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Nightmare Fuel / The Incredible Hulk

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  • On those occasions when the Hulk gets seriously angry and destructive and unable to differentiate between friend and foe, it can get a little unsettling. And on the flip side, stories where someone is actually able to beat the crap out of the Hulk himself is a frightening visual when you consider his power level. Then you have the cases where someone's trying to take down an especially powerful Hulk, as in World War Hulk and Immortal Hulk, and part of the horror is how far they're willing to go in order to do so.
  • Bruce Banner himself. Just a mild-mannered scientist, right? Well... the Hulk had to come from somewhere, you know. And the more time goes on, the more splintered Bruce's mindset gets.
  • During the "Crossroads of Eternity" story, one of our first explorations of Bruce's life and childhood, it's suggested that the Hulk was always in the back of Bruce's mind, long before the Gamma Bomb, just waiting. All that the bomb did was give it a form, and the chance to smash.
  • One of Mister Hyde's creepiest appearances was in The Incredible Hulk #368, where he cornered Bruce Banner on a train, stabbed him, slammed him into a wall, and taunted him over their Jekyll and Hyde duality, explaining that he decided to kill the Hulk to prove he's superior, as there's no room for two Edward Hydes. Hyde eventually declares he's won, as while the Hulk cares for others, Hyde has no such weakness, and laughs as he falls off the train and down a cliff. The whole thing is made worse by the comic's use of shadows, giving the train scenes an eerie, nightmarish feel. Even Bruce admits that Hyde knew how to push his buttons.
  • Issue #377. Doc Samson hypnotizes Bruce to try and reconcile the Hulk and Joe Fixit, as their war for control is turning Bruce into a wreck. While inside Bruce's head they find that he is haunted by a horrifying monster (the "Guilt Hulk") that effortlessly defeats both the Hulk and Joe. We see the monster beating young Bruce on Christmas morning and murdering Bruce's mother, and it's made clear that the monster is Brian Banner.
  • Speaking of which: Brian Banner. Brian freaking Banner. None of Marvel's other characters have a father this awful, not even most of their villains. Raised in an abusive household himself, Brian met Bruce's mother, and fell in love. So far so good. Then, Rebecca tells Brian one day she's pregnant. Brian doesn't take this very well, not least when the baby has to be c-sectioned out of Rebecca, nearly killing her in the process. Brian starts to get paranoid about how this baby is "stealing" Rebecca's love for him, and even more alarmed by just how smart little Bruce seems to be. Too smart, thinks Brian. He gets sloppy at work, and gets fired after causing a disaster. He starts drinking. He starts really drinking, and every time Brian gets drunk, who is the target of his anger? Yup, little Bruce. And one night, Rebecca finally tries standing up to Brian. He hits her, too. Which is somehow also Bruce's fault, in Brian's pickled brain. Eventually, Rebecca has enough and tries to leave, taking Bruce with her. Brian catches them... and smashes Rebecca's head in, right in front of Bruce's eyes. Bruce is just six at this point. And then Brian tells Bruce not to tell anyone about this, or he'll go to Hell. Just to make him all the more despicable, Brian gets sent to the loony bin, having been caught because he went to a bar and bragged about murdering his wife!
    • To give you an idea as to just how badly Brian Banner screwed up his son; one of the Hulk's less-known powers is that he's able to see ghosts, spirits and other astral entities such as Dr Strange's astral form. It's been theorized In-Universe that Hulk developed this "ghost sight" power to be able to see if Brian's ghost was haunting him. Banner is that scared of his father.
  • Incredible Hulk issue -0 changes the previously given fate of Brian, which was that the asshole had been murdered by random muggers. Hulk wanders into a spooky graveyard, where a gravedigger who looks an awful lot like Smilin' Stan Lee shows up, and puts on a weird pantomime of Bruce's life story, including his and Brian's last days together. See, after his time locked up, Brian was deemed cured. Then one night Bruce finds him at the door holding a knife for... no particular reason. A few days later, Bruce and Brian meet over Rebecca's grave. And Brian tries to kill Bruce. This is the part long-time readers remember, but then it turns out Bruce killed Brian, and was so horrified he forced himself to forget.
    • The gravedigger, whatever he is, which the story feels no need to elaborate on, but it's pretty clear that beneath that cheerful smile, there's something very nasty lurking. After all, he's not showing Hulk these happy memories for his health. He may well be the Devil... or given what devils are like in the Marvel Universe, something far, far worse.
