It might be surprising, but the Incredible Hulk has had many unusual love interests. In the MCU, Bruce Banner has been romantically linked to Natasha Romanov (aka the Black Widow) and he’s also had multiple lovers in the comics, including the alien queen Caiera and the submicroscopic warrior princess Jarella. But few readers know that Hulk’s greatest love… is Marvel’s version of an Archie Comics character.
Yes, strange as it may seem, one comic book established that Doctor Robert Bruce Banner’s wife Betty Ross is a doppelganger for Archie Andrews’ girl-next-door Betty Cooper. Even stranger, Betty discovered her universe also has a double for Betty’s best friend/romantic rival Veronica Lodge!
This bizarre revelation occurred in The Incredible Hulk #384 shortly after Banner mutated into one of his most popular Hulk forms – the super-smart and super-strong “Professor Hulk.” Although Bruce was thrilled by the fact that he could now retain both his intelligence and limitless power, his wife Betty was horrified by her husband’s appearance. Betty ended up going on a drunken bender with Hulk’s ex-girlfriend Marlo Chandler, causing the Hulk’s wife to go through a dramatic transformation of her own. Convincing Betty that she needed a new look, Marlo gave Betty a punk hairstyle and then drunkenly used a bottle of cleaning fluid to dye her hair. Betty woke up the next day with a splitting hangover and bright green hair. As she proceeded to take her revenge on Marlo, the Hulk showed up and was incredibly flattered, thinking that Betty had changed her look just for him. However, when he realized how horrified Betty was by his new appearance, he left dejected.
Determined to get her life back in order, Betty re-dyed her hair blonde and found a job at an emergency call center. As she settled in, she met her co-worker in the next cubicle, a dark-haired woman named… Veronica. The two shared a quick glance, realized the prank the universe was playing on them, and promised not to make any jokes about their identical appearance to the Archie Comics characters.
Despite this, Marvel’s Betty and Veronica would become friends, although Veronica never did become a big part of the Hulk’s supporting cast. Notably, Marvel Comics has a history of allowing doppelgangers of characters from rival companies to make cameos in their comics. Both the Simpsons and Harry Potter have popped up in random stories and non-powered versions of Superman and Batman actually live in the Marvel Universe, allowing them to make regular appearances as mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent and wealthy playboy Bruce Wayne over the years.
In Betty’s case, however, writer Peter David and artist Dale Keown turned an established character from the Incredible Hulk’s cast into Marvel’s version of a popular Archie Comics character. While this isn’t unheard of (over in X-Men, Charles Xavier has been regularly connected with Peanuts character Charlie Brown), it’s still an unusual occurrence that elevates this scene beyond just a throwaway visual gag. Now if they could only reveal the hidden link between Mr. Fantastic and Jughead Jones…