Betty Ross

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Betty Ross

Betty Ross as herself (left) and as Red She-Hulk (right) on the cover of Red She-Hulk #58 (October 2012), her first self titled issue.
Publication information
Publisher Marvel Comics
First appearance The Incredible Hulk #1 (1962) (as Betty Ross)
The Incredible Hulk #168 (1973) (as Harpy)
Hulk vol. 2 #15 (2009) (as Red She-Hulk)
Created by Betty Ross:
Stan Lee
Jack Kirby
Steve Englehart
Herb Trimpe
Red She-Hulk:
Jeph Loeb
Ed McGuinness
In-story information
Full name Elizabeth "Betty" Ross-Banner
Team affiliations Defenders (as Red She-Hulk)
Notable aliases Elizabeth Ross-Talbot, Harpy, Red She-Hulk, She-Rulk

(As Harpy)

  • Superhuman strength, speed, stamina and durability
  • High speed flight via bird-like wings
  • Nuclear energy blasts
  • Razor sharp talons

(As Red She-Hulk)

  • Superhuman strength, speed, stamina, and durability
  • Regenerative healing factor
  • Energy-absorption

Elizabeth "Betty" Ross (later Betty Talbot and then Betty Banner) is a fictional character created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, that appears in comic books published by Marvel Comics. She made her first appearance in Incredible Hulk #1 (1962) as a romantic interest of the Hulk (Dr. Bruce Banner) and is the daughter of General Thunderbolt Ross.

Over the years, the character has undergone multiple transformations, turning into the villainess Harpy in Incredible Hulk #168 (1973) and into the antiheroine Red She-Hulk (or She-Rulk) in Hulk vol. 2 #15 (2009).

She was portrayed by Jennifer Connelly in the 2003 film Hulk and by Liv Tyler in the 2008 film The Incredible Hulk.

Publication history[edit]

Betty Ross debuted in The Incredible Hulk #1 (May 1962) by writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby. Ross made her first appearance as Harpy in The Incredible Hulk #168 (October 1973) by Steve Englehart and Herb Trimpe. In 1989, Betty Ross Banner received an entry in the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Update '89 #1.

In Hulk vol. 2 #15 (September 2009), she for the first time appears as Red She-Hulk, who was created by writer Jeph Loeb and artist Ed McGuinness. Loeb said, "We've been very careful with the creation of this character. We wanted to make sure she didn't come off as silly -my memory of the introduction to [the original] She-Hulk- before anyone had read a page. But the character was a completely different take on the Hulk, a Hulk we'd never seen before. Jen [Walters] is a wonderful character. Our intention is [that] Red She-Hulk will make an equally important impression on the Marvel Universe [sic]."[1]

Red She-Hulk became a member of the superhero team the Defenders in Defenders vol. 4 #1 (December 2011) by writer Matt Fraction and artist Terry Dodson. Fraction said, "The way I write her is somewhere between Indiana Jones and Johnny Knoxville; after a lifetime of being fought over and treated like a human football, she's [now] seven foot tall and 62-52-62 or whatever and bulletproof. She goes around leaving these Betty-shaped holes in the wall."[2]

In October 2012, as part of Marvel NOW!, Hulk was retitled Red She-Hulk' starting with issue #58 by writer Jeff Parker and artist Carlo Pagulayan. About the series Parker said, "She's become convinced of a threat to humanity which is essentially, all people like her. She's conflicted over losing her own human side, and she's acting out on a large scale based on that. But the thing is she may well be right."[3]

Fictional character biography[edit]

The first appearance of Betty Ross in The Incredible Hulk #1 (May 1962).

The only daughter of General Thaddeus E. "Thunderbolt" Ross, Betty spent her formative years firmly under her father's strict supervision. After her mother died during Betty's teenage years, she was sent away to boarding school. After graduating, the introverted young woman returned to her father's side while he was in charge of a top-secret project to create a new type of weapon involving gamma radiation known as the Gamma Bomb. The head scientist on the project was Dr. Robert Bruce Banner.

