Who is Titan the deadliest Hulk and what the heck is "Starship Hulk"?

Hulk #6 panel
(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

The current volume of the Hulk ongoing title has centered on a concept called 'Starship Hulk,' in which Bruce Banner uses a combination of psychic magic and super science to control the Hulk's body while keeping his own consciousness intact as a kind of pilot. 

However, the Starship Hulk era is coming to an end with April 26's Hulk #14 by writer/artist Ryan Ottley, who kicked off the current Hulk volume alongside writer Donny Cates, who departed the title a couple of months back.

That ending, which will lead to a new creative team taking over potentially with a new volume of Hulk, will also mark the end of the current 'Hulk Planet' story arc in which Starship Hulk has landed on a world where all the inhabitants are super strong Gamma mutates.

And in turn, the finale of 'Hulk Planet' will bring the return of the so-called "Deadliest Hulk," the Kaiju-sized Hulk incarnation known as Titan - who has been described as the "Hulk's Hulk," meaning what Hulk turns into when he himself Hulks-out.

That's a lotta Hulk!

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

So how exactly does 'Starship Hulk' work? And who is Titan, the "Deadliest Hulk?" 

As established at the start of the current volume of Hulk, Bruce Banner has managed to splinter and separate his own consciousness and personality from that of the Hulk, with both Banner and Hulk co-existing inside Hulk's body. 

Using an unrevealed combination of magic, science, and psychic abilities - including surgically implanted cybernetic components - Banner has turned Hulk's body into a mere vessel which he literally pilots from a psychically constructed cockpit that exists in Banner and Hulk's combined psyche, and which allows Bruce Banner's mind to be in control over the power contained in Hulk's body - kinda Pacific Rim mech-suit style, but with the good old fashioned green Hulk body in place of a mech.

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Unlike past eras in which Hulk and Banner co-existed or in which Banner's intelligence was maintained into his Hulk transformations, Banner's mind exists wholly separately from Hulk's mind, with Hulk's essence trapped in what Banner calls the "Engine Room," a kind of psychic version of the X-Men's Danger Room, that fuels the Hulk body's strength by constantly forcing the Hulk's consciousness to battle psychic manifestations of some of the most powerful beings in the Marvel Universe, constantly increasing his rage like a throttle.

Sound complicated? It kind of is, especially since Bruce and Hulk's personalities both exist in one body.

This is where Titan comes in.

Bruce took 'Starship Hulk' on a journey through an experimental wormhole designed by Tony Stark to get away from Earth and all the people who stand to be hurt by Hulk's presence. But rather than somewhere in the core Marvel Universe, Starship Hulk ends up in an entirely different reality where Bruce Banner never became the Hulk, but where Hulk's old enemy General 'Thunderbolt' Ross used Gamma tech invented by Banner to conquer the world as a violent dictator.

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

With Starship Hulk on the loose in this dystopian reality, Ross attempts to destroy him by sending waves of Gamma-powered 'Abomination' monsters at him, as Banner and a manifestation of his own rage masquerading as his ex-wife Betty Ross vie for control of the cockpit which pilots Hulk's body. Taking control, the Betty-entity pushes the Hulk's 'Engine Room' throttle to its limit, forcing the Hulk to reach power levels unlike anything ever seen.

The nonstop volcano of rage that results from Hulk in the 'Engine Room' causes his outward physical body to transform, bursting with out-of-control Gamma power and transforming into the 30-foot-tall Titan, who the Betty-entity refers to as "the Hulk's Hulk" - meaning the being Hulk becomes when he reaches the limits of his own rage.

In other words, if the 'Hulk Smash' Hulk was what happened when Bruce Banner was pushed to his limits and transformed, then Titan is what the Hulk transforms into when pushed to his.

Got it?

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Through the sheer, brutal power of becoming Titan, Starship Hulk manages to fully overpower Thunderbolt Ross's forces - but Banner is still locked out of the cockpit and out of control by the Betty-entity. Exercising a failsafe, Banner allows Hulk's consciousness into the cockpit where he tears the Betty-entity apart, allowing Banner to regain control.

Shaken by the emergence of Titan, Banner retakes control of 'Starship Hulk' and throttles him back down to his normal Hulk form, allowing him to escape into another wormhole, first leading to a clash with Thor in the story Hulk Vs. Thor: Banner of War, and finally on to 'Hulk Planet,' where he's about to face the return of Titan.

Whatever comes next, we know that Hulk's getting a new creative team following the finale of 'Hulk Planet.' Whether this will also mean a new, relaunched volume of the title remains to be seen - as does whether Titan will stick around into the next Hulk era.

Will Titan stick around to find a place among the Hulk's most iconic personas?

George Marston

I've been Newsarama's resident Marvel Comics expert and general comic book historian since 2011. I've also been the on-site reporter at most major comic conventions such as Comic-Con International: San Diego, New York Comic Con, and C2E2. Outside of comic journalism, I am the artist of many weird pictures, and the guitarist of many heavy riffs. (They/Them)