…Bruce Banner’s multiple personalities?

This Fix comes from long time Hulk fan, Deadfast Author and BAD HAVEN founder Mark ‘The Bad Man’ McCann.

0_ The Avengers new tv-spot with tons of hulk

Monstrous Origins

Since his inception The Incredible Hulk has been held up as an analogy for many things; the 60’s counter culture urge to rise up against repression – a reaction to the frustrations of war and the fear of nuclear side effects/ mutations and even a study on anger and justified violence. Stan Lee called the character ‘a golem’ in line with Jewish myth, and recalled Hulk as the Atomic Age Jekyll and Hyde.

But with so many dissonant personalities emerging over the years of his publication history it’s difficult to give a cohesive history of what exactly ‘Hulk’ really is when compared to his character history as an off-shoot of a gamma bomb experiment gone wrong and the fractured psyche of genius nuclear physicist Bruce Banner.

Figure 1: The different incarnations of Hulk from left - Gladiator Hulk, The Meastro, Gamma Irradiated Spider-Man, Joe Fixit, The Professor, House of M Hulk, The Green Scar

Figure 1: The different incarnations of Hulk from left – Gladiator Hulk, The Meastro, Gamma Irradiated Spider-Man, Joe Fixit, The Professor, House of M Hulk, The Green Scar

What we can agree on, is that from his initial appearance, although retconned and retconned again, Hulk emerged from the Gamma Bomb explosion of Banner’s own design a grey behemoth who would revert to Banner by sunrise, and Hulk again at sunset. This Hulk was different to the more commonly known version; a rampaging, monosyllabic, childlike engine of destruction.

And although the actual reasoning behind this change would be more one of simple editorial practicality (The grey colouring during his first appearance in Incredible Hulk #1 proved problematic; ‘resulting in different shades of gray, and even green, in the issue’), the effects of the later change to ‘Green’ for the character and ‘childlike’ to the personality would be the catalyst for a long list of personality changes that would result in one of the most seemingly schizophrenic characters in comics.

Figure 2: During the Hulk's first ever appearance he was coloured Grey

Figure 2: During the Hulk’s first ever appearance he was coloured Grey

Breaking Banner

The reasoning behind the many sides of Hulk was elaborated on by writer Bill Mantlo who took the reins of the Hulk series with issue #245 (1980), when the writer alluded to Bruce Banner’s child abuse at the hands of his violent father, who would be shown in later issues to go one step further in traumatizing his son, by murdering Bruce’s mother.

The many faces of Hulk are hypothesized as a side effect of this abuse, which would later under the writing tenure of Peter David (during his 12 year run from issue #331 – 1987) be diagnosed as Multiple Personality Disorder, or Dissociative Identity Disorder.

Dissociative disorders including DID have been attributed to disruptions in memory caused by trauma and other forms of stress, but research on this hypothesis has been characterized by poor methodology and in some cases doesn’t add up. But it would make perfect sense that Banner, especially from his early appearance as a troubled Nuclear physicist working on a Gamma Bomb under the watchful, and somewhat aggressive eye of General Thaddeus ‘Thunderbolt’ Ross would create a side personality, an aggressive alpha male personality composed of Banner’s smarts, and a cunning of his own, internally to combat his own insecurities.  Banner was in a difficult situation, with feelings for the General’s daughter Betty and overshadowed by two existing powerful male figures in her life – Ross and Major Glenn Talbot, Betty’s husband to be.

Figure 3: The grey hulk Joe Fixit was actually an early persona Banner had created as part of his DID

Figure 3: The grey hulk Joe Fixit was actually an early persona Banner had created as part of his DID

This personality Banner created – the Grey Hulk – who would later seemingly devolve into a rampaging green behemoth was the same ‘Joe Fixit’ Hulk from later issues (Incredible Hulk #324 onwards)  and I contend a product of Banner’s secret rage, inadequacy (Major Glenn Talbot was about engaged to the woman he loved, Betty Ross, General Ross’ daughter, and both Ross and Talbot were ‘real men’ and treated Banner with scorn) and lust (for Betty Ross).  Described as; cunning, crafty, hedonistic, arrogant, and distant, this Hulk persona, still in his inception was later suppressed by Banner using the gamma ray machine he creates to return his intelligence to Hulk’s body.

