The Hulk first appeared in The Incredible Hulk #1 (May 1962).
During the experimental detonation of a gamma bomb, scientist Bruce Banner rushes to save teenager Rick Jones who has driven onto the testing field; Banner pushes Jones into a trench to save him, but is himself hit with the blast, absorbing massive amounts of gamma radiation. He awakens later in an infirmary, seeming relatively unscathed, but that night transforms into a lumbering grey form that breaks through the wall and escapes. A soldier in the ensuing search party dubs the otherwise unidentified creature a "hulk". The original incarnation of Banner transformed into the Hulk at sunset and reverted at sunrise. Banner was cured in The Incredible Hulk #4, but chose to restore Hulk's powers with Banner's intelligence. The gamma-ray machine needed to effect the transformation induced side-effects that made Banner temporarily sick and weak when returned to his normal state.
In The Avengers #1 (September 1963), the Hulk became a founding member of the title's eponymous superhero team. However, by The Avengers #3, overuse of the gamma ray machine rendered the Hulk as an uncontrollable, rampaging monster, subject to spontaneous changing. In Tales to Astonish #59 (September, 1964) the Hulk appeared as an antagonist for Giant-Man. The series established stress as the trigger for Banner turning into the Hulk and vice versa. It was during this time that the Hulk developed a more savage and childlike personality, shifting from the brutish figure who spoke in complete sentences and his memory, both long-term and short-term, was markedly impaired in his Hulk state. In Tales to Astonish #77 (March 1966), Banner's and the Hulk's dual identity became publicly known when Glenn Talbot, Banner's romantic rival for Betty, witnessed his transformation, turning Banner into a wanted fugitive.
The 1970s saw Banner and Betty nearly marry in The Incredible Hulk #124 (Feb. 1970). Betty ultimately married Talbot in issue #158 (Dec. 1972). Hulk also traveled to other dimensions, one of which had him meet empress Jarella, who used magic to bring Banner’s intelligence to Hulk, and came to love him. Hulk helped to form the Defenders.
In the 1980s, Banner finally married Betty in The Incredible Hulk #319 (May 1986) following Talbot's death in 1981. It was also established that Banner had serious mental problems even before he became the Hulk, having suffered childhood traumas that engendered Bruce's repressed rage. The grey Hulk persona "Joe Fixit" was introduced, a morally ambiguous Las Vegas enforcer and tough guy. Banner remained repressed in Hulk's mind for months, but slowly begins to reappear. Banner comes to terms with his issues for a time, and Hulk and Banner were physically separated by Doc Samson. Banner is recruited by the U.S. government to create the Hulkbusters, a government team dedicated to catching Hulk. Banner and Hulk were reunited in The Incredible Hulk #323 (Sep. 1986) and with issue #324, returned the Hulk to his grey coloration, with his transformations once again occurring at night, regardless of Banner's emotional state.
The 1990s saw the Green Hulk return. In issue #377 (Jan. 1991), the Hulk was revamped in a storyline that saw the personalities of Banner, Grey Hulk, and Savage Hulk confront Banner's past abuse at the hands of his father Brian and a new "Guilt Hulk" persona. Overcoming the trauma, the intelligent Banner, cunning Grey Hulk, and powerful Savage Hulk personalities merge into a new single entity possessing the traits of all three. The Hulk also joined the Pantheon, a secretive organization of superpowered individuals. His tenure with the organization brought Hulk into conflict with a tyrannical alternate future version of himself called the Maestro in the 1993 Future Imperfect miniseries, who rules over a world where many heroes are dead.
In 2000, Banner and the three Hulks (Savage Hulk, Grey Hulk, and the "Merged Hulk", now considered a separate personality and referred to as the Professor) become able to mentally interact with one another, each personality taking over the shared body. During this, the four personalities (including Banner) confronted yet another submerged personality, a sadistic "Devil" intent on attacking the world. In 2005, it is revealed that the supernatural character Nightmare has manipulated the Hulk for years, and it is implied that some or all of the Hulk's adventures written by Bruce Jones may have been just illusion. In 2006, the Illuminati decide the Hulk is too dangerous to remain on Earth and send him away by rocket ship which crashes on Planet Sakaar ushering in the Planet Hulk storyline that saw Hulk find allies in the Warbound, and marry alien queen Caiera, a relationship that was later revealed to have bore him two sons: Skaar and Hiro-Kala. After the Illuminati's ship explodes and kills Caiera, Hulk returns to Earth with his Warbound and declares war on the planet in World War Hulk (2007).
In the 2010s Hiro-Kala traveled to Earth to destroy the OldStrong Power wielded by Skaar, forcing Skaar and the Hulk to defeat and imprison him within his home planet. Hulk decides to allow Dr. Doom to split Banner and Hulk. Banner also willingly joined the spy organization S.H.I.E.L.D., allowing them to use Hulk as a weapon in exchange for providing him with the means and funding to create a lasting legacy for himself.
Powers and Abilities
The Hulk possesses the potential for limitless physical strength depending directly on his emotional state, particularly his anger. This has been reflected in the repeated comment, "The madder Hulk gets, the stronger Hulk gets." After probing, the entity Beyonder once claimed that the Hulk's potential strength had "no finite element inside." Hulk's strength has been depicted as sometimes limited by Banner's subconscious influence; when Jean Grey psionically "shut Banner off", Hulk became strong enough to overpower and destroy the physical form of the villain Onslaught. Writer Greg Pak described the Worldbreaker Hulk shown during World War Hulk as having a level of physical power where "Hulk was stronger than any mortal—and most immortals—who ever walked the Earth." His strength allows him to leap into lower Earth orbit or across continents, and he has displayed superhuman speed.
His durability, regeneration, and endurance also increase in proportion to his temper. Hulk is resistant to injury or damage, though the degree to which varies between interpretations, but he has withstood the equivalent of solar temperatures, nuclear explosions, and planet-shattering impacts. Despite his remarkable resiliency, continuous barrages of high-caliber gunfire can hinder his movement to some degree while he can be temporarily subdued with intense attacks with chemical weapons such as anesthetic gases, although any interruption of such dosages will allow him to quickly recover. He has been shown to have both regenerative and adaptive healing abilities, including growing tissues to allow him to breathe underwater, surviving unprotected in space for extended periods, and when injured, healing from most wounds within seconds. As an effect, he has an extremely prolonged lifespan.
He also possesses less commonly described powers, including abilities allowing him to "home in" to his place of origin in New Mexico; resist psychic control, or unwilling transformation; grow stronger from radiation or dark magic; and to see and interact with astral forms. Some of these abilities were in later years explained as being related; his ability to home in on the New Mexico bomb site was due to his latent ability to sense astral forms and ghosts, since the bomb site was also the place where the Maestro's skeleton was and Maestro's spirit was calling out to him in order to absorb his radiation. The Hulk is also able to generate omnidirectional bursts of kinetic energy that completely destroy the planet he is standing on.