It’s often said that the Hulk is the strongest one there is, but perhaps only characters like Wolverine truly understand the Green Goliath’s strength. In fact, Logan may be the only character to fully describe what it’s like to take a hit from the Hulk and live to talk about it.
The two characters will always be intrinsically linked due to the fact that Wolverine’s first appearance was in Incredible Hulk #181 by Len Wein and Herb Trimpe. In it, Wolverine and Hulk fight each other before teaming up to defeat the monstrous Wendigo. Ever since that initial encounter, the two have often come to blows for one reason or another, enjoying something of a friendly rivalry ever since. The two are among a very small handful of characters who could survive a fight with each other, thanks to Hulk’s overall indestructibility and Wolverine’s healing factor.
Wolverine: Origins #28 by Daniel Way and Mike Deodato, Jr. retells their classic first meeting from Logan’s perspective. Still an agent for the Canadian government, Wolverine is sent after Hulk and Wendigo to show just how effective the Weapon X program that gave him his adamantium skeleton truly is. After taking out Wendigo, Wolverine turns his claws on Hulk, and proceeds to get a punch that knocks him clean off his feet. “There ain’t many around who can describe what it feels like to get hit by the Hulk,” Logan narrates, “Simple fact bein’ there ain’t many around who can survive to tell the tale.”
Wolverine goes on to further describe the sensation of taking a punch from the Hulk: “There’s no pain at first. It’s like he hits ya so damn hard ya actually leave yer own body. It’s when ya come back that ya feel the pain. An’ ya realize yer goin’ toe-to-toe with a walkin’ earthquake.” It shows both the power of Hulk’s strength and the limits of Wolverine’s healing factor. If Wolverine was hit so hard he felt like he left his body, it implies that Hulk was inflicting some serious neurological damage to Wolverine’s brain—a tactic that Hulk would eventually use to put down Wolverine in the later event World War Hulk, knocking Logan’s brain around in his adamantium skull to render the mutant unconscious.
Realizing that their operative is overmatched, Wolverine’s support team gasses the Hulk to knock him out instantly and pull their asset out of the fray. Wolverine is then taken back to base, where it’s revealed the whole operation was enacted for the benefit of Professor Charles Xavier, who meets with Wolverine to recruit him for a new team of mutants in a recreation of a similar scene from the legendary Giant-Size X-Men #1 by Len Wein and Dave Cockrum. The rest is history… although perhaps not for Hulk and Wolverine, who have come to blows many times in the years ever since.