This alters Hulk’s colour to green and makes Banner weakly and sick when he reverts from his monstrous transformations. Overuse of this machine, which could be categorized as continual stress on Banners part, would later induce the better known Savage Hulk persona, the hulking monosyllabic beast he is best known for, and has been a continuous presence throughout Hulk’s publication history.

Figure 4: the savage hulk smashes

Figure 4: The Savage Hulk Smashes

But this persona, while best categorized by his catch-phrase ‘Hulk Smash’, was hunted by the US Army and served as an Avengers antagonist, yet more often than not expressed an interest in being left alone. The reasons for this I contend, are that while Banner may have been suffering from DID, his strongest human instincts, the ones wired for survival, are what causes the manifestation of this particular Hulk. And the reason that no matter how many times Hulk’s personalities change or evolve; when under extreme stress or experiencing traumatic external events, it seems the Savage Hulk emerges prevalent as the one aspect of Bruce Banner’s persona that he cannot keep suppressed; his innate human survival instinct.

This has been the case when Banner existed as The Grey Hulk, and later the Merged Hulk or Professor Hulks (an amalgamation of all 3 of his dissociative personalities, including Banner). Through his transformations Banner’s personalities found a way to emerge, but I contend that his transformation itself, is something that happens purely on an instinctual level, something that Banner has harnessed to varying degrees, but has never been fully able to control. This also helps explain why on the temporary occasions that Banner has managed to separate himself from Hulk it has nearly killed him and/or driven him temporarily mad.

Figure 5: Hulk and Banner separated has proved detrimental to both as individual entities

Figure 5: Hulk and Banner separated has proved detrimental to both as individual entities

This was also the case with his Hulk alter ego, when during one of these instances (manipulated by the ethereal villain Nightmare) Hulk emerged minus Banner as ‘Mindless Hulk’, an incarnation of Hulk, that without Banner to hold him in check, ran rampant and was completely impossible to control. Could it not be possible that ‘Mindless Hulk’ was simply Banner’s survival mechanism running rampant and without an anchor to hold it in check, thrashing out wildly in an attempt to relocate its host? This was similarly the case when Doc Samson separated Banner from Hulk and created an even less cognitive version of Hulk, who due to the separation from Banner eventually began to die, until reunited.

Figure 6: The mindless Hulk was virtually  impossible minus Banner

Figure 6: The mindless Hulk was virtually impossible minus Banner

It’s also seems to be obvious that without Banner as his anchor Hulk continues to run unchecked and further towards a form of critical mass. When separated during the Onslaught Saga, this time round Hulk’s strength grew exponentially greater, and he also began to leak radiation until he was restored with his Banner ‘anchor’. The suggestion is, that this time round as opposed to just dying from the separation, he might have actually exploded.

Human Instinct

But returning to the idea of Banners ‘Hulk’ transformations as an ‘Instinctual Reaction’ to gamma mutation, and the personalities as a side effect of this new form of expression, we should note that the instincts, best described as inborn complex patterns of behaviour that must exist in every member of the species and that cannot be overcome by force of will, are not just a reflex reaction to Banner’s external stress stimulus.

The absence of volitional capacity must not be confused with an inability to modify fixed action patterns as it seems Banner as a child was able to alter his natural instinct towards survival and anger, a possible inborn genetic trait passed on from his violent and abusive father, suppressing it enough that he would later develop great internal, unreleased rage and the manifestation of DID.

The Savage Hulk, most often compared to Bruce’s inner child, could thus be best described as Bruce’s survival instincts finally given release, in the form of a rampaging beast, fused with the child he was when he first learned how to suppress them.

Further questions might arise however, when we consider that Banner’s psyche has massive numbers of personalities seemingly suppressed within. Guilt Hulk, Devil Hulk, Dark Hulk, Shrapnel Hulk, The Maestro and many more are all persona’s that have been witnessed within Banner, and only some of whom have ever found an outlet.

