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

Bruce Banner

RULK REVIEW : KING-SIZE HULK Issue # 1

It’s been my experience that Giant Size issues (or in this case King-Size issues) are more often miss than hit.  Rather than getting a worthy addendum to a character’s current story arc, readers were too often “treated” to pointless new shorts that felt like useless filler surrounded by a sea of reprinted stories… leaving one at best unsatisfied and at worst with a feeling that the reader has just been “had” by a publisher’s money grab.  Fortunately, for Red Hulk fans, this is neither.

Beyond the classic comic reprints including the overplayed first appearance of Wolverine with the legendary villain Wendigo, KING SIZE HULK Issue # 1 features three new stories written by Jeph Loeb, two that are very good reads which actually flesh out the first half of the Red Hulk story arc.

It begins with “Where Monsters Dwell” drawn by the one of best artists in the business: Arthur Adams.  Six miles beneath the surface in a gamma base reinforced cell, Bruce Banner is drafting a report on a dossier S.H.I.E.L.D. asked him to review.  They have been tracking a mysterious new Hulk… a Red Hulk… heading west through Canada on his way to Russia.  No one knows at that point he was on a path to murder Emil Blonsky a.k.a. the Abomination, but Red ran into some trouble along the way in the form of a Wendigo and apparently there is more than one.  So Banner hypothesizes what happened that lone night with the details and evidence that was provided to him.

If any penciler could match Red Hulk’s sheer power conveyed by artist Ed McGuinness, it would likely be Arthur Adams.  The over abundant muscled frame he creates joyfully oozes a raw power few talents can match.  You can almost feel the Rulk’s core radioactivity simmer off the page.

Jeph Loeb finishes the tale at the offices of General Thaddeus Ross.  Sitting at his desk, Ross finishes Banner’s analysis by reading a postscript that seemingly is a heavily nuanced warning to the General himself.  It’s very well done.

The second story is the weakest of the three.  “Wait until dark” explores what happened to She-Hulk between the moment she was ripped from the bridge of the Helicarrier by the Red Hulk until she was thrown back at Iron Man’s feet in a state of unconsciousness (in the beginning of HULK Issue #2).  The problem is not with the story selection, but with Jeph Loeb’s odd need to interject an overdose of humor in She-Hulk’s narration of the event.  I know a witty sense of humor is not out of place with her character, but it feels severely out of place here.  All the appropriate fear and emotional impact in recounting the crimson hulk state he could kill the She-Hulk at any time, and her realization he was truly capable of that feat, is immediately dulled by the attempt at humorous narration.  Like when the Red Hulk makes this threat while pressing close and choking the life out of She Hulk, we read her comment “I wanted so badly to make a joke, like “worst breath, ever”.

Artist Frank Cho does a serviceable job in this story.  He is truly gifted at drawing a sexy female form, but many of She-Hulk’s erotic poses he draws feel forced.  Often a loss of subtlety is interpreted by some as gratuitous, but his gifts (and hers) show never the less.  Unfortunately Cho’s Interpretation of the Rulk is less inspiring.  Undoubtedly it’s well drawn, but his Red Hulk looks less like a Hulk and more like a linebacker who plays professional football.

In Loeb’s third and final entry “The Death and Life of the Abomination”, we return to the lonely underground cell of Bruce Banner for a quieter, more poignant moment. On the edge of his bed, Bruce sits and reads an analysis that was drafted by his nemesis, General Thaddeus Ross. Ross was asked to render this opinion as an envoy of S.H.I.E.L.D. on the brutal murder of Abomination. Under the premise that the more one understands a person’s life… the more one will understand their death… Ross delves into the life of the Abomination, the monster that murdered his daughter, his one and only child.

Understanding that he never lets a weakness (a.k.a. his true emotions) show, Ross and his cold and guarded analysis actually makes his words that much more touching because of it. And unbeknown to the cold and war hardened father, the writer General actually shares a tender moment a thousand miles away with the reader Bruce.. the only other man his daughter ever loved. It’s all a credit to Jeph Loeb, who teams up with the legendary classic artist Herb Trimpe who returns to drawing the Hulk after fifteen years.

Anyone who felt the Red Hulk’s first story-arc was lacking depth and needed a little more emotional resonance, should be pleased with what they find here. This collection is not a complete delight, but contains enough enjoyable addendums to warrant a read.

3.5  out of 5 Stars

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

VARIANT COVERS :


RULK REVIEW : HULK Issue # 3

HULK Issue # 3Every artist has a portfolio, a collection of art that defines its creator. That body of work highlights the illustrator’s talents and always features the best artwork he or she has ever done. Undoubtedly, in the massive portfolio of Ed McGuinness, we would find HULK Issue #3. It’s that good.

