- —Thunderbolt Ross[src]
General Thaddeus E. "Thunderbolt" Ross, the man who would become the most frequent nemesis of the superhuman monster known as the incredible Hulk, born to the Rosses, a New Hampshire family with a proud tradition of military service. As a boy, Thaddeus Ross immersed himself in the study of military history. As a teenager he learned how to fly by barnstorming at county fairs. He then attended the United States Military Academy, and did well when he graduated. His first duty station was stateside under the command of Captain Lee, an officer in the Army Air Corps. Ross had regarded Captain Lee well as a leader, and his respect was cemented when he fell in love with and eventually married Karen Lee, his daughter.
World War II
During World War II; Ross rapidly rose in rank and was a captain when he went to fight overseas in the Pacific theater of operations. It was during the war that Ross made his great reputation as a leader in combat. His troops during the war in the Pacific gave him the nickname "Thunderbolt," since, they said he "struck like a thunderbolt" when leading them into action. Ross also served for a time in Europe during and was present at the liberation of the prisoners of an infamous concentration camp. By the end of his service, Ross had become a major.
Dr. Reed Richards wrote paper showing the need to defend the country and the planet so the US government and General Edward Harrison followed his advice and formed Control. He recruited Ross, General Cecil B. Slinkard, General Lewis Haywerth, Industrialist Howard Stark and scientist; Dr. Bolivar Trask. He hoped they could monitor all future scientific progress with hopes of ending threats before they begin.
Ross was stationed at the nuclear research facility at Los Alamos, New Mexico, unless the Air Force demanded he be elsewhere due to conflict. It was here that he met nuclear physicist Brian Banner, the father of Robert Bruce Banner, with whom Ross would work years later. When North Korea invaded South Korea in an attempt to unify the Korean peninsula under communism, the United States and multiple other nations intervened in what would become the longest-lasting war in American history, the Korean War. Ross was a colonel during his first tour in Korea, and eventually became a flag officer in the US Air Force, becoming a brigadier general by the time of the 1953 ceasefire. "Thunderbolt" Ross gloried in combat, so he was dissatisfied with the Air Force's interest in him managing the New Mexico research facility before and after the Korean War, dismissing such an assignment as a "desk job". He eventually came to hold the rank of lieutenant general.
Ross's wife, Karen, bore him only one child, his daughter Elizabeth "Betty" Ross. Karen Ross died when Betty was in her early teens. General Ross, now in command of Desert Base, New Mexico, a missile base and nuclear research site, believed (appropriately) that it was not the right place to raise a young girl and had her enrolled in a boarding school far away. After graduating, Betty returned to New Mexico in order to be close to her father, who was now her last living blood relative.
Bruce Banner, a genius in nuclear physics, was sent by the United States government to Desert Base to oversee construction and test his invention, the Gamma Bomb, a nuclear weapon that produced a high gamma radiation output. General Ross resented the fact that Banner, a civilian, was supervisor of the project. Moreover, the general had contempt for the unathletic, intellectual Banner for failing to live up to Ross's own vision of true manhood. Making matters worse for Ross was the growing attraction developing between Banner and Betty, whom he hoped would marry a military officer.
During the initial test of the Gamma Bomb, Banner was exposed to intense, massive gamma radiation, which, due to an unknown genetic factor in his body did not kill him, but instead caused him to transform sporadically into the superhumanly strong monster known as the Hulk. Although the details varied over the years, the Hulk usually possessed little of Banner's memories and intelligence, and was easily enraged. Hence, the Hulk was considered a menace, and Ross began his long career of hunting the Hulk.
At first, Banner managed to keep secret the fact that he was the Hulk; his sole confidante was his young friend Rick Jones, who had agreed to help Bruce on the basis that it had ultimately been his fault for the Hulk, as he had been on the practice range during the bomb's detonation due to a peer pressure dare. Indeed, since the Hulk looked radically different from Banner, there was no reason for anyone to suspect that Banner physically transformed into the Hulk. However, Banner's mysterious disappearances and reappearances under strange circumstances, all due to his recurring transformations, led Ross to suspect Banner of treasonous activities and of a possible alliance with the Hulk itself. To prove his suspicions about Banner, Ross brought Major Glenn Talbot to Desert Base as its new security chief. Talbot soon took an intense dislike to Banner as well, and shared Ross' suspicions of him. Talbot also became attracted to Betty Ross, and the general hoped that she would shift her affections from Banner to the major. The Pentagon designated Ross as head of "Operation Hulk," the project to find, kill, or capture the powerful menace.
Eventually, wrongly convinced that the Hulk was dead, Rick Jones revealed to Talbot and to Betty Ross that Bruce Banner was the Hulk. Shortly afterwards, Betty and Talbot witnessed Banner's transformation, and Ross and the general populace learned of Banner's dual identity.
Hunting the Hulk
Ross nonetheless continued his pursuit of the Hulk, and Banner became a hunted fugitive. Ross contended that he could not be certain whether or not Banner could control his actions as the Hulk, and that hence Banner might be an intentional menace to national security. (In fact, Banner had virtually no control over his transformations or over his actions as the Hulk.)