Betty was present in the protective bunker when Banner was preparing to test the Gamma Bomb. Her father hated Banner because he felt the young scientist was both a physical and emotional weakling. But the General's hatred of Banner only intensified over time when he learned that Betty was falling in love with him. But Banner and Betty's budding relationship was forever changed when Banner was caught in the detonation of the Gamma Bomb and became the Incredible Hulk. Banner's efforts to keep his condition a secret from Betty only served to alienate her from him. She was then romantically pursued by Major Glenn Talbot, the new aide attached to her father's Hulkbuster task force.[volume & issue needed]

After his dual identity became public knowledge Banner became a hunted fugitive. But with the help of Reed Richards, the leader of the Fantastic Four, Banner was able to gain control over his transformations. With the menace of a mindless and savage Hulk now apparently behind him, Banner was pardoned and later proposed to Betty. But during the wedding ceremony, the Hulk's archenemy the Leader caused Banner to transform back into the savage Hulk, and Banner, once again, became a fugitive. General Ross was seriously injured when the Hulk ran amok while battling the Rhino, and Glenn Talbot promised a teary-eyed and heartbroken Betty that the Hulk would pay for it.

Believing Banner to be lost forever to her as a potential husband, not only because of the Hulk but because she believed Banner to be in love with a green skinned alien princess of a Sub-Atomic world named Jarella, Betty married Glenn Talbot. While Betty and Talbot were on their honeymoon, her father was captured and sent to a Soviet prison. Talbot took part in a successful rescue mission, but was captured in the process and believed dead.


Betty Ross as Harpy on the cover of The Incredible Hulk #168 (1973).

It was at this time that the villain MODOK came across her, saw her condition, and kidnapped and hypnotized her because he wanted to create a weapon powerful enough to defeat the Hulk. He subjected her to gamma radiation, at a higher level than Banner had been subjected to, and transformed her into the insane and lethal Harpy creature.

The Harpy broke out of a containment shell and immediately went after the Hulk. MODOK told the Harpy where to find the Hulk and she flew off in search of him. She ambushed him, and then they fought each other to a standstill. Just as the Hulk was about to hit her while she was down, she told him she was Betty; and while Hulk was shocked and confused by her claim, she blasted him and knocked him out.

General Ross saw the Harpy and the Hulk fighting on TV and recognized Harpy as his daughter Betty. He made it to the battle site and rushed to talk to her right before she blasted the Hulk, and tried to talk her down. Just when it seemed to be working, MODOK's brainwashing started to take effect on her again, and she grabbed the Hulk and flew away. Military jets took off after her but she managed to destroy one of them. Before anything else could happen, a tornado appeared out of nowhere, caught up the Harpy and the unconscious Hulk, disappeared from the scene, and dropped them on a city in the sky. The city was home to the Bi-Beast, who stepped out and revealed himself to them. Harpy and Hulk both attacked the Bi-Beast, who managed to knock the Harpy unconscious. The Hulk reverted to Bruce Banner. Bi-Beast told Banner he brought them there to keep him company, but then he asked Banner to try and repair the machines that caused his city to float. Banner agreed to help, figuring he could use the advanced equipment to help Betty at the same time. He found the Bi-Beast trying to talk to the caged Harpy. Banner agreed to help repair the equipment if the Bi-Beast would let him take the Harpy with him; Bi-Beast agreed. Banner put some equipment together which he thought would cure Betty, but unbeknownst to him, MODOK came about the island and tricked the Bi-Beast into thinking Bruce was going to do him harm. The Bi-Beast attacked Banner just as Banner started the equipment. A fight ensued, with the enraged Banner becoming the Hulk. MODOK doublecrossed the Bi-Beast and attacked him too, and the Bi-Beast hit the self-destruct button as a last resort. The Hulk reverted to Banner and went to search for Betty. He found her in the equipment, still as the Harpy. Even though the "cure" had apparently failed, he grabbed her and they made a run for it as the island fell apart. Banner, as the Hulk, rescued them both as they landed. Parts of a building fell on the Harpy as they ran, and when the dust cleared, it was revealed that the Harpy had reverted to Betty Ross.


Unknown to Betty, her father and everyone else, Talbot was still alive and being held prisoner by the Gremlin at Bitterfrost, a top secret Soviet installation in Siberia. A man named Gregori Kronski was subjected to surgery that made him a double of Talbot. The Gremlin used his Psiclone device to imprint the memories and personality of Talbot in Kronski's mind, and those of Kronski's in Talbot's. Kronski was then sent to the United States, claiming to be an escaped Talbot. However, a bomb was concealed within Kronski's body. Gremlin's plan was to use the bomb to assassinate the President of the United States when the latter came to visit Gamma Base, where Talbot was stationed. Colonel Jack D. Armbruster saved the President's life, but both Armbruster and Kronski were killed when the bomb exploded. The real Talbot was eventually later rescued by General Ross, Clay Quartermain and the Hulk.[volume & issue needed]

During his time in captivity by the Gremlin, Talbot was made into a mindless husk. In order to unblock Talbot's mind, Doctor Leonard Samson had the Hulk (who was Banner under control by a special helmet) unblock what was keeping him in a mindless state. The process was a success. However, The Talbots' marriage later became strained.[volume & issue needed]

