8 rad 'red' comic characters, from Red Hulk to Red Skull

  • Books
  • Tuesday, 05 Feb 2019

Rad red superheroes

Since today is the first day of Chinese New Year, when the whole world seems awash with the colour red, let’s take a look at some heroes (and villains) who somehow decided that running around with ‘red’ in their name was a good idea.

To keep this list simple, we won’t be mentioning those who wear red costumes (of which there are quite a number of), and instead focusing on characters with the word ‘red’ in their name here (‘RED’, not ‘scarlet’ nor ‘crimson’. Sorry, Scarlet Witch and Crimson Dynamo).

Happy Chinese New Year!

Red Hulk regretted putting too much Extra Hot Peri-Peri sauce on his chicken dinner. — Marvel Comics

Red Hulk

From grey to green, to, er, other shades of grey and green, the Hulk has gone through a few colour changes over the years, but he never actually turned red – Red Hulk is a completely separate character from the Bruce Banner Hulk.

Red Hulk was first introduced in 2008’s Hulk #1, in which he announced himself in style by killing longtime Hulk foes Wendingo and The Abomination! Red Hulk continued wreaking havoc in the Marvel universe for two years before his secret identity was finally revealed to be... General ‘Thunderbolt’ Ross, Bruce’s most frequent adversary!

At the end of 2010 story World War Hulks, Red Hulk is defeated by Hulk and imprisoned, but Bruce brokers a deal with Steve Rogers to help redeem Ross and let him join the Avengers. Since then, Red Hulk has been a constant in the Marvel universe, even playing pivotal parts in some of the recent major Marvel events.

Oh, and yes, there was a Red She-Hulk as well, who turned out to be Betty Ross, General Ross’ daughter and Bruce’s one-time lover!

This is no time to fly the coop, Red Robin. — DC Comics

Red Robin

Tim Drake used to be called Robin. Heck, he was the THIRD Robin, after Dick, sorry, Ric, Grayson and Jason Todd. Then Bruce Wayne supposedly died, Dick took over as Batman, and promptly fired Tim, giving the Robin suit to Damian Wayne instead.

So, what does poor Tim do? Why, get a new costume and add a ‘Red’ to his codename, of course! Yeah, you’d think someone with genius-level intellect and expert detective skills would come up with something more original, right?

Anyway, in 2011 DC’s New 52 ret-conned Tim’s origin – in it, he never really officially became a Robin, instead using the codename ‘Red Robin’ from the beginning, apparently out of respect for his predecessor.

Oh, and speaking of Jason...

Red Hood

Jason Todd used to be called Robin. Heck, he was the SECOND Robin, after Dick, sorry, Ric, Grayson. Then he died, and actually stayed dead for quite a long time before DC brought him back to life as the violent, gun-toting psychopathic Red Hood.

He now works together with the Bat-family, who apparently have no problems with him being a violent, gun-toting psychopath.

Before Jason, however, there was The Joker. In Alan Moore’s Batman: The Killing Joke story, Joker was depicted as a failed comedian who turns to committing crimes as the ‘Red Hood’.

Don't ever try to sell shoddy knock-off Superman action figures to Red Hood. — DC Comics
Red Sonja regretted putting her bikini armour in the laundry the night before the swamp expedition. — Dynamite Entertainment

Red Sonja

Created in 1973, the bikini-armour-clad Red Sonja made her debut in Marvel Comics’ Conan the Barbarian #23, and has quite a controversial origin story which involved her getting raped by the leader of a band of bandits who kill her family. Hearing her cry for revenge, the red goddess Scáthach grants her incredible fighting skills in order to do so, and with the condition that she never has, er, intimate relations with a man unless he first defeats her in combat.

That outdated, misogynistic origin that has thankfully been revised in Dynamite Comics’ last reboot of the character in 2013-2015, written by Gail Simone.

Red Arrow really knows how to get right to the point. — DC Comics

In it, instead of being raped after the murder of her family, Sonja lures the bandits into the forest and kills them one by one. She also did not get her fighting skills not from a goddess, but through hard training after being captured and forced to fight as a gladiator.

Red Arrow

Roy Harper started out as Speedy, Green Arrow’s sidekick, and was one of the Teen Titans. Then he kind of lost his way – the Titans disbanded, and Roy got addicted to heroin, which led to Oliver Queen throwing him out to the streets. He later kicked the addiction, and renamed himself Arsenal, and even started calling himself Red Arrow at one point, just to show Green Arrow that he was now his equal.

He’s now gone back to using ‘Arsenal’ (which makes him sound more like an English football club than a superhero), and the Red Arrow persona has been taken by Emiko Queen, the half-sister of Oliver Queen.

Roses are red, violets are blue. Don’t mess with Rose Red, or she’ll stick her sword in you. — Vertigo Comics

Rose Red

Taken from the Grimm Brothers’ German fairytale Snow White And Rose Red (not to be confused with the other Snow White tale, the one with the seven dwarves), Rose Red is one scarlet stunner.

The rebellious sister of Snow White, she is one of the most pivotal characters in Bill Willingham’s Fables series, having played a big part in many of the major story arcs, including the finale, in which she declares war against her sister.

Red Tornado

An android with the ability to fly and generate tornado-speed winds, Red Tornado made his first appearance in 1968’s Justice League Of America #64.

Red Tornado has more than 800 comic book appearances, but you’d be hard pressed to name even one significant milestone for the character, apart from the fact that he was frequently destroyed and rebuilt.

Red Skull

Using the Cosmic Cube to threaten the universe, implanting a fragment of Professor X’s brain into his own gain psychic powers, turning into a giant red Onslaught in AXIS, changing Steve Roger’s reality to turn him into a sleeper Hydra agent... these are just some of Red Skull’s most dastardly deeds.

He is not just Captain America’s arch enemy – as tacky as a villain with a red skull for a head seems, Johann Schmidt is arguably one of Marvel’s greatest villains ever.

The android, my friend, is blowing in the wind, the android is blowing in the wind. — DC Comics
Meet Red Skull and his lesser-known friend, Purple Head. — Marvel Comics

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