Ross enjoyed his hunt of the Hulk since it meant he had returned to combat, which he preferred to his "desk job" the Air Force had given him. At times over the years Ross succeeded in capturing the Hulk or Banner, but more often the Hulk thwarted the general's attempts to capture or kill him, or, even if captured, the Hulk soon managed to escape. Embittered by these failures, Ross grew even more determined to put an end to the menace of the Hulk. The general's determination eventually became a fanatical obsession.
Also, over the years, Ross found himself in conflict with other superhuman foes, perhaps most notably The Leader and The Abomination, the latter being another human being given superhuman strength and monstrous form by gamma radiation. Invariably, Banner defeated such menaces, either in his human identity or as the Hulk. Although Ross continued to regard the Hulk as a menace, he gained a grudging respect for Banner.
At one point Banner gained the ability to turn into the Hulk while retaining his own personality, intelligence, and memory. No longer considered a menace, Banner succeeded in winning General Ross's reluctant approval for his intention to marry Betty. However, the wedding ceremony, held at the house where Betty was born, was disrupted by the Leader and his ally, the Rhino. Before Bruce and Betty could be pronounced man and wife, the Leader used his technology to transform Banner back into a Hulk with a savage personality.
Subsequently, the United States government constructed a special site for operations to kill or capture the Hulk, "Hulkbuster Base," located in the New Mexican desert. As the man most experienced with directing military operations against the Hulk, General Ross was given command of the base and to the troops assigned to it, known as United States Air Force Mobile Combat Force One, more familiarly called the Hulkbusters. The overall military operation to capture the Hulk was now known as Operation: Greenskin, after the color of the Hulk's body. Neither Ross nor the U.S. government now wished to kill the Hulk; if possible, Operation: Greenskin's mandate was to capture the Hulk and to find a means to cure him, returning Banner permanently to human form. Ross contended that by studying the Hulk, scientists would learn a great deal about the effects of radiation upon the human body, which would bring about major medical breakthroughs for normal human beings as well.
Although Ross claimed he still wanted a cured Banner as his son-in-law, he was greatly pleased when Betty married Glenn Talbot instead, since she thought that she would never be able to have Banner as her husband.
Around this time, General Ross made an illegal bargain with the Abomination that he would have the latter cured and freed if the Abomination captured the Hulk for him. The Abomination failed in this task, but Ross would return to this scheme twice more in the future.
With the permission of the Canadian government, General Ross and a team of Hulkbusters pursued the Hulk into Canada. In the Arctic Circle, Ross was captured by the Gremlin, a Soviet agent who headed a secret base hidden on Canadian territory. Major Talbot and Vietnam war veteran Air Force Colonel Jack D. Armbruster led the Air Force team that rescued Ross from the Soviet prison to which he was sent. However, Talbot was captured by the Soviets, and the Americans thought him to be dead.
Shocked at losing her husband, Betty blamed his apparent death on Ross, thereby causing her father great anguish. Moreover, in part due to embarrassment over his capture by the Soviets and in part because he struck a reporter, Ross was relieved of his command of Project: Greenskin. Colonel Armbruster succeeded Ross as commander of Hulkbuster Base. Ross was now officially "on leave" but often accompanied Armbruster on Hulkbuster missions.
Armbruster was eventually killed while saving Ross and the President of the United States from an assassination attempt. Hulkbuster Base was destroyed by the so-called Devastator, and General Ross and S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Clay Quartermain led a team that rescued 'Talbot' from the Soviets.
Hulkbuster Base was reconstructed as Gamma Base, and Ross was again put in command of it. Gamma Base was intended more for research into the effects of gamma radiation and a cure for the superhuman creatures this radiation had created; the capture of the Hulk was only a secondary goal. Nonetheless, Ross was still obsessed with capturing the Hulk. This obsession and Ross's continuing failure to end the menace of the Hulk permanently caused Ross to suffer a nervous breakdown. Ross was placed on medical leave and was cared for by Doc Samson, a psychiatrist. Meanwhile, Betty and Glenn Talbot were divorced since she realized she was still in love with Bruce Banner.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff promoted Glenn Talbot to the rank of colonel and made him the new commander of Gamma Base. Talbot was determined to kill the Hulk, in part in revenge for the end of his marriage to Betty but then, due to the repeated failures to stop the Hulk, the U.S. Congress closed down operations at Gamma Base. Refusing to end his pursuit of the Hulk, Talbot committed treason by stealing the "War Wagon," a powerfully-armed flying vehicle, and used it to hunt down the Hulk himself. Soon afterwards, Talbot was killed in combat with the Hulk.
Apparently fully recovered, General Ross returned to active duty, bent on avenging his protégé Talbot's death, as well as getting revenge on the Hulk for his nervous breakdown. The President of the United States was unable to get Congress to grant Ross manpower and funding for hunting the Hulk, but made him an adviser at the Pentagon on matters relating to the dangers posed by the Hulk.
Once again, Banner became capable of maintaining his own personality, intelligence, and memory when he transformed into the Hulk. As a result, the President pardoned the Hulk for all his past offenses.
General Ross now commanded the military's Project Earthfall, a research operation involving cryogenic facilities in which the Abomination was now held in suspended animation. Realizing that Betty was still in love with Banner, and refusing to believe that the Hulk was no longer a menace, Ross planned to commit treason by freeing the Abomination and sending him once more to kill the Hulk. Before Ross could do so, the Project was invaded by MODOK, the former head of the subversive organization AIM, who intended to free the Abomination to use as an ally against AIM itself. Ross and Modok came to an agreement to cooperate in freeing the Abomination.
