Number Three: The Three “H’s” – Hulk Smash!

I’m sure the last blog raised some eyebrows. In a sense it was meant to, but above all else, it was a very overdue purging. People get upset when you challenge spiritual things, and I don’t see where that’s wrong. When a person goes to a car lot, does he just take the dealer’s word that the car they’re looking at is ready for them? Why, hell no, they take it for a test drive. You ever look at an ad for a house, and go right then and start moving in? No! You go see the house itself, see where it is, if the picture matches what you see, and check the price. And if the Protestant Christian Church didn’t have a challenge to God, then where did the over 100 denominations come from? Well, last time, we focused on the whole church factor- holiness. This go-round, the focus is on my personal favorite case of poor anger management- Marvel Comics’ Incredible Hulk.

The birth of the “Silver Age” of comic books coincided with the “Atomic Age” of the 1960’s. Creativity, ingenuity, and paranoia were the coins of the realm, (much like today), and Marvel Comics, at the time a struggling comic company, capitalized on all three. Spider-Man, the entire Fantastic Four, and Daredevil were all given powers by radioactivity. And so was the Hulk, who was created in 1962.

The premise of the Hulk is pretty much like Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: an emotionally weak scientist, suddenly made physically strong, and the horrendous results that follow when he gets what he thinks he wants. As a child, Bruce Banner watched his scientist father, David, kill his mother, Rebecca, in an abusive rage. David never served any jail time, primarily because Bruce refused to testify against him. His father told him if he did testify against him, he’d end up in Hell. Sound familiar? Nonetheless, Bruce ended up being a scientist, like his father, but the horrors of his youth stayed with him, even after the government hired him to help him develop a nuclear bomb. While testing the bomb, teenager Rick Jones decided to accept a dare to enter the testing site. Bruce hurried to get the boy to safety, and did…only to absorb the nuclear radiation himself. The good news was that both he and Jones both survived. The bad news was his repressed trauma and the physical side effects of the nuclear blast would soon combine, and turn him into a monster. The Hulk represents all of Bruce Banner’s darkest and most personal desires.  The 5’9″ 150-lb Banner transforms into a green, 7’4″, 800-lb juggernaut. He’s primal, uninhibited, and seemingly unstoppable. The only real way to defeat the Hulk is to get him to revert to Bruce Banner, and he actually gets stronger as his rage continues. The irony is that the Hulk simply wants to be left the hell alone, and most of his destructive onslaughts only begin after he’s been provoked.

In some form or another, we all have a “Hulk” living in us. At one point or another, we just want to rip into our tormentors, and level them with unbridled savagery. The ability to just lose all inhibitions, to do what we want, it’s tempting, let’s face it. But the average person can keep such desires in check. The average person can hold and fold when they know it’s needed. And when faced with challenges, normal people just adapt to them. They can toe the tightrope.

But what can be done when a person seemingly can’t toe the line? While it’s true that the numbers who can are like 10-1 to those who can’t, the 1 exists all the same. It’s still a number, even if it is small. Bruce Banner was the victim of years of abuse, and watched his own father kill his own mother as a child. Ironically, Brian Banner didn’t even want children, fearing he would become like his abusive father. Bruce even had to briefly be his father’s caretaker, which opened the wounds even larger. Trauma of any kind hardly ever leaves a person unscathed, and it definitely doesn’t help when it takes place in a person’s formative years. Youthful memories are the strongest, and if they’re predominantly bad, the bitterness continues into adulthood. Yes, it’s very much possible to leave a dirty past behind and become a success, but there will always be that seed, that grain of shame, that’s there. And the imbalance that one incident can bring produces that “all-or-nothing” mentality so prevalent in the inner cities and broken homes. Look at how many athletes were pulled out of the gutters, became big stars, and later ended up in the same type of relationships they had or, in the case of most of them, didn’t have, with their fathers, broke, or both. Many, many people can mask their pain through throwing themselves into a field or hobby they excel in. That also helps explain the gym queen, the workaholic, and the holy-roller.

Granted, the “all-or-nothing” mindset can have some advantages. It was a gym rat who got me in the best shape of my life. One of my current supervisors on my job, who is a state certified *sshole, does have things looking perfect when he’s done telling us how he wants it done. And the Hulk, for better or worse, was officially a founding member of Marvel Comics’ most important super team, the Avengers. All three of these individuals did really good things, but they were fueled by hurt. The gym rat had frequent arguments with her father, and the supervisor had to dodge bullets from both Korean soldiers and White Southerners. In the end both of them ended up making it out of their dark pasts, and making peace, becoming better-rounded in the process.

If Bruce Banner was to find actual peace at last, the memory of the Incredible Hulk’s adventures would be with us, but the series itself would either have to be reprints or just canceled. This being real-life, it doesn’t quite work that way. In an ideal world, people who have had traumatic experiences could just press “delete” and it’d all go away. Oh, people try to pretend some things never happened, but eventually the facade will reveal itself in a far more damaging light. Then their trauma is used to excuse their actions they got caught in, diminishing the efforts of those who tried hard to make amends with their past without entering into even more destructive behavior. Only when you deal with the issue can you be at peace with it. No doubt people get pissed when somebody gets on the Internet and airs their “dirty laundry”. It isn’t always to get attention, money, or to vent. In my case, I do it to purge. And next blog, the third and final “H”-bomb will be dropped. Guess what it pertains to…  

Posted on March 7, 2011, in Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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