When the U.S. military of the Marvel Universe commissioned Bruce Banner to design his Gamma Bomb they were looking for a weapon of ultimate destructive power. They got their weapon just not in the form they were looking for because Banner’s Gamma Bomb transformed him into the Incredible Hulk, an unstoppable emerald hued monster with the strength to level cities.
The Hulk’s rage made him an uncontrollable asset, but over the years the military and several sinister scientists have tried to recreate the process that transformed Banner into the Hulk. Their most successful attempts were transforming the Hulk’s arch-enemy General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross and his daughter Betty, who is also Banner’s ex-wife, into crimson colored Hulks.
General Ross is the star of the “Hulk” series where writer Jeff Parker is currently chronicling his quest to atone for the sins he committed when he first became a Hulk. That will change this October when “Hulk” morphs into “Red She-Hulk” with issue #58. CBR News spoke with Parker about the series’ new title character and direction, announced by Marvel yesterday at their “Next Big Thing” panel at Comic-Con International in San Diego.
CBR News: Jeff, let’s start with the big question. Why is “Hulk” morphing into “Red She-Hulk?” And what does this mean for the long form story you’re telling with General Ross? Does it come to a conclusion in the current “Mayan Rule” arc? Or does the General play a role in “Red She-Hulk?”
Jeff Parker: As will become clear from other announcements, Red Hulk is moving to a new duty somewhere else that’s very interesting. So his tour of duty in Hulk is done with “Mayan Rule,” and now our focus goes to Betty. If you thought “Hulk” was fight-heavy, wait until you read this.
What do you find most interesting about your new title character? Which aspects of Betty Ross’ personality do you want to dive into and explore in this series?
She popped in for two issues of “Hulk” a while back to touch base (and hit) her dad for a bit, and she was fun to write then. Now she’s a pure blast to write because she’s going completely rogue with this book. You’ll see it in everything she does — she acts and reacts all the way, a true Hulk.
This is the woman hero a lot of people have been wanting, I think. You may not agree with her, but I bet you’ll be able to relate to the way she goes after what she wants, and say, “Yes. If I were a Hulk, that’s what I would do, and no one would stand in my way.”
Betty Ross’ recent appearances in books like “Defenders” and “Incredible Hulk” suggest she’s been using her powers primarily as an adventurer. When “Red She-Hulk” begins what is Betty’s current status quo? What is her immediate goal? Is she on one of her adventures?
She has recently become convinced that humanity itself is on the way out, the deal sealed by people like herself, super humans. We get into that after issue one. It’s her inner conflict and fear of losing who she is played out on the world stage. To confirm her belief, the military gets permission to revive Project Pegasus and explore creating fighting forces biologically.
Betty knows that you can stop a military project by proving it a failure and choking funding, so Red She-Hulk shows up to that in the most dramatic way possible. And it all goes to hell from there.
In terms of plot and themes what is your initial “Red She-Hulk” arc about?
It’s about how Red takes on this dangerous new path that pits her against everyone.
Who are some of the supporting players Red She-Hulk will encounter in your early stories? Will we see characters primarily associated with the Hulk family? Established Marvel characters? Or are you going to introduce her to some new characters?
Yes, a certain android built for war is back, as well as the modern equivalent to General Ross, Reggie Fortean. And there will be plenty of other Marvel heroes and villains getting in the way of her fists. They’re now all the same to her.
Speaking of villains, you worked hard to give the Red Hulk some new and interesting adversaries. Can we expect some similar work on Betty’s Rogue’s gallery in “Red She-Hulk?” Which types of adversaries make good foils for Betty?
That’s the big thing about this — almost everyone will be her adversary. This book is really one woman against the world, and you may not agree with what’s driving her. What’s maybe more intriguing is who will be her allies?
Interesting, but I imagine you can’t elaborate any more on who her allies might be. Let’s move on to something you can talk about, your work with artist Carlo Pagulayan who is bringing your initial “Red She-Hulk” scripts to life. Carlo frequently collaborates with you and is a veteran Hulk artist. What do you feel are his strengths as an artist?
I don’t know that many artists can pull off making a heroine look beautiful and impossibly powerful at the same time, but I know Carlo is amazing at it. When this image came in during “Hulk” #50, that to me was a defining moment in thinking about Red She.
Carlo is very meticulous, so that even when I ask for a solid black page he still finds a way to put a lot of drawing in it. Luckily he’s going to be joined by Wellinton Alves, also an artist powerhouse whose work is very compatible with Carlo’s. I worked with Wellinton back during ‘Thunderbolts: Siege.’ In short, this book will look fantastic.
Finally, we’ve talked about your initial plans, what kind of stories and tones can we expect moving forward in “Red She-Hulk?” Will this book have a similar feel to “Hulk?” Or are you looking to do something different?
This may be the most direct and clear concept I’ve done at Marvel, where the guiding theme is a feeling. It doesn’t read like a lot of my other work, and that excites me, because I didn’t go into it planning for it to feel different. It’s actually kind of brutal in a way you may not associate with me, but that’s what feels true to the character.
I’m more than tired of the conventional wisdom that Marvel doesn’t have the female leads to carry a hero book. My deal for you — come give us a shot for two issues and see if we don’t give you all the action and drama you’re hoping for. For the people out there who think “There are too many Hulks now!” — that’s what she thinks too! I think you’ll be very surprised at some of the things this book says.
Stay tuned to CBR News for more coverage from Comic-Con International 2012.