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Betty Banner's Tragic Death and Tragic Resurrection

In Death is not the End, we spotlight the outlandish explanations for comic book characters (mostly super-villains) surviving seeming certain death. Today, we see how Betty Banner came back to life in the pages of the Hulk!

Peter David had an amazing twelve-year run on Incredible Hulk, and that amazing run had an ending steeped in tragedy. It all began with the ending of Incredible Hulk #465 (by David, David Brewer and Mark Farmer). After things had seemingly finally gotten to a point where everything was going well with Bruce and Betty Banner, things took a sudden turn for the worse...

And they did not get better in #466...

Until finally...

This was a tough time for David period, as he was dealing with some trouble in his personal life with a divorce, but he also ended up coming to a sudden and surprise end on the Hulk, as well. David explained the situation to Entertainment Weekly in an essay a number of years ago:

I actually didn’t know I was going to be leaving The Incredible Hulk when I did go. What happened was that my editor at the time, Bobbie Chase...had suggested — when we were kicking around future plot directions — that I kill off the Hulk’s wife, Betty Banner. Betty had always been my wife’s favorite character and because of that I’d always sworn nothing bad would happen to her. But then my wife left me so that she could go off and do other things like, I dunno, not be married to me. On that basis, Betty’s safety measure was gone. When Bobbie suggested we plug her, I said, “Sure, why not?” So I killed her off. This got Marvel all excited. See, when I’d started on the book and, over years, doubled sales on it, it caused people to suddenly start paying attention. With the death of Betty, this prompted Marvel to have a Brilliant Idea. Mourning the loss of his wife, the Hulk would now go dead silent, stop talking to anyone, and run around the Marvel universe smashing everything in sight.

When I was told the new plan, I objected. I told them it was out of character with the psychologically complex giant I’d created over the years. I said I wouldn’t write that. And the editorial higher-ups (none of whom still work for the company) said that I shouldn’t hesitate to avoid having the door hit me on the way out.

And that was that. After twelve years, I was gone.

In a famous story set in the future that David did with George Perez called Hulk: Future Imperfect (where the modern day Hulk has to fight his older, evil self, known as the Maestro), we see that Betty's ashes are on a shelf among the collection of the dead heroes that Rick Jones (who is still alive in the future, albeit really, really old) has to honor the ones that Maestro killed....

So it was a nice touch that Rick is holding Betty's ashes in David's final issue (set in a possible future)...

However, David's final issue also set up the incoming writer, Joe Casey, and there is a retcon right away...

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