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Thunderbolt Ross

General Thaddeus E. "Thunderbolt" Ross (also known as Red Hulk) is a fictional character who
appears in comic books published by Marvel Comics. Ross, the archenemy of the Hulk, is a United
States military officer, the father of Betty Ross, ex-father-in-law of Glenn Talbot, father-in-law of Dr.
Bruce Banner, and was head of the Gamma Bomb Project that turned Banner into the Hulk. After the
creation of the Hulk, Ross pursues the creature with a growing obsession, and after learning that
Banner and the Hulk are one and the same, Ross hunts Banner as well. In 2008, Ross was
transformed into the Red Hulk in order to better combat his nemesis.
He was portrayed by Sam Elliott in the film Hulk and by William Hurt in the films set in the Marvel
Cinematic Universe.
Thunderbolt Ross first appeared in The Incredible Hulk #1 (May 1962), and was created by Stan
Lee and Jack Kirby as a nemesis for the Hulk. He was a reappearing character throughout this
series. His character origin was revealed in The Incredible Hulk #291. The Red Hulk first appeared
in Hulk vol. 1 #1 (January 2008) where he was created by Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuiness, but his
identity as Ross was not revealed until later. He starred in this full series of 5 volumes. The origin of
Red Hulk was revealed in Hulk #23.
Red Hulk began appearing as a regular character in Avengers vol. 4, from issue #7 (January 2011)
through its final issue #34 (January 2013). His popularity resulted him starring as a main character in
the 2012 Thunderbolts series by Daniel Way and Steve Dillon.[1] He also guest starred in the issues
#1-3 of the 2011 series, The Avenging Spider-Man (November 2008) by Zeb Wells and Joe
Madureira as a team-up character for the main character Spider-Man.

Fictional character biography


Ross grew up in a military environment with both his father and paternal grandfather in the military.[2]
Ross is a General in the Air Force who is in charge of Bruce Banner's gamma bomb project. His
daughter, Betty, takes a liking to the young scientist, a fact which only enhances the dislike the
rough Ross has for the "weakling" scientist Banner. After Banner's transformation into the Hulk,
Ross spends years chasing the monster, becoming obsessed enough with it to commit treason by
allying himself with the Leader, MODOK and the Abomination[3] in order to destroy the
Hulk. Dismissed from the military, he shows up at Betty and Bruce's wedding with a gun, and
shoots Rick Jones. He is recruited by S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Clay Quartermain to merge with the electric
creature Zzzax, a process that gives Ross superpowers, but also makes him mentally unstable. He
is later restored to human form but retains some residual energy-generating powers.[4]
Finally the Nevermind, a mutant who drains people of their life energy, attacks Gamma Base in
search for a strong host, in this case the Hulk. After witnessing Rick Jones (who was the Hulk at that
time) and Banner heroically engaging the mutant, Ross, realizing that he has been wrong about the
Hulk being a mindless monster, saves his daughter from being slain by allowing the mutant to latch
onto him, and discharging the energy resources he retained from Zzzax. Giving his blessing to Bruce
and Betty, he dies in his daughter's arms.[5]
Ross' body is later stolen by the Leader, who uses the powers of one of his followers to resurrect
Ross. He turns him into a mindless replacement for his fallen soldier Redeemer. Ross is eventually
recovered and revived by agents of the alien Troyjan, and returns to the Air Force. He would later
come up with a more cost-effective method of confronting the Hulk when he is in his childlike stage:
active non-resistance. He and his men simply do not fire on or engage the Hulk in any way. The
Hulk, confused, does not smash and leaps away.[volume & issue needed]
Ross would make friends with Banner, but when Betty is seemingly killed due to what both Ross and
Banner believed to have been Banner's gamma-irradiated DNA interacting with hers, he once more
pursues the Hulk with a vendetta.[volume & issue needed]
Around this time, General Ryker takes over the pursuit of the Hulk. Ross is indirectly involved,
observing when Ryker mentally tortures Banner to try to figure out how the Hulk works. The Hulk
escapes from Ryker's control and after several adventures, is lost in space.[volume & issue needed]
After the Hulk returns from exile and initiates "World War Hulk", General Ross, now wearing the
stars of a full general, makes his own return, electing to bring the fight to his nemesis once more
after Iron Man is felled by the Goliath. After a failed assault on the Hulk, Ross and his men are
captured and placed in chains under the watch of Hulk's Warbound, the army he has brought back
from space. The Hulk is eventually defeated via satellite weapons that fire upon him, reverting him to
human form.[6]

