(originally a question asked to me in the old forum)

Now this is likely going to be a bigger and harder list, because Marvel's got a FAAAR larger amount of alternate universes than DC, all numbered and everything, it's insane.

For that reason alone this post will focus on the Bruce Banner of Earth-616 and his many Hulk personas. It's easier that way. I'll make other Hulk posts regarding other incarnations in the future.


Merged Hulk



During the 90s, Banner's good friend Doc Samson made his final attempt to try to cure Banner. This time he tried to see if the two Hulks, grey and green, and Banner, could be at peace with one another by talking to the three in Bruce's mind. He went there and saw the problem when they went through their memories, specifically Bruce's childhood. Every time her sweet mother, Rebecca Banner, would appear, something horrible would happen... A dark entity would appear and brutalize everything, killing both Hulks with ease and even snapping Rebecca's neck while calling little Bruce a monster. This was Bruce's mental manifestation of his terrible father. When they learned that they had nothing to fear, this entity turned back into Brian Banner, his father, and melted into dust, dissipating in the air. Both Hulks had joined forces and were finally at peace with one another, creating a combination between the two controled by Banner's mind, with a few glances of the two Hulks in his personality, creating 'Merged Hulk' also known as 'Professor Hulk' and later on 'Doc Green', though he often just went by 'Dr. Banner' or 'Bruce'.

And here's where I explain why he's at the bottom of his list. While mostly fun, this Hulk was a bit of a bland and unlikeable jerk, and while the combination between Hulk's might and Bruce's intellect was neat... It had been done before, and much, much better. Bruce has gained full control several times actually, and it has always been better than how Merged Hulk was, even if Merged Hulk had better control over his anger which was pretty unclear still and very ironic considering that during this era Hulk had begun to receive massive nerfs. However, like all Hulks, he was still fun.




Bannerless Hulk



The Hulk with the least amount of appearances, but one of the first I discovered so he had quite an impact on me. He appeared during John Byrne's Hulk era, and if you remember, John Byrne was responsible for a good chunk of Post-Crisis Superman (the beginning to be more precise), and he's always been an excellent writer, as well as a great artist. Though 'Bannerless Hulk' is a fanmade term, I'm using it here to refer to the Hulk who was genetically separated from Banner by his good friend Doc Samson, and accidentally, without Bruce's mind to keep the monster in check, turned into an engine of destruction, a completely irrational creature that destroyed even without knowing why.

Pretty much nothing could stop or calm him, which led to one of Hulk's best fights, against most of the Avengers.



I've seen some people referring to other personas which didn't exactly have Banner in them as 'Bannerless', but this isn't Banner being denied all control over the Hulk and letting him go wild or him disappearing so far deep into his own mind that he's practically gone or dead, as he has before. In this case there was no Banner, as he and Hulk had been molecularly divided, which only made matters worse in fact, because Banner and Hulk soon began to break down, their bodies' densities and sizes shifting all over the place, which made them realize one thing: They cannot exist apart, they must be together forever or else they will die.


Silver Age



The original, as well as Hulk at his most evil.



Also known as the 'Gravage Hulk', because of this being essentially the combination between the Grey Hulk's mindset and the Savage Hulk's power, he was the first to show up, though the story behind that is pretty well-known. Stan Lee originally wanted Hulk to be grey, instead they were forced to use green due to shading and printing problems. This has been referenced multiple times in the comics, and the Grey Hulk was simply how Hulk was at first before Bruce hulked out into a bigger, badder, greener monster later on.



This Hulk possessed a brutish intellect and had a very thug-like personality. He used his smarts quite a bit and had delusions of grandeur, even moreso than Hulk's typical 'strongest there is' shtick.



The first few adventures he has are pretty fun and established some of his lesser but also more a few of his more important baddies, and he shines the most during his fights, where his immense power combined with his merciless personality make him one of the most fearsome personas out there. Though keep in mind, these guys are all Hulks, they're all scary


Mr. Fixit



From Gravage to Grey, only that in the case of the one who would later be named 'Joe Fixit', after a bodyguard from the owner of a casino who he made short work of and even took his job, Mr. Fixit had some of the most fun adventures of any Hulk on Earth, especially since he couldn't hang in there with some of the stronger guys his green counterpart would face, now being somewhat weaker than before (albeit still a powerhouse). Among other things we get from Gravage Hulk here is that sunlight weakens him, since as Gravage Hulk the Sun made him turn back into Banner, however Fixit solved this by covering most of his body with clothes that would protect him as well as mostly staying in the shadows, which only made him more intimidating for the foes that he could beat up rather easily, especially since this is one of the Hulks that is most okay with the idea of killing.

Whenever there's a mental battle, Fixit's interactions with Savage Hulk crack me up, he just mocks his dumber counterpart oh so very easily. His clothes also give him a lot of swagger.