Subsequently, the Abomination attacked the Hulk but failed to defeat him. The Hulk succeeded in getting Ross to admit that he had allowed Modok to free the Abomination. Overhearing Ross's confession, Betty Ross was appalled. She reaffirmed her love for Banner and accused her father of treason.
Overwhelmed by shame, Ross nearly committed suicide at his office in the Pentagon. But he decided against killing himself and instead disappeared from sight. In his absence, he was dishonorably discharged from the armed forces. Ross became a drifter, sinking increasingly further into insanity.
Bruce Banner, apparently permanently cured of becoming the Hulk, proposed to Betty Ross, and she accepted. But in the midst of their wedding ceremony, the former General Ross appeared, wielding a gun and demanding that the marriage not take place. When Banner's best man, Rick Jones, tried to stop Ross, the former general shot him. Courageously, Betty Ross confronted her father and persuaded him to let the wedding proceed. Bruce Banner and Betty Ross were at last married, Jones soon recovered from the gunshot wound, and Thaddeus Ross was hospitalized and placed under psychiatric care.
Ross's old ally, Clay Quartermain, enabled Ross to participate in a S.H.I.E.L.D. experiment to transform him into a superhuman being by infusing some of the "living electricity" that composed the sentient entity called Zzzax into Ross's body. But the experiment went awry, and Ross's consciousness and psionic energy was absorbed by Zzzax, which then broke free. Strangely, perhaps because of the strength of Ross's hatred for the Hulk, Ross's mind took control of Zzzax, submerging Zzzax's own personality. Meanwhile, Ross's original physical body remained alive, but all of that body's independent thought processes had ceased; only involuntary functions of the nervous system (such as those controlling the heartbeat) continued.
Controlled by Ross's mind, Zzzax tried unsuccessfully to kill both Bruce Banner and Rick Jones, who had recently become a Hulk-like monster himself. The Ross persona had apparently again become unbalanced by its absorption into Zzzax, and when Banner forced Ross to recognize that the latter's mind now occupied a monster's form, the Ross persona was horrified. Still controlled by Ross's consciousness, Zzzax fled.
Eventually, Ross's mind returned to his original physical body, bringing much of Zzzax's living electricity with it. But now a new menace had come to Gamma Base: a grotesque, unnamed mutant, which seized upon the heads of humans victims and drained life-energy from their bodies, killing them. Ross watched as Rick Jones, in his Hulk-like form, tried unsuccessfully to defeat the mutant, which menaced Betty. Then, to save Betty, Bruce Banner hurled himself into the mutant's path, and thereby himself became the mutant's victim. On seeing the Hulk's bravery and Bruce Banner's self-sacrifice, Ross realized that he had gravely misjudged them both. The mutant rendered Bruce Banner unconscious without draining him of all his life energy, and then headed towards Betty. This time, Thaddeus Ross hurled himself into the mutant's path, and the creature took hold of his head. But since Ross still possessed much of Zzzax's electrical energy, the mutant could not take control of Ross's mind, and Ross released all of Zzzax's energy, killing the mutant by electrocution.
But the strain of Ross's heroic act was too much for his aged body. Telling Betty he had been wrong about Bruce and that he himself loved her, Thaddeus Ross died in his weeping daughter's arms.
Back to Life
Ross' body was later stolen by the Leader, who used the powers of one of his followers to resurrect Ross, turning him into a mindless replacement for his fallen soldier Redeemer. Ross was eventually recovered and revived by agents of the alien Troyjan, and returned to the Air Force.
He later came up with a more cost-effective method of confronting the Hulk when he was in his childlike stage: active non-resistance. He and his men simply did not fire on or engage the Hulk in any way. The Hulk, confused, did not smash, and simply leapt away. Ross made friends with the Hulk's human side, which did not last past the apparent death of Ross' daughter.
Secretly Becoming the Red Hulk
Ross' daughter Betty was later killed by Abomination, and the Hulk was exiled off of Earth by a group of superheroes. The grief of his daughter's death, along with lacking a purpose now that there was no Hulk on Earth to fight, led Thaddeus to spiral into alcoholism and depression. On the night that Captain America was assassinated, Ross was watching the events on a television in a bar when suddenly all of the patrons in the bar except for Ross were launched into a trance, and Ross was approached by the villains M.O.D.O.K and the Leader. The two interlopers told Ross that Hulk would return to Earth sometime soon and seek vengeance on those who had exiled him. Using revenge upon the Hulk and a promise that they would bring his daughter back to life as leverage, the two villains eventually convinced Ross to help them with their plans. Thus, when Hulk eventually did return and initiated the event "World War Hulk," Ross helped fight in the battle against Hulk while communicating with his new allies. With the help of M.O.D.O.K., the Leader, and a previous friend of the Hulk's named Doc Samson, the quartet used satellites to siphon energy from the Hulk and even recover Bruce Banner's body in the aftermath of the battle using Life-Model Decoys posing as S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. Transporting Banner's body away to a secret base, Ross' three allies used the body and the energy they had siphoned from the Hulk to turn Ross into the monstrous Red Hulk—a red-skinned beast with similar size and strength to that of the regular Hulk, but with the ability for Ross to consciously transform between his human form and Red Hulk at any time he chose.
