That Stan Lee and Jack Kirby have offered conflicting testimony as to which of them came up with the idea for the Hulk is not exactly news. But what I didn’t know before was the specific incident that Kirby claimed gave him the inspiration for the Hulk – namely, seeing a mother demonstrate extraordinary strength by lifting a car to free her trapped child.
What’s striking about that example is that in the (surprisingly good) 1970s-80s tv series – though not in the comics – the experiment that originally turns Banner into the Hulk is part of his research into cases of ordinary people demonstrating extraordinary strength in emergency situations – with the case of a mother lifting a car to free her trapped child being the main case study focused on.
Assuming this isn’t a coincidence, then either Kenneth Johnson (who wrote and directed the first Hulk episode, as well as being responsible for a few other shows you may recognise) got the idea through conversation with Kirby, or else Kirby’s memory is mistaken and inadvertently drawing on the tv show.
Between Lee and Kirby I’m ordinarily more inclined to trust Kirby. But this mother-saving-her-child-by-lifting-a-car idea is so central to the tv show and (as far as I recall) so non-evident in the original comic that I’m left scratching my head.