THE TRIAD

Membership: Glow, Goblin, and Guardian

Purpose: To help the Hulk recover from the mental damage which occurred when Bruce Banner’s persona had presumably sacrificed itself rather than share existence with the Hulk (we now know Banner’s persona was not completely destroyed, only deeply submerged)

Affiliations: Allies of the Hulk

Base of Operations: Formerly The Crossroads, presumed to currently be residing in the psyche of the Hulk.

First Appearance: Incredible Hulk II#308 (June, 1985)

History: When the Hulk was banished to the Crossroads by Doctor Strange, he came in contact with another banished being; The Puffball Collective. Bruce Banner's persona had been almost completely submerged (at the time believed dead), and mentally the Hulk was little more than an animal, completely incapable of speech or complex thought. Hoping to use the Hulk to further his own ends, the Puffball Collective continually probed the Hulk's mind in an effort to rekindle at least some of the Bruce Banner’s former intelligence. The Collective succeeded in unlocking some of the Hulk's former persona, rendering him once again capable of simple, monosyllabic speech, and he also unintentionally brought about the creation of The Triad; a triumvirate of creatures which respectively personified the Hulk's sense of survival (Guardian), reason (Glow), and rage (Goblin). Once the Hulk returned to Earth, The Triad was never seen in the physical world again. However, since they claimed to be personifications of different parts of the Hulk, it is more than possible that they still exist—in some form—inside the Hulk's psyche. In fact this is more than likely considering that very clear references were made to The Triad during Doc Samson's hypnotic session with Bruce Banner that resulted in the creation of the so-called "Professor" or "Merged" Hulk.

(Incredible Hulk II#308) - Finally managing to cause some of Bruce Banner’s intelligence to resurface within the Hulk’s cluttered mind, the Puffball Collective tricked the Hulk into smashing through the barriers of the Demon World of the N’Garai. The Puffball Collective had been cast out of this world for freeing the Demons of N’Garai, and the portal to the world had been sealed shut in order to protect other realms from the demons’ wrath.

Upon entering the world, the Collective feigned surprised at the destruction the demons had caused. He bid the Hulk rest, and transported away as the Hulk drifted to sleep in a nearby outcropping of rock. As the Collective left, the Triad appeared. They were able to see the Collective’s treason, and Guardian fired an arrow into the Hulk in order to wake him. As soon as the Hulk awoke, one of the powerful Demons attacked, tearing at his flesh. Knowing the Hulk’s only chance for survival was the strength that came with his rage, Guardian fired another arrow at the fresh claw-marks on the Hulk’s chest, hoping to grab the goliath’s attention. The Hulk spotted the wounds, and roared in anger. Eventually, the Hulk was able to temporarily stun the demon. Believing the demon to be defeated, the green goliath turned away from it and began to walk away, grieving the loss of his "friend" (the Collective had promised to watch over the Hulk as he slept, the fact that the Collective was nowhere in sight made the Hulk believe he was dead). The demon surprised the Hulk from behind, inflicting heavy wounds on him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eventually, the demon’s attack stopped, and the Hulk rose to find an entire horde of the beasts surrounding him with the Puffball Collective. The Collective gloated to the Hulk about how he had fooled him, how he had in fact been the instrument of the demons’ release upon this world, how he planned to set them loose on all the worlds of the Crossroads, and finally how their first order of business was to finish off the Hulk. Once the Collective’s tirade was over, the Triad appeared again. At first, Goblin urged the Hulk on to fight, but soon all three were voicing the hopes that the Hulk would flee. This discussion seemed to affect the Hulk. Instead of fighting, he leapt away in search of the portal that lead back to the Crossroads. The Triad expressed their surprise at this, and disappeared in a flash of light. The Hulk eventually stopped leaping, remembering how he had been teleported out of worlds in the past when he had become unhappy with them (via Doctor Strange’s failsafe spell which the sorcerer include in his original spell to banish the Hulk). For the first time, he consciously triggered the failsafe spell, and quickly shut the portal to the Demon World of the N’Garai. The Collective’s screams were heard from the other side as the demons rent him apart. As the Hulk grieved for the loss of yet another friend (he had made and a few friends and lost them all during his adventures in the Crossroads), the Triad appeared again, promising the Hulk that he would never be alone, that they would always be with him.

