The Replacements: Bruce Banner And The Legacy Of The Hulk
Since the dawn of the Silver Age, legacy characters have been a staple of superhero fiction, and having a new character step into a well loved role can open up new opportunities for writers and artists to tell different kinds of stories. In The Replacements, we’ll look back at some of the most notable and not-so-notable heroes and villains to assume some of these iconic mantles.
Bruce Banner may have been the first person cursed to become the rampaging beast known as The Hulk, but over the years a Hulk Family of sorts has sprouted up with friends, enemies and children carrying on his legacy.
Jennifer Walters was Bruce Banner’s shy and unassuming cousin who was shot by enemies of her father, and the only way to save her life was via blood transfusion, with Banner being the only compatible donor. Jen gained Hulk-like abilities, but retained her intelligence and savvy when transformed.
After deciding to spend all of her time as the She-Hulk, Jen joined the Avengers and later The Fantastic Four as a replacement for The Thing. Jen later rejoined the Avengers, but left in disgrace after being manipulated by The Scarlet Witch into killing The Vision.
Jen joined the law firm Goodman, Lieber, Kurtzberg & Holliway under the provision that she worked there in her normal Jennifer Walters form, and dealt with court cases that involved superpowered individuals. She later replaced The Thing again as a member of the Future Foundation while the Fantastic Four went on a cosmic road trip.
She-Hulk set up her own law firm and operated out of the same building as Hellcat and Howard The Duck, while also serving as a team member in A-Force. However, on a mission to stop Thanos from obtaining the Cosmic Cube, She-Hulk was critically injured by a stray missile fired by War Machine and slipped into a coma.
When the Red Hulk first burst onto the scene, his identity was a mystery, but he rubbed the entire hero community the wrong way with a brash attitude and a lack of respect. He brought down The Helicarrier, punched the Watcher in the face, killed Thunderbolt Ross, and made so many enemies that everyone was out to get him.
Ultimately it was revealed that Red Hulk actually was Thunderbolt Ross, and he had killed an LMD of himself to throw off suspicion. He had been turned into the very creature he hunted for so many years by The Intelligentsia, and tried to stage a coup for the presidency of the United States, but was ultimately defeated by The Incredible Hulk.
Sensing great things from Ross, Steve Rogers arranged for a pardon so that Red Hulk could serve as an Avenger while hunting down and dismantling The Intelligentsia's many doomsday scenarios. He later formed his own team of Thunderbolts that included The Punisher, Elektra and Deadpool, but so many hotheaded individuals on one team was a recipe for disaster.
Thunderbolt Ross was depowered by The Hulk in his “Doc Green” persona, and again incarcerated for his crimes. However, he is set to join Sunspot’s USAvengers team as Red Hulk (complete with resplendent moustache), so it’s likely he’ll get his powers back sometime soon.
When The Hulk’s adopted homeworld of Sakaar was destroyed, his pregnant wife Caiera was among those killed, but what The Hulk couldn’t know was that their son survived, and due to the combined powers of his parents he quickly grew to the equivalent age of a teenager while trying to survive on the devastated planet.
As some people on the planet grew to see Skaar as a savior, he was forced to choose between sacrificing his world to sate Galactus’ incredible hunger, or sparing it and leaving the World Eater more hungry than ever before. He chose the latter, and the spirit of his mother stripped him of her family's ancestral powers and exiled him from the planet.
Skaar arrived on Earth, planning to kill his father, but he determined that the incarnation of The Hulk present on Earth was not the war king that conceived him, and so his quest was in his vain. When Banner was depowered, he took Skaar under his wing and trained him to be a better hero, and so father and son bonded in a roundabout way
After a brief stint as Captain America’s spy on Norman Osborn’s new Dark Avengers, Skaar settled in The Savage Land, as it reminded him of his home. Skaar was among those depowered by Doc Green, but he was left with a new human identity and a nest egg of money to explore the planet as a civilian.
Betty Ross was known for most of her time in comics as the long-suffering love interest and eventual wife of Bruce Banner, and when she did gain powers it was first as The Hulk’s enemy The Harpy. She was eventually killed by Hulk foe The Abomination.
When Red She-Hulk appeared, her identity was a mystery even to the Red Hulk himself, but he later learned that his daughter had been resurrected and empowered by The Intelligentsia.
Although briefly depicted as a villain, Red She-Hulk's priority was experiencing life and going after what she wanted, after decades of being used in a tug of war between her father and her ex-husband. During an attack on Earth by an Asgardian villain called The Serpent, Betty was gifted an enchanted sword. She later joined a new incarnation of The Defenders.
Red She-Hulk also worked with the ancient Order of the Shield to determine threats before they happened and eliminate them, and when it was determined that Bruce Banner would be responsible for one of these threats, she arranged to have him shot. Doc Green later confronted her with this information, before revealing he had already worked with Rick Jones to depower her as she transformed back into Betty Ross.
Skaar wasn’t the only child born to The Hulk and Caiera; he had a twin brother named Hiro-Kala, who also survived the destruction of Sakaar. While Skaar gained all of the physical advantages of his parents, Hiro-Kala was a weak and sickly child, and found himself enslaved under the despotic Axeman Bone.
Hiro-Kala worked to help evacuate the planet from Galactus’ imminent feast, and after the complete destruction of Sakaar, Hiro was left as the leader of the remaining Sakaarans in search of a new home. He set out in search of Galactus, gaining great power along the way, and after poisoning the World Eater he set his sights on Earth and his brother.
Aware of his son’s arrival, Bruce Banner gathered allies to combat him, but as The Hulk was unable to kill him, he instead stripped him of his powers. Hiro-Kala was defeated in battle by his brother Skaar, and taken to the core of the planet K’ai to stabilize it after he nearly destroyed it.
Lyra is the daughter of Thundra and The Hulk, who grew up in an alternate dimension where Earth was a matriarchy. In order to save her people, Lyra was sent back to Earth-616 by her mother to save her people, but upon discovering her true mission was to breed with the era’s greatest hero, Norman Osborn, she refused.
Lyra joined ARMOR, the agency that oversees extradimensional incursions and invasions, and sought out Jennifer Walters to help her acclimate to this new era. Her quest to find She-Hulk led to her joining the Frightful Four, and discovering Jen Walters as a captive of the Intelligentsia. Lyra betrayed her new team to free She-Hulk and escape to safety.
Lyra briefly joined a short-lived incarnation of The Defenders during The Serpent’s attack on the Earth, and following its conclusion she enrolled in Avengers Academy as it opened its doors. Doc Green attempted to send her back to her home time, but his rogue AI accidentally sent her to a hellish dimension that she eventually conquered, becoming its ruler.
Amadeus Cho took part in a quiz by the Excello Soap Company that proved him to be one of the smartest people in the world. However, this made him a target and led to the death of his parents, which in turn sent him on a journey of self-discovery and revenge. The teenager briefly bonded with The Hulk after crossing paths with him in the desert.
When The Hulk was exiled by other heroes and eventually returned, Amadeus Cho recruited a bunch of heroes to defend him, but he discovered that his hero was more of a monster than he realized. This adventure led Amadeus to partner up with the Greek god Hercules, and discover that he was intended to replace Herc as Athena’s champion and Prince of Power.
After defeating the Gods of Olympus, Amadeus inherited their earthly corporation, and used their resources to find his long-thought dead sister. He was later able to safely cure Bruce Banner of being the Hulk, and siphon the energy into himself. He was able to control it in a way that Bruce never could.