17

I'm reading Avengers Assemble, the Avengers series that's meant to be a jumping-on point for people who got introduced to the Avengers through the recent movie. We're four issues in at this point and the Hulk has had plenty of "screen time", but there's been no sign of Bruce Banner that I can recall. It's the Hulk attending nonviolent briefing meetings and walking down boring hallways with the team.

I have seen no explanation in the four current issues. Is there any explanation in other Hulk storylines, or any clue from a creator or publisher?

  • I don't know if there's any relation to the TV show of the same name, but in the show Banner has made a deal with the Hulk: Banner will stay as the Hulk, if the Hulk joins the Avengers. (That deal was actually in Avengers Assemble's predecessor: Earth's Mightiest Heroes, but they seem to have mostly kept that part of the continuity) – DCShannon Jul 20 '16 at 2:12
11

While Thaddeus' answer touches on the generalities of why Banner wouldn't show up, I think there's something more specific about what's happening in the Avengers Assemble series.

Avengers Assemble takes place in the main Marvel continuity, which is alongside writer Jason Aaron's current take on the Hulk, happening every month in Incredible Hulk volume 3. A quick blurb from Wikipedia about that series states:

At the start of this new series, Hulk and Banner have somehow become separate entities. The Hulk has been living as a hunter for an underground tribe of Moloids in Subterranea while Banner has become a deranged scientist living on an island and conducting experiments to try to re-trigger his transformations into the Hulk.

And spoilers for those who haven't read the current issues:

The storyline concludes with Banner being destroyed in the blast from his new gamma bomb, but the Hulk's close proximity to Banner when the explosion occurred resulted in Hulk and Banner becoming one being once more, with their previous existence reversed; now Hulk is the 'dominant' personality, reverting into the criminally insane Banner when he becomes too calm.

Regarding other mysteries that have popped up in the book that also seem to contradict previous stories and established continuity, Bendis stated on his Tumblr (WARNING: that link spoils the ending of Avengers Assemble #4) that the series is:

100 percent cannon [sic]. all will be answered and revealed in story

That means that Bendis intends for Avengers Assemble to be in continuity with the other Marvel Comics, including Jason Aaron's Hulk. Tom Brevoort, Avengers Assemble editor and longtime Marvel employee/aficionado, stated in an interview with CBR:

Tom Brevoort then explained the goal of "Avengers Assemble" in terms of greater Marvel continuity. "It sits right at the forefront of Marvel continuity," he said.

Bendis even says in the same interview:

You don't have to mention every single thing that's happened to these characters to get to this place, just enough to recognize them. Just don't do anything to contradict continuity.

So given the above quotes, it's fairly evident that Bendis is aware of what Jason Aaron is doing in the main Hulk book and is keeping Banner out of Avengers Assemble so as to not contradict it (or to contradict it less, as I'm not sure how Hulk is being characterized in his solo book). And given his above Tumblr quote regarding the other continuity-defying plot point in Avengers Assemble, it's entirely possible he will address the Banner issue in the future.

6

You have to look at the history of the character, especially in relationship to the media. His book's title was The Incredible Hulk for decades. It is the Hulk people come to see. Banner is the intermission people tolerate while they wait for the Hulk to be unleashed.

The Hulk and Banner are two sides of the same coin but whenever the Avengers are in the room, you can expect to see the Hulk and not Banner. Banner is weak, Banner is vulnerable, and both of them know this. The Hulk is almost unstoppable, Banner is very stoppable with sufficient force.

  • The movie version of the Hulk claims his secret is that he is always angry, so he is actually able to become the Hulk almost instantly. But psychologically speaking his relationship to the Avengers and SHIELD are defined by his ability to become the Hulk.
  • I suspect the Hulk, as a dominant personality, does NOT like to revert to his Banner identity and will only do it under duress or great need.
  • More importantly, the Hulk is the character people relate to, his nearly uncontrollable rage, his frustration with the human experience, and the constant attack by forces outside of him, make him a sympathetic character.
  • Banner is a scientist and scientist don't make the most sympathetic characters in our modern world and I believe writers know it. You probably won't see much of Banner unless his particularly unique scientific skill are necessary to save the day.

I know they made the character of Bruce Banner, the most approachable he has been in decades and it is unfortunate he does not get more page time. Banner was handsome, suave, intellectual, yet more in control than he has been seen in his own book in years. Banner's appearance will probably hinge on writers who are more comfortable dealing with the scientific aspects of Banner's character.

  • 1
    Banner being approachable and in control is totally and drastically false in the currently-ongoing vol. 3 of The Incredible Hulk - it's not something they're apparently tied to. – Ian Pugsley Jul 2 '12 at 13:35
  • I agree completely. I think they took a different approach for the character in the movies to offer some multi-dimensionality to the character. It's too bad the comics have returned us to the Savage Hulk. Strangely enough, in the televised Iron Man Adventures, they turned the Hulk back to his grey persona, increasing his intellect, reducing his power and opening the Hulk back up to characterizations that are neither Banner nor Savage Hulk. I still think Mr. Fixit was one of the best iterations of the Hulk, ever! – Thaddeus Howze Jul 2 '12 at 18:37

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