To avoid suspicion from his disappearance, Ross and his villainous conspirators, who were calling themselves "the Intelligencia," replaced Ross with a Life-Model Decoy of himself to perform his regular life responsibilities. In the meantime, Ross as the Red Hulk went on missions directed by the Intelligencia. Red Hulk was first officially seen by the public crossing the Canadian wilderness, where he was attacked by and ultimately killed a beastly Wendigo. The government detected the Red Hulk in the Bering Strait when a satellite detected the seismic activity of the Hulk landing on the ground. Red Hulk made it Dimitri, Russia, where he murdered the Abomination as vengeance for the death of his daughter.
The supposed "Thaddeus Ross" (not known to be a decoy) was one of many experts called to investigate the appearance of the Red Hulk. From New York, inside a newly commissioned S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier, the decoy Ross reluctantly called on the expertise of Bruce Banner to help investigate. Banner developed a report on the Red Hulk, but before he could reach the floating base the Red Hulk attacked the Helicarrier and destroyed it in a crash landing. While onboard, Red Hulk erased all files on the original Hulk, using a sophisticated computer virus. After this attack, Red Hulk headed to Gamma Base in Death Valley, Nevada to stop a rogue experiment from his bosses, the Intelligencia, who had turned Rick Jones into a giant, blue gamma monster called A-Bomb. After squaring off against A-Bomb, Red Hulk had to fight a group of robotic imitations of Harpy as well as the original Hulk who all appeared on scene. During this fighting, Uatu the Watcher came down to Earth to watch the Hulks battle, but Red Hulk began pummeling this interlocutor until the green Hulk stopped him.
Superheroes at the site of the Helicarrier crash unsuccessfully tried to figure out the true identity of this new Red Hulk, while meanwhile the Red Hulk defeated the green Hulk in battle and dragged his body to the top of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Boasting of his strength, Red Hulk was interrupted by Thor who came down to battle him. However, Red Hulk managed to gain the upper hand, and the two battled all the way to the Moon, where Red Hulk finally defeated Thor, left his body on the other planet, and leapt back to Earth in one jump. Red Hulk caused an earthquake in San Francisco with his return impact on Earth, which led the real Hulk, She-Hulk, A-Bomb, the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, and the X-Men to all arrive and investigate. Thor then also returned, stated his anger, and promptly defeated Red Hulk in a few blows. Thor was about to slay him, but was stopped by A-Bomb, who told him that Hulk must be the one to defeat Red Hulk. The green Hulk and Red Hulk then engaged in combat, and it seemed that the Red Hulk was gaining the upper hand until he suddenly overheated and became very dizzy. This allowed the Hulk to defeat Red Hulk. As the other heroes left, Doc Samson and Thaddeus Ross' Life-Model Decoy appeared on the scene and kidnapped Rick Jones (just as he transformed back from A-Bomb into his human form) to keep him from nearly revealing Red Hulk's true identity. They also approached the knocked out Red Hulk and expressed their disappointment in his inability to kill the original Hulk, informing him that as a result he was no longer supported by the Intelligencia and was on his own from that point on.
Not much time later, She-Hulk gathered Thundra and other women to form a new team of Lady Liberators in an effort to apprehend the Red Hulk near Mount Rushmore. Their battle with Red Hulk accidentally destoyed the sculpture of Lincoln's face, but the women were seemingly victorious. However, after most of the group left, and Red Hulk revealed that he had played possum, and forged a partnership with Thundra.
To settle a bet with the Grandmaster, the Collector teamed up Red Hulk with Tiger Shark, Baron Mordo, and Terrax against Hulk, Namor, Doctor Strange, and Silver Surfer. Eager for revenge on his counterpart, Red Hulk agreed to take part in the fight, dubbing his team "The Offenders". He killed everyone and then went after Galactus. When Red Hulk came to Galactus, he tried to attack him, but Galactus was merely insulted by his blasphemy and took away the Power Cosmic from him. He then sent Red Hulk back and threatened to retaliate by destroying the Earth next. Tired of taking orders from Grandmaster, Ross killed him. Before he died, he brought the Defenders and Offenders back to life, and the Defenders confronted Red Hulk. Red Hulk decided to show the Hulk the dead body of Jarella, breaking the Hulk's heart, which gave the Red Hulk great satisfaction.
Afterward, Banner was somehow captured by AIM, and was detained underneath Gamma Base to be used to create a Gamma irradiated super soldier program behind Red Hulk, headed by M.O.D.O.K. and backed by General Ross. The plot was uncovered by She-Hulk, who was informed by a short haired Doc Samson. Jennifer recruited reporter Ben Urich to help uncover the truth, who in turn recruited Peter Parker to aid in photography. As they infiltrated the underground base, Samson revealed he was brainwashed by M.O.D.O.K. and revealed a long haired alter ego, who assaulted She-Hulk and alerted AIM and Red Hulk to their presence, fortunately Spider-Man appeared and began to fight him.
