dragonfly and now everyone is a dinosaur. Maybe you travel back in time to dodge the bomb that turned you into a radioactive rage machine, only to allow that bomb to kill an innocent teenager and future sidekick.
That last scenario is what befalls Bruce Banner, when a scientists friend, Kerwin Kronus, devises a time travel device that sends Banner’s mind back to the moment the bomb went off, allowing him to run for cover. In the future this change creates, he is happily married to Betty Ross and is a respected scientist; his guilt over allowing Rick Jones to die in the explosion, however, drives him to travel back once more and live out the explosion as he had the first time.
12. It just goes away on its own, really
Just as he was getting ready to squash a couple of love-struck teens, the Incredible Hulk started shrinking. It turns out, by issue #223 of The Incredible Hulk, Bruce Banner had all but entirely expunged the gamma radiation from his body; his transformation that day in the woods was to be his list. Before the teenagers’ eyes, the terrifying green rage machine became the harmless – even pathetic – Bruce Banner.
Of course, it’s just then that the Leader happens to kidnap Doc Samson, General Ross, and Bruce Banner in one fell swoop. Bruce and his “friends” have to work together to defeat the Leader, without relying on the Hulk to smash their way out. Bruce ends up using an old Hulk robot to fight the Leader, but feedback from the robot’s destruction – plus an extra dose of gamma radiation from Samson – brings his emerald alter ego back.
11. Peter Corbeau Cures the Hulk until Jarella Needs His Help
Peter Corbeau, a friend of Bruce Banner’s (and Professor X!), was a noted physicist, astronaut, inventor, and designer of the Starcore orbiting space station. When the military had finally captured the Hulk through the use of sedative-filled explosives, Corbeau was called in to destroy the beast once and for all. He uses a device that harnesses the sun’s energy to neutralize the Gamma energy in the Hulk; unfortunately, Jarella (the Hulk’s sub-atomic love interest) shows up soon after, and her arrival combined with the machine causes the sun to threaten all life on Earth (somehow). Banner turns back into the Hulk (somehow) in order to rescue Jarella from an assassin sent from her world, just in time to help settle the dangerous solar storm brewing on the surface of the sun (somehow).
10. The Silver Surfer drains his energy
After successfully petitioning Galactus to leave Earth alone, the Silver Surfer was trapped on the planet by a cosmic energy field created by his former boss. He therefore sought out the Hulk, the only being he knew of who possessed the energy necessary to break through the barrier. Instead sharing, of course, The Hulk tried to break the Surfer’s board, and the two got into a scuffle. The Surfer drained all of The Hulk’s radiation, turning him into Banner once again, but the infusion drove the Surfer temporarily insane. Banner had to somehow siphon the Gamma radiation back into himself, becoming the Hulk once more.
9. The Presence removes Hulk and Ursa Major’s powers
While on vacation in Russia, the Hulk happened upon some Soviet Super-Soldiers and a giant bear. The bear would turn out to be Ursa Major, a soldier in a situation similar to the Hulk’s: he had a nasty tendency to turn into a giant, feral bear. The two forces got to battling, but were interrupted by The Presence. It turns out the Soviet soldiers were sent there to deal with him, and Hulk himself had had some experience with The Presence from his time with the Defenders.
The Presence, not wanting to be disturbed, simply removed Ursa Major and The Hulk’s powers. He could have kept them both that way forever, to everyone’s benefit, but he simply reversed the process in the next issue.
8. Banner absorbs enough radiation to maintain his intellect in Hulk form
A few visits to space can wreak havoc on a person’s Gamma radiation. That’s the theory of this Hulk story, anyway, which sees a space-faring Bruce Banner exposed to tremendous amounts of Gamma radiation – twice! The extra doses allow him more control than ever over The Hulk – he can now trigger the transformation at will and, even better, he retains his incredible intellect while in Hulk form. Instead of simply not turning into The Hulk ever again, Banner takes the opportunity to finally put the Hulk to good use, being the fully-in-control hero he’s always wanted to be. This being a Hulk story, of course, it isn’t long before the Hulk persona takes over, and eventually there’s barely any Banner left in the Jade Giant.
7. Doc Samson separates them again
This story opens with The Hulk finally chasing Bruce Banner into the desert, landing on him and preparing to kill him once and for all. It’s soon revealed to be a hallucination brought on by a new experiment of Doc Samson’s designed to finally separate the Bruce Banner and The Hulk for good. The procedure is a resounding success! Unfortunately, the now completely feral Hulk goes on a rampage. Samson and Banner form a new Hulkbuster team to stop him, and soon come to the realization the rampaging Hulk’s molecules are out of whack – as are Banner’s.
