Warning: contains spoilers for Immortal Hulk #46
Though the Hulk usually has allies in the Avengers, when Earth’s Mightiest Heroes turn on him, he’s always had to face them alone. Even Hulk’s many stalwart allies such as Rick Jones or Doc Samson are usually either not strong enough to help, or not available when the heroes of the world turn on Marvel’s jade brawler. However, his newest adventure finally sees him receiving some support when the Avengers come for Hulk, and that support is coming from Hulk’s wife, Betty Banner.
It would be an understatement to say that Bruce and Betty Banner have had a contentious relationship in Al Ewing and Joe Bennet’s Immortal Hulk. Hulk hasn’t been the only one reinvented in the latest Hulk series, as Betty has seen a significant overhaul as well. Fans of modern Marvel comics will no doubt recognize Betty’s alter-ego of Red She-Hulk, however her appearance in Immortal Hulk actually combines that persona with a much older one, Harpy. Ever since Betty’s Harpy alter-ego resurfaced, she has had conflicted feelings about Bruce, sometimes helping him, sometimes hating him. This culminated in Betty leaving Bruce after feeling too cramped in the gamma research center Shadow Base. Now, at long last, Betty has returned, and she’s helping the Hulk when he needs it most.
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In Immortal Hulk #46, a Hulk is finally managing a few wins. After the U-Foes pelted Hulk with cosmic rays, Joe Fixit returned as one of the most powerful Hulks yet. He easily defeats them but lets himself get blown all the way to Manhatten by one of the U-Foes. There, on a ferry, readers finally see the returned Betty Ross, who smells gamma in the air, transforms into Harpy, and flies away. Joe, high off his returned strength, goes to a bar and scares the patrons, which is when Thor arrives. Ever the hothead, Thor wastes no time in assaulting Thor, eventually dragging their fight out to the streets. The Avengers tell Hulk that they just want to talk, but that a fight would be seven against one. Then, Betty arrives as Harpy to correct the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. It will be seven against two.
As the Immortal Hulk series winds up towards its conclusion, it’s thrilling to see elements that have been built up for almost fifty issues finally pay off. Bruce and Betty’s relationship has been a tense subject for sometime now, so it’s refreshing to see that, whatever their differences, Harpy is putting aside her differences with Hulk. This sets up the potential for a She-Hulk vs. She-Hulk fight, as Betty could very well clash with the Avengers’ own powerful Hulk.
Though the Avengers obviously have some heavy hitters, it’s unclear why they think they stand a chance against both Hulk and Harpy. Far back towards the beginning of Immortal Hulk, the Avengers almost failed at containing the Devil Hulk. The only reason Hulk didn’t win that fight was because of a massive laser beam fired from space. Unfortunately, that won’t be an option this time, as this fight takes place in crowded Manhatten instead of an empty plains. The Avnegers better be prepared for a fight with two of the deadliest Hulks to date.
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