Figure 7: Bruce Banner's repressed personalities were once glimpsed in a cave in his psyche

Figure 7: Bruce Banner’s repressed personalities were once glimpsed in a cave in his psyche

The reason only some have emerged may be down to the strength of those said persona’s abilities to override or learn beyond Banner’s initial ‘survival instinct’ transformation. And while the personas have been combined, have run loose, or in the case of the Dark Hulk, a seemingly hostile extra-dimensional possession, mixed with Banner’s own dark feelings, (and a possible forerunner to the Maestro persona) exiled using magic and psychic tactics (via Doctor Strange and Namor) the manifestation of Banner’s survival has always been a reversion to the childlike ‘Savage Hulk’; the suppressed survival instinct of Bruce Banner as a child, given voice through the child he locked away, and with an abnormal cellular structure inherited from his father’s exposure to radiation which enabled his unique physiology to harness the gamma radiation from his own bomb rather than be annihilated by it.

Figure 8: Hulk's transformation

Figure 8: Hulk transformation

No matter how much Banner’s DID personalities work around it (Joe Fixit, Maestro, Green Scar, The Professor etc.) the reason they will never retain the same dominance as ‘Savage Hulk’ is that without Savage Hulk, the ultimate expression of ‘fight’ instead of flight and survival through adaptation (advanced strength, Healing and Durability) Banner would return to a level of vulnerability his body has since rejected, and die. Thus Banners survival is ironically linked to a transformation that gives his instinct form, paired with the personality he suppressed that is least equipped to survive. An abused Bruce Banner as a boy.

Post Analysis:

Figure 9: Among Hulks already impressive ability to channel anger into almost limitless strength, he can also heal from any wound, is almost impervious to damage and has shown the ability to adapt to breathing underwater and survival in the complete vacuum of space. For all intents and purposes he is a evolutionary hyper-Adaptoid

Figure 9: Among Hulks already impressive ability to channel anger into almost limitless strength, he can also heal from any wound, is almost impervious to damage and has shown the ability to adapt to breathing underwater and survival in the complete vacuum of space. For all intents and purposes he is a evolutionary hyper-adaptoid

Hulk’s continued mantra ‘Hulk Is The Strongest One There Is’ also gives credence to the idea that Hulk is not only Banner’s survival mechanism in action, but by his sheer survival and subsequent mutation, a form of Darwinian evolution given unnatural possibility through science. Hulk is ‘the strongest one there is’ not only as a physical entity, but in his continued evolution and adaptability as the purest sense of ‘survival of the fittest’ given form. The fact that human survival hinges on our ability to out-think our surrounding dangers further builds on the idea that while Hulk is a creature of pure survival given physicality, it is the very human instinct, and subsequent psychological variance that empowers him.

…the origin of Rick Jones?

RickJonesSidekickFront_zps5cbb4895

Have you ever stopped to consider the strangely fortuitous life of Rick Jones?  To say he is at the right place at the right time is quite an understatement.  He has led such a charmed life that it begs the question is there more to it than simple coincidence?  Writer Jim Shelley thinks he has an explanation that explains Rick’s incredible good luck.  Borne out the dark, dismal days of the 2000’s era of comics, Jim and artist Pierre Villeneuve vowed to create comics that would hearken back to the glory days of Marvel and DC – comics that were bright and colourful, fast paced and fun.  They also felt that digital would be the wave of the future, so they made their comics available for free in cbr format on his website www.FlashbackUniverse.com.   That was back in 2005 when digital comics were dismissed as a mere novelty, but they have since grown into an entire industry.  As a result Flashback Universe comics have been adapted for both iPhone and Android platforms and more than 100,000 copies have been download from their site.  Currently, Jim and Pierre are working with a gaming studio to bring the Flashback Universe characters to game consoles as well as working on other publishing projects.  Now before we jump into Jim’s explanation, let’s refresh our memories with some of the more notable high points on the Rick Jones Timeline:

1962 – Somehow he slips by military police and sneaks onto a nuclear testing facility (whereupon he is the catalyst for the origin of the Hulk.)

