What Does Red She Hulk Mean For Female Lead Superhero Comics?

Over the weekend, Bleeding Cool reported on Majorie Liu‘s remarks that she had been setting up an all-women superhero comic book with her Astonishing X-Men artist Mike Perkins at Marvel, starring X-23, The Black Widow, Elektra and Mystique, only for it to be shot down because the beancounters didn’t believe it would sell enough.

I brought this up to Marvel executives while I was at the show, as a perfect example of why they should follow Top Cow’s lead and launch such a book with a Marvel-branded Kickstarter – Mickstarter say – like the French do, but to no avail.

And, of course, Jeff Parker had already announced Red She-Hulk. On his blog, he wrote;

I thought why not dive in with a woman lead, AND tap the very roots of Hulk? Originally he always walked the line between menace and hero. Even if Hulk liked you, that still didn’t guarantee you were safe around him once he started raging, it was like being friends with a category 4 hurricane. As the newest of the Hulks, Betty is still formative and unknown- in a perfect position to be that kind of Hulk to the world.

Though you may only know my superhero stories, I am far from someone who thinks that genre IS comics, and I know that others may fit female readers more naturally. But I don’t think we should abandon trying, because despite conventional wisdom, many do want stories about powerful women in big action- did Buffy the Vampire Slayer teach us nothing? This gender does have daydreams about throwing cars around and flattening fools with a backhand swat. The superhero model appeals to something fundamental in us- that we feel, despite appearances, we have untapped power that could break out in the right circumstances.

The HULK myth goes further- and somewhat scarier- because it acknowledges our rage. The feeling that deep inside, whether from personal history or even wilder remnants still left from our ancestors, we harbor something devastating. Feelings we have to work at constantly because in the real world, letting that out doesn’t end well. But to be Hulk is to let that wave roll right out and wash away everything in your way. If you don’t think the ladies can relate to that, you haven’t talked to any lately.

We’re working hard on this book and believe we have a dynamic that will get attention and make great stories. What it needs next is you- using your influence and persuasion to convince readers to to try it, and stores to double down. There’s some book you follow out of habit that hasn’t entertained you in a while. Let it sit out a couple of rounds and give the smashing red lady two months to convince you, that’s all I ask. Not only can it work, we’ll all be surprised what will happen next with this hitting the radar in a big way. Conventional wisdom will flip over. Suddenly more books become possible at Marvel and DC.

Tomorrow Marvel rolls out CAPTAIN MARVEL by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Dexter Soy, and it doesn’t have to stop there. I want to see VALKYRIE and SATANA follow with their own comics. STORM. TIGRA.

Also characters not quite so derivative of their male counterparts as well…

About Rich Johnston

Chief writer and founder of Bleeding Cool. Father of two. Comic book clairvoyant. Political cartoonist.

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