The Not Quite Adventures of a Professional Archaeologist and Aspiring Curmudgeon

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Credible Hulk

Dr. Walter Simpson Stanley, better known to the world these days as the Credible Hulk, is arguably one of the lesser known super-humans, or "parahumans" to use the current media buzzword, wandering the world today.  Though less known than his "parasibling," Dr. Bruce Banner, Dr. Stanley is nonetheless a remarkable individual in his own right. 

Dr. Stanley, like Dr. Banner, worked for the federal government at a lab in New Mexico.  Unlike Dr. Banner, Dr. Stanley was not given to either pointlessly dangerous stunts, or to grandstanding. 

Also unlike Banner, Stanley was not a jerk.  Though known to the wider world for his exploits both solo and as a member of the super Team, the Avengers, Dr. Banner was best known amongst his scientific colleagues for his mean-spirited practical jokes, and his tendency to lecture others on the importance of his own work, or the superiority of his own morality.  Indeed, after he treated Dr. Stanley's nachos with gamma radiation (in a work place prank that some believe to be the origin of the Credible Hulk's somewhat mediocre powers), Banner then lectured his co-workers about the importance of keeping non-project personnel of off the test range, when it was his own negligence that had led to someone wandering onto it and almost getting dosed with Gamma Rays to begin with.

By contrast, Dr. Stanley was, and remains, known for being hard-working, stable, intelligent, competent, and if one dares to say it, he is known for being credible. 

Like his bigger, bulkier former co-worker, the key to activating the Credible Hulk is anger.  However, the Credible Hulk has a more muted response to anger.  Certainly, he bulks up, but he does not become 15-feet tall, as Dr. Banner is known to brag about himself.  No, the Credible Hulk gains height and weight noticeably, but just enough to make regular-fitting clothing uncomfortable - he has taken to wearing sweat pants, exercise clothes, and even a few articles of particularly butch maternity wear in order to avoid getting sudden-growth rashes from more non-elastic clothing.

The Credible Hulk is certainly stronger than non-hulked Dr. Stanley, but he doesn't go about flinging tanks or breaking through brick walls.  His strength is more along the lines of a bush-league luchadore - not insubstantial, but hardly inhuman.  Indeed, the most damage that the Credible Hulk has ever done due to not known his own strength was causing muscle strain in his wrist and bruising the tip of his left index finger after tapping the Air Canada counter irritably after the aforementioned airline managed to lose his luggage and make him miss his connecting flight to Los Angeles. 

Similarly, while the Credible Hulk has a lower intellect and poorer impulse control than Dr. Stanley, he is not the mindless beast of destruction that Dr. Banner becomes.  Rather, the Credible Hulk operates on about the same level as a frat boy half way through his second beer of the night.  A definite change, but if you didn't know Dr. Stanley, you wouldn't notice.

The most striking change is skin color.  The Credible Hulk has vaguely greenish skin.  Not bright green, or sickly green, but a just-noticeable olive.  His skin tone is less reminiscent of the Jolly Green Giant than of a Star Trek pilot episode Mr. Spock. 

Still, unlike certain other Gamma Ray victims, Dr. Stanley continues to be a productive member of society.  He still goes to work, to the same laboratory at which he has been employed for the last 20 years - though it did take the threat of an ADA lawsuit to get management to allow him to wear his less formal clothing to the workplace - and his co-workers have had to stop playing pranks on him - while amusing at first, the novelty of seeing their boss grow and inch, become swarthy, and bitch at them like a hyperactive drunken juvenile did wear thin and begin to cut into productivity and associated pay bonuses. 

In the end, arguably, it is Dr. Stanley, and not the increasingly less reliable Dr. Banner, who deserves our respect and praise.

Note:  This entry was inspired by one of my youngest sisters.  She was around five years (when I say younger sister, I mean around 20 years younger) old when the Ang Lee Incredible Hulk movie came out, and was quite taken with the character.  She received a pair of Incredible Hulk Smash Hands for Christmas, but being five, she had a hard time saying "incredible" and instead referred to the character as the "Credible Hulk" - which led to one of my sisters who is about the same age as me and I joking about how, unlike his unreliable cousin, the Credible Hulk is a down-to-Earth, believable guy.

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