ROBERT BRUCE BANNER almost died at birth and often wishes he had. The only son of Brian and Rebecca Banner, he had a very unhappy childhood. Bruce’s father was an atomic physicist who worked for the U.S. government. The more Brian learned about radiation, the more he feared it. He started drinking to deal with his mounting stress and began to suspect that he had been exposed to trace amounts of radiation. Fearing it had altered his genetic structure, he was horrified to learn that Rebecca was pregnant. She suffered many medical complications and Brian became convinced that his son, Bruce, was some kind of a mutant. Although Bruce seemed a normal, healthy baby, Brian was convinced he would grow up to be a monster.
Brian’s paranoia increased when Bruce began to show signs of an emerging, brilliant yet abstract intellect. Rebecca tried to defend her son, but Brian took his frustrations out on her and became increasingly more abusive. When she decided to leave him, Brian accidentally killed her in a fit of anger.
Though still a child, Bruce tried to cover for his father during the resulting murder investigation, but Brian Banner was eventually convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to a mental institution. Bruce was sent to live with his mother’s sister, Mrs. Elizabeth Drake. He was a shy and quiet child who rarely expressed any kind of emotion. The Drakes tried to get him to come out of his shell and enrolled him in a private school for gifted science students.
Science was the only thing that mattered to young Bruce. He devoted all his time and energy to his studies and ignored his classmates. He decided to become a doctor, but always remained fascinated with the study of radiation, the one thing that scared his father. In his spare time, Bruce began to research gamma radiation and came to believe that it could be used to cure many diseases. He also theorized that a gamma bomb could be designed to destroy property but leave the people alive.
Bruce, though always a little shy, made a real effort to fit in with the other students when he went to college. However, his interest in gamma radiation intensified: after two years, he dropped out of medical school and decided to become a nuclear physicist.
After earning advanced degrees in nuclear physics, Dr. Bruce Banner worked for the U.S. Defense Department, continuing his research in gamma radiation. He began to develop a gamma or G-bomb and was assigned to a New Mexico missile base commanded by General Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross. As the countdown commenced for the first detonation of the gamma bomb, a teenager accidentally wandered onto the testing field and Banner made the split-second decision to save him. After shoving young Rick Jones to safety in a nearby ditch, Banner was struck full-force by the gamma energy.
The Hulk was born.
Thereafter, the radiation would cause him to transform during times of extreme stress into the dark personification of his long-repressed rage and fury. A savage brute: The Hulk lashes out at his tormentors with an anger unmatched by any creature on Earth and the strength of a thousand armies. And the angrier he becomes, the stronger he gets. The most powerful creature ever to walk the planet, the Hulk has ravaged cities and towns from coast to coast, smashing any object that stands in his way. When his temper tantrums subside, the Hulk is a gentle, childlike man-monter who wants only to be left alone.
Bruce managed to keep his condition secret for years, but his strange affliction eventually became public knowledge. As a result, he spent years wandering the country as a fugitive - plagued by recurring, uncontrollable transformations into the Hulk. Hounded by the authorities, the Hulk repeatedly has`eluded the Army and Thunderbolt Ross, his most dogged pursuer.
Bruce's time as the Hulk has exacted a heavy toll on the bookish physicist. So far, his alter ego has resisted virtually every attempt to effect some measure of a cure. Certain treatments have appeared to work for a time, but they always come undone, including extensive psychotherapy by Dr. Samson aimed at repairing the damage done during Bruce's childhood.
One of the few bright spots in Bruce's life was his true love Betty Ross, daughter of General Ross. The two shared a mutual attraction from their first meeting at Desert Base and ultimately married. After Banner's tragedy, he tried to keep his horrific transformations from her but his frequent disappearances and secrecy drove them apart. Banner now searches obsessively for an antidote so he can return to his love.
Growing increasingly resigned to his condition, Bruce has endeavored to better himself through the use of meditation and yoga. As a result of such introspective practices, he has arrived at a new realization: Bruce has come to count on the Hulk to get him out of trouble, and calmly collects the shattered pieces of his life once he reverts to human form - awaiting the return of the monster. Theirs is a dangerous relationship of human will struggling to control the raging anger of a seven-foot monster.
Hulk: The Incredible Guide. DK CHILDREN, 2008. ISBN: 0756641691 Get up close and personal with the Incredible Hulk in the new edition of this incredible guide. From the Hulk's origins to his super-battles, trace the ultimate super-being's legendary career since his creation by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby 45 years ago. Discover the secret of his superhuman powers and of the extraordinary, terrifying, multiple personalities and powers that manifest themselves from deep within Bruce Banner's fragmented, tormented psyche! Explore every decade of the Hulk story from the major heroes and villains to key storylines from that era. Created with unlimited access to the Marvel comic archives and packed with incredible photos from the original comic-book stories.
Marvel Encyclopedia Vol. 1. New York: Marvel, 2002. ISBN: 0785109846 At last, the long awaited, complete and up-to-date listing of more than 100 top Marvel heroes and villians, from A to Z. This fully illustrated, comprehensive hardcover includes biographies, statistics, essential reading and quizzes on all the Mighty Marvel's most popular characters. How did they get their powers? What were their greatest adventures? Who are the deadliest adversaries? All is revealed in the Marvel Encyclopedia.