"Betty has a lot of inner turmoil right now...her Hulk self is at odds with her humanity." – Jeff Parker
We decided to do a little "post-game" commentary with Jeff Parker on "Red She Hulk" #59, which hits stores today from Marvel Comics. Among other things, Parker helps us get into Betty/Red She-Hulk's head, and chats about breakout character Machine Man...
MTV Geek: There was an interesting note I saw somewhere online, that "RSH" is kind of the villain of her own book… Is that something you’d agree with? And where is Betty, emotionally right now?
Jeff Parker: Yes, she really is. Using "Villain" in a working sense. I think the readers will identify with her and see her point, but does that make her right?
Betty has a lot of inner turmoil right now. She was trying to have this exciting adventurous life with her new power, but now her Hulk self is at odds with her humanity, and that represents what she fears for the entire world.
Geek: Machine Man is almost the star of this issue… What’s your take on him right now, and how has it changed? It seems he’s grown a bit since his appearances in Hulk.
Parker: Yes, he's a favorite of me and editor Mark Paniccia. I gave a story reason in "HULK: Mayan Rule" that his personality or consciousness may have expanded and as a result he's less robotic and bit more sarcastic. When people would write me asking why he wasn't the way Warren Ellis wrote him in "Nextwave", I'd have to explain that the tone of that book and Hulk were very different, and you can't just drop that take into something that wasn't as parody-based. But now I've been able to push Aaron Stack more that direction in a way that fits. He still connects to his original book, the same character.
Geek: Let’s get really spoilery about this… We get a glimpse of what Betty is fighting for in this issue. What can you tell us about that, and how much more will it play into the future of the book?
Parker: Betty sees General Fortean (former enemy of her father) embracing a new super soldier program that she now knows will lead to a superhuman-dominated planet. But the way she's found out about it is through a very deep secret system, so good luck convincing others. By nature, she handles it the way a Hulk might, which exacerbates the situation.
Parker: Yes, it is Tesla from S.H.I.E.L.D.! Of the ancient order. Now if we can get Dustin Weaver to do a cover.
Geek: Then there’s the little girl… What can you tell us about her, and how much more will we find out about her back-story?
Parker: You find out more about Eleanor and her role soon, it connects to the ancient order of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Geek: There’s an interesting note running through this, with The Avengers concerned that Betty is going full-on Hulk. Is that something you think the heroes of the Marvel Universe always have in the back of their head with any Hulk? That they could go bad at any moment?
Parker: Yes! I like to think everyone comes away from an encounter with Hulk shell-shocked to some degree. And his legacy is that fear extends to the rest of the Gamma Family. Even Jen Walters, I'd say.
Parker: Super Cool! Also she has flying cars and other rad spy gear. Red She is very SKYFALL.
Geek: I’m curious about the fight scene, because it was pretty boss… As a writer, how do you approach that? Do you plan out the action first, the character, the dialogue, or just throw it in a blender and see what happens?
Parker: When it's a fight scene, I plan out the action first, but you need the character to shape the story, not the plot. So I think of exciting action that could happen, and then demo-run the character through it in my head. At that point, when I'm really getting a sense of the characters, they usually bend things or diverge from what I started with. I've had stories go in an entirely different direction because I stayed open to what a character would truly do, and that's when you get a really enjoyable read.
Betty/Red-She is very much a character who drives the story, she doesn't just react to stimuli. We set her up as a rogue like the original Hulk was, but she's a Hulk with an agenda, not just being chased around and then bringing pain.
Geek: At the end of the issue, Betty once again does something pretty epically bad. We know she thinks she’s on the side of right, now, but is she going about things the wrong way? And what should we be looking forward to next time?
Parker: You've got to keep in mind one of the things that alarms her the most is herself, and she is starting to head into more volatile personal territory. The Avengers aren't being jerks trying to harsh her good times, they have real reasons to stop her. This book is walking a fine line where you may often disagree with the hero!
"Red She-Hulk" #59 hits stores today!
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