The Thing's Hulk Form Finally Made Him Stronger Than the Original

Locked in one of the most famous rivalries in comics, the gamma-powered Hulk and Fantastic Four's Thing have spent sixty years beating each other unconscious. But while the Thing's endless reserves of grit mean he never goes down easy, even Stan Lee confirmed that Hulk will always be stronger. At least, that was the case until Thing was able to enhance his own Cosmic Radiation-based powers with Hulk's gamma energy.

The transformation comes in Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness' Hulk #21, as Red Hulk rebels against the villainous Intelligencia. The super-smart group had been collecting various forms of energy with the intent of empowering an army of Hulks to overthrow the US government. Happily, Marvel's assembled heroes got the same upgrade, with champions like Thor, Captain America and Cyclops gaining new, super-powerful Hulk forms.


Related: Hulk's Ultimate Form Would Destroy Superman (& Even DC Admits It)

Among their numbers was Ben Grimm, aka Fantastic Four's Thing, who became stronger than ever before, capable of going toe-to-toe with the Red Hulk. This version of Thing was far larger - explicitly bigger than the original Hulk - and covered in jagged rocks, with gigantic fists and a lumbering gait. With the gamma energy pushing his emotions to the extreme, the Thing was instantly enraged, and began referring to himself as 'the No-Thing,' a name that echoed the deep-seated self-hatred Ben feels over his non-human form. Ed McGuinness' design notes for the Hulk-powered No-Thing (published in tie-in Hulk-Out Heroes #1) state that he is finally Hulk's physical superior, and is "not second best anymore."

Red Hulk vs thing fantastic four

Sadly for Ben, he doesn't actually get to lay a finger on Bruce Banner's Hulk. After battling the Red Hulk, Thing takes on Captain Marvel and Spectrum before falling into old patterns by brawling with Johnny Storm's Hulking Torch, reliving one of their old arguments, but this time by throwing around aircraft carriers and risking hundreds of lives. Unlike Hulk - who lives in peace until attacked by mankind - Thing has never truly made peace with his transformation into a 'monster,' always hoping Reed Richards would find a way to turn him back. In the case of his Hulk transformation, Ben Grimm became his worst nightmare - an out-of-control beast putting others at risk, and proving every ignorant assumption ever made about him correct.

Hulk thing

Hulk lore has made it very clear in the past that those who gain Hulk powers never fully lose them, even on death, so there will always be the potential for Thing to regain his Hulk form and take on Bruce Banner's Green Goliath. However, he's unlikely to treasure this potential advantage over the Hulk, as the Thing's epic transformation means that Ben Grimm now knows that however much he feels he has lost his humanity, worse could still be waiting for him as long as he puts his neck on the line to save others.