The Origin of General Thunderbolt
Shortly after getting my first gig writing for Marvel Comics, my editor mentioned a series he was contemplating. It was going to be called War Is Hell and would feature characters from the Marvel Universe in stories that took place during various wars throughout history.
That same night I was talking with my father over dinner and he told me that the Japanese military was working on an atomic bomb during WWII, but they covered up evidence of it after the war ended. An idea occurred to me and as soon as dinner was over I ran an internet search of General Thaddeus E. “Thunderbolt” Ross.
In case you’ve forgotten, General Ross is the father of Bruce Banner’s love interest Betsy Ross and has dedicated his life to destroying the Hulk. Is there some deep emotional scar he bears that explains why he’s so obsessed with the Hulk? That has never been explored. What was he up to during WWII? Well, it’s been established that he was in the Pacific theater, but what happened to him there has also never been explored.
I’m totally gonna bring this full circle, check out my story pitch…
Ross and a bunch of other young WWII soldiers are given the mission to destroy the Japanese atomic program by landing on an isolated strip of shore, sneaking through the countryside, then planting bombs at the research facility, which is located in the city of Hiroshima. They are told that if they fail, there is a back-up plan: drop our atomic bomb on the city. During the arduous week-long trek the soldiers undertake to reach their target Ross realizes a horrible irony: the war is effectively over, no one else needs to die, but he must kill Japanese men, and see some of his friend be killed, in order to save the lives of hundreds of thousands of civilians in Hiroshima who will die if his mission fails.
In the end, Ross is the only member of the mission left alive, and he successfully destroys the atomic research facility. He radios back to the US military powers that be that he has succeeded, they can call off the bomb drop. The message that comes back to him is “run for cover.”
He’s far enough outside of the city when the bomb drops that he survives. He soon makes a realization: the bomb wasn’t a back-up plan for him, he was a back-up plan for the bomb. He comes to believe that the US government was always planning to drop the atomic bomb no matter what he did, because when men have that kind of power, they’re always going to find an excuse to use it, it’s too intoxicating and they just can’t help themselves. His final line of narration: “No man can be trusted with that kind of power.”
See what I did there? Completely motivates his obsessive hatred of the Hulk.
Of course, the only reason I’m writing this in my blog is because you can’t actually buy the issues of this story - the War Is Hell series never happened. So… thank you for indulging me while I wrote General Ross fanfic.