A general falls. A red monster rises. Stay tuned.

Elena Casagrande

RULK REVIEW : HULK Issue # 49

“The road to hell is paved with good intentions” – Saint Bernard of Clairvaux

 The god like powerful Eternals have been watching us since the beginning.  Self-declared custodians of Earth, they have monitored humanity with a protective eye for thousands of years yet would rarely interact with humans except for times when the Deviants (the Eternal’s evil counterpart) surfaced with their threatening ways.  However, after witnessing The Incredible Hulk time and time again leave a horrific path of utter devastation and destruction in his wake (regardless of the quality of the monster’s heart or intentions)…. and the multiple new Hulks that have now appeared as of late… the Eternals now feel strongly unsettled.  These gamma charged beasts of carnage are very similar to the Deviants they have sworn to destroy in the name of preserving humanity.  And their numbers are growing.  Should they step out from behind their hidden veil of secrecy and intervene?

Like with Machine Man, in Hulk Issue # 49 “The Incident” the ever gifted Jeff Parker once again displays his talent of successfully resurrecting underutilized characters of the Marvel Universe and delights readers with their return… this time being The Eternals.  Parker creates an intriguing premise that explores how these god like entities struggle with the growing “strongest there is” population and how they should react to them, all within the prism of the Hulks ultimately do more harm than good to humanity.

Unfortunately, while the premise is great, it’s the execution that suffers.  While it could have been a terrific opening to a four or five issue story-arc resulting in an all-out Eternal versus Hulk war, the way this story unfolded feels somewhat incomplete and underperforms as a one-shot, ending with a splintered finish considering the next issue begins an entirely new “Haunted Hulk” story-arc.  Plus, based on the conclusion of the previous issue ending with a reunion between father and daughter, it’s highly probable that many readers were expecting Betty to have a presence in this story, with a chance for Ross to sit down with his daughter and discuss the impact of their new crimson alter egos in their lives.  The potential to relish in some intense character development was great, and would have likely been better suited for a filler issue between arcs such as this.  Instead, we are left with no clue what happened to Betty and why she was desperately trying to seek out her father.  It all feels like a missed opportunity and a gentle reminder that all issues can’t be winners… even with Jeff Parker as the writer.

While issue 48 remains her best work to date, artist Elena Casagrande delivers a mostly pleasing and unique art experience yet again.  While the Red Hulk’s facial appearance seems to change from issue to issue, I can’t help but adore her aquatic beasts and the fluid way she draws a Red Hulk struggling with those menacing monsters and their tentacles.  Those panels are full of enjoyment.  And with the Eternals, Elena does a solid job, with her drawing of Zuras being the best out of the bunch.

2.5 out of 5 Stars

-A.J. A general falls. A red monster rises. Stay tuned.

Follow the RED HULK BLOG on Twitter @ RedHulkBlog

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RULK REVIEW : HULK Issue # 48

Jacob once had a dream… a dream now replaced with a living nightmare.

The horribly burned and disfigured Jacob, assistant to the formerly brilliant and beautiful project leader Parul Kurinji, once fantasized spending a romantic life with Parul.  But in the fantastic, action-packed HULK Issue # 48, Jacob never could have imagined the macabre reality that would come to pass, ever since Parul changed into the threat to humanity known as Zero/One.  Her creations… twisted acts against nature like horrific aquatic beasts, reanimated corpses and a juiced serial killer… were all manifested to extinguish lives for the woman he once loved.  It had to stop before it was too late.  So Jacob risks everything to bring Ross and his team the data needed to finally stop Zero/One.

Writer Jeff Parker continues to be on fire, this time delivering a spectacular thrill ride in Part Two of the  “Red Sky At Morning” story-arc .  In contrast to the final confrontation of the “Hulk of Arabia” climax between the Red Hulk and Dagan Shah that left a feeling of unquenched satisfaction, Rulk’s pulse pounding assault on Zero/One’s base (with the help of the Red She Hulk and Machine Man) ends with such gratifying results that it feels like the battle has been won… regardless if one eye must still remain perpetually fixed on the war.

Zero/One’s demise would have not been possible without the efforts of Jacob.  Her reluctant and terrified assistant that has seen enough horror to push him into the fray of insanity, became not just a victim… but a savior… quite possibly for the entire human race.  And Parker fleshes out his ironic circumstance so masterfully, it feels deeply tragic when it becomes evident that Jacob may never be able to escape the devastating fate that has befallen him.  Ever.

While it would have been icing on Parker’s oh so delicious cake to witness the Red Hulk’s thunderous blows successfully sink the synthetic island of vessels down to the ocean floor… as well as relish in Zero/One’s betrayer not holding back and watching him actually stick it to her… this hearty dish was simply a feast for the senses and concludes Jeff Parker’s most gratifying story-arc yet!