When General Ross suffered a nervous breakdown, Talbot returned to the military as a Colonel and it was later revealed that he had fired a ray gun that sent the Hulk to the Sub-Atomic universe after the Hulk stormed into Gamma Base looking for Jarella, now deceased, who was cryogenically frozen. This incident proved to be the last straw in Talbot's already deteriorating relationship with Betty, and their marriage later ended in divorce. Blaming the failure of his marriage on Banner, whom he also tried to have court-martialed, Talbot died in Japan while trying to destroy the Hulk piloting the War Wagon prototype. Betty admitted to Rick Jones afterwards that she had never stopped loving Banner all the while she was married to Talbot.[volume & issue needed]

When Betty learned that her father had conspired with MODOK to kill the Hulk, she accused him of treason. Realizing Betty was right, Ross nearly committed suicide and then disappeared.[volume & issue needed]

Banner again achieved a state in which he could control his transformations and maintain his normal personality and intelligence while in the form of the Hulk. But this time Betty was upset because she wanted Banner to be rid of the Hulk, not to control him, and left him once again. Banner then briefly became romantically involved with his new assistant and S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Dr. Katherine "Kate" Waynesboro. But due to the influence of the evil dream demon Nightmare, he once again lost control over the Hulk, who had become more savage than ever before, and his relationship with Kate ended shortly after.[volume & issue needed]

The Hulk disappeared from Earth for an extended period, and Betty began dating a man named Ramon. Upon learning that the Hulk had been sighted on Earth once again, Betty left Ramon and returned to Gamma Base, where the Hulk was subjected to a process that split Banner and the Hulk into separate entities. Believing himself finally cured, Banner proposed to Betty, and she accepted. Betty's father appeared at the wedding, armed with a gun and demanding that the marriage not take place before shooting Rick Jones, who tried to stop him. Courageously, Betty confronted her father, accusing him of domineering her throughout her life, as well as calling him out on his hostility towards Banner over the years, and cowed him into surrendering the gun. Finally, Banner and Betty were pronounced husband and wife.[volume & issue needed]

However, Banner began dying as a result of being physically separated from the Hulk. The two were secretly merged once more. Betty soon discovered this. General Ross later died before his daughter's eyes, sacrificing his life to destroy an unnamed mutant that nearly killed both Betty and Banner seeking a strong host to be parasitically linked to.[volume & issue needed]

Betty later became distraught on learning that Banner had sometimes consciously triggered his transformation in the past and was even now willing to become the Hulk in order to deal with very menacing threats. Betty left her husband and returned to Ramon, but then changed her mind and abandoned Ramon as well. She was then captured by the Leader, who set her free after learning that she was pregnant with Banner's child, but after being tormented with terrible nightmares by the demons Nightmare and D'Spayre, Betty lost her unborn baby.[4]

She was eventually reunited with Banner, but soon afterward the Hulk seemingly perished in a tremendous explosion at Gammatown. Believing Banner and the Hulk dead, Betty left for New York City, where she eventually began training to become a nun. Betty spent some months in a convent to recover from the ordeal, but eventually reunited with Banner. They spent years living together as fugitives until the Hulk's enemy Abomination used his own blood to poison Betty, which would appear to be the work of the Hulk himself (due to the high levels of gamma radiation present in both of their bodies). Betty was placed in cryogenic suspension by her father.[volume & issue needed]

In a later retconned storyarc, Betty was seemingly revived by the Leader; underwent surgery which considerably altered her appearance; was granted superhuman strength; and for a time aided her fugitive husband as his shadowy contact Mr. Blue.[volume & issue needed]

The "Tempest Fugit" story arc explains her resurrection as a reality-distorting hallucination created by Nightmare, and also introduces Betty's daughter Daydream, supposedly magically conceived when the entity raped her in her sleep.[5] This version of events was confirmed in stories by later writers.[6][7]

Red She-Hulk[edit]

Betty Ross as Red She-Hulk on the cover of Hulk vol 2. #16 (2009). Art by Ian Churchill.