Military branch
Ross' military affiliation has been inconsistently portrayed in the comics. Many early Hulk stories
depicted Ross as an Army general trying to capture or destroy the Hulk with his U.S. Army battalion,
called the "Hulkbusters". However, he is also frequently seen in an Air Force uniform, as in his first
appearance in Incredible Hulk #1. However, stories about his service during World War II portray
him as an Army officer in the U.S. Army Air Corps, as the Air Force was not a separate branch of the
Armed Forces until September 18, 1947. In a November 2010 Q&A column, then-Marvel editor-in-
chief Joe Quesada clarified that Ross is a member of the U.S. Air Force, and that inconsistencies in
his uniform can be explained via the artistic license with which artists attempt to present a more
dramatic-looking uniform, and that Ross may be a part of a special unit of the U.S. Air Force, or
the Marvel Universe's version of it, which has its own unique dress code.[7]
The Army continuity is also followed in various Hulk adaptations, such as in the
original 1966 and 1996–1998 cartoon versions of the Hulk, as well as the 2003 Ang
Lee movie, Hulk in which he is portrayed by Sam Elliott, and in the 2008 superhero movie The
Incredible Hulk, in which he is played by William Hurt. The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe:
Hulk 2004 issue officially indicates Ross to be a three-star lieutenant general in the U.S. Air Force.

Red Hulk
Red Hulk (also known as Rulk[8] or The IncREDible Hulk) was introduced in 2008 in Hulk #1.[9] The
Red Hulk was created to be an uninhibited, tactically intelligent adversary to the
Hulk.[10][11] Although Kenneth Johnson, the creator of the 1970s TV series The Incredible Hulk, had
suggested a red Hulk for that adaptation decades earlier,[12] Marvel Editor-in-Chief Joe
Quesada proposed the idea for the comics to debut a red version of the character, whose human
identity was a secret.[13] Initially, Red Hulk's identity was unknown both to the characters in the
story[14] and to the reading audience.[15]
The opening story arc of the Hulk series that premiered in 2008 established that the character is very
aggressive, as the Red Hulk murders Hulk foes the Wendigo and Abomination; destroys
the Helicarrier of the spy organization S.H.I.E.L.D.; defeats several Marvel heroes and, after causing
an earthquake in San Francisco, is finally defeated by the combined efforts of the Hulk and the
thunder god Thor. In a subsequent storyline, the Collector teams the character with other villains in a
team called the Offenders, an evil version of superhero team the Defenders, in a bid to prevent the
original Hulk from reuniting with past love Jarella.[16] In this story Red Hulk siphons the Power Cosmic
from the Silver Surfer seemingly killing him, steals his board along with Terrax' cosmic axe, and uses
the power to go on a killing spree offing Namor, Tiger Shark, Dr. Strange, Baron Mordo,
the Grandmaster and before that Terrax, a time displaced Hulk, and Psycho Man. However, when
Red Hulk reveals this to Galactus the deity swiftly takes back the Power Cosmic from him.
Subsequently, almost everyone he killed is brought back to life with no memory of the event.[17]
It is later revealed that the Red Hulk was created as part of a Super Soldier program by persons
including Doc Samson,[18] and the criminal think tank Intelligencia,[19]headed by the Hulk
foe MODOK.[20] The 2009 "Code Red" story arc[14] also made allusions to Red Hulk's real identity, and
introduced a Red She-Hulk character, when Domino identifies Red Hulk before his transformation.[21]
In the 2010 storyline "Fall of the Hulks: Gamma", Red Hulk is related in flashback to have killed
General Ross at the behest of Bruce Banner, with whom he has formed an alliance.[22] However, the
2010 "World War Hulks" storyline reveals that Red Hulk is Thunderbolt Ross himself, the Red She-
Hulk his daughter Betty, and that the Ross who was "killed" was a Life Model Decoy used to
convince the world that he had died. Red Hulk then thwarts the Intelligencia's plan to take over
the United Stateswith a Life Model Decoy of Glenn Talbot by destroying the Talbot LMD, and
attempts to take over the country himself.[6] He is thwarted by a restored Hulk (in possession of
Banner's intelligence) who beats Red Hulk mostly due to Red's exhaustion and from overheating.
Hulk tells Red Hulk that it was his idea to fake Ross' death and that he can never again resume that
identity. After imprisoning Red Hulk in the Gamma Base, Banner makes arrangements with Captain
Steve Rogers for Red Hulk to join the Avengers.[23][24]
After Captain Steve Rogers recruits Red Hulk, Red Hulk manages to stop Intelligencia's failsafe
plan, "Scorched Earth." Although Banner had claimed that he removed Red Hulk's energy-draining
ability from him because it was killing Red Hulk, Red Hulk is shown to still possess this
ability.[25] After the events of the Scorched Earth program, Red Hulk is paired up with a female Life
Model Decoy named Annie. Red Hulk is occasionally assaulted by Thunderbolt Ross' former protege
General Reginald Fortean, a former scientist given superhuman mutations by MODOK named
Zero/One, and the Indian serial killer Black Fog (a serial killer from India.[26]
Red Hulk plays a vital role in the Infinity Gem crisis of the "Heroic Age" storyline.[27] During the 2011
"Fear Itself" storyline, Red Hulk attempts unsuccessfully to stop the Thing (in the form of Angrir:
Breaker of Souls) from destroying the Avengers Tower,[28] as MODOK Superior and Black Fog
converge on both combatants during the fight. Angrir dispatches Red Hulk by knocking him out of
the city and into Vermont.[29]
As part of the 2012 Marvel NOW! relaunch, Red Hulk leads a non-government sponsored version of
the Thunderbolts.[1] This incarnation is a strike team that cleans up the messes left by Ross' military
career, but the team later decides on a new arrangement in which the team will do one mission for
Ross, then a mission for a random member.[citation needed]
After Hulk's Doc Green form depowers Rick Jones, Skaar and Betty Ross, Thunderbolt Ross starts
monitoring Hulk's movements. This eventually leads to a furious battle, in which Doc Green subdues
Red Hulk and inject him with a formula that reverts him to Thunderbolt Ross. The Army is alerted to
the confrontation. When they arrive, the Army arrests Ross for deserting his country.[30]
During the 2016 "Civil War II" storyline, it is revealed that Thunderbolt Ross is incarcerated in a
classified military prison.[31]

