Thanks in no small part to his iconic green shade, the Hulk some of the most popular and instantly recognizable characters in the Marvel Universe. However, the Hulk hasn’t always been green.
While Bruce Banner initially turned into a gray creature, in Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s Incredible Hulk #1, the Hulk has taken on many shades and colors over the past several decades. With the eye-catching debut of the Yellow Hulk in Marvel Action: Avengers, we’re taking a look back at the many multi-colored Hulks of the Marvel Universe.
Introduced by Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness in 2008’s Hulk #1 as an enemy to the main Hulk, the Red Hulk has a strength that’s equal to the Hulk and pairs with a crafty tactical intelligence. Created as part of a super-soldier program by Doc Samson and Inteligencia, he defeated powerhouses like Wendigo, Abomination and several heroes, along with destroying a S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier before his identity was ever revealed. His identity was kept a secret until 2010, when he was revealed to be General Thaddeus Ross, longtime Hulk enemy, and father of Betty Ross. The Red Hulk went on to be an Avenger and a semi-regular ally of Marvel’s heroes.
The second Red Hulk made his debut in Al Ewing and Gerardo Sandoval’s U.S.Avengers #1, revealed to be general Robert Maverick, intended to be a sort of “Halfway Hulk.” This Hulk was created by relatively heroic A.I.M., using a device called the Hulk Plug-In that allows him to spend one hour roughly every day and a half as a Red Hulk.
The Hulk’s original appearance saw him in his intended color of gray. However, that color couldn’t be consistently reproduced given the printing technology of the day, which meant that the Hulk’s particular shade of gray wouldn’t always necessarily look the same. While the Hulk became green to address this problem in Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s Incredible Hulk #2, the Gray Hulk would later return 1984’s The Incredible Hulk #324, by Al Milgrom and Dennis Janke, before settling as the regular form of Hulk’s Joe Fixit persona, a Las Vegas gambler/Mob enforcer who was tied to the abuse Bruce Banner endured during childhood.
While not as strong or smart as the Hulk or Bruce Banner Fixit is shown to be the manifestation of Bruce’s personality that is willing to do things too gruesome or morally wrong. With full control of his senses, Joe Fixit is crafty and conniving, willing to do anything to survive.
Originally appearing as a playable character in Marvel vs. Capcom: Clash of Superheroes, Orange Hulk made his comics debut in 2011’s Uncanny X-Force #12, by Rick Remender and Mark Brooks. Hailing from the world of the X-Men’s Age of Apocalypse alternate timeline, Orange Hulk is created by the Black Legion as a servant of Weapon Omega. Quite possibly created by this world’s Hank McCoy, he is solar powered as opposed to gamma-powered like the main Hulk and it is suggested that this makes him stronger during the day.
Outside of his role defending Apocalypse’s ship and attacking the last human settlement of Earth-295, the Orange Hulk has not been seen in the Marvel Universe.
The newest member of the Hulk pantheon, Yellow Hulk cameoed in Matthew K. Manning and Marcio Fiorito’s Marvel Action: Avengers #9, before making a full debut in the following issue. Created by A.I.M. using weaponized demons called Fear Eaters in a nightmarish world, the Yellow Hulk is joined by A.I.M. controlled Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Vision, Wasp, Ant-Man and Spider-Man in a battle against the non-mind controlled Avengers.
The issue leaves off without a resolution to this fight as we see the non-controlled Avengers standing over a sleeping Captain America, who appears to still be under the influence of the Fear Eater. While Yellow Hulk has garnered considerable attention, it’s also worth noting that the Devil Hulk, who represents the Hulk’s resentment towards the world, has also appeared as yellow at times.
The most well known and most frequently appearing version of the Hulk is the Green Hulk. While Stan Lee reportedly wanted the Hulk to be gray to not suggest any association with any particular ethnic group, green quickly became the Hulk’s defining color. After initially retconning his gray origin in future reprints/retellings of the origin story, it was later retconned again that this color change was due to Bruce’s frequent use of Gamma projectors empowered the savage, green Hulk to take precedence over Joe Fixit, who was battling him for control.
Plenty of other versions of the Hulk would appear Green as well. The Banner/Hulk composite Doc Green and Professor Hulk, who combines Hulk’s brawn with Banner’s smarts, are both green. An alt-future dictator version known as the Maestro is also shown as green, and most versions of the Hulk are green in Al Ewing and Joe Bennett’s The Immortal Hulk.
First appearing in Jay Faerber and Carlos Magno’s Captain Universe/Incredible Hulk #1, the Blue Hulk is the result of regular Hulk’s bonding with Captain Universe’s Uni-Power. Although this version of the Hulk didn’t exist for long, Blue Hulk is undoubtedly one of the most powerful iterations of the Hulk.
The bonding happens when the Uni-Power needs Bruce Banner’s help locating a fellow scientist in order to figure out what has been causing problems. Although he initially remains green, the Hulk turns blue when he’s attacked, and the Uni-Power provides him with a cosmic boost. In the ensuing fight, the Blue Hulk absolutely destroy his opponents and declare himself as “The Strongest One There Is” before hopping away to parts unknown while the Uni-Power vacates in favor of Daredevil.
Other than Devil Hulk, Purple Hulk is one of the Hulk’s scariest incarnations. Appearing in Peter David and Dale Keown’s Incredible Hulk #371, the Purple Hulk is the result of Hulk’s possession at the hangs of Shanzar, Sorcerer Supreme of the Dark Dimension. While Doctor Strange and Namor battle Dark Hulk in the real world, Bruce is able to beat Shanzar by opening a door in his mind that contains something so powerful and furious it frightens Shanzar who then flees when Strange opens a portal back to the dark dimension.
Within the issue itself, this Hulk took on a stark black-and-and-white look. But when 1996’s The Incredible Hulk animated series adapted this storyline, the Dark Hulk was purple when possessed by a being known as Hybrid.
While the Hulk has already been many colors, the unstable nature of his mind means that there’s no telling when a new color of Hulk could pop up, especially with The Immortal Hulk shining such a spotlight on the various corners of Bruce Banner’s fractured mind.
From the Yellow Hulk to the Red Hulk and the classic Green Hulk, Marvel's Hulks have appeared in almost every color of the rainbow.