During the 2010 "Fall of the Hulks" storyline, Betty Ross was revealed to have been resurrected by the Leader and MODOK at the urgings of their new ally, her father Thunderbolt Ross, who had previously kept her body in cryonic stasis. She also underwent the same process that had turned her father into the Red Hulk, which granted her superhuman physical power. The now villainous Doc Samson also helped Leader brainwash Betty into an extremely confused and aggressive state.[volume & issue needed] Ross's allies, aware of his intentions to betray them, sent Betty, as the "Red She-Hulk", to help assassinate her father, who was hunting the mercenary Domino, after she witnessed him transform from his human form. Their encounter ended with Red She-Hulk kicking Red Hulk off the Empire State Building.[8]

After Ross faked his own death, Betty also appeared as herself at his "funeral", accompanied by a Life Model Decoy of Glenn Talbot to constantly monitor and control her, and expressed distrust of Bruce due to his recent marriage to Caiera on Sakaar and his subsequent attack on Manhattan.[9] During the 2010 "World War Hulks" storyline, after Skaar stabbed her with his sword, the new She-Hulk reverted to her human form, officially revealing her true identity.[10] Betty explained how she was brought back to life, and asked that Bruce allow her to die. But when Samson arrived, Betty's anger at his betrayal transformed her back into the Red She-Hulk, thus healing her injuries.[11] Now once again in control of her own mind, Betty (as Red She-Hulk) helped Bruce/Hulk to reconcile with his son Skaar.[12] When Bruce gained the upper hand in the ensuing final battle against Ross, Betty became worried for her father, which, combined with her heightened aggression when transformed, led to conflict with the original She-Hulk, who prevailed. After Ross was defeated and imprisoned, Betty nonetheless convinced Bruce to grant her father an opportunity for rehabilitation and redemption.[13]

In the aftermath of the Leader's attempted takeover, Betty told Bruce that they are no longer married, since she was declared legally dead and everyone else knows that Bruce had married Caiera.[14] But in the last series, the Hulk family defeated Fin Fang Foom. Afterwards, Betty and Bruce resume their romantic relationship.

Red She-Hulk is also present in the "Chaos War"[15] and "Fear Itself" storylines[16] in 2010 and 2011 respectively. She is subsequently a cast member in the ongoing Defenders series (volume 4) that debuted in December 2011 under writer Matt Fraction and came to close in November 2012 with issue #12 being billed as the final issue.

Powers and abilities[edit]


As the Harpy, Betty had superhuman strength, stamina, speed and durability with which were enough to fight the Hulk. She also had big bird-like wings from her back that she used to fly at high speeds through the air and perform aerial attacks. In addition, she could project blasts of nuclear energy and had razor sharp talons which were strong enough to cut through metal or carry heavy objects.

Red She-Hulk[edit]

As the Red She-Hulk, Betty has enormous superhuman strength, speed, stamina, and durability, and a healing factor that allows her to easily survive what would normally be fatal injuries to humans, such as stab wounds to the leg and abdomen by Wolverine's claws.[17] Similar to her ex-husband, Betty's strength level is so vast that it warps the laws of physics even further than standard for other characters in the same fictional continuity, for example allowing her to punch her way through dimensional barriers between different universes.[18] However, she was defeated easily by the original She-Hulk.[19] She shares the Red Hulk's ability to absorb energy, such as the gamma radiation from other Hulks, thereby reverting those beings to human form, and at least temporarily boosting herself. According to Banner, there were plans to remove this ability through the same process that removed the Red Hulk's based on the fact that this ability would eventually kill her.[20] Also like her father, Red She-Hulk has yellow blood, produces yellow energy from her eyes when angry,[17] and can discharge energy by touch.[21] Red She-Hulk can be returned to human form if she is suddenly startled or frightened, though she can revert to her Hulk form at will.[22] As Red She-Hulk, she still maintains control of her humanity, though if extremely angered she can become "pure Hulk", further increasing her strength but losing control of her mind.[23]

Red She-Hulk carries a giant longsword that she affectionately calls her "big ass sword". The sword, forged by Tony Stark, is made of Stark Industies repulsor technology and enchanted uru metal from Asgard and was first given to Red She-Hulk during the "Fear Itself" storyline along with similar weapons given to other heroes in order to defeat Cul "The Serpent", Odin's long-forgotten brother. While the other weapons are eventually returned and melted at the end of the storyline, Red She-Hulk manages to hold on to hers.[24] The sword is later taken by a massive global machine called "The Terranometer" during the "Hell Hath No Fury" story arc and is held there until Red She-Hulk is able to stop the U.S. government from inadvertently creating a dystopian future in which gamma enhanced super-soldiers take over the Earth.[25]

Other versions[edit]

"Heroes Reborn"[edit]

In the "Heroes Reborn" Universe created during 1996–1997 storyline by Franklin Richards in the aftermath of the Onslaught crisis, Betty, known as Liz Ross, served as the head of security for Stark International. As a result, she took Iron Man's apparent appointment as Tony Stark's personal bodyguard as a personal insult, and was also present when Bruce Banner was exposed to the gamma radiation that would turn him into the Hulk (The same accident that resulted in Stark donning the Iron Man armor in the first place). Shortly before the heroes returned to their world, it was revealed that Liz was dying of cancer as a result of the gamma exposure, Banner being particularly affected by news of the disease to the extent that he turned back from the Hulk to embrace her as Banner after learning about her condition.