All the scenes inside Banner's mind tend to be great, though.


Mindless Hulk



The most dangerous Hulk out there alongside Bannerless Hulk, though unlike Bannerless Hulk who was almost like an emotionless machine, this persona is more similar to a wild animal, uncapable of speech or understanding most languages. During this era Banner had completely obtained control over the Hulk's body, which was momentarily interrupted by the Secret Wars (though all the time they spent on that event didn't affect time on Earth, 'cause the Beyonder was a boss back then), and during this time period Bruce's nightmares began to show him what appeared to be the Hulk, or rather, a shadowy figure similar to Hulk that was much, MUCH stronger, powerful enough to take down the Fantastic Four with one blow each. After returning to Earth from the Secret Wars with a broken leg (courtesy of Ultron), his anger only increased the moment he went back to what he was doing before he got interrupted, saving the lovely Kate Waynesboro from the supervillain Boomerang, who had captured her following a gang lord's orders who wanted to use Banner's gamma healing machine to become strong and feared again.

The angrier he got the more this intelligent Hulk lost control, and eventually, after taking on the gamma empowered gang lord who had now hulked out into a monster, the shadowy Hulk-like figure approached and Hulk became free once again.



This sudden burst of anger, unseen to this extent prior to that issue, wether when he was smart or not, was because of Nightmare, another supervillain and part of Dr Strange's rogues gallery, who wanted to use Hulk for his own selfish needs. Eventually, Strange led Hulk into Nightmare's realm, and having turned into a monster RIGHT after being accepted as a hero, Banner couldn't tolerate going back and facing humanity, so he shut himself down, letting the Hulk become a wild animal without no one to stop him, more ape-like in appearance than ever as well, thanks to Sal Buscema's godlike art.

After being expelled from his dimension, Hulk went on a rampage throughout the US, with none of the Avengers being able to stop him, until Dr Strange arrived and sent Hulk to the Crossroads, a pocket dimension with an immense amount of pathways that would lead the jade giant to worlds in which he could happily live without being disturbed. There was plenty of storytelling potential here, as always with Hulk, and they didn't waste any of it. While mindless, Hulk was able to express himself and could tell when things weren't right around them, just by the vocal tones or facial expressions from other creatures. He felt sad and happy, showed compassion and disgust... And like I said, he didn't understand most languages, but he understood one: Friendship.



In one instance (pictured above) Hulk became the friend of an alien (who had been exhiled from his own species for showing compassions towards an enemy during a war) the moment that alien offered him some food. His own species' leaders went to the world they had exhiled him in and executed him right there in front of Hulk, who didn't understand anything, other than death had ocurred and he couldn't have done anything to stop it, like an animal trying to protect a cub against a predator, or as the narrator of that same issue puts it, like a pet and its owner.





It's bad enough that we see him mourn his friend's corpse, but we also see his remains later own when Hulk battles Ironclad and shakes a seemingly infinite space filled with vast dimensions, which are shaken as well.

In short, this might have been Hulk at his strongest, but also at his most sympathetic and vulnerable.


Intelligent Hulk



Like I have already explained, prior to going mindless, Hulk's body had become one with Banner's mind, which was actually not the first time it had happened, but this was the first time it had remained obsolete and had been kept under control. After massive overexposure to gamma radiation, Hulk turned back into Banner after helping out a race of partially anthropomorphic animals from which Rocket Raccoon comes from, or rather, came, not sure they've retconned that but it wouldn't surprise me. Anyway, once he arrived to Earth thanks to the leader of the aforementioned race, he was attacked by the Wendigo, one of Hulk's past enemies, and a wild beast that always emerged from cannibalism. Banner realized that despite getting excited several times since his arrival on Earth, he hadn't turned into Hulk, now realizing he had been cured, finally.



A canadian hero, Sasquatch, member of Alpha Flight, came for the rescue but warned Banner that he wasn't strong enough to hold him down forever. Banner wanted to help, and tried his best to hulk out... And he succeeded. The both of them were more than enough to knock him out for good.



Of course, Sasquatch, and the rest of the world soon realized there was nothing to worry about. Banner, from this point forward decided to use the Hulk's power for good, even going back to rebuild cities the more savage Hulks had destroyed because of his many tussles with the army.



It was very heartwarming to see the Hulk's power being used for good for the very first time.



So excellently written and drawn, so charming, so full of life! AAAAH! This is why I love comics so much!



Banner calculates the many kilometers he can leap in a single bound, uses weapons when in aid of them, allies himself with villains when he finds them necessary, uses his intellect to go along his near unequaled strength... It's just awesome.



