As the Avengers and Winter Hulk confront the Winter Guard for the fate of Atlantis, a villainous new She-Hulk rises from the depths to face them.
WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Avengers #49, on sale now from Marvel Comics.
While there have certainly been more than one She-Hulk active in the Marvel Universe at once before, the universe may have just gotten one of its most lethal and sadistic twists on the gamma-radiated character yet. An underwater showdown is brewing between the Avengers, Atlantis and the Russian rival superhero team the Winter Guard. In one corner, there’s Jennifer Walters, the most famous She-Hulk of them all and the star of the upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe televisions series bearing her superhero moniker. And in the opposite corner, the Winter Guard has just gained a She-Hulk of its own after losing control of Jen, leading to the creation of the Widow Hulk as the fate of Atlantis hangs in the balance.
The Winter Guard had drawn first blood against the Avengers, with the Russian team ambushing Earth’s Mightiest Heroes at their own headquarters in Avengers Mountain, successfully kidnapping She-Hulk and imprisoning her for months in the clandestine facility the Red Room. After being subjected to torturous experiments, Jen emerged transformed as the crimson Winter Hulk, her most powerful form yet, boasting a formidable array of new abilities. While the Avengers attempted to launch their own rescue mission, it was the Winter Hulk who managed to escape and turn on her captors, with Avengers #49 by Jason Aaron, Javier Garron, Flaviano, David Curiel and VC’s Cory Petit revealing that the Winter Guard has their own gamma-radiated trick up their sleeve.
Even before being kidnapped by the Winter Guard, She-Hulk had struck up an antagonistic dynamic with the team’s answer to Black Widow, the aptly named Red Widow, when the two figures both vied to become the new host for the Phoenix Force when the cosmic entity came back to Earth. When She-Hulk escaped from the Red Room as the Winter Hulk, she took the time to personally maim the Red Widow before eluding the Russian heroes. And when the Winter Hulk and Red Widow find themselves in an inevitable rematch at the bottom of the ocean with the fate of Atlantis hanging in the balance, Red Widow unveils her own Hulk transformation.
After the Winter Hulk engages Namor the Sub-Mariner in a hard-hitting showdown, the Red Widow strikes and surprisingly manages to hold her own in hand-to-hand combat despite the Winter Hulk being exponentially more powerful than her. However, as the Winter Hulk keeps coming at her, no matter how much punishment the Red Widow deals out, it becomes evident that the Russian spy must take drastic action if she even hopes to survive. Injecting herself with a vial of gamma-radiated Hulk blood, the Red Widow transforms on the spot to become the Widow Hulk as she and the Winter Hulk resume the battle in earnest.
The current Avengers story arc bore the title “World War She-Hulks” and now there is another She-Hulk to make the title a literal one. And though the She-Hulk versions of Betty Ross and the alternate universe She-Hulk Lyra still missing from the proceedings, there is still plenty of gamma-radiated action possessed to erupt between the newly minted Widow Hulk and the Winter Hulk as the two super-powered women are finally poised to settle their violent vendetta once and for all, with plenty of collateral damage sure to unfold in the interim.
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