6. Red Hulk siphons off any extra energy
During a battle at an A.I.M. base, Red Hulk (General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross) and good old original recipe Hulk were forced to clash. By then, it had been revealed by some sleuthing on the part of She-Hulk that M.O.D.O.K. was responsible for the creation of Red Hulk. During the battle, Red Hulk finally got a good grip on Banner Hulk, and proceeded to drain the gamma radiation from him, once and for all. Banner would never be able to transform into the Hulk again. Before the base went critical, A-Bomb (the Hulkified Rick Jones) rescued Banner from the explosion. Though it was his mortal enemy that did it, Bruce was relieved to finally be cured of the Hulk, once and for all.
5. Doctor Doom fully separates the two until an explosion merges them again.
A moderately intelligent Hulk had had enough of the weakling Banner holding him back, and so he sought help from some of Marvel’s most intelligent, and most powerful, Earthlings. He settled on Doctor Doom.
The good Doctor separated the part of the Hulk’s brain that contained Banner’s personality and had that placed in a cloned (and Gamma radiation-free) body. Hulk went off on his own, happily, until he was called back to action in order to stop a now-insane clone-Banner. Clone-Banner led Hulk on a merry chase, at the end of which he revealed that he’d been having the Hulk gather the ingredients to a new cure he’d developed while on the run. The two happily reunited, each having missed the other, and the cure was instead used to return some Hulk-ified animals to normal.
4. Ed Norton cures himself until he’s kicked out of a helicopter
While on the run, Bruce Banner and Betty Ross are contacted by someone who calls himself “Mr. Blue.” This turns out to be Samuel Sterns (in the comics, he is better known as The Leader), who has managed to create an antidote for Banner’s condition. After a successful test, Banner is finally captured by General Ross and Emil Blonsky.
It’s at this point, while Banner is being taken away in a helicopter, that Blonsky forces Sterns to give him an infusion of Banner’s irradiated blood. Transforming into the Abomination, Blonsky wreaks havoc in Harlem. Banner manages to convince the general to let him go so he can stop Blonsky’s rampage, trusting that the cure wasn’t permanent, after all. He leaps from the helicopter… and doesn’t transform. Well, he does, eventually – but he has to slam into the pavement first.
3. Amadeus Cho drains off the remaining radiation in Banner’s body, gaining Hulk powers himself.
Shortly after the events of Secret Wars, Bruce Banner as the Hulk sacrifices himself in order to diffuse a reactor meltdown. Banner is close to exploding, but Amadeus Cho, one of the Marvel Universe’s most intelligent people and a close friend of Banner’s, steps in at the last second to save him. Using gamma-absorbing nanites of his own invention, he siphons off the excess radiation from Banner… and gives it to himself. Banner is, seemingly, cured, and Cho himself becomes the All-New, All-Different, Totally Awesome Hulk. This version of the Hulk, however, is under total control of Cho – he can activate his Hulkification at will.
2. Bonus: Doc Green goes around curing everyone else of their Hulk-ness
After Bruce Banner’s brain damage was cured by Tony Stark (with the use of the Extremis virus), his brain capacity increased dramatically. A new Hulk persona emerged: the super-intelligent Doc Green. He foresaw a future in which gamma-mutates were responsible for cataclysmic events, and sought to de-power them all.
He created a serum with Adamantium nanobots that would absorb gamma radiation and leave a gamma mutate powerless. He de-powered Red She-Hulk, A-Bomb, and the Gamma Corps, before finally taking the fight to Thaddeus Ross in his Red Hulk form and de-powering him once and for all. He spared Jennifer Walters, She-Hulk, knowing she was the only one of the mutates who was in full control of her life and had benefitted from her transformation. He left the last dose of the serum with her.
1. Hawkeye cures Bruce with an arrow to the face
During the events of Civil War 2, Ulysses the precognizant Inhuman has a vision of a rampaging Hulk killing heroes and civilians. The assembled heroes rush to either stop or rescue Bruce Banner, and upon their arrival – just as there is a flash of green in Banner’s eye – an arrow strikes the secluded scientist, killing him instantly (and curing him permanently).
It turns out, obviously, to be the work of Clint Barton aka Hawkeye. He claims that Bruce asked him to take the drastic step if there was ever a danger of the Hulk reappearing.
Shortly afterwards, the Hand, an ancient and evil ninja clan, steals Bruce Banner’s corpse and resurrects the Hulk as a zombie killing machine. He attacks the Uncanny Avengers at The Hand’s secret base, glowing with magical energy and sporting a terrifying samurai mask.