There are some long-running comic book pairings that just make sense. Some of them are friendly or romantic like Spider-Man and Mary Jane, Wanda and Vision, or Captain America and Bucky. Others are more adversarial: the Fantastic Four and Dr. Doom, Dr. Strange and Fin Fang Foom, or Daredevil and Kingpin. But there is perhaps no more prominent love/hate relationship in all of Marvel comic history than Wolverine and the Incredible Hulk.
Both are flawed and emotional superheroes, sometimes wary of their abilities, oftentimes moody and agitated. These qualities, however, make them the perfect pairing whether they are in battle or reluctant allies. Marvel noticed this long ago after the success of Incredible Hulk #180 and #181, and there has been no shortage of history between these two in the last 45 years.
The now mutant-stocked MCU would be crazy – I mean, literally crazy – to not introduce Wolverine and pair him with Hulk in some way for future projects. The Marvel comic fans would lose their collective minds were this to happen. With that established, let’s look at the classic throw-downs between the two, focusing on their battles that could end up on MCU screens in future phases.
No matter where you fall on the first appearance vs. cameo debate that rages about these two books, these are the OGs; where all the turmoil began. Issue #181 features not one, but two Hulk/Wolverine battles after they both recover from being knocked out by gas as cult members attempt to revive the spirit of Wendigo. Quickly moving past Hulk’s quote that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” these two remain deadly adversaries across the years, despite first teaming up to knock out Wendigo.
You know the story on these books, and the recent trajectory on Hulk #180 is through the roof, inspired by the first appearance debate. CGC 9.2 copies that sold between $900 and $1,100 two years ago are routinely going for more than $1,500 today. The most recent 9.8 sold less than a year ago for a mere $6,900. I recently sold a CGC 6.0 for $475, which seems to be the standard rate for the mid-grade copy right now.
Hulk #181 continues to hold strong, with all books 9.4 and above going for five figures (including $37,000 for the most recent 9.8). If you want one of these books for under $1,000, be prepared to drop under a 2.0 grade. As one of the most iconic and coveted books in the Marvel canon, this one won’t be cheap anytime soon.
Did I include this issue just so I could feature the classic cover of Hulk reflected in Wolverine’s claws? You bet your adamantium I did. Beyond the classic Todd McFarlane cover art, there is quite the brutal battle in this issue, and we can look past the fact that the two heroes just happened to encounter each other on the road after Wolverine’s plane crashes in a wooded area.
This classic issue has been trending up in price in recent years and even though it is right on the border of a modern comic, a CGC 9.8 is going to run you north of $400 these days. However, if you are willing to drop down to a 9.6, there are more than 1,200 available and they will probably run you under $125. Almost 90% of the graded market is at an 8.5 or above, so only worry yourself with this grade or higher.
Now here is an interesting potential MCU storyline once we move past an inevitable Wolverine introduction. In this extremely limited miniseries written by Damon Lindelof (of LOST fame), Nick Fury sees Bruce Banner and Hulk as a threat and orders Wolverine to track him down and kill him. But what comes next is what we REALLY need to see on screen (if it can work within a PG-13 rating). In their battle, Hulk literally rips Wolverine in half and tosses his body aside. Wolverine, of course, finds a way to heal (because, why not?), and the pursuit continues.
Since issue #1 is a modern book (2005), the “A” cover costs next to nothing in a high CGC grade. Almost all sales of this issue in a 9.8 sell for under $60, and you can even find a few 10.0 and 9.9 copies out there floating around. But if you purchase a slabbed copy of this book, pick up a raw copy as well so you can reference one of the most iconic modern Marvel images anytime you want.
In this particular issue of the limited series, Wolverine and Hulk do battle in the Savage Land in Antarctica. This particular skirmish is centered around whether or not to destroy a machine that’s sole purpose is to keep a monster locked up on earth. Our two heroes don’t exactly see eye to eye on the issue, leading Wolverine to get the upper hand this time, jamming his adamantium claws through Hulk’s skull.
There are any number of adaptations that could be formatted into the MCU in this story. Say the next big bad guy in the universe is captured or exiled. Hulk and Logan could come to blows over what to do with the enemy, like something straight out of the Civil War.
In comic book terms, this book is essentially fresh out of the printer — it’s from 2013. There are no recorded CGC graded copies in the GoCollect database, so this is just a book and a story that can be picked up for $3 on eBay right now. Do yourself a favor and check out the whole 23-issue run.
This only scratches the surface! What are your favorite Hulk/Wolverine battles? Let me know in the comments!