It is a huge tragedy, after meeting one of the best love interests Banner and Hulk have ever had, Kate Waynesboro who is only second to Jarella and Caiera in my eyes, and receiving amnesty from the president and with the help, appreciation and support from every north american hero (and later on, every hero from Earth and beyond, including the likes of Wakanda, Atlantis, Asgard, the Silver Surfer and the Watcher, the latter of which gave him something to remember for every race he had aided or helped in the wondeful 279th issue) who had ever encountered the Hulk...





...Mindless Hulk was what followed.




Bronze Age & Modern Age



Aside from a few extra personality bumps here and there, several nerfs and a few power ups, a decrease in writing (which affected the entirety of Earth-616), these two Hulks are more or less the same. From the late 60s or early 70s onwards Hulk began to differentiate from his Silver Age self, being much stronger and possessing several other abilities other than super strength, making him without a doubt the strongest mortal on Earth and potentially all of Marvel due to his ever-rising strength. If there's a limit to his power, which there isn't as most people have calculated, few to none would be able to match that much strength.



There were many shifts from persona to persona during these two eras, but I'm specifically referring to the most classic persona, Savage Hulk, the most endearing to read and the one with the longest history and biggest amount of appearances. He's been through a lot, at one point getting a boost in intelligence during Planet Hulk which stayed until his death and resurrection, though there were strange moments where Hulk reverted back to his more brutish personality.

Speaking of his brutish personality, as cool as it is to have Banner take control of him, it NEVER gets old when he goes around smashing stuff, because as we all know that's not what most of his stories are. He wanders the entire continent, going around trying to find a place where he can be alone, but is usually disturbed or attacked by something else. Plenty of things happened in the hundreds of issues Hulk has had ever since his inception, and he's never been a redundant character, always showing new interesting personality traits.

As of late, Savage Hulk's intelligence was boosted during Planet Hulk to be more normal and easy to work with, and even more recently, Hulk showed off the ability to absorb radiation from others like Red Hulk with just a touch, and most impressively, he turned into Kluh at one point. What's Kluh? Well, imagine if the Hulk... hulked out.



Too bad he only showed up twice and did next to nothing. Oh well, at least we'll all remember Hulk for the awesome legacy he left us. And of course I'll finish off this list with one of my favourite Hulk artists, Ed McGuinness.



Adding more to why this one's my favourite...



At one point Hulk became War, one of Apocalypse's Horsemen, being promised that this new armor would silence all of Hulk's ghosts, most specifically his tormenting father. Apocalypse kept his promise and after seeing Apocalypse's point of view and how similar both were, he became his ally and minion. Also because, ya know, Apoc was fairly stronger than him.



This Hulk gets a pretty damn good introduction, lifting and throwing an entire pyramid (which is pretty standard for Hulk in truth) and nearly killing Rick Jones, Hulk's best friend, and a future relative of his. Fortunately for Rick, Carl Creel, the Absorbing Man, was with them, but unfortunately for him the celestial enhanced weaponry Hulk now possessed ways of eliminating him, and his blade oveloaded Creel, making him unable to absorb so much energy. Reinforcements arrived, and Juggernaut joined the battle, and try to push Hulk back, but this new armor had also made Hulk stronger than on average, so he didn't just stop Juggernaut in a matter of seconds, he also sent him flying from Egypt all the way to Cairo.



So yeah if it wasn't clear enough this is arguably Hulk at his strongest during the 90s (and strongest overall, really), as well as at his most savage.




Other:

These are either possible future personalities or personalities that haven't risen from the depths of Bruce's mind and have either been skulking around, waiting for the perfect moment to strike and take over, or exist only for the purpose of tormenting Bruce's mind, or the purpose of leading him down a different, more malevolent path.


Guilt Hulk



When Doc Samson first entered Bruce Banner's mind in an attempt to see if Bruce and both Hulks, grey and green, could be at peace, they began to go through what seemed like memories, and in each one, this creature appeared, disrupting the peace of a younger Bruce during christmas. The Hulks tried to fight it, but it easily snapped Savage Hulk's back with his bare hands and pierced through Mr. Fixit's chest with his claw (we're in a DB forum so think of what Gero did to Yamcha, but bloodier). Same thing happened the second time, proving himself to be too much for them, as well as choking and snapping the neck of Rebecca Banner, Bruce's sweet mother, and smashing her against the concrete, torturing the minds of both young and adult Bruce.



The next time this took place in the graveyard where Rebecca resided, and yet again the Hulks' might meant nothing to the beast. But this time, Banner fought back, showing no fear, and managed to revert Guilt Hulk back to the nightmare's true form: His father, Brian Banner, who turned into ashes, and from those ashes, Rebecca reappeared, walking back to his grave and telling both Hulks that it was time to go in a comforting manner, saying Bruce needed them, even while speaking from within her tombstone, and this is how Merged Hulk was born, out of the fusion of the two Hulks and Banner.



