Are any of Marvel’s most prominent heroes as openly used for experimentation as the Hulk? As I type this, Bruce Banner is dead as a result of the (rather bad) Civil War II and there are two replacement Hulks in the form of Amadeus Cho (the totally awesome Hulk) and his cousin Jennifer Walters (dropping the “she” from the looks of things). But during Greg Pak’s original Hulk run, we were treated to the epic Planet Hulk storyline which saw the Hulk shot to another planet where he lived the life of a gladiator and freedom fighter. Pak would follow this up with several Hulk storylines that were generally a treat for Hulk fans but maybe not as successful as his original storyarc.
But his original storyarc did give the world another new Hulk: Skaar, the son of the Hulk.
How did the Hulk get a son? More importantly, given how little superhero characters tend to age, how did the Hulk get a son who appears to be his age? Well, that’s Skaar’s “Hulk mode”. More on that in a minute. First, obviously, the Hulk would need to find a baby-mama, and he did. While trapped on Sakaar, the Hulk managed to liberate the many peoples of that world from that evil tyrant the Red King. Amongst the many agents of said Red King was one Caiera Oldstrong. She served as an all-purpose bodyguard and aide-de-camp type. Massively strong herself, Caiera also possessed something called the “old power,” which mostly amounted to the idea she could draw power from the planet itself and likewise had control over the very ground she stood on. The Hulk at the time was in one of his more intelligent periods, a crafty rebel leader, and the peoples of Sakaar had a legend about two figures: the Sakaarson, who would liberate Sakaar, or the Worldbreaker, who would, you know, break it.
Much of Planet Hulk was spent with people trying to figure out which of those two the Hulk was.
In a way, he was both.
However, Hulk met Caiera, and the two eventually hit it off, got married, and she became pregnant. Hulk even let her see Banner, so she’d know his weak side.
Tragedy struck when the ship that brought the Hulk to Sakaar exploded in the capital city. While the Hulk himself survived, Caiera did not. Hulk initially blamed the Illuminati that sent him to space in the first place, which led to World War Hulk, but we’ll worry about that later if at all.
By the by, Marvel did a What If? issue once asking what would have happened if Caiera survived instead of the Hulk, and let’s just say it wasn’t pretty. The Hulk went back to Earth, beat the Illuminati, and eventually calmed down before finding out exactly who did cause the ship to explode (hint: not the Illimunati). Caiera, on the other hand, went back, causally killed thousands, including a metric ton of heroes, then enslaved the rest of the human race in order to build giant monuments to her dead husband. I’d skip mentioning this, except that one issue was Skaar’s first appearance, popping in as a 21 one year old young man standing in silhouette.
But wait, if Caiera was pregnant in the regular continuity at the time she died, how the hell did Skaar come to exist?
Well, short answer: Caiera’s “old power” somehow caused Skaar to be born on Sakaar, as well as a more evil brother named Hiro-Kala of which I will say no more. But since she was tied to the planet itself, Caiera was able to project an image of herself to young Skaar and try to raise him right as he fended for himself on a planet that couldn’t seem to make up its mind on how technologically advanced it was. Skaar always seemed to be a giant, angry brute, wearing the typical barbarian’s loincloth and carrying a very large sword that, yes, he knew how to use. Skaar seemed to be something of a purposeless barbarian hero, selfish in many ways, a wild child that eventually came to clash with the Silver Surfer. Had Skaar allowed Galactus to feed on Sakaar, it would have sated the world eater’s hunger for thousands of years. There was plenty of time to evacuate the planet. Instead, Skaar destroyed a bunch of evacuation ships, attacked the Surfer, and threatened to make things worse for Galactus by manipulating his own Old Power to make Galactus more hungry instead of less.
Yes, Skaar also had the Old Power.
As punishment for being such a dink, Caiera basically shot her son into space and sent him off to see his daddy. Landing on Earth, Skaar had one mission: find and kill the Hulk, the deadbeat dad who abandoned him.
Remember: the Hulk had no idea Skaar existed.
Also at the time, Banner had been “cured”. Skaar had no interest in killing Banner, so Banner offered to train Junior up until he was tough enough to defeat the Hulk. Banner’s always been a bit suicidal, so this isn’t that surprising. That meant father-son outings when Skaar would be set up to battle the likes of the Juggernaut, and then had a playdate with Wolverine’s own son Daken. Daken had some pheromonal powers and actually managed to get Skaar to revert to a human form which was a kid of about eight or so. The training went on until Banner’s cure wore off, and out came the Hulk, but Skaar eventually had a change of heart when he saw his dad saving lives rather than fighting him, and the two bonded and became something of a real family.
Skaar actually joined an Avengers team at one point…granted, it was a Norman Osborn-led Dark Avengers team meant to take down the real Avengers, but Skaar was acting as a double agent the whole time. Just because he was a big, angry guy with a large sword and power over tectonic plates didn’t mean he was evil.
Last seen, Skaar was cured of his gamma problem and set up to live a normal life. Given the proclivity of Hulks popping up again and again, we’ll just have to wait and see if this one lasts.