Bruce Banner’s love interest Betty Ross has played an important supporting role, for better or for worse, ever since the Incredible Hulk debuted 50 years ago. Her reincarnation as the Red She-Hulk during Jeph Loeb’s time on the Hulk titles has gained popularity thanks to Greg Pak and Matt Fraction’s respective runs on Incredible Hulks and Defenders. As part of Marvel NOW! her new solo series begins with General Reginald Fortean successfully demonstrating the capabilities of three volunteers from his Echelon super soldier programme to a small gathering of the military-industrial complex. The joy proves short lived when Red She-Hulk makes her splash page entrance with a heavy tank held above her head. The three Echelon soldiers initially gain the upper hand by wrapping the tank’s gun barrel around Betty. Betty, however, is the master and in short order she teaches the recruits that being superhuman means one has to absorb plenty of physical and verbal punishment (click on image to enlarge).
Writer Jeff Parker succeeds in setting up a compelling story, with Betty’s strength and fighting skill the main attractions. Machine Man’s character profiles of Betty and her father are woven into the story, cleverly catching readers up with her recent history without interrupting the narrative. The reason Betty has gone rogue against Echelon is not fully explained, but her precision-guided maelstroms against it, risking a collision course with the Avengers, are enough to have me impatiently awaiting the next issue.
Eugene Liptak is an author and a librarian. He is currently writing a book about US Navy special warfare units of the Second World War for Osprey Publishing.