Powers and abilities


Thunderbolt Ross is an expert military strategist.
Marvel editor Mark Paniccia has described the Red Hulk as "absolutely uninhibited, tactically
intelligent",[10] while writer Jeph Loeb states "The Red Hulk is the kind of Hulk we haven't seen
before—a thinking, calculating, brutal weapon-toting kind of Hulk." To further distance the character
away from the original: "Everything the Green Hulk isn't, the Red Hulk is. Except, of course, for his
powers which are identical. And he looks the same, except he's red. And he's the same size. But
other than that, they're complete opposites."[11] The character has abilities almost identical to those of
the current Hulk. The character can also emit heat at will from his eyes during non-enraged periods,
and can augment power levels by absorbing various types of energy, such as gamma radiation (in
one instance causing the Hulk to revert to alter ego Bruce Banner)[20] and the Power Cosmic.[32] When
infected with Cable's techno-organic virus during the "X-Sanction" storyline, he was able to control
this heat to burn the virus out of his system.[33]Red Hulk was created through a combination of
gamma radiation and cosmic rays.[19] The satellites used to revert the Hulk to human form at the end
of World War Hulk were used to power the device used to turn Ross into the Red Hulk.[34] Unlike the
green Hulk, the Red Hulk does not revert to human form when rendered unconscious, and
his blood is a fluorescent yellow instead of green,[35] remaining that color even in human
form.[6][34] Unlike the green Hulk, who gets stronger as his rage increases, Red Hulk's body
temperature rises with his anger. Though the heat is intense enough to melt desert sand into glass, it
causes him to weaken when it becomes too intense,[35] as his physiology lacks a cooling mechanism
to deal with the excess heat.[34] Red Hulk has also been shown to have a weakness to Negative
Zoneenergy, which caused him burning pain and drained him when he attempted to absorb it.[36]

Red Hulk reception


Comics featuring the Red Hulk have sold well, but received mixed reviews. The first five issues of
the Hulk title sold out, and second printings featured new covers.[37] Issue #6 was the second best-
selling title of September 2008,[38] and issue #10 was sixth in February 2009.[39]
Augie De Blieck Jr. of Comic Book Resources gave the first six issues a positive review, describing it
as a "silly fun action romp" and a "popcorn comic". De Blieck liked Loeb's lack of subtlety when
giving out clues, saying "this is a book where anytime someone is about reveal the solution to the big
mystery, they get knocked out by a slap in the face from the Red Hulk or a machine gun to the gut".
His one criticism was that, although he liked the artwork, he would have preferred Dale Keown as
the artist.[40]
Red Hulk was listed as #41 on IGN's "Top 50 Avengers".[41] IGN reviewer Jesse Schedeen was
generally critical of the series, citing a lack of character development and the emphasis on
continuous action sequences over the ongoing question of Red Hulk's identity.[42] Schedeen also
derided the treatment of other mainstream Marvel characters within the pages of Hulk, saying about
issue #5 "The series has already treated She-Hulk and Iron Man like ragdolls who crumple under the
awesome might of Red Hulk. Now it's Thor's turn".[43] Claiming bad dialogue, poor pacing and
maltreated characters, Schedeen stated that Ed McGuinness' artwork was the only saving grace for
the title.