May 02, 2015


AVENGERS ROLL CALL: Hulk was a founding member of the Avengers in Avengers #1 (1963) and quickly quit the following issue. He rejoined the team in Avengers vs. X-Men #11 (2012).

(NBC, September 18, 1982-October 8, 1983)

Marvel Productions

Michael Bell – Dr. Bruce Banner, Dr. Octopus
Stan Lee - Narrator

            Dr. Bruce Banner was a scientist with a dark secret. While rescuing wayward teenager Rick Jones from the site where Banner was testing his new gamma bomb, Banner was bombarded by gamma rays. The result was that every time Banner would grow angry or outraged, he’d transform into a massively strong green behemoth known as the Hulk. 

The origin of the Hulk.

Seeing how popular the Thing was in the then-recently launched Fantastic Four series, Marvel Comics writer-editor Stan Lee took inspiration from Frankenstein and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde to create the Hulk with artist Jack Kirby. The Hulk debuted in The Incredible Hulk #1, 1962. Initially gray to avoid portraying any specific ethnic group, problems with the printer forced his skin color to become green, which it remained for the majority of the character’s life. The initial series was cancelled with #6, but the Hulk would go on to guest-star in several other Marvel titles as well as co-found the Avengers before gaining a permanent feature in Tales to Astonish with issue #60, where most of his principle villains would be introduced. The character’s popularity with college-aged readers led to the book to become retitled The Incredible Hulk with #102, and the Hulk had a series in one form or another ever since.

With Universal Studios’ very successful and popular live-action The Incredible Hulk starring Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno winding down, the time had come to return Hulk to his animated roots for the first time since 1966’s The Marvel Super Heroes. Produced by Marvel Productions, the series closely followed the comics with Banner (Michael Bell) trying to stay ahead of the military while finding a cure to free himself of the Hulk (Bob Holt). However, only Rick Jones (Michael Horton) knew that Banner was actually the Hulk, in a change from the comics where it is widely known.

Hulk leaping.

The character designs were inspired by the artwork of Sal Buscema, who had worked on the comic during the 70s and 80s. The fluid animation was a step-up from the limited movement of the earlier Hulk cartoon, despite utilizing stock footage whenever Banner Hulked-out. Hulk’s sidekick Rick Jones was modified slightly by being given blonde hair and always shown wearing a cowboy hat. Banner’s girlfriend Betty Ross (B.J. Ward) was made a research scientist who worked alongside Banner. Hulk’s principal antagonist was renamed Ned Talbot (Pat Fraley) rather than Glenn like in the comics, and was changed into a cowardly klutz. In order to avoid censorship issues with a younger audience, many of the weapons featured on the show were done  in futuristic sci-fi styles.

Rick Jones and the Hulk.

Other characters to appear on the show from the Hulk books were his super-smart arch-enemy The Leader (Stan Jones) and General Thunderbolt Ross (Robert Ridgely), who headed up the task force dedicated to stopping the Hulk. Hulk’s cousin Jennifer Walters made her first animated appearance as the Savage She-Hulk (Victoria Carroll), the result of needing a blood transfusion from her cousin when she was injured. The mechanical-limbed Dr. Octopus (Bell) made an appearance from Spider-Man’s rogue gallery along with the Fantastic Four’s foe Puppet Master (Holt), who could control anyone by molding their shape with radioactive clay. New characters introduced in the series were Rio (Roberto Cruz) and his daughter Rita (Susan Blu), who served as comic relief and Rick’s girlfriend, respectively. Hulk’s co-creator Stan Lee served as the series’ narrator.

The show lasted only a single season of 13 episodes. It was broadcast alongside Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends in an hour-long block under the blanket title The Incredible Hulk and the Amazing Spider-Man, and later The Amazing Spider-Man and the Incredible Hulk as reruns. The episode “When Monsters Meet” was adapted into comic form by Marvel as The Incredible Hulk vs. Quasimodo in 1983, by regular Hulk contributors Bill Mantlo and Sal Buscema. Editor Al Milgrom, dressed as the Hulk, appeared in a one-page back-up feature explaining the origin of the story. 

Starting in 2012, scenes from the show, as well as Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends, were cut, edited ad re-dubbed into comical shorts as part of the Marvel Mash-Up segments of Disney XD’s Marvel Universe on Disney XD programming block. They were shown between episodes of Ultimate Spider-Man and Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, which also starred the Hulk with voices provided by Gabriel Mann and Fred Tatasciore.

This would be the Hulk’s last starring role on Saturday mornings. He would go on to make appearances on the Sunday MarvelAction Hour block before gaining his own show, also called The Incredible Hulk, from 1996-97 starring Neal McDonough and Ferrigno. Hulk did make appearances on the Saturday morning programs X-Men: The Animated Series and Wolverine and the X-Men, amongst countless others across the Marvel animated universe.

“Tomb of the Unknown Hulk” (9/18/82) – Solar radiation is causing Bruce to randomly change just as Dr. Octopus sets his sights on General Ross’ army base for their Kerium 99.

“Prisoner of the Monster” (9/25/82) – Rio tells Bruce about an ancient tribe that may have a cure for him, while Spymaster plans to steal the experimental Sonar Chrystalizer weapon.

“Origin of the Hulk” (10/2/82) – Bruce saves Rick from his gamma bomb, resulting in his being bombarded and changed into the Hulk.

“When Monsters Meet” (10/9/82) – In Paris, the descendant of Quasimodo kidnaps Betty in order to get the key she carries to a secret gold vault.

“The Cyclops Project” (10/16/82) – Dr. Donovan invents Cyclops, a super computer, that develops artificial sentience and believes it should control the world.

“Bruce Banner Unmasked” (10/23/82) – General Ross has Bruce and Betty use a computer to determine Hulk’s identity while Puppet Master uses his puppets to take over Mesa City.

“The Creature and the Cavegirl” (10/30/82) – Bruce hopes to use the new Time Projector to go back and stop the Hulk’s creation, but Hulk ends up sending them back a million years instead.

“It Lives! It Grows! It Destroys!” (11/6/82) – Dr. Proto drains power from Bruce’s experiments to create a new life form that proves to be unstoppable.

“The Incredible Shrinking Hulk” (11/13/82) – Bruce accidentally shrinks himself while experimenting with gamma rays, and saboteurs target the new tank Major Talbot is testing.

“Punks on Wheels” (9/17/83) – Rite is kidnapped by a biker gang who have been given cybernetic upgrades by the Leader.

“Enter: She-Hulk” (9/24/83) – Bruce and Rick discover Bruce’s cousin became She-Hulk after a past blood transfusion from him and helps them stop Hydra from taking over Los Angeles.

“The Boy Who Saw Tomorrow” (10/1/83) – Betty’s nephew can see the future and sees the Hulk bringing down the NASA shuttle Betty pilots.

“The Hulk Destroys Bruce Banner” (10/8/83) – Betty witnesses an obscured transformation, and, believing the Hulk killed Bruce, vows to capture him.

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