(Incredible Hulk II#309) - As the bewildered Hulk regarded the three strange beings, oblivious of whom they were, the Triad argued over how to best help the Hulk. While Guardian and Glow were committed to helping the Hulk regain his intelligence, Goblin believed the Hulk would be happier as a "savage." Putting Goblin’s fears aside, Guardian fired an arrow at the Hulk. Not realizing the arrow’s purpose, the Hulk raised his hand to block it. The arrow was incorporeal however, and passed through the Hulk’s hand. As the arrow pierced the goliath’s forehead, the Hulk was subjected to the memories of his existence on Earth, his co-existence with Bruce Banner, and how he had come to the Crossroads. Guardian gently closed the Hulk’s eyelids, bidding him to rest. While Guardian and Glow both agreed it was paramount to help the Hulk rekindle his intelligence, Guardian feared overloading the Hulk’s psyche. Goblin complained that if they were to succeed in digging up the Hulk’s persona, the three of them would no longer exist in the physical world since their purpose would be fulfilled. Guardian scolded Goblin for his selfishness, but was only able to sway Goblin to her side when she pointed out that if the Hulk’s lack of intelligence were to cause his demise, the Triad would die with him anyway. Ignoring more objections from Goblin, the Triad followed the Hulk into one of the countless portals of the Crossroads. They emerged in a windswept desert world, scattered with massive rock formations.

As the Triad argued over whether or not the Hulk should stay on the seemingly barren world (Guardian and Glow were against the idea, while Goblin goaded the Hulk to explore the place), the Hulk leapt away, plowing through the pillar-like rock formations that jutted from the desert landscape. The Triad disappeared from where they had entered the world, and reappeared in the landing spot of one of the Hulk’s leaps. At first, all three did their best to dissuade him from going any further. Once the Hulk leapt away once more, Guardian assured the others that they should have faith in him follow.

After an undisclosed amount of time, the Hulk and his new companions were on the verge of collapse, dehydrated and thirsting desperately for water. Eventually, they thought they had come upon a pool of water, but Goblin found out to his dismay (with a mouthful of sand) that it was only a mirage. As they spotted a sandstorm rising, all three of the Hulk’s new "friends" begged him to trigger the failsafe spell that would take them back to the Crossroads. The Hulk refused, and stood firm in the wake of the sandstorm, shielding the other three from it and nearly burying himself in the process. As the Triad rejoiced over the Hulk’s actions, Goblin climbed over a sand dune and spotted an oasis; a half-dozen fruit-bearing trees surrounded a clear pool of water. As the Triad celebrated, the Hulk simply smiled.

(Incredible Hulk II#310) - The Triad followed the Hulk the length of the desert, only to find a vast swamp. While trudging through the swamplands, the Triad discussed the Hulk’s "uncharacteristic" behavior. Goblin believed that Hulk’s slowly increasing intelligence had nothing to do with the re-emergence of Banner’s persona, but that his experiences in the Crossroads had forced him to learn to survive independent of Banner; that the Hulk they now traversed the swamp with was actually a "new" Hulk, capable of thought without Banner’s influence. Glow assured Guardian that Goblin’s opinion had merit, and theorized that perhaps the Triad was not actually in existence to necessarily help the Hulk, but rather a fragment of Banner’s persona which was rebelling against the emergence of this "new Hulk."

