Avenger's Endgame is just finishing the week proceeding opening weekend where it broke the record for biggest box office opening weekend of all time with an estimated 350 million in ticket sales domestically (Time.com). One of the most famous Avengers appearing in this film is The Incredible Hulk, a character with a very interesting history, and sort of the microcosmic originator of the multimodal franchise entity.
For as much as Spider-Man has been milking an entire multiverse of selves as of late, it was The Hulk that should be seen as the first character that had an entire mythology built around different modalities, or, incarnations.
While The Hulk's first issue dropped in 1962, and his personality changed based on changes of writer, artist, and theme… by the 1970s, and moreso in the 80s, such changes were met with postmodern revision bringing us the multilayered Hulk we know today. Let's take a look back at some of Hulk's most personality disrupting episodes.
1972 - Banner's Big Brain (The Incredible Hulk Issue 156) - The Hulk, with Bruce Banner's brain, goes up against himself in this mind bending issue from the early 70s. Herb Trimpe's cover art really pops. While this Banner Hulk mix-em-up isn't as deep and complex as later Hulk personality conundrums, this comic is definitely a must buy.
1986 - The Banner-Hulk Separation (The Incredible Hulk Issue 315) During several comics Banner and Hulk become seperate entities. This is the crescendo of the John Byrne run, and sees Hulk, once seperated, take on a more beastly appearance. These issues set the stage for another transformation soon to follow.
1987 - Gray Hulk's Arrival (The Incredible Hulk 331) - Ushering in the Peter David with Todd McFarlane era, this issue introduces a very postmodern Hulk, complete reconception of what being The Hulk means. While McFarlane is indeed the penciller on this book's interior, it won't be until The Incredible Hulk issue 340 where we get an iconic Wolverine appearance that McFarlane will do the cover honors. The green Hulk is turned gray quickly thanks to a Doc Samson nutrient bath, and Peter David will use much of the early portion of his run fleshing this character out, eventually evolving the character into a sharply dressed gray Hulk that goes by the name Joe Fixit by The Incredible Hulk 347. Joe Fixit even becomes a member of a truly all-star Fantastic Four iteration (see Fantastic Four 348).
1991 - Enter The Professor (The Incredible Hulk 377) - The 90s Hulk appeareth! The creation of "The Professor" Hulk was the most analytical look at the inner psyche of Banner and his gamma-radiated personalities. Thanks to Doc Samson he was able to reemerge as a studly version of his greenest self, and the smartest version up to that date. File this fella under Hulk most likely to wear bunny slippers!
1992 - All Hail The Maestro - (Future Imperfect 1-2) - The future is a dark place for everyone but The Hulk. The Maestro is The Hulk at the end of the universe. A universe where all of the super heroes have been slaughtered by the strongest one there is! Originally appearing in his own mini-series, this champion continues to pop up, now reigning over the Contest of Champions series.
2016 - What's Up Doc Green? (Hulk 4-16) This entire Omega Hulk story arc looks back over a rich Hulk history, but in terms of personality, this is a very interesting take. A virus known as "Extremis" strikes The Hulk, but not Banner. This transforms The Hulk (Not Banner, mind you) into the smartest, and slightly hipster/eccentric character in the Marvel Universe. This Hulk was a surprising ending to generations of Hulk stories from my view. Duggan (who revived Deadpool multiple times) really shines through the amazing art of Mark Bagley that makes this a real treat for those who love Duggan's storytelling and were introduced to comics via The Amazing Spider-Man series which, in the 90s, is defined by Bagley. The only bad thing to say about The Omega Hulk series is that it ended far too soon. It was a lead in to Secret Wars which turned the Marvel Comics Universe on its head.