 With the artistic talents of Elena Casagrande and Rachelle Rosenberg on the job, there is some serious Girl Power in this issue, which is fitting for a story filled with such powerful women.  Where the drawing is concerned, it seems the work and ability to dazzle the readers by the best Zero/One artist hands down Elena Casagrande increases with every panel.  From her eye catching unique aquatic beasts to her downright impressive sinister Black Fog, and her uncanny ability to draw a natural female form to a robust Red Hulk that keeps on getting better and better, Casagrande’s delightful imagery has developed into a wonderful unique style.

 Now with coloring, unfortunately a colorist can sometimes have a thankless job.  But if anyone is deserving recognition in this department it’s the beautiful work by Rachelle Rosenberg.  Talking about it doesn’t do it justice. Let’s let some of her wonderful brilliance in coloring speak for itself. Take a look:

 

I would love to see this creative team work full time together.  This is an excellent, excellent comic.

5 out of 5 Stars 

-A.J.
A general falls. A red monster rises. Stay tuned.
Follow the RED HULK BLOG on Twitter @ RedHulkBlog


RULK REVIEW : HULK Issue # 47

Where IS HE??  Come on out, old man!  I KNOW this is where you stay!  Come out and face ME!” – Red She Hulk

What a fantastic read.  In HULK Issue #47 “Red Sky at Morning“, the Life Model Decoys stationed at Gamma Base : Death Valley, Nevada pick up a signal that indicates there’s an incoming Hulk on his way back to base.  “About time!” Annie rejoices with almost giddy excitement. “Let’s go welcome back our Hulk” But as she surfaces to greet her incredibly missed, favorite Big Red guy, the Red She Hulk is the what she finds… demanding that her father shows his face… or else!

Writer Jeff Parker pens an outstanding reunion between the estranged father and daughter Ross, who haven’t seen each other since the events of “World War Hulks” one year ago.  It’s fascinating to see them interact while adjusting to their still relatively new transformations… something Thaddeus clearly has a better handle on.  And when the Red She Hulk violently runs from Ross (or rather runs from her emotions), it’s incredibly touching to watch her secretly return and hide near his presence… not in an eruption of battle… but seemingly compelled just to be close to her Dad.

Annie is charming as ever.  Between her excitement to welcome Ross home and her intuition and understanding of exactly what makes Ross happy is a pure delight.  From not forcing Ross to dwell on the “touchy-feely stuff” to allowing Ross to finally be the captain of the ship, it’s these little moments that somehow become the biggest… and shines a spotlight on how Jeff Parker is truly gifted at making these characters feel real, like flesh & blood.  He makes you care so much… and what is a better compliment than that?  Add the return of the refreshingly now more menacing Zero/One, her intriguing Lab 7, and what she is doing to every ship that crosses her path (which is so cool) and there’s no debate:  Jeff has outdone himself!

After reading this issue, who wouldn’t become an official fan of artist Elena Casagrande.  While previously impressive with her rendition of M.O.D.O.K. in her earlier contributions to HULK, her talents shine extremely bright in this issue.  Elena is extremely gifted in drawing women in a very natural way.  And she excels in facial expressions so well.. whether it’s anticipation, anger or joy.. you can tell what every character is feeling before reading a single word of dialogue.  Plus she is now the creator of my favorite rendition of Zero/One.  And after Patrick Zircher’s artistic run, Casagrande has returned the Red Hulk to his true form:  Eyebrow-less.

 

 

Finally, a special nod must be given to artist Carlo Pagulayan for his amazing cover of this issue.  It’s a stunning eye-catcher, that enjoyably incorporates the HULK logo into the scene’s action.  It may just be the best HULK cover yet!  Bravo!

Buy this Issue and read it at least twice!

5 out of 5 Stars 

-A.J. 

A general falls. A red monster rises. Stay tuned.  

Follow the RED HULK BLOG on Twitter @ RedHulkBlog


RULK REPORT : CBR recommends HULK # 47 as a great jumping on point!

Not only did Comic Book Resources give the latest issue of Jeff Parker’s HULK a glowing review recently, but they also recommended HULK Issue # 47 as a great jumping on point!  Here are the highlights:

“This book is consistently a treat. Jeff Parker not only delivers fun, adventure-filled stories with believable characters, but he finds a voice for every character and, every single time, it’s the right voice. The string of issues that Parker has delivered is the longest I’ve read any Hulk title. While Parker has been crafting a continuous story all the way through that run, he’s accomplished enough to make every issue a decent spot for newer readers. This issue is more than simply a decent entry point: it’s the best spot since “Hulk” #42. The story is just going to continue to ramp up from here, so you may as well give it a go right now”

Click on the link to read the entire review : http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=user_review&id=4330

-A.J. 
A general falls. A red monster rises. Stay tuned.  
Follow the RED HULK BLOG on Twitter @ RedHulkBlog


RULK REVIEW : HULK Issue # 38

HULK Issue # 38

Manhattan is going down.   As waves of Sin’s invasion army push through the city leaving complete utter devastation in its wake, the massive forces of evil drive forward to finish what the Worthy Thing has started.   The Red Hulk failed to stop them… the Avengers Tower has been destroyed… and it’s estimated that the city will fall in 2.3 hours.   Then all of it will be gone.   All of it.
 