None of them had much time to postulate, for the swamp soon opened to a plain featuring a massive, walled citadel. As the four of them looked down upon the plain, a procession of robed men led a cart to the gates of the citadel: a robed, wrist-bound figure standing in the cart. The Hulk grew steadily angrier as the Triad bickered among themselves. Glow simply observed, while Guardian demanded caution and Goblin assured all of them that the bound figure was a human sacrifice. The robed men led their prisoner down from the cart and rang ceremonial bells that hung from their staffs. They disrobed the prisoner, revealing a beautiful, yellow-skinned woman. As one of the robed men stood behind the woman and raised a sword, none of the Triad could deny that Goblin was right: it was a sacrifice. Before the blow could be struck, the Hulk leapt from his hiding place, smashing the man’s sword with his fist. Suddenly, the gates of the citadel sprung open and a horde of skeletal warriors armed with poison scythes charged forth on horned steeds, killing the orange-skinned men who had brought the sacrifice. As the Hulk plowed into the warriors, the Triad followed. Goblin perched himself on the Hulk’s back and goaded him on. Fearful of the skeletal warriors’ poisoned weapons, Guardian let loose an "arrow of reason," in order the make the Hulk aware of the danger. Goblin lunged at the arrow to stop it, and as it passed through him he collapsed, claiming he was poisoned. As the arrow struck the Hulk, he realized he didn’t know where the yellow-skinned woman had gone. As he looked around for her, he was suddenly able to speak normally, as Banner would have. He spotted the woman being spirited off by one of the warriors, but before he could pursue, another warrior struck him from behind. The poison triggered the Hulk’s transformation, and a confused Bruce Banner appeared before the Triad. Glow theorized that the poisoned blade had killed the "new Hulk" they had believed the goliath had become earlier, which is why Banner’s submerged persona had suddenly been released. Banner begged the Triad for help, but while they offered him advice, his appearance caused the three of them to disappear. Banner collapsed on the ground and was carried away by the skeletal warriors.

(Incredible Hulk II#311) - With the disappearance of the Triad, Banner found himself in a precarious situation. He awoke tied to a stone slab. The yellow-skinned woman who the Hulk had tried to save stood over him, a knife in hand. Dr. Daniel Decyst, the "master" of the Citadel. Decyst had Banner freed and showed him to his laboratory.

Decyst revealed a dark secret to Banner. Decyst was a Scottish alchemist who had accidentally transported himself to this world while using the mystic arts to try to find the key to immortal life. For over two hundred years, Decyst had been using alien blood from the natives (who believed Decyst to be a god) to prolong his life. Now that he had seen the Hulk in action, Decyst believed Banner’s alter ego could provide him with the key to immortality. Disgusted, Banner ran from the alchemist’s laboratory and desperately sought an escape from the citadel. Meanwhile, having learned of Decyst’s secret, the yellow-skinned woman snuck up behind Decyst and stabbed him in the back.

 

 

 

As Decyst’s skeletal guards closed in on Banner, his fear triggered his change into the Hulk. As the Hulk appeared, so did the Triad. Once again, Goblin goaded the Hulk into battle with the skeletal warriors. The Hulk tore into them, faring better now that they were inside and the warriors were deprived of their steeds. Still, Guardian and Glow feared for the Hulk’s safety. Guardian once again let fly her "arrow of reason," and as it struck the Hulk, the green goliath realized that the purpose of his battle was gone, since he could no longer find the woman he had tried to save. As he leapt away from the citadel, the failsafe spell triggered the Hulk’s transportation back to the Crossroads with the Triad in tow.

(Incredible Hulk II#312 (fb) ) - Bruce Banner’s origin was re-told, this time including the true origin of Banner’s rage: his mentally unstable, abusive father. Each member of the Triad appeared throughout the origin. Glow appeared as both a child’s toy over Banner’s crib and the star on his family Christmas tree. Goblin appeared as many of the people who had tormented Bruce in his life, such as an angry, rude babysitter, his abusive father, and even Thunderbolt Ross. Guardian appeared as a child’s toy which Banner clung to always as a child (in fact, the child Banner actually calls the toy "Guardian"), even keeping it in his office when he went to work for the Gamma Bomb Project. It was not made clear if the Triad appeared in these thoughts because they had appeared in the physical world recently, or if their presence in the Banner’s memories are what caused the Triad to appear as they appeared (i.e., did Guardian show up as Banner’s toy in his memories because of The Triad’s recent influence on Banner, or did Banner actually have a toy that looked like Guardian when he was a child?).

After the origin was told, the Triad assured the Hulk they would always be with him to help him overcome whatever he might face in the future, and disappeared.

(Incredible Hulk II#377) - During Doc Samson’s hypnotic session with Bruce Banner which eventually caused the so-called "Professor" Hulk to gain dominance of his other personalities, Banner relives his memories of the beating he received from his father one Christmas (it is, in fact, the exact scene from Incredible Hulk II#312). The Guardian toy fell from the Christmas box as his father approached, just as it did in Incredible Hulk II#312. None of the other Triad members were seen.

