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Who is Red She-Hulk? The Origin Story of Marvel’s Red Monstress

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The Hulk Family Tree has expanded as more people got poisoned by Gamma radiation. The Marvel Universe is full of monsters, but all are certainly not green ones. Since the first incarnation of Red Hulk (also known as Rulk) first appeared in 2008, we know they also can be red ones.

Announced in a shroud of mystery during the 2009 Comic Con, Red She-Hulk followed Red Hulk’s path as his real identity was hidden for some time (nearly two years). Once again, Marvel threw a few “red” herrings on the readers’ path with clues leading to Domino of X-Force and Elektra. So, at the beginning, there only was the character design:

What [Jeph] Loeb did reveal was the process by which the character was created by [Ed] McGuinness and “Code Red” arc artist Ian Churchill. “Ed did the design, but Ian certainly made it his own. The two of them sent stuff back and forth until everyone was happy. Ed’s big contribution to it was that he wanted this big, long, flowing mane of hair that was black and had a red streak in it -sort of like the Bride of Frankenstein. It makes her look super cool. We worked a long time on what it is that she wears because we didn’t want her to be wearing what Jen wears, and we didn’t want her to be wearing a white torn shirt. What she has on is very specific.” —Introducing… Red She-Hulk (

Entered the Red She-Hulk

Once the teasing passed, it was time for Red She-Hulk to make an entrance. She first appeared in Hulk (Vol. 2) #15 published in September 2009. Red Hulk’s secret identity was compromised when Domino saw him transformed. He went after her, but things didn’t turned as expected and got worse. That’s when the mysterious hulking red woman entered the scene and soon found herself facing Wolverine.

Soon after that, in Hulk (Vol. 2) #22–at the start of the crossover World War Hulks–, the Red She-Hulk came back to kill the Red Hulk. After she overpowered him, forcing him to revert to his human form and revealing that he is General Thaddeus Ross, Red She-Hulk decided not to kill him and justified her choice by exposing her own secret identity: she is none other than Betty Ross.

From Dead Betty to Red

Created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee in The Incredible Hulk #1, the story of Betty Ross has been full of drama after Banner turned into the Hulk. But she was not more than a romantic interest, a secondary character, for a long time. Until the villain MODOK kidnaped her (in the 1970s) and transformed her into a woman-bird hybrid creature called the Harpy. MODOK then used her to find and fight the Hulk. A few issues later, Betty was cured.

Years later, Betty needed another cure as she learned that being at proximity to the Hulk led her to being sick. She was overexposed to gamma radiation. That’s when Hulk’s enemy Abomination took advantage of the situation to poison her with his own gamma-radiated blood as a way to get his revenge. This led to her death. Abomination later admitted his responsibility for Betty’s death to Banner and paid the price for it.

Of course, this is a Marvel story, Betty could not stay dead.

Thunderbolt Ross had kept his daughter’s boy in cryonic stasis and asked the Leader and MODOK to resurrect her. They put her through the same process that had turned her father into the Red Hulk. As the Red She-Hulk, Betty gained superhuman strength, speed, stamina, a healing factor, and the ability to absorb energy.

But she was brainwashed and sent to kill her father. It was only when she was almost killed that she regained control of herself, thus becoming an ally to the Hulk.

For years, Betty Ross kept fighting monsters and villains as the Red She-Hulk, until she was cured of her mutation by “Doc Green” in Hulk vol. 3 #8. However, it would not be the last time Betty Ross transformed into a red monster…

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