The Hulk has been deceased for almost two years, but it appears he is already prepared to return. Avengers #684, the newest issue of "No Surrender!", features the monster's face on the cover after weeks of hints concerning his resurrection. This issue also lands just in time to line up with Marvel Comics' announcement of their new series: The Immortal Hulk.
We're here for readers interested in checking out the newest adventures of Marvel's jade giant. The Hulk and Bruce Banner have incredibly complex histories throughout their many decades of adventures, both together and apart. There's too much out there to provide a succinct synopsis of everything they've been through. However, you don't need to know everything to jump aboard. We've distilled the essential history from this long narrative into a quick and easy beginner's guide for The Hulk's return. If you're looking to read his return in Avengers or The Immortal Hulk, then this should be all you need to check it out.
The Hulk was created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee in 1962, debuting in the pages of The Incredible Hulk #1. That series was soon cancelled with The Incredible Hulk #6, but the character remained a Marvel Comics stalwart. He made guest appearances in series like Fantastic Four and The Amazing Spider-Man, as well as being a founding member in The Avengers.
What's most important to understand about The Hulk's earliest adventures is that the character was originally conceived as a monster, not a superhero. While his adventures often led him to combat supervillains, The Hulk was not a noble spirit and often acted as a source of destruction or vengeance. His alter-ego Bruce Banner fled society fearing what The Hulk might do when unleashed at night, similar to the dynamic of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde that Lee has cited as an inspiration.
At the start of the All-New, All-Different Marvel Comics initiative, it was revealed that Bruce Banner was no longer The Hulk. After absorbing an incredibly dangerous form of radiation, he was at risk for causing a nuclear meltdown. Longtime friend and ally Amadeus Cho was able to separate The Hulk from Banner and absorb the monster into himself.
Cho has remained Marvel Comics' version of The Hulk since this change. He is capable of maintaining his immense intellect while in Hulk form depending on his emotional state. Bruce Banner, freed from his alternate form, sought isolation and began to work on experiments that could benefit mankind. However, Banner would not find peace for very long...
In the pages of Civil War II #5, Banner was brought back into the mainstream events of Marvel Comics. The Inhuman Ulysses had been revealed as capable of seeing the future, leading to a new division between superheroes with some wanting to prevent crises and others seeking to maintain freedoms. Ulysses had a vision in which The Hulk was empowered again and slaughtered a majority of superheroes on Earth. Captain Marvel led a team to find Banner and stop this transformation from occurring. However, during the standoff as Banner insisted The Hulk was removed from his body altogether, Hawkeye released a special arrow that instantly killed Banner.
Debate has swirled since over the cause of this execution with Hawkeye claiming that he saw a spark of green in Banner's eyes. It subsequently led to Hawkeye abandoning his post on The Avengers and a variety of key characters from The Hulk's mythos mourning and honoring the fallen hero. His mantle has continued with Amadeus Cho, as well as She-Hulk and the U.S.Avenger Robert Maverick.
The Hulk has already returned to the pages of Marvel Comics twice, albeit briefly. His first resurrection occurred very quickly after his death in the pages of Uncanny Avengers #15. It was here that Daniel Drumm (the ghostly brother of Jericho Drumm, Brother Voodoo) combined forces with The Hand to use The Hulk's body as a secret weapon. When the Avengers visited Japan to recruit Elektra, they were confronted by The Hulk now powered by the demonic force behind The Hand. This resurrection was brought to a quick conclusion when its link to otherworldly forces was severed, leaving a lifeless body behind once more.
In Secret Empire, the evil version of Steve Rogers resurrected The Hulk, this time brought back by Arnim Zola, in order to attack rebels hidden within a Nevada mountain. The Hulk was able to destroy the mountain stronghold and battle The Thing before returning to the grave. It was revealed that Zola's methods were temporary and not easily replicated, resulting in only a few hours of restored life.
Having been used as a zombie-like puppet multiple times already, it now appears that The Hulk will be returned once more in order to serve the goals of another. In the weekly Avengers event "No Surrender!", The Grandmaster and The Challenger, both Elders of the Universe, have transformed Earth into a board for their game. The Grandmaster has hinted multiple times that he has saved one player on his team for a secret revelation, and it appears that player might be The Hulk. He will be returned to life for the foreseeable future, but initially to serve The Grandmaster's unrevealed plans.
The Hulk is unlikely to be happy about having been used by so many others while dead, and there's a good chance that The Grandmaster's plan will backfire. Even an Elder of the Universe ought to be scared of a fully enraged Hulk. The announcement of a new Hulk series, The Immortal Hulk, also suggests that this resurrection will be permanent.
The Immortal Hulk will be written by Al Ewing and drawn by Joe Bennett. Early announcements and hints of the series suggest that Banner will remain mortal, but that every time he dies The Hulk will bring their shared body back to life in order to wreak vengeance. Elements of this series tie back to the Hulk's earliest stories. This version of The Hulk will be monstrous, not heroic, in nature and will emerge at night. It will also carry grudges from the daylight hours, seeking out those who have wronged or killed Banner. Ewing has also suggested the series will read like a horror comic.
This return to the early Kirby and Lee adventures offers a new path forward for The Hulk after years of Marvel events and sci-fi escapades. The monster is returning in a way readers have not seen in decades and there will be hell to pay for anyone who gets in his way. After some time away, The Hulk is back and badder than ever.