RADIOACTIVITY: The Origins of The Hulk

Comic books offer us an insight into the attitudes and beliefs of society at the time. In essence they are a historical document that we can use to determine how people viewed social issues.

The origins of the Hulk (1962) are no different. Below are a few observations of the Hulk origins story that I have made, but have a look at the comic strip first to see if you can pick out the some attitudes reflected in the comic strip. If I’ve missed any, please post them in the comments.


Some Attitudes towards Nuclear Energy I took from this

  • The comic strip starts with General Ross pushing forward the bomb test. General Ross represents how people at the time understood the extent of the military’s role in creating the bomb and how the military’s goals differed from those of the scientists. This attitude is reflected in many of the other Hulk stories, where the military is consistently trying to either stop or use the Hulk for its goals (the Hulk being a symbol of raw power much in the same way that the bomb was seen), often ignoring calls to just leave the Hulk alone.
  • Bruce Banner saves an ordinary citizen, which leads to him being turned into the Hulk. It is as if the ordinary citizen reflects the idea that most people are unaware of the dangers of nuclear energy. Later on in the comic strip this is reiterated when he picks up the Geiger counter and thinks it is a radio.
  • In one of the panels there is a Soviet scientists attempting to stop the bomb test. Not only is he attempting to stop it, he also points out that Dr. Banner (Snr) does not have pure motives in carrying out the test. Perhaps this is a reflection of tensions between the US and Soviet Russia at the time and that both sides have played a role in the Cold War.
  • Fundamentally the Hulk/Bruce Banner is a Dr. Jekyl/Mr Hyde situation reflecting the positive and negatives of science. However, I believe the Hulk and Bruce Banner reflect the positives and negatives of nuclear energy more than simply science in general.

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