It is not hard to notice that Hulk is one of the most affected by context, when it's ignored or simply misinterpreted people tend to overrate him or flat out undersell him for said reason. If you're looking for the important context missing in Hulk's most misinterpreted instances, then this thread is for you.
This would be the first thread of what we're expecting to be a series of "Context Files" threads with different characters. Also, this will be edited all the time to add new instances and improve the info explained here as well as constantly updating the thread.
This is NOT a respect thread and people who searches for the context shown here would be considered as "aware" of the feats mentioned in this thread. For basic information of the feats being contextualized here, please visit Hulk's Respect Threads.
Apocalypse seemingly manhandling Hulk
Often misinterpreted by posting this scan out of context...
The scan is from Incredible Hulk #456 when Apocalypse was about to convince Hulk to turn into one of his Horsemen. People claim 2 things while using this scan...
- Apocalypse was strangling Savage Hulk.
Apocalypse is stronger than Savage Hulk.
Two statements that are completely untrue due to the whole contextual field missing in this scan. Forwardly, a detailed approach about it.
During the Onslaught War, Hulk and Banner were forcibly separated from each other when Hulk busted Onslaught's armor, leaving a Bannerless Hulk in Earth-616 Universe and Banner on the Heroes Reborn Universe created by Franklin Richards.
Bannerless Hulk served as the nexus of the 2 flowing energies of the universes. Because of this, Hulk was literally dying due to how intrusive and powerful those energies were and his powers were seriously fluctuating from that point as it is explained in Incredible Hulk #460...
In this issue Hulk actually dies and revives almost instantly when Banner was reincorporated into Hulk's persona, this happened 4 issues after Apocalypse manhandled Hulk, in other words, Hulk was at the very bottom of his potential and his dead was nigh by the moment Apocalypse put his hands on him. Moreover, Hulk was trashed by a T-Rex previously to the encounter with Apocalypse, so this notion of him beating a full powered Hulk is flat out wrong for very obvious reasons.
Hulk and the Manhattan event (World War Hulk Story Arc)
Now, it is inevitable for people to have his quarrels with Greg Pak's work during World War Hulk story arc, in our humble opinion, some things could have gone better than they went for some characters during the event, however, there are some instances that have explainable context and somehow give a more decent and accurate description of what really happened in the event overall. Let's approach Hulk seemingly getting beaten by "Stark's Satellites" at the end of the story arc.
Ok, first of all, the satellites that were used on Hulk in World War Hulk #5 hold no credit for Stark since they were compromised before Hulk even arriving to Earth and declaring war by INTELLIGENCIA who already had lots of prep with people that rivals Tony and Reed in smarts. It was explained by General Ross in Hulk #23...
Moreover, he also explained that the real purpose of those satellites was to KO/Kill Hulk with massive rays of cosmic energy, which wasn't the case in the instance since those beams were replaced by draining technology for the Cathexis Ray. So in simple words, Tony pretty much had nothing to do with the satellites beating Hulk, let alone the satellites using high end syphoning devices to deal with him rather than its real purpose.
That said, let's address some points that need to be taken into account while mentioning this instance, let alone using it against Hulk for lowballing purposes...
The Cathexis Ray & Red Hulk
This is by far the most successful and powerful device used on Hulk to drain him off his energy. The energy syphoned off Hulk in World War Hulk #5 was used in the creation of Red Hulk, which essentially means, Red Hulk is the living personification of the Cathexis Ray by using Hulk's energy projection which almost tore off the Eastern Seaboard. To deliver the relation between Red Hulk's syphoning powers and the Cathexis Ray's hype, let's cite Incredible Hulk #600...
Red Hulk managed to do what NO ONE has been able to do before, he absorbed all the Gamma Energy off Banner without killing him, let alone in 15 seconds... Hell, not even Silver Surfer has managed to perform such task. In simple words, yeah, the Cathexis Ray is awfully powerful as far as syphoning Hulk goes. That being said, this Hulk was Savage Hulk, the fact that Red Hulk couldn't perform the same strategy on him again when he returned as Green Scar in World War Hulks: Hulk #24 shows a seemingly obvious difference in tiers between incarnations...
Now, what relevancy has this over Hulk being beaten in Manhattan? Well, the fact that it was implied Hulk let himself get beaten in New York doesn't really helps the notion of those sabotaged beams being enough to deal with Green Scar... It was mentioned in the same issue he was beaten,World War Hulk #5...
