Another one bites the dust," as they say, or will bite the dust come July when the final issue of Jeff Parker's RED SHE-HULK will hit stores, concluding the character's ongoing series with RED SHE-HULK #67 and ending it with the current ongoing story titled 'Route 616.' With RED SHE-HULK's penultimate issue in stores tomorrow (June 5th), we started to think about how much we are going to miss her in her very own book, and we wanted not only to give the title its proper farewell, but we also wanted highlight the major changes the character has endured in the mere ten issues since her series first launched in December, 2012.
Rather than giving the character her own ongoing series, Marvel opted to allow the character to take over the previous book that was being written by Parker, HULK, which starred Thunderbolt Ross. This was probably a good move on Marvel's part because the sales of Parker's HULK series were generally pretty stable, so testing how well a Red She-Hulk solo series would do by having her take over an already stable book (in terms of sales) was probably a good business decision. And it was also convenient. The two characters (Betty and Thunderbolt Ross) have a connection that dates back to when Betty was first created in 1962 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Who better to take over Thunderbolt Ross' series than his very own daughter? The fact that Betty was the one to take over this particular title was actually a really good thing -- it made a lot of sense.
The series has also been, consistently, a very good one. Most readers who are big fans of the Hulk and Red Hulk are generally looking for action, and there was more than enough action in this series to quench the appetite of anyone looking for that. Yet, RED SHE-HULK wasn't only action packed: it was also a story that had purpose. It is a series that depicted a really strong and very independent female character that was sort of isolated from other characters in the Marvel universe. Although we did see the appearance of some of the Avengers team (like Captain Marvel, Iron Man and Captain America), generally this title was a lot more introspective in the sense that it explored Red She-Hulk's identity and the way that she copes with not only being Red She-Hulk, but also with the fact that her identity has been compromised. The story is told through the lens of Aaron Stack, also known as the Machine Man who was originally asked to take down Red She Hulk by Captain America. As the story moves forward, Red She-Hulk teams up with Machine Man to destroy the Echelon Super-Soldier Program. Together, the two embark on a journey on the run from many organizations as they seek to find more answers to their dilemma. The result is a story that is good and interesting and explores Betty from a different perspective: through the eyes of Machine Man.
One of the great things about this series was the fact that Parker took a character that had often been used as a plot device and gave her a place of her own to be her own person. Looking at Betty Ross's history as a character, she was more often used as a way to further Bruce Banner's story more than anything. In general, most of the things that happened to Betty happened because creative teams were trying to illicit a response from Bruce's character. When she became the Harpy, for example, it was more about what the effects of that were on Bruce Banner than being about Betty herself. What Parker brought to this series was the depiction of a very independent female character in her own series.
Although the series ends this July with the release of RED SHE-HULK #68, Parker did manage to do a great job writing Betty Ross in her own series and it will certainly be interesting to see where the character will show up next. What did you think of RED SHE-HULK? Are you planning to pick up the penultimate issue tomorrow?