  • Hulk: The End: Bruce Banner is the last living human after two nuclear wars which wiped out everybody else on the planet. When the story picks up Banner has spent years (possibly decades) wandering the radioactive wastelands, completely alone except for an alien recorder bot and the Hulk berating and raging at him inside his head. During that time Bruce has aged into an extremely old and frail man who thinks he may be over 200 years old (and looks every day of it). He wants desperately to die, but the Hulk refuses to let that happen. Bruce even tries to kill himself by jumping off a cliff but it's the Hulk who lands. At one point Bruce is chased by a swarm of giant evolved cockroaches, which are too much even for the Hulk to handle all at once; they overwhelm him and eat most of his flesh and internal organs, including both eyes and his tongue, which Hulk of course regenerates (and this is said to happen regularly). Bruce later has a heart attack and pleads with the Hulk to let them both go, but Hulk refuses and transforms as Bruce is on the point of death. The end of the story leaves the Hulk's fate in doubt but one awful possibility that suggests itself that Bruce is buried deep within the Hulk's psyche and that if the Hulk chooses not to change back, that they are both still stuck together on the dead Earth. Forever. The only difference being that Hulk can't hear Bruce inside his head anymore and as far as he knows, "Hulk is strongest one there is. Hulk is... only one... there is. Hulk feels... cold."
  • The Maestro. As mentioned above, Hulk can be as terrifying as you'd expect from one of the most powerful beings on Earth who just so happens to suffer from mental instability and "breath-taking anger management issues". Now, take the Hulk, remove all his positive qualities, and turn all his negative qualities up to eleven, and what do you have? The Maestro. Also from above, the sheer scale of the atrocities the Maestro is responsible for, and the depth of his depravity. It's truly terrifying to think that one of the most tragic and pitiable protagonists in fiction could become so utterly broken that he comes out the other side as such an absolute monster.
  • Fresh off Onslaught, the Hulk, literally half the monster he used to be due to being separated from Banner again, starts giving off an unusual and deadly amount of radiation. He was also brain-damaged during this time, and given his usual temperaments, this was a recipe for disaster. One attempt from the army to contain him had him melt the lead containment shield designed to capture him, and the Hulk tearing half his face off. A soldier in a special radiation-resistant suit felt nauseated seeing that and attempted to take his helmet off to throw up, but himself received a horrifying death where his eyes melted as his skin burned from the radiation the Hulk gave off.
    • The Hulk during that time period is disturbing. Both Hulks in 616 and Heroes Reborn were constantly under pain due their mind and body being ravaged by the flux of universal energies through their bodies, leading them to lash out and be more capricious than usual, enhancing their strength while reducing their durability. And then the Reset Button hit, and Banner and Hulk re-merging was used as the focus point as the merging of universes. Needless to say, this supremely fucked up Hulk's body and mind, leading to his death. Status Quo Is God seems a mercy in those conditions.
  • The villain Mercy is essentially the personification of Driven to Suicide, believing that she is doing despairing people a favor by killing them or leading others to kill them. Her powers include energy manipulation, strength, teleportation, flight, shapeshifting, and telepathy, and she can suppress consciousnesses to make it easier for people to die.
  • Mindless Hulk's rampage. Nightmare torments Hulk/Bruce in dreams to get revenge on Dr. Strange as the Sorcerer Supreme is too powerful to hurt directly. This goes to the extent that Bruce and Hulk are both driven nearly mad and Hulk rampages through the country till he reaches New York, in the hope that Strange can help him. But given the kind of horrors Hulk Rampages cause, SHIELD teams are pursuing him...
    • Worse, Strange is unable to save Bruce/Hulk. The sorcerer is able to unmask Nightmare's plans, but he couldn't have predicted how close to the edge Bruce was. With the effect that Bruce, tormented by the impossibility of escaping from the Hulk, commits psychic suicide, leaving the Hulk a mindless rage monster. Strange is horrified by what happened, and is taken off guard for a moment - enough time for Hulk to attack and knock him out, leaving the monster free to rampage.
    • Mindless Hulk goes on a rampage through the city, resulting in all the heroes teaming up to try and stop him - and nothing works. Several almost die at his hand. The disaster is stopped only when Strange recovers and arrives to banish Hulk into the Crossroads dimension.
  • The Immortal Hulk saga takes the story into the dark side of the Hulk, featuring Banner not just grappling with his dark side but the Hulk going on a trip to Hell itself. It works so well it has its own dedicated Nightmare Fuel page.
  • Issue #151 "When Monsters Meet!" can be summed up as "The Hulk vs. The Blob". It revolves around a US Senator, Morton Clegstead, who has been supporting General Ross' Hulkbuster program only because he's dying of cancer, and a doctor in his employ has a theory that the Hulk's Healing Factor could be exploited as a cure. But when Clegstead injects himself with a sample of the Hulk's blood, it supercharges and mutates his cancer, turning him into a Blob Monster made of living tumorous flesh, a mindless thing that exists only to eat all other flesh it can find and which grows bigger and bigger as it consumes. Except there's just enough of Clegstead's mind left aware in the "Crawling Thing" to recognize individuals — and to blame the Hulk for its current state. The result is one of the most desperate fights of Hulk's career to that point, with the narration noting that the Hulk is actually feeling the closest his brutish mind can get to panic, and even Hulk commenting that the Crawling Thing is the first foe to ever make the Hulk run. With a corrosive touch able to consume even the Hulk's Nigh-Invulnerable flesh, only a Deus ex Machina of the Crawling Thing being struck by lightning thanks to a sheer luck and a flagpole used as a makeshift spear saves our hero from being consumed.

Alternative Title(s): Incredible Hulk