No. It. Will… NOT!!!!” M.O.D.O.K screams as he stands his ground and creates a frontline!   “All Life Model Decoys!   Report to my location with PLASMA RIFLES! And Discharge ZZZAX!!

It is simply thrilling to see the new M.O.D.O.K. finally get a hell yeah moment in HULK Issue #38 “Planet of Fear Part Two“.   Writer Jeff Parker enjoyably has our favorite mental organism designed only for killing taking names and kicking ass, saving New York and its citizens in the process.   His deeds are justified (of course) by concluding that no one should conquer the world but he and no one should kill the Rulk but he, which is why M.O.D.O.K stops Zero/One’s assassin Black Fog from dealing a final death blow to a vulnerable Red Hulk moments before.   But for whatever the reasons, his actions are ultimately heroic and his come and get some attitude is just plain infectious and so much fun.   By the way, the new M.O.D.O.K digs chicks now too.   After sharing a quite logical mind merge with Zero/One and coming to the realization that it was his evil actions that created her, the large headed villain becomes quite infatuated with his shapely counterpart.   “I think I’m in love“.   A new M.O.D.O.K. indeed.

M.O.D.O.K. saves the Red Hulk

M.O.D.O.K. saves the Red Hulk

 

Where the previous issue felt like filler and manufactured, designed to lure new readers following the Fear Itself Marvel cross-over event into the fold of the Red Hulk saga, Jeff Parker manages the second tie-in to continue his terrific story and actually benefit from it.   Waving away my previous complaints, Fear Itself no longer felt forced upon this series, rather just woven and symbiotic, something that is hardly achieved in cross-overs like this.

Parker’s great work is complimented by the artistic talent of Elena Casagrande.   While her renditions of the Red Hulk leave much to be desired, Casagrande seems she was born to draw the new M.O.D.O.K.   And considering the killing organism was the centerpiece of this issue, she was definitely in her element of excellence.

4 out of 5 Stars 

-A.J. 
A general falls. A red monster rises. Stay tuned.  
Follow the RED HULK BLOG on Twitter @ RedHulkBlog 


RULK REVIEW : HULK Issue # 37

HULK Issue # 37Cross-over tie-ins have one ultimate purpose: to boost sales. Marvel creates universe event after universe event in an effort to encourage readers to buy comic titles that they wouldn’t usually purchase, in order to grasp the entire, often cataclysmic unfolding story. With any luck, a new reader will find the added title so interesting that they will continue to pick up the book, long after the cross-over event has ended. You’ll be hard pressed to find a comic more blatantly obvious in serving this purpose than HULK Issue #37 “Planet of Fear Part One“. 
 
 

Thinly disguised as a new story, the recap of the entire recent history of the Red Hulk is mostly told through the words of the villainous M.O.D.O.K., who comes to the obvious (and conveniently timed) conclusion that knowing your enemy is the key to defeating your enemy. So what do we learn in this book? General Ross was so obsessed with destroying the Hulk he conspired with M.O.D.O.K. to become one? Check. Banner ultimately stopped the Rulk and now he works with the Avengers towards redemption? Check. Ross feels isolated? He cares deeply for the female LMD Annie? He’s worried if he continues to absorb the power of his enemies, he’ll never be able to return to his human form? Check. Check. Check. Writer Jeff Parker covers every aspect of the Rulk’s past so well that new readers will feel “up to speed” and in great shape to stick with the HULK comic long after the conclusion of “Fear Itself“. With the great lack of new material, the already loyal Red Hulk fans are the only ones who will feel slighted here.  
 

"I expect you would not"

“I expect you would not”

 

When it comes to the actual “Fear Itself” storyline, it’s practically non-existent. Except for some meaningless filler where Hawkeye and Mockingbird spectate the ensuing attack of Sin and the Worthy Thing, there’s really nothing of substance here that wasn’t told substantially more in AVENGERS Issue # 14. 

Fill-in artist Elena Casagrande does a solid job with this book. While there’s nothing terribly inspiring about her work, there’s nothing terrible either and she’s certainly at her best when drawing the sinister M.O.D.O.K.. Carlo Pagulayan does a nice job with the cover, which makes me miss his work after the spectacular two issue run the artist served HULK several months back. But none of this takes away from the “been there, done that” retread feel of this issue. 

After “Fear Itself” and assumingly “Planet Red Hulk“, we’ve been hitting many corporate mandated speed bumps as of late, breaking up the flow of Parker’s well crafted story. Let’s hope we’ve seen the last of them for a while. 
 

2.5 out of 5 Stars 

-A.J. 
A general falls. A red monster rises. Stay tuned.  
Follow the RED HULK BLOG on Twitter @ RedHulkBlog