Marvel’s Incredible Hulk is weirdly overlooked despite his massive muscles and overwhelming greenness. Over the course of six decades, he’s been in so many scraps that it’s tough to keep track of them all. The cycle of Banner and Hulk struggling for control, coming together, and inevitably splitting again, probably in space, is never-ending given his immortality.
He can lift stars and cannot die, but Hulk’s infallibility has led readers to overlook many battles with powerful enemies. Hulk’s most underrated fights, from reality-warpers and dream-shapers to demons and mythological creatures, had a permanent impact that can still be felt in recent series. Amid hundreds of issues and thousands of appearances, between all his wins, losses, and incredible feats, Hulk has engaged in some underrated fights.
10/10 Hulk Villains Are Underrated In General
The Abomination is canonically twice as strong as the Hulk, but his strength doesn’t increase with rage like Hulk’s. The U-Foes are essentially an evil Fantastic Four who, despite being handicapped by their own egos, wield cosmic power. M.O.D.O.K. could topple modern infrastructure. Most Hulk villains are incredibly powerful.
Even General Thaddeus Ross, before becoming Red Hulk, went to extremes to capture Banner or the Hulk, using his military resources to harness lightning monsters and destroy towns. One would think that an assortment of literal earth-shattering bad guys would be serious threats to every superhero at all times. Still, their handy defeats, thanks to the Hulk, leave them underrated and underappreciated.
9/10 Savagery Was Redefined After Hulk Faced Onslaught
The 1990s brought significant changes for most popular characters, and the bulk of Hulk’s time as Professor Hulk is a prime example. By 1996, Banner had been Doc Green long enough to make new relationships and grow arrogant. It’s all explored in The Incredible Hulk #444-447, written by Peter David with pencils by Angel Medina, inks by Robin Riggs, and colors by Glynis Oliver.
Onslaught brainwashed Hulk into trying to kill Cable. Once Cable frees his mind, Hulk insults the Avengers and decides to fight Onslaught alone. He survives and after the team-up battle, the military makes his skin melt into stone and a new, smarter, savage Hulk appears. Of Hulk’s many metamorphoses, this one is underrated.
8/10 Hulk And Bruce Banner Freed The Collector’s Collection
Monster fights are the lifeblood of comic books, and The Incredible Hulk #197-198 was a matchup for the ages. With story and colors by Len and Glynis Wein respectively, pencils by Sal Buscema, and inks by Joe Staton, a master of horror pit Marvel’s rage monster against their most wildly powerful empath.
Hulk doesn’t get to square off against Elders of the Universe very often, but after the Collector sends pirates, the Glob, and Man-Thing to fight him, Hulk is captured and added to the collection. Banner’s teamwork in escaping and the emotional resolutions for all the other captives mean this two-part thrill ride is criminally underrated.
7/10 Hulk Is Stronger Than Any Plot Device
World War Hulk continues to influence Marvel Comics, and in all of its many tie-ins and miniseries, there have been great fights. Given the sheer enormity of Hulk’s crusade against the Illuminati, it only makes sense that a few conflicts would go overlooked.
World War Hulk: X-Men, written by Christos N. Gage with art by Andrea Divito and color by Laura Villari, pits Hulk against heroes who have traditionally been immortal plot devices. On top of defeating Colossus, Strong Guy, and Juggernaut, Elixir’s death touch and Darwin’s energy absorption had no effect on Hulk. Maybe it’s because Professor X never wanted to fight back, but for whatever reason this series and its many fights are underrated.
6/10 The Incredible Hulk #300 Is A Brawl In The Big Apple
The Savage Hulk is one of Hulk’s many personas, and it’s been used for both good and bad. When it gets out of hand, the response has long been to send Hulk to space. One of the earliest instances is in The Incredible Hulk #300, written by Bill Mantlo with pencils by Sal Buscema, inks by Gerry Talaoc, and colors by Bob Sharen.