COMMENTS: Created by Bill Mantlo and Sal Buscema

For more information on The Crossroads, click below:

http://marvunapp.com/Appendix/crsrds.htm

I want to clarify one thing about my description of Incredible Hulk II#377. I do NOT agree with Paul Jenkins’s interpretation of the Merged Hulk actually being a separate personality rather than a merging of Banner’s different parts. However, I bowed to this interpretation in the description for the sake of continuity.
--I'm with Mick...It's a shame that to use a ret-con to take away from such great stories--Snood.

The Triad should not be considered separate beings from the Hulk. While they speak to him as if they were separate, they are simply parts of the whole. In fact, there are a number of instances where members of the Triad start a sentence, and the Hulk will finish it.

Per Degaton pointed out a Triad appearance in the Ultimate Hulk novel:
During his ventures through the Crossroads pace Hulk I#300 et al., the Hulk landed on a world where he experienced illusions of the Rhino, the Abomination, the Leader, and possibly others. His Triad including Goblin managed to pull him out of the hallucinations.
Continuity unknown, but it happened at some point after Incredible Hulk II#308 (because before that the Triad didn't exist)
--Markus Raymond

CLARIFICATIONS: The Triad should not be confused with:

Glow should not be confused with:

Goblin should not be confused with:

  • Goblin 2099, @ Spider-Man 2099#38
  • Goblin 2211, @ Spider-Man 2099 meets Spider-Man#1
  • Goblins of Otherworld, aka the Trolls of Otherworld, @ Hulk Comic#7/2 (UK)
  • Goblin Queen, Madelyne Pryor, or any of her dimensional counterparts, @ ...the Inferno issues
  • Goblyn, of Beta Flight, @ AF I #53

Guardian should not be confused with:

  • Guardian, James McDonald Hudson, of Alpha Flight, @ Uncanny X-Men#109
  • Guardian, more often known as Vindicator, Heather McNeil Hudson @ X-Men/Alpha Flight I#1
  • Guardian, another Peter Parker clone, who guarded the door to the Jackal's laboratory @ Web of Spider-Man#122
  • Guardian, a synthoid duplicate of James Hudson, @ Alpha Flight II#1
  • or the any Guardians of ______, etc.

by Mick Martin, The Anti-Grimm


Glow: Glow represents Bruce Banner’s sense of reason. It is possible that his star-like shape was formed from Banner’s memories of a toy that hung above his bed as a child and/or the star which topped his Christmas tree on one of the any occasions his father beat Bruce and his mother. He (or, more appropriately, It) seems incapable of any physical action other than glowing and floating above the ground. Glow never surrenders to emotion, but will usually delve into analysis when any situation arises.

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

Goblin: Goblin represents Banner’s repressed rage. He is often goading the Hulk into trouble, and readers may recognize his speech pattern as being very similar to the gray or so-called "Joe Fixit" Hulk.

 

 


 

 

 

Guardian: Guardian is the most loving and protective of the Triad towards the Hulk. She is often doing whatever she can to spirit the Hulk away from potential danger, which brings her in constant conflict with Goblin. Her arrows apparently have no physical affect on anyone other than the Hulk, though they do have varied affects on the green goliath himself. Her arrows have had the ability to wake the Hulk from sleep, instill Bruce Banner’s reason upon the Hulk, or even to simply grab his attention. It is possible that Guardian’s physical form was taken from Banner’s memories of a childhood toy.

 

 

 


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Other appearances:
Incredible Hulk II#309 (July, 1985) - Bill Mantlo (writer), Sal Buscema (pencils), Gerry Talaoc (inks), Carl Potts (editor)
Incredible Hulk II#310 (August, 1985) - Bill Mantlo (writer), Bret Blevins (pencils), Al Williamson (inks), Carl Potts (editor)
Incredible Hulk II#311-312 (September-October, 1985) - Bill Mantlo (writer), Mike Mignola (pencils), Gerry Talaoc (inks), Carl Potts (editor)
Incredible Hulk II#377 (January, 1991) - Peter David (writer), Dale Keown (pencils), Bob McLeod (inks), Bobbie Chase (editor)
Ultimate Hulk novel (October, 1998) - Steve Lyons (writer), Stan Lee & Peter David (editors)


Last updated: 08/01/02

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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