The battle soon interrupted the tank containing Banner, causing him to transform into the Hulk. The Hulk attacked his doppelganger with the aid of Spider-Man. As the battle escalated, the Hulk body slammed his enemy into a Gamma generator in the base. Tired of their endless battles, the Red Hulk totally absorbed the radiation that powered the Hulk. As the base reached critical mass the defenseless Bruce Banner was rescued by a now intelligent A-Bomb. Red Hulk managed to catch up to Ben Urich and warned him that if one word saw print, he would kill everyone at the Front Line in one murderous rampage.
After finding out that Domino had witnessed Red Hulk transforming from his human form, General Thunderbolt Ross and Doc Samson gave the Red Hulk his team of mercenaries dubbed "Code Red" (consisting of Punisher, Deadpool, Thundra, Elektra, and Crimson Dynamo XII) to hunt her down within 24 hours. When Red Hulk ended up blinded by Wolverine, he was rescued by the Red She-Hulk who was wearing a ripped version of Domino's outfit and wielding Elektra's Twin Sai. Red Hulk then fought Red She-Hulk when she double-crossed him. Taking the battle up to a roof, Red She-Hulk then managed to throw Red Hulk off the roof, postponing the battle.
World War Hulks
The Ross LMD later confronted Red Hulk whilst wearing Redeemer armor, and was subsequently destroyed, an effort by Banner and Red Hulk to remove the face of the Intelligencia's planned takeover of America. it was later revealed that Red Hulk apparently kills General Ross at the behest of Bruce Banner, with whom he has formed an alliance.
Red Hulk made an apparent meeting with General Ross that concluded with the General's death (later revealed to be a ruse) when he showed up in the Redeemer armor, intending to kill the red giant. After the memorial service, Red Hulk met with his new ally who appeared to have orchestrated Ross' death all along, Bruce Banner. However, when the new Frightful Four attacked the Fantastic Four in the Baxter Building, Red Hulk came to their rescue. He managed to save everyone inside even though Mister Fantastic was kidnapped. He later goes out to help the X-men but fails at that also. After that he went to the Intelligencia's base and attempted to stop them. He failed when he was defeated by Hulkpool and the Hulked Out Heroes. During this battle, Ross found himself facing off with Red She-Hulk, where, when reverted to human form, he revealed to be Ross to those present, with Red She-Hulk quickly being revealed as his daughter Betty.
After draining the Leader of his powers, Ross destroyed the LMD of Talbot and, mad with power, took over the White House, leading into a confrontation with his old enemy, the true Incredible Hulk. Ross grappled with Banner and attacked him with the force of a nuclear explosion, but the battle ended when the Hulk knocked Ross out with a thunderclap.
After his defeat at the hands of the Hulk, Ross was imprisoned in Gamma Base. Steve Rogers, who had succeeded Norman Osborn after his failed Siege of Asgard, managed to recruit Ross once his sanity returned. Banner told Ross that they had removed his energy draining ability after discovering that it was killing him. He was released to aid against the Intelligencia's contingency plan; Scorched Earth. During this he discovered that he still possessed his absorption ability, though Banner insisted he had not been lying when he said that it was killing Ross; in truth, it burned out his ability to transform back into his human form, and now he can only remain as the Red Hulk.
Ross assisted the Avengers in their fight against the Hood, who was hunting for the Infinity Gems. Ross himself wound up wielding the Power Gem for a time. Afterwords, Rogers invited him to join the Avengers. His teammates neither trusted him nor knew his identity, but their faith in Rogers was enough for his membership to be uncontested.
Enter the Villains
After Ross had stopped Scorched Earth, a new threat emerged: M.O.D.O.K. Superior, a clone of the original designed to be free of any disadvantaging human traits the original might have had. Meanwhile, the Red Hulk was introduced to the Life-Model Decoy staff of Gamma Base, particularly Annie.
Ross found himself assaulted by General Fortean, his former protege who had started to hunt the Red Hulk out of the belief that he had killed Ross. Ross was horrified, seeing his friend going down the same destructive path that he had gone down years ago. He attempted to reveal his identity to Fortean but failed. It was then that Fortean injected him with nanites.
These nanites allowed Fortean not only to track the Red Hulk, but could detect when he shifted into his human form. Upon detecting the transformation, the nanites would administer a lethal shock to Ross, killing him. This forced Ross to stay awake, as he often reverted to his human form while asleep. He then was assaulted Zero/One and her new ally Black Fog. Zero/One had been present at the site of Red Hulk's first deployment with Steve Rogers, and was transformed due to his actions. Now a machine hybrid, Zero/One viewed the Red Hulk as the main obstacle to her ambitions. She created Black Fog to deal with him.
Meanwhile, the Watcher Uatu watched the planet destroyer named Omegex emerged in deep space. Omegex detected the traces of Red Hulk's energy signal on Uatu from the punch he had received and tracked this signature to Earth. At the same time, the Red Hulk had been sent into space to deal with a threat. As such, Omegex did not attack Earth. Ross found himself sent through a wormhole, to the planets Tiran and Randaa.
Landing on Tiran, Ross found himself imprisoned and forced in gladiatorial service. Recognizing the parallel to Banner's similar experience, Ross formed an alliance with a doctor in the Tiranean king's service. He killed the King Warka, and was surprised to find this made him the new king. This almost gave him rights to the royal wives, which he appeared to indulge. When the natives of Randaa attacked, Ross organized a counterattack and gained control of their government too. He left the planets, hoping the lack of kings would allow the natives to find peace. Traveling back through the wormhole, he found the remains of his disintegrating, and the Watcher Uravo told him it had been an illusion designed to delay Omegex. However, Ross insisted it had really happened.
