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A Brief History Of The Hero
With his off-the-chart strength, size, durability, speed and fighting skills, The Hulk has achieved the enviable status of one of the most popular Super Heroes of the last century. Created by writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby, the character debuted in May 1962 in a series of Marvel Comics. A young writer, Lee had just finished the first of the Marvel line of books with a then unknown team called the Fantastic Four, and he was looking for a hero who wasn't as handsome or pretty—someone, or something, totally different who could capture the imagination of Marvel's readers. Lee and Kirby wanted a "misunderstood hero.”

Lee remembers, "I had always loved the old movie Frankenstein. And it seemed to me that the monster, played by Boris Karloff, wasn't really a bad guy. He was the good guy. He didn't want to hurt anybody. It's just those idiots with torches kept running up and down the mountains, chasing him and getting him angry. And I thought, ‘Wouldn't it be fun to create a monster and make him the good guy?'”

Wondering how to bring a new twist to Mary Shelley's classic character as imagined by director James Whale in 1931, Lee recalled another favorite from his childhood: Robert Louis Stevenson's half-man/half-monster, depicted in director Rouben Mamoulian's 1931 classic, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. "I combined Jekyll and Hyde with Frankenstein,” Lee tells, "and I got myself the monster I wanted, who was really good, but nobody knew it. He was also somebody who could change from a normal man into a monster, and lo, a legend was born.”

Lee and Kirby imagined Dr. Bruce Banner, a nuclear physicist who was forever changed after a freak accident during the testing of an experimental bomb that showered his body with gamma radiation. (Notably, Lee, a big fan of alliteration [think Sue Storm, Scott Summers, Peter Parker], preferred to give his heroes the same first initials in both their names, therefore Bruce Banner was born.) Whenever seriously angered, adrenaline would course through Banner's body and he would morph into the fearsome Hulk, a creature of limitless power and endless aggression. When enraged, he became a brutal menace to society, but would learn to use his powers to help the weak and helpless. Dr. Banner would spend the rest of his life battling to control the fury of his alter ego and do good with The Hulk.

Though the series was initially cancelled in March 1963 after six issues, The Hulk immediately went on to guest star in "Fantastic Four #12” and, shortly thereafter, became one of the first members of The Avengers, appearing in the first two issues of that famous series. Two years later, he turned up opposite Giant-Man in "Tales to Astonish (#59),” earning his own story in the very next issue.

By 1968, the popularity of the character caught on with audiences across the globe. The Hulk had taken over the entire book of "Tales to Astonish,” which was then renamed "The Incredible Hulk.” The series ran all the way to issue #474, when it ended its publication in 1999; it was quickly relaunched in a new series titled "The Hulk.” With issue #12, the name was changed back to "The Incredible Hulk,” and the title remains one of the most prominent in the Marvel library today.

For almost half a century, audiences have responded to the fact that Bruce Banner and The Hulk are two sides to the same man. They have been fascinated by the idea that he represents the extremes of the id and superego that Freud believed controlled us all. When Banner is The Hulk, his consciousness is buried in the monster, and he has next to no control over his green counterpart's actions.

Lee offers that he originally thought it'd be fun if the monster and the man "both hated each other. The good guy, Bruce Banner, doesn't want to turn into the monster and wishes he could cure himself. The monste

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