Appearing in "Grave Matters"
- General Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross (Only in flashback)
- Brian Banner (Only in flashback)
- Stan Lee
- 🢐 Hulk 🢒
- Rebecca Banner (Mentioned)
- Robert Bruce (Mentioned) (Topical Reference)
- William Wallace (Mentioned) (Topical Reference)
- Devil (Invoked)
- God (Yahweh) (Invoked)
- Zeus (Mentioned)
- Doctor Strange (Stephen Strange) (Mentioned)
Races and Species:
- Gamma Bomb (Photo)
Synopsis for "Grave Matters"
Landing in a graveyard en route to New York, Hulk meets Stan Lee digging a grave. Stan and an acting troupe then begin acting out the story of Bruce Banner's Dad. The story cuts between real-life flashbacks of the events and the troupe acting them out. The story begins with Bruce and General Ross meeting to discuss the development of the Gamma bomb when Bruce gets a phone call about his father, Brian Banner, being released from the Institution he's been in since he murdered Bruce's mother, Rebecca Banner, and beat Bruce into lying for him to cover for him. At the institute, the doctors assure Bruce his father has changed but Bruce refuses to believe them.
Later Brian is shown staring at a knife and during the night, he approaches Bruce, when some begin to pound on the door. Answering the door, Bruce greets General Ross, who refuses to even look at Brian as he knows what he did and doesn't trust him. He berates Bruce for allowing his father to stay with him for what he did and leaves. A few days pass and Bruce begins noting his father acting odd and tells him he should sign himself into the institute. On the eve of Rebecca's death, Brian begins yelling at Bruce and proclaims its the evil within Bruce that's causing it as Bruce leaves to visit her grave.
At the graveyard, Brian attempts to kill Bruce due to his belief that his son is a mutant and should be dead because of it. However, something snaps inside Bruce and he lashes out, knocking his father into his mother's gravestone, killing him. When the police find the body the next day they put it down to a random mugging.
Back in the present, Stan explains that the reason Hulk can see ghosts is for the sole reason so he can keep an eye for his father's ghost who he fears is going to come back for him, and Stan and the troupe begin to fade into nothing with Stan saying that "Hulk just wants to be left alone"
- As this story takes place between Incredible Hulk #454 and 455 and given its surreal nature, the Hulk's interactions with Stan Lee are obviously a dream that the Hulk is having after becoming unconscious at the end of Incredible Hulk Vol 1 454.
- This story recaps the accident that created the Hulk in Incredible Hulk #1.
- It recounts the Hulk's abusive relationship with his father this relationship is touched upon in greater detail in Incredible Hulk #312 (which touched on Bruce's abusive childhood), Incredible Hulk #377 (which revealed that Brian Banner murdered his wife) and Incredible Hulk #403–404 (which revealed that Bruce's testimony as a child resulted in his father being institutionalized)
- The death of Brian Banner at the hands of Bruce in front of the grave of Rebecca Banner contradicts Incredible Hulk Vol 1 312 which states that while Bruce and Brian got into a heated argument here, Brian stormed off and was not seen again. However, as this story points out, in accidentally killing his father, Bruce had a mental break and created false memories of his childhood up until this moment in his life, which can be used to explain some of the more "rosy" depictions of Bruce's childhood and teenage years.
This story touches on a number of points in the early life of Bruce Banner. They are as follows and affect the following chronologies:
The theatre they perform on is named Kirby Theatre a reference to Jack Kirby, the long time collaborator with Stan Lee.