In the one-shot HULK SMASH AVENGERS Issue # 5, the spotlight shines on a villainous Red Hulk in the final installment of a five issue smash fest that celebrates new yet era-inspired “Hulk versus Avengers” tales uniquely told within different timelines of the Marvel Universe. Designed to take place between the events of the Red Hulk demolishing the new S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier [HULK Issue #2] and the battle between Rulk and the A-Bomb in the desert of Death Valley, Nevada [HULK Issue #3], the story revolves around Iron Man’s belief that uncovering the identity of the crimson giant will be the key to his defeat… and the imprisoned Bruce Banner holds that very key. And as the mysterious, seemingly unstoppable, crimson Hulk keeps hitting and pilfering S.H.I.E.L.D. installations, Iron Man understands he needs answers… right now.
This issue’s script penned by writer Fred Van Lente portrays a spot-on villainous Red Hulk. Lente superbly symbiotically captures the quintessential Jeph Loeb Red Hulk… a brash personality that is constituted more of “bad-assed” than “bad”. The story is balanced well, moving back and forth from a suspicious, tense yet restrained conversation between Bruce Banner and Iron Man to a rip-roaring battle between the Red Hulk and the Avengers.
Lente’s writing works in spite of Michael Avon Oeming’s disappointing art. While Oeming is very capable of designing interesting layouts, his caricature drawing ability needs improved structure and polish before achieving a favorable level of his professional skill set. However, interesting new revelations woven into this story offsets the issue’s shortcoming, especially when we learn that the Red Hulk has been hitting and stealing various goods from S.H.I.E.L.D. and obviously supplying it to the Intellegencia, in an effort to reach their mutual goals.
The only thing frustrating other than the art is precisely fitting this story in the Red Hulk continuity. The only logical place this addendum can fit is between the Helicarrier attack (where Tony Stark realizes the new Hulk is red) and the battle with A-Bomb (that ruptures the ground unleashing the Banner Hulk from captivity). The problem is both the conclusion of issue #2 and opening of issue #3 suggests Rulk’s rumble with A-Bomb and Iron Man dealing with the Helicarrier wreckage occurs at the same time. The ability to overlook this error in continuity will be the deciding factor if fans ultimately adopt this one-shot event and integrate it into the timeline of their favorite Red Hulk lore.
2.5 out of 5 Stars
A general falls. A red monster rises. Stay tuned.
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