While tracking energy anomalies, Ross came across a creature he knew well: Zzzax. The energy being had been upgraded by M.O.D.O.K. Superior, who revealed himself to Ross. M.O.D.O.K. had captured Annie, and Ross fought bravely to save her. He turned Zzzax against his master using the old control techniques. M.O.D.O.K. retreated with Zzzax, and Annie was rescued unharmed.
When the Serpent was freed by Skadi, he began a world-wide assault on Midgard. One of his most powerful tools was the Worthy, citizens of Midgard transformed by mystical hammers into hosts of the Serpent's greatest servants. Amongst those transformed was the Thing, who became Angrir, Breaker of Souls.
Angrir assaulted Avengers Tower. As the Avengers were deployed worldwide, only one remained to defend the tower; the Red Hulk. Though he ultimately failed and the Tower was destroyed, his brave fight against Angrir earned him great respect. Wolverine in particular believe this 'proved' his Avenger status.
After the Serpent's invasion, Ross and Annie made their way to the former's childhood home in New Hampshire. Whilst investigating, Omegex finally found Ross and attacked him. The fight quickly carried across state lines to Boston. Despite Ross' best efforts, he could gain no edge against Omegex. His life was spared by the surprising intervention of Black Fog.
Annie, meanwhile, had been mysteriously spared by Omegex. The Watcher named Uravo revealed herself to Annie and took her to Boston. She revealed that Omegex considered the Red Hulk a unique life-form and as such it would not aim to destroy Earth. However, General Fortean entered the fight and endangered the rest of the populace. Zero/One, who no longer wished to kill Red Hulk, introduced herself to Uravo and Annie and at the latter's urging took Ross out of the fight. Hoping to understand Ross, she viewed events from his life.
At Ross' urging he was returned to the fight. Attempting to absorb the Omegex's energies, Ross instead found himself disabled. Zero/One took him through another trip through his past but failed to find anything that convinced her of humanity's usefulness. Deactivating the nano-mines Fortean had planted in his brain, Zero/One let Ross return a final time to the fight. Assuming death awaited him, Ross made Uravo promise to keep Annie safe from Omegex. Uatu arrived to observe the event. Thaddeus Ross reverted to his human form, intending to die a human man; instead, Omegex dissipated.
Uatu explained that the transformation made the Red Hulk's energy signature vanish, convincing Omegex that his target had perished. His task completed, he returned to where he came from. This had been Uatu's plan all along, and by exploiting loopholes he had broken none of the Watchers' non-intervention rules. Though this failed to convince Zero/One of humanity's value, it allowed her assistant, Jacob, to deliver a journal on Zero/One to Annie. Ross, overjoyed, embraced Annie happily.
Hulk of Arabia
After a fight with Fortean, Ross returned to the camp he had with Annie. Sorting through Fortean's transmissions Ross discovered the death of Will Krugauer, an old friend who had left the military to work with the private security group Skytower. Krugauer had been killed fighting in the Middle East. Enraged, Ross charged right into the war-torn region where he had died; an area of Qatar which was in the midst of a revolution. There Ross discovered that the rebels had super-advanced tech.
The Secret Avengers arrived, intending to take Ross home to avoid an incident. Ross resisted and they clashed in a fight. During the fight the one known as 'Arabian Knight' entered the fray. Steve Rogers appeared and ended the conflict. The Arabian Knight revealed that the source of the weapons was the arms-dealer and separatist Dagan Shah. Ross was assigned Machine Man as a partner and was allowed to infiltrate Sharzhad, Shah's domain. They were soon attacked by what appeared to be the mystical manticore. Red Hulk and Machine Man dispatched the manticore, but it poisoned Ross, forcing him to revert to human form to heal. Ross and Machine Man briefly discussed Dr. Abel Stack, before hitting an invisible force wall. Machine Man removed the illusion cast on the wall, allowing Ross to see beyond it. He behold a flourishing and beautiful city. Sharzhad had been terraformed.
The Arabian Knight arrived and guided into into Sharzhad. He revealed himself as Dagan Shah, the Sultan Magus, and began to encapsulate Ross and Machine Man in crystalline structures as he had done to the real Arabian Knight. After Shah left to negotiate Sharzhad's status with the Arab League, Machine Man was able to free Ross and himself. Machine Man detected a power source below them, and so Ross broke the floor open.
As they fell, Ross questioned Machine Man on the minds of androids; particularly, if they could dream or not. They reached an otherworldly complex, a portal to a microcosm of another cosmos. An AI system revealed the origins of the Sultan Magus' powers. A failed Rigellian colonization attempt left a great source of power dormant on Earth. This power was transferred to Shah, transforming him and giving him an understanding of Rigellian technology. Ross determined that Dagan Shah was worth taking out just as the Sultan Magus himself arrive.
