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

Arabian Knight

RULK REVIEW : HULK Issue # 46

This is it.  This is the final battle between Red Hulk and the all-powerful Sultan Magus, ruler of the mysterious city of Sharzhad and the man indirectly responsible for the demise of ex-Colonel William Krueger.

When the confrontation begins, the Sultan clearly has the upper hand, empowered by being in close proximity to the alien technology that transformed him from the rebel Dagan Shah into the unstoppable titan of the Middle East.  But as the battle rages on, the Red Hulk eventually has his enemy on the ropes and is one breath away from putting Magus out of commission… permanently.  Then, suddenly, the magic carpet is pulled out from underneath him.

In HULK Issue # 46, writer Jeff Parker writes a frustratingly good conclusion to his “Hulk of Arabia” story-arc.  It’s satisfying to see the end of the Sultan’s rise of power within the Rulk’s grasp, yet frustrating that he can’t squeeze the life out of it, especially when it doesn’t require a fortune teller to foresee the city of Sharzhad will not stand quietly.. but will likely cause terror in one form or another for years to come.  But sometimes, things just don’t end clean and that’s reality… and Jeff Parker’s point.  At least readers get to relish in the devastating blow the Arabian Knight deals to the Sultan Magus, albeit brief.  Either way Parker does a bang up job here, and will make it that much more pleasureable when Red finally is able to pluck one of the thorns from his side (M.O.D.O.K., Zero/One, Black Fog, Sultan Magus) and be able to deliver that gratifying knockout punch.

It’s been such an enjoyable feast for the eyes ever since illustrator Patrick Zircher took over the art for this book.  Paired with the unique coloring of Rachelle Rosenberg , the realism Zircher puts in each and every character has been a grand dose of brilliance, perfectly matched with Parker’s very mature storyline.  As other artists take over the next few chapters of the HULK book, Zircher’s work will certainly be remembered by Red Hulk fans everywhere with the utmost delight… and as the best artist to grace this series’ pages since Ed McGuinness.

 Thanks Patrick.  Amazing work.

4 out of 5 Stars 

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

Advertisements

RULK REVIEW : HULK Issue # 45

“Can’t even show some mercy for your own kind, huh?” – Rulk

Everything you say betrays you as American.  He (Arabian Knight) is Afghani.  I am from this region.” – Dagan Shah.

In HULK Issue # 45 “Hulk of Arabia Part Four”, the captured Red Hulk and Machine Man finally get to confront Dagan Shah, the man Ross holds responsible for the death of the ex-Colonel William Krugauer.   As a result of Shah being able to interrogate simply by reading one’s memories, their confrontation  doesn’t last very long.  And once the enemy is pulled away to demonstrate his might in a mideastern conference, Rulk and Machine Man free themselves and uncover the secret how rebel Dagan Shah became the all powerful Sultan Magus of the mysterious city of Sharzhad.

Writer Jeff Parker works overtime on this issue setting up quite an elaborate and intriguing story explaining where Dagan Shah’s power originated from, that literally spans thousands of years.  It’s a sophisticated and intelligent read that caters to an audience that can appreciate thought provoking intricate tales as much as the pure reveling in the action and smashing by our favorite red behemoth.  Of course, Parker is at his best when he effectively balances both in a single issue, but this is still a pleasure to read.

Dagan Shah probes the Red Hulk’s memories

Parker is on mark with the dialogue as usual.  It’s enjoyable to experience Rulk make a sweeping “you people” generalization to Dagan Shah suggesting that everyone from the Middle East is the same, no matter what their region of birth… which is what one would expect come out of the mouth of the red-blooded American General Thaddeus Ross.   Red’s exchange with Machine Man was also thought provoking, especially when Ross was extremely interested with the mechanical hero’s ability to dream.  “You seem inordinately interested in the mind of androids” Machine Man commented.  Ross’ excessive interest comes across as a subtle suggestion that the Red Hulk is actually trying to learn more about his companion L.M.D. Annie rather than androids in general, someone which (he’d deny) he has developed feelings for.

It can’t be stressed enough that the artwork of Patrick Zircher’s is wonderful in this issue.  Once again his characters are realistically well drawn, and the points of view he selects are thrilling and a testament to his talents in perspective.  Zircher’s layouts are very interesting here too.  In the pages that feature the history of the alien technology, his use of circles and other geometric shapes are really quite unique and reek of creativity.  What a pleasure.

A hat must also be tipped to colorist Rachelle Rosenberg.  This couldn’t have been an easy issue to color, with hardly a precedent to follow in the deep alien underground of Sharzhad.  Usually joyfully saturated, she made some very interesting fading artistic choices and uses of glare that gives the issue a very unique, rewarding look.  Only the cover appears off… which just might be that shade of green.

