Falling in Love with the Hulk
Look back at the crucial moments throughout Bruce Banner and Betty Ross's long love story.
Today's issue of IMMORTAL HULK revisits one of the Marvel Universe's most heartbreaking romances.
Betty Ross is going through a lot. She’s having a family crisis. Her employers won’t pick up the phone. And at her door is the husband she thought was dead.
But he hasn’t come alone. He’s brought the Hulk.
For Bruce and Betty, their courtship, their marriage, their love has had a profound impact on them both. Therefore, before they meet again in the pages of IMMORTAL HULK #14, a look back just seems to make sense, don’t you think?
Meet (Sort of) Cute
When Betty’s mom died, her father, General Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross, sent her away for boarding school. She grew up there, smart but shielded, anxious to make connections, but shy. When the time came for her to leave, however, she burst into the world of adulthood ready to be the person she always had been inside. While working alongside her father, she developed a crush on a scientist by the name of Bruce Banner.
Looking to get to know the man she found handsome and intensely intelligent, her father showed up and ruined things almost immediately. Shortly after that, a gamma bomb went off, seemingly destroying Banner along with it...
But the doctor survived! Perhaps her luck had turned for the better?!
A Hulk Between Them
It had not.
Unbeknownst to Ms. Ross, the bomb blast changed Banner. Bruce no longer only lived life as an intelligent scientist, he now also had a literal monster waiting inside him. To protect her (in his mind anyway) from the truth, he pushed her away, created emotional distance.
Betty got the lay of the land in a hurry and decided not to waste her time. She would settle for a man in uniform instead—her father’s top aide, Major General Talbot.
Wedding Bells Don't Ring
Eventually, inevitably, the world came to know that Bruce Banner and Hulk were one and the same. This forced Banner to stop hiding the problem and actually get help. In time, he gained control of his green alter-ego and received a government pardon. With that weight lifted from his shoulders, and his wooing of Betty back on, he decided to ask her to be his wife.
Alas, the Leader would not let Banner or ol’ jade jaws find happiness and he enacted a plot that caused Bruce to transform right there at the altar. The reemergence of the mindless version of the Hulk sent Banner scurrying into hiding once more, and pushed Betty to an inpatient program for mental health treatment.
Sampson is a Bad Doctor
Through a series of convoluted events, Ross ended up with glass powers that were slowly killing her. Doctor Leonard Sampson hit upon a solution that would cure her and possibly Banner as well, so the Hulk came out of hiding.
The experiment proved a success and the runway seemed clear once again for Betty and Bruce to find love. But Sampson mucked the whole thing up when the allure of power proved too strong and he huffed the experiment’s aftermath to become a gamma-powered behemoth in his own right. Unable to let Sampson run wild, Banner followed him and returned to the life of having a rage-fueled strongman as an alter-ego.
M.O.D.O.K. Plays Accidental Matchmaker
After Hulk disappeared for a time and Betty got married to Talbot who then seemingly died, M.O.D.O.K. decided to kidnap Ross and subject her to gamma experiments. They worked, turning Betty into a massive winged green beast going by the unfortunate moniker “Harpy.”
Banner, of course, could not let the love of his life suffer this fate. So, as Hulk, he busted up M.O.D.O.K.’s Super Villain island, cured Betty, and saved her from the place as it imploded in on itself. He then helped save her not-actually-dead-husband from the Russians and used his brain to heal Talbot’s.
In doing so, however, Ross learned that Banner's disappearance had been triggered by Talbot sending him into a subatomic universe. Realizing she still loved Banner and could no longer love Talbot, she dissolved the marriage.
Finally, Really Married
Over the next several years, Betty and Bruce finally began dating in earnest and without interruption. After he managed to master his transformations and then literally split from Hulk, Banner proposed to Ross and she accepted. This time, not even her father showing up to shoot Rick Jones could stop the vows from taking place.
Unfortunately, the marriage would be marked by lies and tragedy from the beginning. They still managed to stay married and tried to make it work until Ross was forced to go into cryogenesis after being poisoned by the blood of Abomination in a plot to frame Hulk.
Life After Love
When General Ross became the Red Hulk, he decided to drag his comatose daughter along for the ride, making her the mind-controlled Red She-Hulk. Brainwashed and manipulated, she nearly got the upper hand on Skaar until he stabbed her. This triggered her transformation, revealing her identity. It also shook her from the brainwashing and helped identify that Doc Sampson had gone bad. She then fought alongside Hulk for the first time as Red She-Hulk and they triumphed. She also helped him reconcile with Skaar, his son.
However, she pointed out that Banner believed himself a widower and even married an alien while exiled in space. Thus, their marriage could no longer exist. They gave dating a shot again, but it fizzled with little fanfare and the two have not been in the same room as each other for years.
The Hype Box
Can’t-miss news and updates from across the Marvel Universe!