What If... Rick Jones Had Become the Hulk?

Welcome back to that master clas in parallel thinking that is Marvel's What If? Every week, we climb into our quantum wave rider and off we go...

We all know the origin of the Hulk. Sitting in that chair, bombarding gamma radiation at himself, then running from Jack McGee while a sweet, sad tune plays... Well, put that out of your mind, noob! That's the tv series origin. No, I'm talking about that gamma bomb test in the desert, and those who remember THAT origin, will also remember there were two people on that field...

What If Vol.1 #12 (December 1978)
Based on: Hulk #1
The true history: Teenager Rick Jones drives into a bomb test area on a dare, prompting scientist Bruce Banner to race down there and throw the youth in a trench. The bomb explodes and Banner gets the brunt of the gamma radiation, causing him to become the Hulk!
Turning point: What if Rick Jones had thrown Banner into the trench?
Story type: Updated resumé.
Watcher's mood: Playing with action figures.
Altered history: This time, Rick has a moment of resolve and pushed Banner into the trench first. He gets zapped and he becomes the Hulk - the TEENAGE Hulk. And you can tell because of the lingo.
More to come on that front. Watch the panels. As with Banner originally, Rick only becomes the Hulk at night, and Banner locks him up in a bunker while he pulls some all-nighters to find a cure. Teenage Hulk isn't quite as strong as our Hulk (he's still growing!), so he can't break out of the bunker. Consequently, General Thunderbolt Ross gets very bored indeed. As before, Loki takes an interest in the Hulk as a potential pawn against his brother Thor, and on the eve of Rick's cure, turns him into the Hulk in broad daylight. Teen Hulk destroys the curative gammatron and fights the heroes who will become the Avengers. Teen Hulk needs the approbation of his peers, so he joins the Avengers.
You heard it here first. Our Hulk didn't join because he didn't care for the name. It's a short-lived association though, because by Avengers #2, the Hulk figures out they're losers and wants to leave. Banner walks in with his gammatron and turns him back into Rick, one would hope permanently. Rick still joins Captain America in his fight against Hydra though, and Cap trains him to become the next Bucky. On his first big mission though, as soon as the adrenalin starts pumping...
Buck-Hulk almost kills a guy, so Cap has to let him go. What looks like the next day, Mar-Vell puts some bracelets on Rick from the Negative Zone and starts playing Shazam with him (in other words, Avengers #2, Captain American #110 and Captain Marvel #17 are really close together... comic book time dilation at work!). Rick almost turns into the Hulk when Annihilus comes calling, but the Kree Supreme Intelligence, as in our world, unleashes the Destiny Force or some such nonsense from Rick's mind, and in so doing, gives him control over his transformations. Rick chooses not to become the Hulk again, and pretty much lives out his life as before as Captain Mar-Vell's Billy Batson. Bruce Banner hasn't given up on finding a cure though, and with the help of Reed Richards and his open gateway to the Negative Zone, he hopes to fire his gammatron at Rick while he's safe in there. Of course, at the same time, Annihilus comes back for revenge, and Rick has to concentrate real hard to turn into the Hulk.
Just then, the time limit on the Mar-Vell switcheroo is reached and Teen Hulk gets a chance to take a gander at his new bracelets for the first time.
He strikes them together to try and get them off, and back he goes to the Negative Zone to finish his fight with Annihilus. That's when the gammatron fires its new cure: Separating Rick and the Hulk into two discreet beings. So now, the Hulk is free of teenspeak?
No, not really. Reed Richards pulls Rick outta there, Mar-Vell is freed from his limbo existence, and the Hulk does indeed win his fight. So is all well that ends well? Apparently so, as Teen Hulk has never been happier then traipsing through the Negative Zone punching stuff.
Books canceled as a result: There would be an Incredible Hulk comic today, but the series would have started in the late 70s after the original Hulk series' original cancellation after #6.
These things happen: Rick did indeed later get the powers of the Hulk in Rom #72, thanks to the powers of the Beyonder.
The idea of splitting the Hulk in two has been used since as well. In John Byrne's short run on Incredible Hulk, it had devastating consequences as the now mindless Hulk became a force of nature and Banner found his body shutting down. More recent events turning him into a new gamma-powered monster called A-Bomb are perhaps best ignored.

Next week: Finally! For realz! It's true! What if Conan walk the Earth today?
My guess: He would become the governor of California.


Prime Director said...

This one actually turns out better for everyone.

There's even a Jarella look-alike for Teen Hulk to get groovy with.

Plus, no purple pants.

LiamKav said...

Of course, it does ignore the whole idea that Gamma radiation only mutates a very select few people while killing the rest of them. They seemed back then to have the idea that throwing anyone in front of that bomb would have made them the (a) Hulk.

Siskoid said...

And we know our Rick Jones wasn't gamma compatible, because he got cancer when he tried to turn himself into a gamma-powered superhero.

Anonymous said...

How many of you want a No-Prize? ;-)

Remember that happens in an alternative Marvel universe, boys. Where everybody can become the Hulk if a G-Bomb hits him/her (Doctor Lovebanner, or hove I stopped worrying and learned to love the Bomb!).



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