"House of M"[edit]

In the alternate universe seen in the 2005 "House of M" storyline, Betty Ross is married to Major Glenn Talbot.[26]

Ultimate Marvel[edit]

In the Ultimate Marvel Universe, Betty Ross is still the daughter of General "Thunderbolt" Ross. She was the college roommate of Janet van Dyne. She earned a degree in communications at Berkeley and dated Bruce Banner until his failed attempts at cracking the super soldier problem turned him into the Hulk.[27]

When the Ultimates were assembled, she became their Director of Communications/Public Relations Officer. After being spurned by Betty, Bruce responded by injecting himself with a version of the Hulk formula that incorporated the recently discovered Captain America's blood, and went on a rampage as the Hulk, during which he killed more than 800 civilians. During his trial, Betty declared her love for Bruce, who was eventually convicted, and sentenced to death, but Bruce escaped the nuclear bomb intended to execute him by turning into the Hulk and escaping.[28] Bruce returned during the Ultimates 2 miniseries after Fury, the President of the United States, Washington D.C. and New York had been captured by the Liberators. Bruce, now exhibiting greater control over his transformations, helped repel the Liberators, and Betty was seen tending to an exhausted Bruce after the battle with the Liberators and Loki in Washington DC.[29]

In the Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk miniseries, Nick Fury sends Wolverine to find and kill the Hulk, but their battle was interrupted by She-Hulk after Betty injected herself with the Hulk serum.[30][31] Fury reveals that S.H.I.E.L.D. is working to keep her transformations under control,[32] and imprisoned in the Cube.[33]

Collected editions[edit]

Title Material collected Publication date ISBN
Red She-Hulk: End Times Red She-Hulk #58–62 April 2013 0785165312
Red She-Hulk: Route 616 Red She-Hulk #63–67 September 2013 0785184465

In other media[edit]



Video games[edit]


  1. ^ Storm, Marc (July 25, 2009). "SDCC 2009: Introducing Red She-Hulk". Retrieved February 1, 2013. 
  2. ^ Beard, Jim (July 25, 2011). "SDCC 2011: Defenders". Retrieved February 1, 2013. 
  3. ^ Dietsch, TJ (July 13, 2012). "SDCC 2012: Red She-Hulk". Retrieved February 1, 2013. 
  4. ^ Incredible Hulk vol. 2 #360
  5. ^ The Incredible Hulk vol. 3 #81
  6. ^ World War Hulk #3
  7. ^ Incredible Hulk vol. 3 #110
  8. ^ Loeb, Jeph. Hulk vol. 2 #15–17 (November 2009 – January 2010)
  9. ^ Fall of the Hulks: Gamma (December 2009)
  10. ^ Incredible Hulk #609
  11. ^ Incredible Hulk #610
  12. ^ Incredible Hulk #611
  13. ^ Hulk vol. 2 #24
  14. ^ Incredible Hulks #612 (September 2010)
  15. ^ Incredible Hulks #618
  16. ^ Matt Fraction (w), Stuart Immonen (p), Wade Von Grawbadger (i). "Thor's Day" Fear Itself 7 (December 2011), Marvel Comics
  17. ^ a b Loeb, Jeph. Hulk vol. 2 #16 (December 2009)
  18. ^ Incredible Hulk #607
  19. ^ Hulk #24
  20. ^ Loeb, Jeph. Hulk vol. 2 #22 (July 2010)
  21. ^ Incredible Hulk #24
  22. ^ Matt Fraction (w), Terry Dodson (p), Rachel Dodson (i). "Breaker of Worlds Part 2: The Prize of New Avalon" Defenders v4, 2 (March 2012)
  23. ^ Red She-Hulk #60–61
  24. ^ Fear Itself #6–7
  25. ^ Red She-Hulk #61–67
  26. ^ Hulk: Broken Worlds #1
  27. ^ Ultimates #3
  28. ^ Ultimates 2 #5
  29. ^ Ultimates 2 # 13
  30. ^ Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk #3
  31. ^ Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk #4
  32. ^ Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk #6
  33. ^ Ultimate Comics: Ultimates #7
  34. ^ "Extensive Cast of Voice Actors Unveiled for Super Hero Squad Online". Retrieved February 12, 2012.