In the end, Guilt Hulk was just a constant reminder of his despicable father.



I say was because Bruce managed to conquer his fears and destroy Guilt Hulk, but it's unclear if he still lives, somewhere within his mind, considering he once returned and presumably does every time Bruce shows fear or feels unsafe, since that was the cause of Brian not always being there, the fact that he felt safe.



A scary thought that will likely never be answered.


Devil Hulk



For a long time, this entity remained unknown to Bruce. It had been chained up in the faraway depths of his mind, presumably by Guilt, and was eventually freed from his shackles. Though his appearances are brief (like Guilt Hulk), or rather, were, since he hasn't been seen in over a decade, Devil Hulk was a big deal when he debuted. He remained in the shadows at first, only to reveal this colossus, hulking behemoth that looked like a more monstrous Hulk, offering guidance and protection to Bruce, almost like a twisted and demonic mental recreation of his mother, combined with what the Hulk ultimately is, a monster with boundless power, powered by Bruce's fear and Hulk's hatred for mankind.

Devil Hulk also shows up on Earth-TRN008 (which is the designated universe for the game The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction), perfectly depicted and excellently portrayed, and while using the skin for Mr. Fixit, the grey goliath comments on this being the second time they've met saying "Hey, DH! Long time no see!", referencing the few times they've actually faced off within Banner's mind, which I guess could make the game canon to past situations with Devil Hulk in a very weird way. In this reality, Devil Hulk was used really well, as one of the game's antagonists, initially foreshadowed at the start of the game then revealing himself, which was quite the surprise when I first played it.

Referring to the Hulk as a frightened child, the Devil Hulk demonstrates why he should be feared, being able to instill fear as well as control the earth beneath him, among other elemental powers, to a greater extent than Guilt Hulk.




Bonus: Brian Banner merged with Devil Hulk and Guilt Hulk



I wasn't planning on including this... thing here, but I thought I'd might as well expand on how fearsome Guilt Hulk and Devil Hulk are, and besides I would've only talked about this guy in a list about my favourite Hulk villains which I don't really care about doing right now. During the Chaos War storyline, the death realms we know as heaven and hell broke loose. Literally. Demons were released to torment and harm innocents on Earth and all over the universe, just because of the Chaos King's sole purpose of bringing the end of all things since chaos had preceded creation.

Two very important souls escaped, Rebecca Banner and Brian Banner, Bruce's parents. Rebecca tried her best to warn her son, but as you can see up there, she was surprised by her husband who hulked out from how much Hulk feared him, turning into a combination between Devil Hulk and Guilt Hulk. Hulk's fear was so great Brian Banner had become powerful enough to take on all Hulks present, plus the Warbound and was beating them all with ease, nearly killing Hulk himself, until Hulk's first love, Jarella, came for the rescue. Her love for Hulk was so strong she managed to badly hurt the monstrosity, and Hulk, finally realizing he had nothing to fear from this bully, literally blew it away.

This simply goes to show how dangerous not just both, but each evil Hulk are, independently.


Maestro



A Hulk from a future Earth, 100 years in the future, where humanity has brought itself to the brink of extinction due to a nuclear war, and said war only has made Hulk more skilled and of course stronger through the radiation he absorbed. Now possessing Bruce's intellect but not his personality, this Hulk is essentially Savage Hulk with Bruce's intelligence, but without any benevolence to keep him under control. He's as evil and twisted as Fixit or Gravage, perhaps moreso, and fairly stronger as well. He made short work of this new world's survivors, now having been recalled 'Dystopia' by Maestro himself, and even made a trophy room out of what was left of Earth's heroes and villains, some of which he killed.



The original Maestro is from Earth-9200, but there are quite a few other Maestros out there.

The Maestros from Earths 69413 and TRN517, for instance, built themselves a badass Iron Hulk armor.



Captain America's shield, Ronan's Universal Weapon and the Soulsword also became his, as well as his new army of Ultrons.



This Maestro also builds a very concerning item and gains the possession of another that is just as concerning...



I'm not gonna talk about the animated Maestros from Earths TRN534 and TRN536 because they're trash, duh.

On Earth-9512 Banner was forced to commit suicide by yelling 'Hulk Smash' behind a rampaging and mutated Thing who was looking for him, and Ben smashed Bruce with a single punch, killing him. Why? Because he was going crazy, after seeing himself killing his father (and therefore Guilt Hulk as well) in his own mind and then going into a catatonic state and hulking up multiple times into his different personas after Ringmaster mocked the fact that his boogeyman was his own father, and after multiple Hulk ups Banner realized he'd eventually become Maestro, which is what made him kill himself. The world wouldn't have been safer otherwise.

The death of Guilt Hulk tells us something... That without him, Maestro would've been unleashed and destroyed the world.