Hulk willingly letting himself get beaten
First, we have Hulk himself deliberately asking to be stopped before he breaks the world...
After asking to be stopped, Tony triangulates his position on Hulk and blast him with the sabotaged beams, which he wasn't aware of, which syphons everything Hulk was releasing, apparently leaving him on the floor... But this is were it gets tricky. Hulk after being forcibly turned into Banner through syphoning technology was on the floor in emotional shock, not exactly KO'd. That said, the fact that the text boxes mentions a "decision" Banner took, let alone referring to what had just happened strengthens the point of Hulk letting himself get beaten...
These statements are self-explanatory... It's blatantly obvious Hulk "decided" to let himself get beaten in the instance. The only difference between Red Hulk's instance and this one is the fact Hulk wanted to be beaten in Manhattan, contrary to his fight against Red Hulk which he wanted to smash Red Hulk down... Both instance involve Cathexis Ray's scale of absorption and gamma manipulation, the only difference is Hulk's desires to be beaten... See the point now?
Anyway, to strengthen this notion, Hulk can and has given away his gamma energy at will as proven in Peter David's Incredible Hulk #464 while overpowering a Troyan syphoning device...
And coincidentally in Pak's Incredible Hulks #621 while fighting Chernobog...
There isn't an easier nor a more obvious way to put it... The fact that he can do this, would mean that if he done it in Manhattan his gamma energy would have been a lot easier to syphon, ergo, a lot easier to beat him. That said, let's address the REAL purpose of the beams and why they would have failed horribly anyways. The fact they were used once again in Incredible Hulks #617: Dark Son Part 6 on Amadeus Cho who had his Bannertech shields in the very bottom, let alone those shields being seriously breached by 3 Centaurs that were simply trampling him, he still managed to tank the damn beam without trouble...
In fact, im quite certain those beams are not that great and they wouldn't beat Hulk even if he wanted to so in all fairness i think INTELLIGENCIA taking over the beams helped New York more than Stark would have done. I could also deliver the fact Hulk CAN absorb cosmic energy as proven during Banner's Regammification but i think that would only extend this reply too much...
- Stark had nothing to do with the beams.
- Hulk was stated to be holding back, let alone explicitly asking to be beaten.
- There is evidence to support that stance.
- The beams are actually a lot weaker than what INTELLIGENCIA used.
- The same strategy failed against the same Hulk because he didn't want to be beaten.
Secret Wars's 150 Billion tons Mountain Feat
During Secret Wars I #4, Hulk saved plenty of characters from being killed under 150 Billion tons of debris of a mountain the would dwarf Los Andes...
While the feat itself is impressive, people get the notion Hulk was pushing himself to the limits because its quite visible how hard he was struggling to keep that weight up, however, there's some context exploitable to explain why he was struggling.
First of all, that incarnation of Hulk had Banner's mind as it was Banner-Hulk incarnation which appeared in Incredible Hulk #272.
Due to the Gamma treatment Banner was applying on himself, it allowed him to keep his mind when he Hulked out.
Because of this Hulk couldn't exploit the true physical potential he tends to use when he's Savage Hulk or any other similar incarnation. To avoid future misinterpretation, this incarnation greatly differs from the Green Scar who had looser morals and had a quite cunning mindset whereas Banner-Hulk was always afraid to harm other and lacked precisely what allowed Green Scar to cut loose, which is his calculating brain.
Anyway, since Incredible Hulk #272, Banner started suffering from chronic nightmares that didn't allowed him to sleep nor rest which consequentially created a bigger fear of Hulking out while not being conscious...
This is forwardly implied to be the reason Hulk is so disoriented and out of focus during Secret Wars I #3 before performing the all time famous Mountain Feat...
To approach this instance in its entirety, the irrefutably and definitive fact of Hulk being significantly weaker than his past and future incarnations should be noted. In Incredible Hulk #280, The Leader sent some humanoids to fight this incarnation of Hulk and Hulk's newly acquired intellect caught his attention so he decided to "test" this new Hulk even further...
Later on, Banner is tricked into "saving" his friends who were supposedly kidnapped by The Leader in his space-station. He manage to complete his test and ultimately come to the conclusion this Hulk was no threat to his plans in Incredible Hulk #281...
He also noted that the reason Hulk was seemingly weaker was because of Banner's logical and reasonable mind dampening Hulk's anger management, which essentially is what makes Hulk stronger to begin with. In simple words, Banner's mind made Hulk weaker since he couldn't tap into Hulk's volatile emotions, ergo, becoming stronger.
