The Hulk is used to crushing giant monsters and super villains, but one island in particular scared him off almost literally.
The Hulk is one of Marvel’s most troublesome heroes, battling his inner demons throughout his comic book history. Bruce Banner’s traumatic past and fractured psyche make him a uniquely attractive character. The Hulk’s troubled mind nearly reached a breaking point when he was faced with an island of his worst nightmares.
“Time flies” took place in Incredible Hulk # 77-81 by Peter David and Lee Weeks. Swimming at the bottom of the ocean, the Hulk encountered a monstrous squid, which gave him an uphill battle. After defeating the monster, the Hulk washed ashore on a nearby island, turning back into Bruce Banner. Banner was immediately attacked by another monster, before being saved by Ripley and Gwen, two ordinary humans who were stranded on the island.
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After brief introductions, the three survivors were attacked by the Gray Hulk, greatly surprising Banner. Returning to the Hulk, Banner allowed the others to walk away while fighting his first incarnation. During their escape, Gwen and Ripley encountered General Thunderbolt Ross, who convinced them that the island was a military operation. Apparently, the military were using technology to produce artificial hallucinations of the enemy’s psyche, in this case, Banner’s mind. The Green Goliath, meanwhile, killed the Gray Hulk before fighting Fin Fang Foom and throwing him into a volcano. Whoever ran the island was watching the Hulk very carefully, getting glimpses of Banner’s past. In fact, the story frequently featured memories of Banner’s adolescence, when he lived with his aunt. During this time, the Hulk’s personality was an active part of Banner’s mind, talking to him and convincing him to fight bullies and all those who laughed at him. The Hulk’s influence became especially dangerous when he had Banner plant a bomb in his school, before Banner was quick to defuse it.
In actuality, the Hulk confronted Wolverine, dressed in his original Department H uniform. After the Hulk fought Logan, he turned to Banner, realizing that none of these recent events could be real. When Kang The Conqueror appeared, Banner’s suspicions were confirmed. What Banner didn’t know, however, was that “Wolverine” would stab him in the chest. Upon awakening in an asylum, Banner was greeted by Doc Samson, who tried to convince Bruce that he had been a prisoner for years. Unconvinced, Banner turned into the Hulk, strangling Samson until he transformed into General Ross, Betty Ross, and Mephisto, before revealing his true form. Finally, Nightmare emerged, revealing Gwen as his daughter, “Daydream”.
Apparently, Nightmare created this island to experiment with its power, blurring the line between dreams and reality. The Hulk was his “primary test case”, as The Jade Giant had interfered with his plans so many times before. The enemies the Hulk had fought with were the Mindless, taken from the Dark Dimension. Nightmare also revealed that he had fabricated some of the recent Hulk memorabilia, even before he arrived on the island.
In a rather disturbing twist, Nightmare taunted the Hulk by claiming that he had conceived Daydream with a Betty Ross in a coma. Enraged, the Green Goliath decapitated Nightmare before riding the demon’s horse. Meanwhile, Gwen and Ripley disappeared to live happily ever after. Soon after, however, Betty Ross made it to shore on the same island. Greeted by Nightmare, disguised as her father, Betty made sure she had just woken up from a bad dream. Although the Hulk survived an island of nightmares, he was unable to fully extinguish his creator’s eternal torment.
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