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  1. #1
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    Default So about the nuclear fears personified in the Hulk

    Early on, Hulk seemed to be a personification of nuclear power. He was spawned by a nuclear explosion, and was uncontrollable and destructive. Is that theme still a living part of character? If it has been replaced, what has it been replaced with?

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    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelC View Post
    Early on, Hulk seemed to be a personification of nuclear power. He was spawned by a nuclear explosion, and was uncontrollable and destructive. Is that theme still a living part of character? If it has been replaced, what has it been replaced with?
    The glorification of unrestrained rage.

  3. #3
    Spectacular Member Grapeweasel's Avatar
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    Radioactive Stupidity.

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    Astonishing Member Revolutionary_Jack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelC View Post
    Early on, Hulk seemed to be a personification of nuclear power. He was spawned by a nuclear explosion, and was uncontrollable and destructive. Is that theme still a living part of character?
    Is radioactivity still a living part of characters like Spider-Man, like the X-Men (Children of the Atom and all that jazz), Daredevil, and other Marvel characters who got their powers via nuclear power?

    Marvel comics used nuclear power as an excuse for superpowers. It wasn't the first to do so in the '60s either.

    The British horror movie These are the Damned (1963) also had a plot of kids being exposed to radiation having acquired immunity but they are still toxic to everyone else. So the government raises these kids in isolation to make sure that they will survive and repopulate the world after a nuclear apocalypse.

    There was also a 1961 movie Most Dangerous Man Alive which was about a gangster caught in a nuclear explosion and who becomes invulnerable and goes after his enemies.

    So the problem with Hulk being made into personification of nuclear power is that why him and not everyone else?

    If it has been replaced, what has it been replaced with?
    Look at Godzilla. He was also originally an embodiment of the fears of nuclear weapons. But the longer they made movies about him, the more cuddly he became, and he ended up becoming a hero.

    Same problem with Hulk, to the extent he was a cautionary tale the more he acquired a cast of sidekicks and hung around regular people without infecting them with radiation and so on, the more ridiculous it became to make him the fear of nuclear winter.

    As for what has it been replaced with...well Al Ewing's Immortal Hulk has some answers. Check it out.

  5. #5
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    Nuclear fear was a major part of the sixties. It was the decade of the Cuban Missile Crisis after all. The fifties were the era of the fear of nuclear annihilation as the nuclear arms race was in full swing, especially after America's dirty bomb on Bikini Atoll, something meant to be classified, was leaked out into the public after irradiating a Japanese fishing boat. After all, Godzillia debuted in the 50s. By the late 50s and early 60s, nuclear technology has public opinion change due to the introduction of civil use nuclear reactors. This is reflected in fiction as nuclear energy being neither good nor bad but a neutral force influenced by who was using it. Mostly it was "bombs bad; power plant good".

  6. #6
    Astonishing Member ChrisIII's Avatar
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    It's come up here and there over the years. Perhaps one of the major storylines to do so was Peter David and Todd Mcfarlane's run, which dealt with the Hulk discovering that Gamma weapons are being stockpiled.


    Funny thing is pretty much all of Hulk's sidekicks are pretty much all gamma beings themselves now. Although this happened in Jeph Loeb/Greg Pak's stuff too, it was kind of undone by Gary Duggan, but then re-done by Al Ewing.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Revolutionary_Jack View Post
    Is radioactivity still a living part of characters like Spider-Man, like the X-Men (Children of the Atom and all that jazz), Daredevil, and other Marvel characters who got their powers via nuclear power?
    Except that only Hulk and Spider-Man got their powers from radiation. X-Men and other mutants had their latent X-gene triggered by background radiation but it was ancient Celestial genetic engineering which made it possible. Daredevil's enhanced senses have nothing to do with radioactivity whatsoever and even the Fantastic Four getting powers from cosmic rays isn't really the same thing as its natural radiation not man made.

