Marvel’s Worst Hulk Has The Most Horrible Fate Possible

By Zack Zagranis | Published


We all know the Incredible Hulk’s origin—Bruce Banner is caught in an explosion that bathes him in gamma radiation, causing him to turn into a roided-out green rage monster. But what if instead of turning into the Hulk, Banner’s body erupted into huge green tumors that burst as soon as they formed?

That was Bruce’s fate in Marvel’s Ruins, a two-part comic that explored a nightmare version of the Marvel Universe where all the hero-defining events from Earth-616 ended in horrible tragedy.

Before Marvel’s Ruins There Was Marvels

To understand Ruins, you first have to understand Marvels. Marvels was a 1994 miniseries from Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross that revisited the golden age of the Marvel universe from the perspective of photographer Phil Sheldon.

Marvels follows Sheldon as he witnesses firsthand classic Marvel events like the introduction of the Fantastic Four and the coming of the Silver Surfer. The wonder and fear Sheldon feels represents that of the average citizen living in Marvel’s New York City at the dawn of the age of heroes.

Marvel’s Ruins

A year later, writer Warren Ellis decided to take Busiek and Ross’s love letter to early Marvel and turn it into a suicide note called Ruins.

Ruins took the Golden Age of Marvel and, using Ellis’s cynicism as a sort of colonic alchemy turned it into a towering pile of fecal matter. 

To say that Ruins is dark is to insult darkness itself. If a bleaker account of the Marvel universe exists, we don’t want to see it.

Bruce Banner’s Grotesque Fate

marvel ruins

In addition to Bruce Banner’s grotesque fate of being reduced to a pulsating mass of cancerous growths, Ruins shows us the worst possible fate for the rest of Marvel’s heroes.

Matt Murdock gets splashed with the same chemicals he does in the main Marvel universe, but instead of losing his sight and gaining a radar sense, the Ruins version of Murdock is covered in radiation burns and suffers heavy neural damage.

Matt dies in the hospital before he even comes up with the idea of Daredevil.

Terrible Fates For Marvel Characters

marvel ruins

The Ruins version of Ghost Rider is even more tragic. Johnny Blaze never merges with the spirit of vengeance but instead remains a regular stunt performer.

For what he decides is his last stunt, Blaze douses himself in gasoline and starts riding his motorcycle toward a ramp. Right before he gets to the ramp, Blaze lights a match, and his whole head bursts into flames.

Jonny lands and rides into the desert, where he screams for hours as the flesh slowly melts from his body until, mercifully, he finally dies.

Spider-Man The Worst Fate?

marvel ruins

Spider-Man suffers what might be the most tragic fate of all the Marvel characters in Ruins—at least when compared to his mainstream counterpart.

Still bitten by the same radioactive spider, Peter Parker becomes infected with a highly infectious virus that causes a rash reminiscent of the weblines that decorate the Spider-Man suit to break out across his whole body.

He dies a horrible, painful death, but not before infecting his loved ones and even protagonist Phil Sheldon with the same deadly virus.

Nothing Funny About Ruins

marvel ruins

There’s more, like what happens to Jean Grey—a teenage prostitute murdered in cold blood by Nick Fury—and the rest of the mutants, but most of it is too depressing to recount here.

What separates Marvel’s Ruins from something like, say, The Boys is that comics like The Boys juxtapose horrific imagery and a nihilistic take on superheroes with humor to lighten the tone slightly.

There’s absolutely nothing funny about Ruins whatsoever.

Just a version of the Marvel universe so bleak it would make Billy Butcher cry.

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