So what we have about this feat?
- Hulk was under a weaker incarnation.
- Hulk wasn't operating anywhere near average.
- He was seemingly affected during Secret Wars.
To put it simple, the feat becomes even greater when this kind of context is noted.
~GhostRavage & TheAcidSkull
Hulk Vs Thor- The stalemate incident.( Incredible Hulk 255#)
This one is really popular amongst the Thor fan base, not only that, it's one of the leading arguments when Thor and Hulks strength is compared. The quick recap of the event would be that after a certain tussle, Thor and Hulk are all up in each others faces, and they end up in a locked position. Now this goes on for an hour, and neither one of them can budge the other.
The argument, or the problem in this case, would be that people think that Thor is significantly stronger than Hulk( at his base level), so in most battle scenarios, Thor would win because time as well as a magic hammer is on his side. This would be all fine and dandy, if it actually made any sense what so ever. For starters, this is what we need to consider: Characters and their power levels change all the time, and as the years have progressed, Hulk has become stronger and stronger at a base, preforming feats of immense power. So what was relevant, or what was believed to be relevant during that specific time period, might not make sense now, at all.
Second of all, the whole battle scene makes absolutely zero sense. Lets say that Thor is stronger than hulk at a base, then could someone explain to me why they started on equal terms when they first entered the lock? If thor was stronger, why didn't he dominate at first? Was wasn't he winning? Because based on what most of the fans say, Thor should have won early on in the battle or he should have shown superiority while hulk slowly matched his might as time passed. THAT would make sense. Here? they stay locked for one hour, neither one of the can do much. Am I supposed to believe that thor was slowly applying more strength when he felt that Hulk was gaining power? I hope most of you realize how stupid that sounds. Now I', 100% certain that what the writer intended to show was that both titans were equals, that was the purpose of the fight. I'm not sure the guy even paid much attention to the fact that hulk gains power as time passes.
"Young Maestro" vs Warrior's Madness Thor
This is a very popular one, because it involves, in my opinion, the all time overrated "Warrior's Madness" Thor which by definition means Thor was 10x stronger and given the fact Thor and Hulk are always portrayed as equals or at the very least on the same tier of strength, means Thor was incredibly stronger than Hulk... That said, i've never seen anything on Warrior's Madness Thor to suggest such claim.
Moving on, Hulk supporters like to use this instance to suggest Hulk is stronger than Thor while Thor supporters claim Thor was weakened during the fight, ergo, Hulk didn't fought Thor at his best, most of times the last statement is coupled with the "fact" it was "Young Maestro" and not regular Hulk, and by concept and definition, Maestro should be well above all Hulk's given his smarts, all the gamma he has absorbed and the strength he has gathered for a 100 years. Im going to be as direct and objective as i could possibly be while delivering this instance. All this statements, if put in a soft way, pure ignorance and here is why.
On Hulk's Part
First of all, "Young Maestro" is nothing more than a nickname for a Shrapnel Hulk who grew a beard, moreover, Shrapnel Hulk is just Professor Hulk with a piece of grenade shrapnel in his brain.
This piece of shrapnel didn't allow Hulk to turn back to Banner even if he really desired it because it would mean death, and actually, he died in Incredible Hulk #446 because of the piece of shrapnel and Banner's physical separation from Hulk. Moving on, Thor's supporters claim Hulk was stronger because it was Maestro then which isn't true at all and everything pointed out he was quite altered by the shrapnel piece and wasn't operating anywhere near average... Adding on that the fact it was Shrapnel Hulk who willingly grew a beard in seconds and tried to stop an imminent world wide nuclear war by making himself the common enemy between the nations...
So no, there was not a single upgrade nor significant change about Shrapnel Hulk that would suggest he was stronger than he already was, let alone as strong as Maestro, which coincidentally was pretty much dumped from Hulk's continuity the moment Professor Hulk stepped into the future in Peter David's Future Imperfect story arc...
So it was literally impossible due to Hulk's morals to become Maestro at this point. We're arguing quantum physics here people...
So what do we get from this context:
- Hulk wasn't amped.
- Hulk was not Maestro nor anything like it.
- Hulk grew a beard to make himself the enemy to save the world.