  8. #8
    Astonishing Member Revolutionary_Jack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by davew128 View Post
    Daredevil's enhanced senses have nothing to do with radioactivity whatsoever...
    He lost his eyesight when radioactive containers in a truck stopped suddenly and its contents splashed in his eyes. That's what gave him the extra senses.

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    Astonishing Member ChrisIII's Avatar
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    Which in turn inspired TMNT, which somewhat was a slight parody of Daredevil when it started.

    Isn't there an early Spider-Man story where Spider-Man gives Aunt May a blood transplant (or doesn't) and the radiation is a factor? Of course it's definitely a factor with Hulk, seeing as what happened with Jen.
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    And Dr. Chen Lu, The Radioactive Man.

  11. #11
    Extraordinary Member JudicatorPrime's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelC View Post
    Early on, Hulk seemed to be a personification of nuclear power. He was spawned by a nuclear explosion, and was uncontrollable and destructive. Is that theme still a living part of character? If it has been replaced, what has it been replaced with?
    I think to some extent it was, but it took a back seat to rage issues, parental abuse issues, etc. Maybe if Hulk actually emitted 100% fatal gamma radiation? The madder he gets, the more radiation he emits. I would have loved that. For a time his rage forced him into a life of solitude, but a better story would have been if his gamma radiation did that. Not only would Bruce have to worry about actively killing someone out of anger, but inadvertently giving scores of humans a lethal dose of radiation poisoning -- enough to make Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Chernobyl pale by comparison -- would have been a neat twist. Or to make Hulk even more cool, have him actually explode when he reaches a certain level of rage or he exerts too much strength, his body unleashing radioactive chunks for miles on end. Something truly scary and disastrous that he can't control once he reaches that event horizon. And he reaches that threshold quite often. Within minutes of turning into the Hulk and engaging in a fight, or trying to lift anything heavier than a Ford truck. Ahhh, what fun that would have been! I would definitely have been the biggest Hulk fan then.

  12. #12
    Formerly Assassin Spider Huntsman Spider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisIII View Post
    Which in turn inspired TMNT, which somewhat was a slight parody of Daredevil when it started.

    Isn't there an early Spider-Man story where Spider-Man gives Aunt May a blood transplant (or doesn't) and the radiation is a factor? Of course it's definitely a factor with Hulk, seeing as what happened with Jen.
    Yeah, there was. The radiation poisoned Aunt May, forcing Peter to retrieve an isotope that could counteract the radiation from his blood. He had to fight through Doctor Octopus to get it, though, and it was the focus of the pinnacle of the Lee-Ditko Spider-Man run, "If This Be My Destiny . . ." When he tried it again years later after Aunt May had been shot in the aftermath of Civil War, he made sure to strip out the radioactive elements of his blood before transfusing it into her.

    More on-topic, however, I would mention that the Hulk can be interpreted more nowadays as a monster (inadvertently) created and unleashed by the military-industrial complex run amok. After all, Bruce Banner was originally designing and building gamma bombs that had an explosive yield almost twice as big as even the most powerful nuclear bomb of the era in which the Hulk was created and his most persistent foe(s) over the years has been the U.S. military seeking to contain and/or control him, particularly personified by the likes of General Thunderbolt Ross. Even his initial MCU portrayal leans into this, with the Hulk as explicitly a covert super-soldier project gone wrong that the U.S. military, once again personified by Ross, wants to capture and control by any means necessary, even endangering innocent bystanders on the logic that they can have the public blame the Hulk for whatever casualties ensue. Not to mention that in the current comics, the Hulk has positioned himself as a threat to corrupt capitalism and its stranglehold on the institutions that human society depends on, especially embodied by Dario Agger and Roxxon, with Banner even lambasting the government for spending billions on military expenditures to (permanently) kill the Hulk that could've been spent on programs to help and uplift the poor and needy.
    The spider is always on the hunt.

  13. #13
    Astonishing Member Revolutionary_Jack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Huntsman Spider View Post
    More on-topic, however, I would mention that the Hulk can be interpreted more nowadays as a monster (inadvertently) created and unleashed by the military-industrial complex run amok.
    Yeah. That's definitely what Al Ewing's run has gone with and/or returned to.