Figure 01_Rick-Jones-Hulk

1963 – Sends out a random ham radio message that results in the formation of the Avengers

Figure 02_RJ-AvengersRadio

1964 – With absolutely no powers or training, becomes an honorary Avenger fighting alongside Captain America

Figure 03_avengers-RJ

1969 – Is “Drawn” to the Nega Bands which allow him to bond with Captain Marvel

Figure 04_RickFindsNegaBands

1971 – Somehow becomes a conduit for the Destiny Force which he uses to end the Kree/ Skrull War

Figure 05_RJ-DestinyForce

1984 – Teams up with Rom Spaceknight

Figure 06_RomAndRJ

1986 – Is cured of cancer by the Beyonder

Figure 07_Beyonder-rick_jones

1986 – Becomes a Hulk-like creature

Figure 08_RJ-HulkOut2

1994 – Marries Marlo Jones (who he will later bring back from the dead).   At their wedding, both Death and Mephisto will be in attendance.

Figure 09_RickMarriesMarlo

Let’s call that the first phase of Rick’s life. I’m going to try and condense the second phase here:

After that, Rick’s fate would have him assisting the Pantheon, Wolfsbane of X-Factor, Genis-Vell, the son of the original Mar-Vell and The Runaways.

During World War Hulk Rick is impaled in the chest and the last we see of him he is being loaded into an ambulance. The very next time we see him, he has escaped from a secret base in Alaska.

Currently, Rick has been transformed into an Abomination analogue called A-bomb by the supervillain team called The Intelligencia

Here’s what we know:

Rick doesn’t know much about his past.

We know this because when serial killer Jackie Shorr shows up in Hulk 390-391, Rick accepts her as his mom.

jackie2

We later discover that Shorr was supposedly a day care worker who worked at an orphanage Rick grew up in. She was fired for being mentally unstable and became obsessed with tracking down all the children she once cared for and killing them. Rick is captured by her and taken down to her basement which is filled with the withered corpses chained to the walls.

jackie3

After a battle with Marlo and Betty, Rick is rescued and taken to a mental institution.

Later, Shorr is released(?) from the mental institution because of a case of mistaken identity. She just happens to cross paths with a recent acquaintance of Rick Jones at a diner. She is eventually found out and stopped by Moondragon.

When Rick questions how Jackie managed to get the sealed adoption documents from the orphanage, her only reply is that she stole them because dangerous people were after her. She also mentions that she spent time in Europe hiding from “some men.”

Rick has some powerful untapped potential within himself

While associated with Genis, Rick encounters an older version of himself who has become a super-villain named Thanatos. Thanatos is obsessed with creating the “ultimate Rick Jones” but he is stopped by another incarnation of Rick who is wielding Thor’s hammer.

Figure 10_thanatos4

Questions:

How did a mentally unstable woman managed to stay undetected by the authorities for so many years? Her targets all had a very easy to see commonality (orphans from the same facility.) How did no one spot that when investigating the other missing persons cases?

  • Who were the “some men” Shorr had to flee America to hide from?
  • How did she escape her mental facility so easily?
  • What was Ultimate Rick Jones that Thanatos wanted to create?
  • Why would both Death and Mephisto up at Rick’s wedding?
  • How did Rick slip onto the military base during the Gamma bomb test?
  • How has been able to command the Destiny Force and Cosmic Awareness at various times in his life?

Here’s The Theory: Rick Jones is one of many bio engineered test subjects created by Arnim Zola using Moon Boy’s DNA during the American Operation Paperclip program.

Figure 11_ZolaMoonBoy

His latent psionic powers are the result of genetic tampering with the human race that goes all the way back to prehistoric times by a villain from the future.

To understand the secret origin of Rick Jones, we must look at the machinations of Michael Korvac aka The Enemy.

Figure 12_KorvacAvengers_177_02

When Korvac was originally discovered by the Collector, it was determined that he would one day be more powerful than either the Elders or the Eternals. The Collector sent his daughter to try and trick Korvac, but she fell in love with him instead. She would have undoubtedly revealed her father’s plans at that point. I suspect that is when Korvac realised he would have to take precautions against the Eternals and the Elders.