Shah easily overpowered Ross and sent him spirally toward a portal to Rigellian space. He was only saved by the timely intervention of Machine Man. Shah once again gained the upper hand but was interrupted by Arabian Knight, who proceeded to cut off Shah's arms. As he reattached them Machine Man was able to engineer an escape from the inner sanctum. While Red Hulk and the Sultan Magus, General Fortean arrived. He revealed that Sharzhad had been formally recognized as an independent nation. The Sultan Magus taunted the Red Hulk before forcing him out of his country.
Red Hulk then made an alliance with Venom, X-23 (who was there seeking vengeance on whoever had stolen her blood), and Ghost Rider (who noticed the presence of Blackheart). They each fought their Antitheses until they were finally killed. Ross was killed by The Evangelist. In Hell, Mephisto offered the heroes a new chance to live in exchange for defeating Blackheart. They managed to get the Spirit of Vengeance, which had been trapped by Blackheart, and wanted to get it to Blaze, so he would become Ghost Rider again. During the battle, Red Hulk and Venom were thrown away by Blackheart, Flash gave the symbiote to Red Hulk and it bonded with him as well as the Spirit, thus becoming the new Ghost Rider.
Blackheart was defeated when Ghost Rider used a mirror which creates Antithesis, being defeated by his. Meanwhile, Flash and X-23 were trying to help Johnny Blaze to return Hell from the dimensional portal and destroy it. When Las Vegas returned to normal, Red Hulk returned the symbiote to Flash and the Spirit of Vengeance to Alejandra. When the Secret Avengers arrived, Red Hulk convinced Cap to make him trust Flash to control the symbiote. However, Hellstorm noted a Hell-Mark that seemingly only he could see on the chests of Red Hulk, Venom, and X-23.
Clash with the Eternals
While fighting a genetically engineered Hydra created by Zero/One, Rulk was being watched by the Eternals to know what to make of him, a heroic being or an enemy. After the battle was over, Sersi who was on site asked about what was going on, however, Red Hulk could see she was not a human and thought she was a spy sent by Zero/one. Sersi assured him she was not and as he was letting her hand go he was attacked by Ikaris who believed he was attacking Sersi. Following a short battle that was stopped by the volcano activating, the Eternals returned to their city after being summoned by Zuras who now seemed to view the Red Hulk as an enemy.
After being cured from brain damage with the Extremis virus, the Hulk developed a new super-genius persona called "Doc Green." He set out to eliminate all the other Gamma-powered people in the world, and devised a cure. Once Doc Green depowered Rick Jones, Skaar and Betty Ross, Thunderbolt started monitoring Hulk's moves. He found Doc Green in San Francisco, and engaged him in combat. Doc Green tried to inject Ross with the cure in the middle of the fight, but Red Hulk broke the needle. After having his arm broken by Ross, Doc Green lured him to a portal to his base, the Beehive. There, Doc Green took the time to scan Red Hulk for data before teleporting him back elsewhere.
The following days, Ross made the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository his base, so he could be ready and absorb its radiation in case Doc Green found him. Doc Green ultimately found Ross, with Deadpool's help. He also used the merc's services for another purpose, when Doc Green confronted the Red Hulk, Deadpool shot Ross' ear with a bullet that delivered a compound that interfered with his ability to absorb energy. After a furious battle, Doc Green was finally able to subdue the Red Hulk, and inject him with the cure, reverting him to his human form. The army was alerted to the confrontation, and when they arrived, they arrested Ross for deserting his country. Ross was subsequently jailed in a classified military prison.
Working with the Power Elite and Daughters of Liberty
During Hydra's take-over of the American government, General Ross led a cell of resistors against Hydra. Because of this, he was paroled following Hydra's downfall as part of an entire program set up for Hydra resistors with shady pasts. He started working for the government again, but additionally became part of a secret cabal of influence brokers called the Power Elite.
After the collapse of S.H.I.E.L.D., Ross was brought in to ensure its assets didn't fall into the wrong hands and obtained an advanced LMD, modeling it after himself. Suspicious of fellow Power Elite member Alexa Lukin, Ross began investigating her, leading to Lukin hiring the Foreigner to kill him. Ross used the LMD as a decoy and continued his investigation, while Captain America was framed for his apparent murder.
Because Ross had briefly been bonded to the Venom symbiote, Carnage - who was trying to accumulate as many symbiote codices as possible in order to revive the dark god Knull - dug up the LMD and devoured its spine. The Hulk - concerned that Ross had been resurrected by the malevolent cosmic entity called the One Below All - located the LMD in a mass grave along with the similarly-mutilated corpses of countless other people who had bonded to symbiotes and called it in, ensuring that the LMD was returned to its grave.
His survival only known to a few individuals such as Black Widow, Ross was content to let the world believe him to be deceased and began covertly aiding the Daughters of Liberty and their allies in their fight against Selene Gallio; though he eventually revealed his survival to the team.
Return of the Red Hulk
When Ross was captured by the Power Elite, he was tortured by Crossbones. During the attack by Captain America and his allies, Crossbones and Alexa Lukin left Cutthroat to finish the job. Ross begged for Cutthroat to continue hurting him. Cutthroat did and to his surprise, Ross suddenly regained his ability to become the Red Hulk while maintaining his hair color and moustache. Red Hulk defeated Cutthroat and downed many of the Power Elite's aircrafts. When he confronted Captain America, Red Hulk saluted him.