    The thing about Hulk is that the character originally started as a kind of horror title. Then they shifted that to make him an anti-hero, and that led to Hulk being embraced by many people as a counterculture icon, since his absolute anger and power led him to being hunted by the military whom he smashed left, right, and center. At the height of the anti-war movement, there must have been some catharsis at seeing Hulk attack tanks and choppers of "The Man".

    Of course what that means is also that Hulk and other Marvel heroes, lost whatever cautionary aspect about nuclear power that they had. To be honest, I don't think Hulk was ever intended to be about the dangers of nuclear power. I think that was just an excuse to give Hulk powers and create a cool character. And what Hulk embodies at heart is an escapist fantasy about our childlike urge to rampage and actually have the strength and power to do it. In that respects, Mark Ruffallo's Hulk in Avengers 1 when he smashed Loki like a rag doll and called him "puny god" absolutely embodies what the Hulk represents in terms of character appeal.

    Jack Kirby when asked to define what the Hulk meant said this,

    GROTH: The next character, if I remember correctly, was The Hulk. If I remember correctly you drew a six-issue run of that, then it was cancelled for a little while, then Steve Ditko started it in an anthology book called Tales to Astonish. Can you talk a little bit about how you were involved in creating The Hulk?

    KIRBY: The Hulk I created when I saw a woman lift a car. Her baby was caught under the running board of this car. The little child was playing in the gutter and he was crawling from the gutter onto the sidewalk under the running board of this car — he was playing in the gutter. His mother was horrified. She looked from the rear window of the car, and this woman in desperation lifted the rear end of the car. It suddenly came to me that in desperation we can all do that — we can knock down walls, we can go berserk, which we do. You know what happens when we’re in a rage — you can tear a house down. I created a character who did all that and called him the Hulk. I inserted him in a lot of the stories I was doing. Whatever the Hulk was at the beginning I got from that incident. A character to me can’t be contrived. I don’t like to contrive characters. They have to have an element of truth. This woman proved to me that the ordinary person in desperate circumstances can transcend himself and do things that he wouldn’t ordinarily do. I’ve done it myself. I’ve bent steel.

    http://www.tcj.com/jack-kirby-interview/6/

  14. #14
    Astonishing Member ChrisIII's Avatar
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    At the end of Peter David's run Betty died from long-range gamma exposure to Bruce, as being his wife (although one that at times had long estrangements) she was probably closer to him than anyone. I think that weird Spider-Man Reign comic had a similar explanation for Mary Jane.

    However it's slightly debatable as Joe Casey's run immediately afterward disclosed that the Abomination poisoned her. However it's unclear if that was during her procedure (like swapping out her IV or something) or the catalyst in the first place.
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  15. #15
    Astonishing Member Revolutionary_Jack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisIII View Post
    At the end of Peter David's run Betty died from long-range gamma exposure to Bruce, as being his wife (although one that at times had long estrangements) she was probably closer to him than anyone. I think that weird Spider-Man Reign comic had a similar explanation for Mary Jane.
    Dan Slott's Spider-Island which is set in 616 (as opposed to Reign which is AU) used a different track. When that virus broke out that gave everyone in Manhattan spider-powers, Mary Jane had immunity to infection and greater resistance and control over powers and according to Reed the reason for that is she built immunity because of all the sex she had with Peter, or as they put it in the comic, "shared a toothbrush".

    However it's slightly debatable as Joe Casey's run immediately afterward disclosed that the Abomination poisoned her. However it's unclear if that was during her procedure (like swapping out her IV or something) or the catalyst in the first place.
    PAD said that Betty's "death" was editorially mandated because they wanted Hulk single and short while after he went through a bitter divorce so he used that radioactive thing to do it fast and make it unpleasant, not because it made any larger sense or make a statement about radiation.

    And now that Betty has come back as a Red Harpy like creature, it's moot.

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