Joe Fixit has always been the strangest incarnation of the Hulk, but The Immortal Hulk ultimately revealed the tragic origin of Bruce’s Vegas persona.
Bruce Banner’s superhero alter ego the Incredible Hulk has gone through a host of incarnations over the years, not all of which have the good doctor’s best interests at heart. Perhaps the strangest of these various Hulk personalities is the mob enforcer Joe Fixit – a Las Vegas bouncer more committed to booze, broads, and blackjack than saving (or destroying) the world around him.
Marvel Comics’ Incoming! #1 one shot issue delved into the psychology of Joe Fixit, who has recently taken to going by the name “Sunshine Joe” – a reference to the fact that he has started manifesting in Banner’s human body rather than as the original gray form of the Hulk, allowing him to aid the Devil Hulk persona during the day. Sitting down to a therapy session with the man he thinks is Bruce Banner, gamma-irradiated psychiatrist Doctor Leonard Samson discovers he’s talking to Joe, finally getting an answer as to where this particularly unusual persona actually comes from.
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Al Ewing and Joe Bennett’s incredible run on The Immortal Hulk delves into the idea of Bruce Banner’s gamma-personas as pure expressions of the different identities he formed during his abusive childhood. Savage Hulk is the injured child who takes the punishment, Bruce the rational mind who carries them forward, and Devil Hulk the grim, protective father Bruce wished he had to love him. But where does Joe Fixit fit into this? Joe reveals that he initially materialized as a result of the gangster films that Banner would watch as a child, forming a persona that was his idea of an ideal adult life. While Samson likened the persona to Banner’s “moody inner teenager,” Fixit has come to represent Bruce’s base, self-serving desires. Where the Devil Hulk is dangerous because he feels responsible for the entire world, Fixit is the polar opposite – sometimes willing to help, but only when he can see what’s in it for him.
In the first appearance of Fixit, Hulk remained a monster for an extended period of time, which left Bruce Banner largely by the wayside and Hulk in the driver’s seat – a position he was prepared to kill Banner to keep. Rather than the super-heroic mindset of his other personalities, Joe Fixit would establish himself as a formidable Las Vegas casino owner and enforcer, finding a father figure in fellow casino holder and crime boss Michael Berengetti. The gangster-oriented Fixit gained an initial wave of popularity through writer Peter David’s highly praised Incredible Hulk run from the 1980s/90s, and has remained a rarely seen fan favorite ever since.
Similar to his cousin Jennifer Walters, aka She-Hulk, Banner’s Joe Fixit persona maintains a stable amount of intelligence and a consistent personality while in Hulk form. However, Fixit has his own distinctive weaknesses – less sturdy in sunlight, of only average intelligence, and far less physically powerful than the Savage Hulk persona most fans know as the Hulk’s default. Like the Devil Hulk, Sunshine Joe has no qualms about delivering sadistic punishment to his foes, though he does seem to have more of a conscience, acting as a friendly presence to journalist Jackie McGee during her time with the Hulk’s gang of outlaws, despite the fact that she identified that some of his brash behavior is intended to make others think he’s less cunning than he is. Making Joe Fixit such a specific part of Bruce’s psyche is a great move, turning one of the least explicable aspects of Marvel’s Hulk into a new way of looking at his tortured existence.
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