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) and was initially depicted as gray to avoid
portraying any specific ethnic group. The printer’s inability to easily render
that color forced his skin be changed to green with the next issue, which is
what it has 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
Incredible Hulk with #102, and the Hulk had a series in one form or another ever
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 after giving audiences a taste with his
appearance in an episode of Spider-Man
and his Amazing Friends. 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. Another difference was that whenever Hulk reverted back to
Banner, his missing clothing, torn away in the transformation, would miraculously
return, albeit in a disheveled state.
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 big step-up from the extremely limited
movement of the earlier Hulk cartoon that aired as part of 1966’s The Marvel Super Heroes, 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 appearance
outside of comics since being introduced only two years prior as the
Savage She-Hulk (Victoria
Carroll, who happened to be the wife of Bell);
the result of needing a blood transfusion from her cousin when she was injured
and his gamma-irradiated blood mutating hers. 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. Stan Lee served as the series’ narrator.
The Incredible Hulk debuted on NBC on September 18, 1982. It was broadcast alongside the
second season and reruns of Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends in an hour-long block under the blanket title The
Incredible Hulk and the Amazing Spider-Man. The second season of Amazing
Friends ended up being only 3-episodes long due to Marvel Productions
dedicating all of their resources towards Hulk. The series was written
by Michael Reaves, Dennis
Marks, Arthur Browne Jr., Fred
Ladd, Martin Pasko, Misty
Stewart-Taggart, Paul Dini and Marc
Scott Zicree, with Marks serving as story editor.
The series was animated by Dong Seo
Animation and XAM! Productions. Johnny Douglas provided the music.
lasted a single season of 13 episodes. It was rerun for an additional season
alongside new episodes of Amazing Friends with the block retitled The
Amazing Spider-Man and the Incredible Hulk, and later as part of the Marvel Action Universe, which served as a
showcase of Marvel Productions programs. 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. Then-series editor Al Milgrom, dressed as the Hulk, appeared in a one-page
back-up feature explaining the origin of the story.
Two episodes were released to VHS as part of Prism Entertainment’s Marvel Comics
Video Library, as well as two volumes containing three-episodes each. The first episode was
released by Best
Film & Video Corp. on the second volume of
Matinee series. Starting in 2012, scenes from the show, as well as
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
Spider-Man and Avengers: Earth’s
Mightiest Heroes, which also starred the Hulk
with voices provided by Gabriel Mann and Fred Tatasciore. The series was made available to stream on Prime
Video and Google
Originally posted in 2015. Updated in 2022.