On Thor's Part
This is when the instance gets really interesting. Thor's supporters got something right, Thor was experimenting a huge downgrade during those issues since he had his powers taken away from him after the World Tree Event in Thor #494 as it is shown in Thor #495...
However, Thor, before fighting Hulk in Incredible Hulk #440 got his powers back for a reason that was yet unknown during that moment...
This is forwardly corroborated in Thor #497 when Thor himself states he recovered all his powers during his fight with Hulk possibly due to The Leader's machinations.
The fact that he didn't stated anywhere that he felt any different than what he felt while having his true powers means he really had his powers even though they returned to him artificially. So no, Thor was not weakened and his powers returned specially for the event Peter David was planning on doing. If anything, Shrapnel Hulk fought a Thor that by concept, was 10 times stronger than average in addition possessing a seemingly bloodlust which means there's no real reason to hold back.
So what do we have here:
- Thor wasn't weakened.
- Thor was legitimately on Warrior's Madness.
- Hulk wasn't amped.
- There is context exploitable on Hulk's part that would suggest he wasn't operating decently.
Hulk Shatters the Time-Barrier (Indestructible Hulk #15)
Okay this is a new one, I admit that much, but for some odd reason it managed to actually force some people to doubt the credibility of the feat because of a completely unrelated reason. In most cases I'd agree that this feat wasn't entirely Hulks own, but honestly, the evidence is seriously stacked in his favor.
Lets go over the context of the situation. The only thing you need to know is that certain events led Hulk, The Chronarchist and Zarrko into the time-stream, and after a tussle, hulk punches the time barrier(yes, you heard me) and shatters it completely. Now people consider that this feat is not entirely Hulks own, because before he actually accomplishes this, Banner grabs a piece Chronal Metal and then proceeds to punch the barrier.
But...I have a question, while I guess Banners comment does indicate that the metal a role to play in all of this, no where does it suggest that it was the main player in this particular feat. Hell Zarrko himself attributes the feat to hulk himself and is actually amazed at the fact that the jade giant managed to pull it off. You can't punch a time Barrier, so you need to make it reachable, or tangible, which is what the chronal metal allows you to do at best. This, at the time might not have been clear, but my assumption was confirmed when Banner actually used this metal in his inhumanity bomb to actually manipulate time. Take a look:
Not enough? Well, then, if this were any other character you might have been able to still make a valid point but Hulk has done such things in the past multiple times, he HAS actually done a significantly similar feat in fact before, only this time it was a time storm(time storm, time barrier, time hurricane, time monster, they're all basically the same), and hulk had no outside help at all.
So there you go, it's a strength feat for The Hulk, simple as that. Could he have done it without the metal? Can't say, but it's not like anyone else could have picked it up and replicated the same exact feat. Hulks power is the key component here, without it, the feat makes no sense.
The Green Scar vs Zeus
Another popular one, Hulk fighting a Skyfather in Incredible Hulks #622 is definitely something to chew on, however... People tend to overlook some important context about the fight while citing it. They always make it look like Zeus's beat down on Hulk was because he was SO above The Green Scar he made him puke his organs out. While we're going to try and mention some context, we're not trying to imply Hulk could take on a Skyfather, but merely stating the facts on why Hulk went down in such a way.
Hulk's "Reward" while fighting Zeus
First of all, the reason on why Hulk fought Zeus is almost never noted when people refers to this instance, whereas noting it may change the view of it completely. Hulk didn't want to fight Zeus, he was just going to complaint to the one in charge that the Hulks didn't get anything after helping Hercules in Chaos War while everybody else got restored and cured. Moreover, he decided to become a sacrifice and give his family what they deserved...
So Hulk was actually aiming to be beaten in the first place, so he didn't have the reasons to keep fighting and fighting like he showed during the Chaos War or in Hela's realm or even in the Dark Dimension. He needed to make Zeus mad and show submission at the end to see if his family get what they deserved in exchange of possibly his life.
That said, there are 2 other points to mention in this instance to contextualize it entirely. Say, Hulk seemingly losing his healing factor and Zeus "cheating" while giving down the punishment.
Zeus dampening Hulk's healing factor
This is pretty easy to claim since it was deliberately implied at the end of his fight by Hephaestus when Hulk was chained to a rock Prometheus's style...
Coincidentally, this analysis came out WAY before the next issue Incredible Hulks #623 in which it was blatantly showed when Hulk was rescued and brought to New Mexico...
