Jeff Parker, who writes Hulk for Marvel, reports that the book will switch focus and tell the story of Red She-Hulk, the super-powered version of Betty Ross-Banner, Bruce’s love interest. And his take on it, and on the book as an opportunity to bring in new female audiences for comics, sounds phenomenal:
I thought why not dive in with a woman lead, AND tap the very roots of Hulk? Originally he always walked the line between menace and hero. Even if Hulk liked you, that still didn’t guarantee you were safe around him once he started raging, it was like being friends with a category 4 hurricane. As the newest of the Hulks, Betty is still formative and unknown- in a perfect position to be that kind of Hulk to the world.
Though you may only know my superhero stories, I am far from someone who thinks that genre IS comics, and I know that others may fit female readers more naturally. But I don’t think we should abandon trying, because despite conventional wisdom, many do want stories about powerful women in big action- did Buffy the Vampire Slayer teach us nothing? This gender does have daydreams about throwing cars around and flattening fools with a backhand swat. The superhero model appeals to something fundamental in us- that we feel, despite appearances, we have untapped power that could break out in the right circumstances.
The HULK myth goes further- and somewhat scarier- because it acknowledges our rage. The feeling that deep inside, whether from personal history or even wilder remnants still left from our ancestors, we harbor something devastating. Feelings we have to work at constantly because in the real world, letting that out doesn’t end well. But to be Hulk is to let that wave roll right out and wash away everything in your way. If you don’t think the ladies can relate to that, you haven’t talked to any lately.
Y’all know that I absolutely adore Jennifer Walters, and have long banged the drum for a She-Hulk television show as a companion to the Marvel movies. But if I can’t have that, a feminist take on Red She-Hulk—perhaps in less fetish-wear-y costumes than in the past, folks?—makes me very, very happy indeed.
It seems obvious to me that fantasies about physical power, and fear about our rage and anger (I mean, seriously, have folks read Little Women) are not exclusive to men. But we don’t get a lot of mass culture that addresses that. Characters like Black Widow and Catwoman are often confronted with the limitations of their physical power, rather than the idea that we could go too far and do damage verbal or physical damage to both someone else and ourselves. As I wrote last week, I absolutely adore the feminism of early She-Hulk comics, and the way they demolished the idea that anger about gender discrimination makes people incoherent or overly personal, putting She-Hulk up against institutions and even powerful superheroes like Tony Stark who fundamentally misjudged her. Parker’s said on Twitter that “I think of it as a Clint Eastwood western starring her. It’s one woman against the world.” A Red She-Hulk With No Name is a pretty amazing place to start from.