Family reunions are always full of surprises, even on She-Hulk. Whose parents are going to fool themselves on the dance floor? Whose uncle gets a little too tipsy at the open bar? Which cousin shows up with a hitherto unknown son, with a planet-destroying power from an alien world?
If that last scenario seems far-fetched, it’s only because you haven’t spent enough time with the Walters/Banner clan, whose reunion in the finale of She-Hulk came with a surprise guest.
[Ed. note: This piece contains spoilers for the final episode of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law.]
One of the last scenes of the She-Hulk finale, as promised, explained exactly why Bruce flew all the way back into space in the show’s second episode. The short shot of the green Skaar (a full CGI character with no dialogue, but attributed to star girl actor Wil Deusner) alluded to but did not explain the events between Bruce leaving Earth and returning with a relatively smaller but still large adult (teenager?) son from another planet.
And so, once again, it’s comic books’ turn to give us the Skaar (with a K and two As) context.
Who is Skaar, the Hulk’s son?
Although Skaar’s debut may have come as an unexpected twist She-Hulklongtime fans of Hulk comics know that the character has a surprisingly deep, complicated, and MCU-relevant history to draw from.
Skaar’s comic origins have their roots in the 2006 “Planet Hulk” storyline. Written by Greg Pak and drawn by Carlo Pagulayan and Aaron Lopresti, that story found Earth’s heroes collectively groaned impatiently at Bruce Banner’s periodic attacks of Hulked. -out rage, and tricked him into an intergalactic flight that banished him to a distant galaxy. His final destination turned out to be Sakaar, a savage world dominated by gladiatorial combat between imprisoned alien warriors.
Over the next year-and-turn of comics, the Hulk found himself a champion of the arena, a leader of a band of rebel fighters against their brutal society, and ultimately a triumphant ruler of a free Sakaar – only to be seen helpless. while the shuttle that took him to the planet caused an explosion that wiped out the capital, leaving the Hulk in yet another solitary exile.
If this all seems somewhat familiar, it may be because it provided some very loose inspiration for 2017’s Thor: Ragnarok, in which Planet Hulk’s tragic background is repurposed to create a memorable road trip comedy comedy between Banner and the God of Thunder. But a key element of the film’s comedic inspiration has remained out of the picture so far: While living on Sakaar, the Hulk’s comedic counterpart met and married a fellow rebel named Caiera de Oldstrong, who tragically died in the destruction of Sakaar. … but not before he has two very lively, and very wicked, sons.
Wait, who is Caiera the Oldstrong?
Look, I know the question “Hulk has a son?” confirms, canonically, that the Hulk is fucking, which then begs the question, “With whom?” Just don’t get sick of it, this isn’t it Mallrats.
Caiera was a native Sakaarian rebel leader, one of the last to hold onto what Sakaarians called the Old Power, the ability to channel the planet’s energy to increase its own strength, stamina, and durability. She used her powers to ensure that her unborn children survived the destruction of Sakaar and become one with the planet.
Let’s go back to the kids
The first of these guys, Skaar, has a more Hulk-relevant history. Raised in the wreckage of his lost society, Skaar developed a gladiator chip on his shoulder against the father who left his world. So just as the Hulk returned to Earth to exact revenge on the heroes who had exiled him in 2007’s “World War Hulk” crossover, Skaar followed him and vowed revenge. In fact, it was Jen Walters who first met the boy after his arrival, drawn to a combination of family bonding and gamma-tracking Hulk feel. Anyway, their first brawl was an afterthought: it was Papa Bruce that Skaar was after.
Unfortunately, clumsily, he came just as Banner was temporarily depowered into human form. And since it wouldn’t be sporty to kill father without a fair fight, the two instead formed an unlikely father-son duo, with Banner trying to guide his semi-feral offspring in the superhero realm, and Skaar doing his best. did to take it to heart… even while promising he’d end his revenge once Banner Hulked out again.
That Odd Couple dynamic, equal parts tense and heartwarming, feels just right for this She-Hulk series. This first season has covered quite a bit of ground in Jen Walters’ emotional life – dating, identity, physical acceptance, the challenges of work-appropriate clothing for those periodically beaten by Asgardian construction workers. But at its core, it was about two things: the family ties and learning (albeit reluctantly) to embrace the heroic fate. Both lessons are lessons Cousin Bruce Jen urged to take to heart in the show’s pilot episode, and it makes sense to see him take another family protege, even if it adds another wrinkle to the increasingly gnarled and chaotic Banner Family Tree.
Of course, family relationships in Marvel Comics are rarely easy, and Hulk and Skaar’s father-son bonding trip was no exception. The main problem was that second son Hulk left behind on Sakaar: a boy named Hiro-Kala, whose life was somehow even more troubled and lonely than his brother’s.
Lacking the strength that Skaar possessed, and growing up weak and worked up, Hiro-Kala would eventually succumb to madness and arrive on Earth seeking his own revenge. His defeat at the combined hands of Hulk and Skaar ultimately cemented a meaningful bond between that father and son pair and ended their long love-hate dynamic. That it also ended in a tragic loss to Hiro-Kala was the kind of inevitable twist that members of the Banner family always seem to have, both in comics and media adaptations.
Since then, Skaar has taken a bit of a backseat in the comics, as Hulk titles have increasingly worked to reduce the number of gamma-powered supporting cast members around Bruce and Jen. For a time, he teamed up with Thunderbolts chief Luke Cage to help babysit the evil Dark Avengers during a period when they were filling in for Cage’s team. And not long after, Skaar was depowered by the Hulk himself under the rule of a shrewd alter-ego calling himself Doc Green. This was a time when wise readers simply shrugged, smiled faintly and said “comics!” muttered. in a soft voice.
But nothing in superhero fiction ever disappears forever, and this week’s She-Hulk is a small reminder of both the family ties that bind the Hulks together, and the inevitably chaotic histories they can’t help but tear them apart. Sounds like a good teaser for a second season if you ask me.