In all fairness, Zeus was actually zapping Hulk's healing factor and strength as the fight progressed by the use of magic, which isn't a bad thing, but in this case, it is and it's some context that SHOULD be noted all the time. Hulk didn't lose that badly because Zeus was that "much" stronger than him, but because his healing factor was being affected which essentially, is what makes Hulk such a pain to deal with.
Covering this part bring us to the next point...
This last point is probably the one people ignores the most, and even though it doesn't hold much in the sense of arguing Hulk potentially beating a Skyfather, it does presents some relevancy when referring it to the instance in question.
The punishment delivered by Zeus was supposed to be a simple brawl for a number of reasons. One of them was Hulk taunting him from the start to not use his powerset as he would realistically do...
He called Zeus a coward when Hera mentioned Zeus potential to deal with Hulk with a thought, Hulk had his reasons to do this and he actually managed, to some degree, make him not use his powers to their fullest for reasons previously stated. Moreover, Zeus himself states he's going to deliver the punishment "by hand" which would imply they are going to brawl.
To ultimately support the notion of Zeus's explicitly stating that it was going to be a brawl, he actually tells Hulk the fight was going to be on his terms, which logically, would mean a brawl since there's nothing more Hulk could do...
So what problem to we have with this instance and Zeus's seemingly using magic to dampen Hulk's healing factor?
- Zeus told Hulk it was going to be on his terms, and i don't recall any instance where Hulk used magic, so by definition it was going to be a simple brawl.
- Zeus didn't simply "brawl", because he used magic to dampen Hulk's healing factor and zap his strength.
- The facts stated previously are the reasons Hulk went down so hard.
- Hulk didn't want to fight Zeus to begin with and let himself get beat that way precisely to save his family.
To conclude, Zeus doesn't have feats to suggest he's up there with the likes of Odin and even Thanos. Moreover Zeus has fought Thor for quite prolonged times in the past which would imply he's not "powerful" to begin with and that he only exploited his magic and Hulk's dependency over his healing factor to deal with him.
Hulk forced to Banner by Hyperion
One of the few instance which don't posses that much context and is most of times misinterpreted because people don't pay much attention to the situation as a whole, say, they don't look at the big picture. Often the instance is showcased by posting these 2 scans from Hickman's Avengers #3 without the context behind...
So by the first look, Hulk is seemingly hit so hard by Hyperion he turns back to Banner. However, that an improbable possibility when the context is brought to light... Let's approach it shall we?
In Avengers #1 Hulk was Mind Controlled by Abyss , Ex-Nihilo's half part, which ended in her controlling him all the way to Avengers #3... The fact that even Hulk's purposes were being controlled by her means Hulk didn't even have his own reasons to be mad nor to fight. Which then brings us back to the scans posted previously.
The moment Thor freed himself and launched a huge lightning on Abyss she explicitly states "I've lost him" while possibly looking at Hulk. At the same moment Hyperion hits him and Banner appears inside a crater later on. Without the context it's understandable to think Hyperion knock Hulk down with a punch, but with it it's pretty obvious Hulk turned back to Banner because Banner had no idea why he was fighting anymore, he didn't have any reasons to be mad, let alone fight against his friend and the moment Abyss lost control over him, he instantly turned into Banner.
So no, Hulk went down that way because of the reasons stated above, not because Hyperion knocked him back to Banner.
Hulk vs Exitar?- Uncanny Avengers 19
A lot of recent feats have tons of controversy surrounding them, but I'm not even sure why this one was questioned, considering that the contents of the issue are pretty much pointed out, but even some hulk fans seemed to think that this was a bit off. Well I'm here to tell you that this feat is just valid as the writer wanted it to be. Look as always, I'll just fast forward to the good stuff. What you need to know that earth is under attack, and they need to hold of a gigantic being called exitar, who's roughly about the same size as the earth itself. But creating a shield strong enough to hold this beast off is tricky, because you need a power source that can actually do the job. So who do they choose? That's right, Hulk.
Despite being under incredible amount of pain, hulk holds him off for a good long while, but the problem, as I understand, that people seem to have with the scene is that the plan eventually fails, which, reasonably enough, results in the belief that it was Hulks fault( Yeah blame the monster, real mature guys). But the problem with that idea is that THE WRITER as well as the artist show that the reason the shield didn't work wasn't because of Hulk, it was the device itself. I mean, if we even observe how the whole thing went down, doom, Stark, and vision could have given a hand, but they didn't because they obviously believed that that it wouldn't have made a significant difference
. Remender makes it pretty much clear that it was the device that exploded, so the plan going south had NOTHING to do with hulk, I mean, take a look:
It's pretty much directly shown to you. Hulks power was harnessed to create this massive shield, and he held his end of the bargain, but unfortunately, the device could not hold, so their defenses were ruined. Hell, Vision comments on hulk is doingwonderfully and the next panel shows iron man telling us that they have a fracture,how much clearer can it get?
