I love this issue. I can’t say it any other way. I love it. This issue hits very close to home for me. It positions the Hulk as the survivor of child abuse and all the baggage that it brings along. I think a quote from the comic sums of the point nicely:
You’re always there to destroy anyone I was stupid enough to love
This is a great comic. It built for well over two years, dealing with the aftermath of Planet Hulk, World War Hulk, and Fall of the Hulk. At some point, Bruce Banner lost the ability to change into the Hulk. But he knew that eventually, he would become the Hulk again. To make sure he would be stopped, he trained the Hulk’s son, Skaar, to kill the Hulk. Many of Marvel’s intelligent villains teamed up and tried to take over the world. They were stopped. Part of the consequences of it was the return of the Hulk. This is where the comic begins.
The comic begins with the destruction of happiness. A child’s Christmas morning destroyed by an abusive father. Something like this is scarring on levels that I cannot even begin to describe. It is something that a person will carry with them for the rest of their life. And this comic illustrates it perfectly. Keep in mind, this sets the stage for the rest of the comic.
We are introduced, or reintroduced, to the Hulk. He’s struggling with the loss of his wife and a world that he considered to be paradise. To say he’s upset would be an understatement. His every movement causes tremors. He’s never been angrier. Never been stronger.
We then are introduced to Skaar, the Hulk’s son. Skarr blames the Hulk for leaving his home world. Most of the trouble that happened in his life, he blamed the Hulk for it. He wanted to kill him. So Skaar threw his sword at Hulk, severing Hulk’s arm (which healed immediately.. you see, Hulk’s regeneration is tied to his anger). Skaar then absorbed power from the Earth and hit the Hulk with the equivalent of a trillion tons of power.
And the Hulk gets back up. But…. and this is the important part…. Hulk does not want to fight. He’s angry. That’s beyond a shadow of a doubt. But he doesn’t want to fight.
Here’s where the story links back to child abuse. Skaar did something to upset the Hulk enough to get him to fight. He told the Hulk about the destruction of the homeworld, and how his wife didn’t truly die until his son fed the planet to Galactus. This action, in Hulk’s mind, links his abusive father to his son. Both of them destroyed his happiness, leaving him feeling empty, helpless, and angry. Very, very angry.
We are treated to a couple of pages where the Hulk lets loose and beats the hell out of his son. It’s uncontrolled rage. Any survivor of child abuse can recognize this sort of anger immediately. It’s anger about how helpless one feels and the inability to do anything about it. Hulk wants the anger to end. He wants the monsters of his past to go away. But they don’t.
His son gains the upper hand in the battle. The details of it aren’t important. What matters is that the son is getting ready to kill the Hulk… when the Hulk notices something. In the middle of their fighting, they caused a building to destabilize. Innocent people were about to die, and Skaar didn’t notice…. what happens is…. well… see for yourself…
When Hulk is saying he wants to be left alone, it mean something. He wants his abusive father to leave him alone. He wants the pain of it all to leave. But it won’t leave. It’s always going to be there. No matter what he does. I… I can sympathize with him in every panel of this.
Skaar realizes something important here. Hulk’s not a monster. So Skaar transforms back into his human form, a small child. He has no more intention of fighting Hulk. But the Hulk is still angry and hurting… and so is Skaar. Skaar lost his mother and his home, just as the Hulk did.
There’s a danger of the victim of child abuse becoming the abuser. Look at how the last panels were depicted. The Hulk was in the place of his father. His son was then helpless and afraid. Strangely, so was the Hulk. So the Hulk changed back into Bruce, who did not know what to do. He wanted to be there for his son, so he placed his hand on his son’s shoulder, something his father would never have done… which led to a touching moment.
The pain will still by there. It’ll always be there. But for that one brief moment, it wasn’t.
This comic has been forgotten unfortunately and the Hulk is back to his smashy-smashy ways. That’s a shame because writers have so much to work with here. I mean, look at what we received here in this comic. We had the Hulk be the most powerful being on the planet, yet equally the most helpless. He wanted to be left alone, but only to get away from the pain of it all. He doesn’t want to hurt anyone. He wants to help. Others end up hurting him, causing him to lash out.
This is the Hulk that I like to read. He’s complex and layered. Hopefully you can seek this masterpiece out. It’s well worth your time