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 # 44

The Red Hulk fights a Manticore.

Just those six words alone should be enough to sell this issue.  I mean how cool is that?  The Red Hulk fights a MANTICORE! – The legendary mythical beast with a face of a human, a body of a lion, and a tail of a poisonous scorpion!  Of course, it feasts on human blood… and when the giant creature begins its assault on Rulk and The Machine Man in HULK Issue # 44 “Hulk of Arabia Part 3: The Shifting Sands“, we know they’re in for one hell of a fight.  It’s an awe inspiring matchup that leads to a rip-roaring action scene which ends with the Red Hulk oh so satisfyingly tearing off the Manticore’s head.  Yes, I repeat, tearing off his head.  Simply awesome.

With an average writer, an event like this would feel forced, sacrificing the integrity of the story for the sake of the title bout.  Yet here Jeff Parker has given the mythical creature’s purpose and plausibility, likely created not only to guard the hidden city of Sharzhad with force, but to also fuel the superstitious fears of the people loyal to the surrounding opposition… much more effective than any “keep out” sign could provide.  Parker writes some good exchanges here as well, especially between Ross and Arabian Knight (who surprisingly reappears to join Rulk’s and Machine Man’s recon of Dagan Shah’s mysterious land very late in the game).  Ross and Knight defend the predictable sides of their home country’s policies and ideologies, a sore point for both that would result in blows if their intuitive machined companion didn’t continue to intervene.  It’s well thought out dialogue by a writer who really has the gift to channel the essence of the characters he writes.

Artist Patrick Zircher knocks another one out of the park with his fantastic illustrations.  His characters are superiorly drawn (especially the Red Hulk) and you can’t appreciate enough the emotional weight he gives their accompanying faces.  And wow, if someone has previously cornered the market on drawing amazing mythical beasts, Patrick Zircher must now be considered in the running.  His menacing Manticore is a thrill to behold and also adorns one of the best covers of the HULK series to date.  With the wonderful saturated colors of Rachelle Rosenberg, it’s all really fantastic.

4.5 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 # 43

Sometimes you just get it right.  Sometimes the stars align and all the pieces of creativity symbiotically fit into place like it was meant to be… resulting in a slice of perfection that is just heavenly to behold.  And that’s exactly what HULK Issue # 43 has with this artist, this colorist, this writer and this storyline.

Hulk of Arabia Part Two” resumes exactly where Part One left off:  Red Hulk fending off an intervention lead by Secret Avengers’ War Machine, Valkyrie & Black Widow.  The assembled heroes are trying to prevent Rulk’s personal war in the name of vengeance for the killing of a soldier… a fellow warrior… ex-Colonel William Krugauer.  They know the thirst of revenge the formal General feels can voluntarily blind one to the global tension an unsanctioned attack can create, which is why Steve Rogers orders and supervises the counterattack to stop Ross’ personal vendetta before it’s too late.  Provided a self serving opportunity to assess his unknown enemy (Dagan Shah), Rulk sees the interruption as strategically sound and agrees to temporarily cease his attack and meet with the Avengers (and local hero Arabian Knight) to gather as much intel as he possibly can before resuming his attack…. sanctioned or not.

The pure excellence of writer Jeff Parker has not shined brighter than in this amazing work, the “Hulk of Arabia” story arc.  The way Parker masterfully interjects the Red Hulk into today’s political hotbed that is the Middle East and saturates the event with all the realities of the hyper-sensitive fear of ramification that surround it, is outstanding.  It all feels real and resonates with a low underlying tension like an unrelenting pulse… suffering from a dangerously high blood-pressure.  Parker continues to understand and exploit the appeal of Red Hulk like no other, superbly stressing that the arrogance and self-righteousness that swells in Ross had multiplied tenfold upon gaining his new found crimson powers, superseding all respect for that ol’ chain of command he followed so religiously (to what benefit?). And just when you think it can’t get any better, Parker enters a new character into the fold.  Machine Man!

 

When Parker’s brilliance is equally matched with artistic brilliance, it’s time to revel in all the goodness with the realization you have one hell of a comic book in your hand.  Patrick Zircher’s art is glorious.  His characters are stunningly drawn.. and with such a flare of realism that fits superbly with very realistic story such as this.  The angles and perspective he chooses are elaborately intense… while his character poses are so extremely dynamic yet perfectly formed (a testament to his craft and his ability to properly keep the human anatomy proportioned, no matter where the point of view.)  What about his layouts?  Zircher is the King of Layouts… which are cinematic and exciting.  And while many colorists have been guilty of diminishing great artwork (Hulk #22 – #24 anyone?), the talents of Rachelle Rosenberg have proven to be an excellent compliment to Patrick’s work.

 

If you haven’t picked up this issue, do so now.  This is truly great work.

5 out of 5 Stars 

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