Last year, Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness introduced comics fans to the neck vein-popping, reality warping world of the Red Hulk. Since the crimson foil to Dr. Bruce Banner has proven such a sales hit, it was only a matter of time before his family grew as Marvel announced today at Comic-Con International in San Diego that an all-new Red She Hulk would debut in the pages of the creative team's "Hulk" series.
With classic She-Hulk Jennifer Walters (and gamma-powered pal Doc Samson) off the table in the wake of this week's "Incredible Hulk" #600, Loeb hopes to continually up the mystery quotient that has gone along with the series from its inception. "The story that follows immediately after #600 is what happens with Banner and A-Bomb, which in #13 is appropriately called 'Hulk No More,'" the scribe told CBR. "Then #14 through 17 is the 'Code Red' story which is what happens when someone learns 'Who is the Red Hulk?' when he or she is in what we refer to as 'Bruce Banner mode.' That ultimately leads to the conflict between the Red Hulk and X-Force, because it's Domino who finds out. During that time is when we meet Red She-Hulk, and at that point Jen is still missing, so she immediately becomes one of the suspects. And on that, I can't comment either way."
What Loeb did reveal was the process by which the character was created by 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."
And like the Red Hulk, whose gamma-fueled powers have been known to slightly alter the world about him with their potency, the Red She-Hulk won't be just a color-switched version of Jen Walters' savage superheroine. "The important thing for us is that she really be established as a character who is different from the Green She-Hulk and from the Savage She-Hulk that's currently running around, and have her own voice as a character – to be different from the Red Hulk in the same kind of way that Jen is different from Banner. Her personality is unique and somewhat new to the Hulk mythos. We're having an enormous amount of fun with her. Her introduction is just the beginning of it. She plays a huge role in 'World War Hulks.'"
You read that right: Marvel is starting plans for a Hulk family crossover called "World War Hulks" (which you can read about shortly on CBR) featuring all the heroes and villains of Bruce Banner's world, and building on plans laid as far back as Greg Pak's "World War Hulk" mini series. "Certainly, in terms of Banner and the Green Hulk, the function of that, both in my book and in 'Skaar,' was for Greg and I to build up the Green Hulk as this almost myth in terms of how big he is," Loeb said of the underlying theme for the coming year of Hulk stories. "One of the things about doing a story, sometimes, is that by not being present, the character actually gets bigger. We've seen 600 Hulk stories. How can we do a story where his importance – particularly after 'World War Hulk' – could be taken down a little bit in terms of how often he was in the book but at the same time be built up so when we get to the final conflict – what we're now calling 'World War Hulks' – we see the explosion of his character and who he is. What I'm really excited about is that 'Incredible Hulk' #601 picks up Banner's life, and that book will primarily be about the relationship between Banner and Skaar. You have a sort of father/son relationship with the Son of Hulk and Banner, who can no longer become the Hulk. My book will focus on what's going on with the Red Hulk – specifically the secrets revealed in #600 and M.O.D.O.K.'s plan and where that's going."
The giant-headed, fan favorite villain not only played a huge role in the revelations of "Incredible Hulk" #600, but will continue to be a major player in "Hulk" (and with the Red She-Hulk) moving forward. "Like any story, there's a trail of breadcrumbs. If you want to follow along, you can follow along. I put something in where you can read #600 and pretty much figure out what happened," Loeb said. "M.O.D.O.K.'s plan, as Samson pointed out, is to institute a Gamma Super Soldier program. What we've clearly seen is that with Samson's evolution from Doc Samson into Samson, Rick's evolution into A-Bomb...it's a successful program. We'll see what other prototypes there are and whether or not they will be successful in terms of what's happening in the coming war."