Korvac knew that his enemies might try to wipe out his bloodline starting with his first human ancestor, so he went even further back to the ape-like humanoids known as the Small Folk. He choose Moon Boy as the herald of his bloodline. Using his incredible cosmic powers, Korvac gave Moon Boy the power to subconsciously alter reality (much in the same way as Wanda’s Hex power works) which Moon Boy has often used to unwittingly travel through time and preserve his youth.

Moon Boy’s unique abilities did not go unnoticed by others however. In the Devil Dinosaur mini-series, he is captured and studied by aliens. This happened on numerous occasions usually ending with Moon Boy escaping. Most recently, he was captured and held in the custody of SHIELD until a rescue attempt by Stegron and Reptil (from Avengers Academy) returned him to the Savage Land only to be recaptured by Reed Richards.

Sidenote 1: The last appearance of Korvac was in Avengers Academy after they had just been involved in an adventure with Moon Boy. In that conflict a newly revived Carina aged all of the young heroes into older versions of themselves to fight Korvac. However, after the battle, she was unable to de-age one of them. Reptil. Coincidence? I think not.

Figure 13_MoonboyFF

How Arnim Zola found Moon Boy’s DNA we may never know, but it is possible it was among the notes, devices and other thing he found when he discovered the Deviants lab which set him on his career as a bio engineer. It is entirely possible that the Deviants had already started experimenting with Moon Boy’s DNA and Zola simply picked up from where they abandoned the project.

Sidenote 2: In Earth X, Moon Boy’s skeleton is discovered on the Blue Area of the Moon and it is revealed that he is an ancestor of Wolverine.

After World War II, as one of Germany’s top scientist, it seems likely that the American government would have tried to recruit him during Operation Paperclip. It’s also likely that his early experiments would not have been as ambitious as those Captain America discovered in the jungles of Central America.

I believe that Zola was asked/ allowed to create clones of Bucky Barnes (which explains why Rick Jones resembled Bucky so much.)   During this cloning process Zola mixed in the Moon Boy DNA (recognising it had had certain extraordinary recombinant properties) which resulted in a successful batch of Bucky clones.

While raising the clones in a government facility some of their latent psionic began to manifest. Jackie Shorr was a nurse in this facility. She underwent psionic training to protect herself from the children’s errant mental blasts. The training was crude but effective. As a result she became a bit insane. Later when Moondragon encountered Shorr, Moondragon finds herself unable to read Shorr’s mind.

As the clones grew older, their psionic powers seemed to dissipate. Still, the government kept an eye on them occasionally calling one or two of them in for testing and medical check ups. As a result, military police become accustomed to the sight of Bucky Barnes looking teens driving in and out of military gates. It is because of this that Rick Jones is able to enter the military base when a Gamma bomb is about to be tested.

As time goes by, and the government catches wind of how many times Rick Jones has been at the centre of some major super hero origin or battle, it becomes apparent that his psionic powers are altering chance. News of Jones using the Destiny Force to end the Kree/ Skrull war only makes matters worse.

The government decides to take drastic steps.  A clandestine program to brainwash the already mentally unstable Jackie Shorr into killing the Bucky Barnes clones is begun. Aided quietly by the government, Shorr begins capturing and killing the clones. She is quite successful until she encounters Jones whose latent powers cause all her efforts to fail.

After the Shorr project failed, the government has taken on a nervous wait and see approach to the Jones Problem.  Even higher powers (Mephisto and Death) are interested in Jones. While they do not realise that his powers stem from Korvac’s bloodline, they know he has untold potential and they are a little afraid of him. It was this potential God Jones that Thanatos was trying to create. In that timeline, it is possible that Rick Jones discovered the truth about his origins and was able to unlock his powers.

Since Avengers Disassembled until Avengers vs X-Men, Rick Jones seems to have fallen off the map of government concerns.  It is possible he is no longer a cosmic level threat.

Unless there is something they don’t want you to know.