Hulk and Thanos have fought each other both in the comics and onscreen, but one popular Marvel writer actually established that the two share another more unusual connection in Hulk’s old girlfriend Marlo Chandler. While rarely seen recently, Marlo was once a big part of the Hulk comics, and later showed she had a disturbing link with an even bigger Marvel character – Lady Death!
That’s right, Marvel’s personification of death has a strange fixation on one of Hulk’s supporting characters—to the point where Death actually takes on Marlo’s appearance when she appears to others. This somewhat dubious honor was established by long-time Hulk writer Peter David, who showed it actually began with Marlo’s childhood.
During his run in Captain Marvel, David revealed that Marlo developed a fascination with death ever since she survived a life-threatening fall that caused her to feel excited instead of scared. She continued chasing this feeling throughout her teenage years and young adulthood, usually by dating dangerous men. This behavior was actually the main reason she began dating the Hulk when he approached her in his grey “Joe Fixit” persona. Although this relationship didn’t last, Marlo stayed on good terms with the Hulk, and later became friends with Bruce Banner’s wife Betty.
Marlo also began dating the Hulk’s friend Rick Jones who proposed to her. In typical Marvel fashion, the path to their wedding was marked with tragedy—particularly when Marlo was stabbed and killed by a woman who may have been Rick’s mother. Fortunately, Hulk’s enemy the Leader managed to bring Marlo back to life (albeit in a vegetative state), and Rick eventually coaxed Marlo back to full consciousness. Lady Death ends up making an unexpected appearance at Rick and Marlo’s wedding. Promising that Rick and Marlo would have a long and happy life together, Death left a wedding gift for the couple and then chose to leave before “that Thanos creep” showed up.
Although Marlo appeared to have only a passing relationship with Death, later comics would show their bond was actually much deeper. In a later Captain Marvel storyline (written by Peter David), Death used Marlo as her physical avatar, enabling her to punish a villain through Marlo’s body. This experience left Marlo with some of Death’s residual presence, causing her to have a “Death Wish” power that manipulated reality to literally fit her spoken wishes. This proved extremely problematic when Marlo jokingly wished she was dead and nearly expired for good. Fortunately, Marlo later wished the Death Wish would leave her, ridding her of her unwanted abilities.
However, Death herself has shown she continues to have a strange affection for Marlo as she chooses to appear to other people in Marlo’s image when she needs to talk to them. She did this when she spent some time with Ben Reilly, the clone of Spider-Man, and warned him that if he died again (after being resurrected multiple times) his soul would become irreversibly corrupted. Strangely, Death appears more compassionate in Marlo’s form, showing the Hulk’s former girlfriend may have had a positive influence on one of Marvel’s most powerful cosmic entities.
Next: Ghost Rider’s Forgotten Version of Death is the Opposite of Thanos’ Love