"Thunderbolt" Ross currently possesses no super human abilities, after being injected with a cure for his Gamma-derived mutations. This was undone due to the tortures at the hands of Crossbones and Cutthroat.
- Transformation: Red Hulk will not transform between forms without consciously willing it. For example when he was knocked out by Hulk, A-Bomb, and Thor, he did not revert for hours even though he was unconscious. Though he has sometimes changed back when asleep.
- Superhuman Strength: Red Hulk possesses vast superhuman strength. He can augment it by absorbing radiation. Red Hulk has performed some extraordinary feats of strength which include over-powering and killing the Abomination with relative ease, defeating an Odinforce-powered Thor in a one-on-one fight (though it should be noted that Thor was unprepared for him as he defeated Ross immediately after returning to Earth and later in a subsequent fight when the Red Hulk sought his aid and did not fight in earnest), punching out the Watcher, and killing an Elder of the Universe. In a fight with the original Hulk, the narration describes the Red Hulk striking with the force of a nuclear explosion.
- Superhuman Leaping: Red Hulk's overdeveloped legs allows him to jump over vast distances. In his fight with Thor he was able to leap past the Earth's atmosphere, requiring Mjolnir only to cover the rest of the distance to the moon and then leapt from the moon back to Earth unaided.
- Regenerative Healing Factor: Red Hulk possesses a Healing Factor similar to that of the Green Hulk, although it's noticeably less powerful, as it took a considerable period of time to just restore his sight after Wolverine slashed his eyes.
- Retarded Aging: Red Hulk does not age because of his healing factor that regenerates his cells and that he is powered by gamma and cosmic energy, but when he was Ross he still aged.
- Superhuman Stamina: Red Hulk's stamina is nigh-limitless and can constantly fight,run and perform physical activities without any tire.
- Superhuman Durability: Red Hulk can take damage that may instantly kill a human or lower level super humans, including atmospheric reentry.
- Superhuman Speed: Red Hulk can move at superhuman speeds as well. Once he moved too fast for an unprepared Iron Man to reach.
- Gamma Radiation Emission: Red Hulk constantly gives off gamma radiation. The rate of emission is increased the angrier he gets. This radiation sometimes burns what even Ross touches, and at high levels, makes Ross appear to be on fire. If Ross emits too much radiation, he overheats and can explode in immense levels, which could be dangerous for his opponents.
- Energy Absorption: Red Hulk is capable of absorbing energy. He said in his confrontation against the Hulk and his Defenders that he absorbs energy, mostly gamma, but that he has a real taste for cosmic power. He has also absorbed (and taken for himself) the Silver Surfer's power cosmic, leaving him powerless on the ground while Red Hulk flew away on his board. However, overuse of this power left Red Hulk unable to revert to his human form.
Formidable hand-to-hand combatant, skilled military tactician
As Ross, he is as vulnerable as any human. However he can overcome this weakness with his will-powered transformation into Red Hulk. As Red Hulk, he displays a notable weakness against bladed and sharp objects. The Punisher was able to easily stab him with a knife through his chest causing excessive bleeding, and later Wolverine's cutting him open in the arm, back, chest and across the eyes, weakening and temporarily blinding him. Absorbing energy from the Negative Zone drains him. Red Hulk can overheat himself as the madder he gets the hotter he gets through the production of gamma radiation and is also vulnerable to mental attacks from powerful psychics.
Formerly a S.H.I.E.L.D..-issue handgun; ergonomically designed for his giant hands as the Red Hulk, taken from the armory of the Tony Stark designed Helicarrier.
Ross uses all kinds of military vehicles at his disposal, mainly helicopters.
- Especially in earlier texts, the troops Ross commanded are erroneously described as members of the U.S. Army. Ross was a general in the United States Air Force and commanded Air Force troops. It is possible, though, that, occasionally and during his pursuit of the Hulk over the years, Ross was sometimes allowed to make use of forces from the Army as well.
- Ross' military affiliation has been inconsistently portrayed in the comics. At times, Ross has been portrayed as an Army general. However, he is also frequently seen in an Air Force uniform, and indeed, he wore Air Force blues in his first appearance in Incredible Hulk #1. The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe: Hulk 2004 issue officially lists Ross as a Lieutenant General (3 stars) in the U.S. Air Force.
- The Red Hulk was actually capable of physically harming and even destroying cosmic entities as old and potent as Uatu and the Grandmaster with enhanced powers, as well as absorbing the energies of the Power Cosmic and slaying an earlier incarnation of Doctor Strange.
- Ross displayed a fondness for Annie, a Life-Model Decoy assigned to help him, treating her as a human being rather than an android.
- 507 appearance(s) of Thaddeus Ross (Earth-616)
- 12 appearance(s) in handbook(s) of Thaddeus Ross (Earth-616)
- 62 minor appearance(s) of Thaddeus Ross (Earth-616)
- 64 mention(s) of Thaddeus Ross (Earth-616)
- 10 mention(s) in handbook(s) of Thaddeus Ross (Earth-616)
- 531 image(s) of Thaddeus Ross (Earth-616)
- 45 quotation(s) by or about Thaddeus Ross (Earth-616)
- 4 victim(s) killed by Thaddeus Ross (Earth-616)
- 4 item(s) used/owned by Thaddeus Ross (Earth-616)