Hulk is hucking billboards at pedestrians in New York City, which catches the attention of the city’s greatest heroes. Daredevil, Doctor Strange, and a black-suited Spider-Man arrive alongside the Heroes for Hire and several Avengers to fight the Hulk, resulting in a tragic banishment that has since been overshadowed by newer versions.
5/10 Hulk Fought Captain Marvel To Get To Jarella’s Body
Captain Marvel is one of Marvel’s mightiest heroes, wielding immense cosmic power. Their battle with Hulk in The Incredible Hulk #246 is brief, but its significance makes it largely underrated. Written by Bill Mantlo with art by Sal Buscema and colors by Ben Sean, the issue concerns Hulk’s attempts to fulfill his promise to return Jarella’s body to her home.
The issue starts with Hulk trying to kill Glen Talbot, a long-time nuisance. Captain Marvel intervenes, but Hulk bats him away almost absently. Marvel quickly assesses the situation and, understanding Hulk’s anguish convinces Hulk that he only wants to help. Hulk’s tears are heartbreaking, and the oncoming soldiers quickly become the real monsters.
4/10 Hulk’s First Wendigo Fight Is Beautifully Sad
This man – this monster – was different from any Hulk faced. Paul Cartier was a Canadian hunter who turned to cannibalism after disaster struck his hunting party. He appeared as the Wendigo in The Incredible Hulk #162, written by Steve Englehart with pencils by Herb Trimpe, inks by Sal Trapani, and colors by David Hunt, pitting the Hulk against the supernatural.
Where Hulk mostly fought other heroes and bulky science monsters, the Wendigo comes directly from North American mythology. The tragic and disease-like nature of the Wendigo myth is a mirror for Hulk in many ways. Between short action sequences, this issue is a beautiful check-in with the big guy, showcasing his sensitivity.
3/10 The Incredible Hulk Beat Doctor Doom
The Incredible Hulk #139-144, written by Roy Thomas and Gary Friedrich with pencils by Dick Ayers and inks by John Severin, is a wild ride. It starts with a star-studded brawl, ends on a movie set, and introduces too much long-standing Hulk lore to be as underrated as it is.
Issue #139 sees Hulk fight just about everybody, as the title says. The battle seriously threatens Betty’s life, and the following issues introduce Jarella and Doc Samson, two Hulk staples who continue to strain his and Betty’s relationship. After his subatomic stint, Hulk beats Doctor Doom nearly to death in issues #143-144, then jumps away and is cast in a feature film in the following issue.
2/10 Joe Fixit Fought Angels And Demons
The Incredible Hulk #349-359 is a run that clearly shows just how underrated Joe Fixit is. Widely regarded as the weakest Hulk, these issues by Peter David with pencils by Jeff Purves, see Joe face off against Spider-Man, the Thing, an angelic dream-shaper, and a bona fide demon, laying the foundation for the Hulk’s ties to the underworld.
The beauty in these 10 issues is how they free Joe from Hulk’s standard pattern of smashing, fighting, and hiding. His ability to communicate with Spider-Man and the Avengers and the way he outsmarts divine beings make Joe feel real and set the tone for a future Hulk didn’t get to until more recently.
1/10 Hulk Tore Reality With Sheer Physical Strength
One of Hulk’s greatest and most hotly-contested feats came during his battle with Night Crawler in The Incredible Hulk #127, written by Roy Thomas with colors by Herb Trimpe. In the villain’s pocket dimension, Hulk’s sonic clap shredded the fabric of reality, freeing Doctor Strange and winning the battle.
There are a few go-to arguments for naysayers who can’t suspend their disbelief over Hulk’s stupendous feat of strength. Some say Strange’s unsuccessful fight with Night Crawler “loosened him up,” while others point to the pocket realm’s relative size and constitution. According to the story, there is no such catch, and this battle is severely underrated.
Next: The Hulk And The Thing’s Greatest Battles