I think I've made my point.
Fear Itself - Nul and Anrgir Vs Thor
Oh man, if there the term Rustle my Jimmies can be properly associated with any particular fight, it's definitely this one. The amount of time people have spent debating about this is pretty much ridiculous. But as GhostGravage said in the beginning, we're trying to clear up lowball as well as overrated instances. In this case, there are two things we need to clear up, but before that, lets get acquainted with what happens. So thor fights of two of the worthy, who are basically amped version of the Thing and Hulk. Thor gets super pissed and basically one offs Thing beats thing real quickly, and then tricks hulk to gain an opening and remove him from the battle field.
The first misconception I'd like to clear up is Thor's said...Confession. A lot of Hulk fans like to jump on this as proof that Thor had finally admitted that Hulk was stronger than him, which isn't true, at least, not in this particular context. First of all, I do believe that hulk is stronger than thor, but there are dozens of other examples where it's clearly shown that thor respects and understands hulks true potential as a powerhouse. THIS however is not one of them. Like take a look at how thor comments on the situation, he is clearly exhausted , beaten, and broken, and it's clear that he him self knows that fighting an amped Hulk is probably the stupidest thing to do next to trusting Loki, so he wants to gain the upper hand to probably hinder further blood shed.
Thor was obviously being sarcastic in general, him admitting that he could never beat hulk was nothing more than a way to send hulk flaying away. I guess in a sense Thor WAS telling the truth in the sense that there was no way he could beat the hulk in this specific case, considering that Hulk(after landing) laid seige to the entire vampire nation while thor collapsed and was at the brink of death, but that doesn't mean that the was basically saying that he could NEVER ever beat hulk, as many fans would have you believe.
Now after this scene comes another controversial subject. When Thor sends hulk flying away a lot of fans believe that Thor had actually KO'd the Hulk, which again is incorrect. Take a look at the scan:
A lot of fans say that Hulk was KO'd because Hulk had his eyes closed, which doesn't make sense because: A) Hulks eyes weren't closed, if you zoom in and look at it, you'll see that a chunk of his face and body, as well as his eyes are completely encompassed in darkness, so you can't really say certainly that his eyes were closed. B) why the hell would Fraction have the artist include a speech bubble if Hulk was unconscious? Sound doesn't travel in space so text don't really appear, not until hulk reaches earths atmosphere anyways. It seems like a shameless attempt to somehow get some of Thors dignity back, which is stupid on it's own considering that Thor fought amped version of two very powerful beings and stood his ground. Besides, if thor had any chance to KO/kill banner he would have done so, or are we supposed to forget that he one-shotted thing once he stopped holding back? If he could, he would have done the same with Hulk.
I think I've made myself clear.
Hulk vs Gladiator
This is very often used instance by Superman supporters when arguing against Hulk, they say Hulk would be highly affected by Superman's heat vision because Hulk almost "died" by taking Gladiator's heat vision. The notion might seem applicable at first glance, but when a few contextual factors are mentioned then it doesn't seem right to claim such statements.
The statements start when this scan from Incredible Hulk Annual '97 is posted out of context in the forums...
In this issue Gladiator was fighting Hulk and the moment of using Gladiator's HV came and he was literally burning Hulk's insides quite easily with it, however, Hulk's powers were seriously fluctuating during this time, for the exact same reasons as Apocalypse restraining him... He was the nexus between 2 universes and the energies flowing through him were killing him. In fact, one of his most affected attributes was his durability which coincidentally was precisely what he lacked in this instance. This drop on his durability is first showcased in Deadpool #4 when he is harmed with with astonishingly ease...
The scans are self-explanatory, if Hulk is easily impaled by a street sign, then there's absolutely no doubt he was seriously affected. Which only makes Gladiator's instance even more impressive since Hulk fought Gladiator head on while having his durability and healing factor greatly dampened even taking his heat vision which is stated to burn as hot as the core of stars, which essentially, is even hotter than Superman's.