 

Now when we last left the Red Hulk, everything to this point had presented the crimson menace as a terrifying monster. Uncaring and unfeeling, the Rulk was an unrelenting beast that lurked in the shadows until his moment of strike… a moment one would likely not survive. Yet he was a monster with a plan who was deliberate, methodical and precise. And except for the occasional growl, he was a silent killer. This all changes in issue #3 “Creatures on the Loose

Seemingly drunk with arrogance over his new found power, the Red Hulk steps out of the shadows and lets his bravado show. Relishing an opportunity to beat on Rick Jones as A-Bomb (who seems to know the secret identity of the red behemoth only in the form of Rick), the Rulk lets himself break out of his shell and reveals his brash & cocky personality. The Red Hulk even reveals a moral compass within while bragging over his takedown of the first Abomination. Rows of houses came crumbling down and innocent lives were lost as a result of that battle… but the Rulk self servingly blames the collateral damage on Emil Blonsky’s “cowardice“. It was his decision to hide in that small Russian village rather than face his attacker.

Even with these revelations and compelling turn of events, there is not much writing to critique. Except for some intrigue over a tampered recording between General Ross and the imprisoned Bruce Banner that Iron Man reviews, the bulk of the story is the no holds barred battle between the A-Bomb and the Red Hulk. Somewhat lackluster in story progression, to be fair, there’s not much to work with in the terms of dialogue for Jeph Loeb when it comes to A-Bomb’s child like intellect.. but Rulk’s braised attitude shines nicely.

What the lack of plot development leaves room for is the main course, an opportunity for artist Ed McGuinness to let loose and stunningly draw the hell out of this book. As a complete issue, it may well be the best book he’s ever drawn and would explain why this issue was not on schedule and frustratingly delayed for several months. It’s a rare situation when I should just stop writing and let the art speak for itself. That situation is now. 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 out of 5 Stars 

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

VARIANT COVERS:

HULK Issue # 3 Variant CoverHULK Issue # 3 Variant Cover 2nd Printing

 

ORIGINAL RULK ART : HULK Issue # 1, Page # 22

This is more about history than it is art.

Some time ago, I was able to obtain the original art of the last page of HULK Issue #1.   Penciled by my favorite Hulk artist Ed McGuinness and inked by Dexter Vines on official Marvel 11 x 17 comic board, this is the page that revealed to the world that the fiendish new Red Hulk with devilish yellow eyes was not Bruce Banner… but someone else entirely.

Artistically speaking, it’s not a stunning piece of work.   The scene is quite basic where Banner sits on a cell bed as the glare of General Ross and Leonard Samson (drawn separately, then overlaid via a computer graphics program) can be seen staring at Bruce through the prison security glass.   The page is of course, certainly well drawn, but not a work to be considered by many as a full “gallery piece“.

Historically speaking though, this page has importance…   and in terms of the ever expanding Red Hulk legacy, it can’t get much better than a final splash page of a #1 book.   Check it out! 
 

Original Art : HULK Issue #1 Page #22

Original Art : HULK Issue #1 Page #22
 

 

Bruce in Captivity

Bruce in Captivity
 

  
-A.J.  

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


ESSENTIAL RULK : Review of HULK Issue # 1

HULK Issue # 1‘’If you hadn’t acted so irrationally we wouldn’t be in this situation” – General Ross

“Don’t be ridiculous Ross.   This isn’t about me.   This is about you General.” – Doc Samson 

 
No one knew how telling those words would be, when HULK Issue #1 hit comic stands across the world with a mysterious, daunting, new symbol of unbridled power and rage on its cover:    A roaring, fiendish, electric devil of a beast, fearsome and magnificent to behold.   It was a different Hulk.   It was a new Hulk.   And he was red.    The Red Hulk was nowhere to be found in the pages of the premiere issue of the HULK, but the cover was so profound…   he didn’t need to be.   What was shockingly found was the corpse of an evil, well known nemesis of the Hulk.

The body of Emil Blonsky, the Abomination, was discovered dead in a rural part of Russia.   Savagely brutalized, chunks of flesh missing from his head and chest, the carcass of the monster was sprawled disturbingly on the ground.   And surrounding Abomination’s lifeless body was an array of aggressive, oversized footprints hot with gamma radiation.   Surveying this grim scene, there could only be one logical conclusion: The Incredible Hulk murdered the Abomination. 

Yet, there was one glaring problem with that theory.   Bruce Banner was currently imprisoned in a S.H.I.E.L.D maximum security cell with no possible way to escape.   How could it have been him?   It also became quickly obvious to the investigative team led by Doc Samson that this killing was not your ordinary Hulk ‘beat down’, a furious rage that perhaps went too far.   This attack on Abomination was very different.   Very calculated.   And it looked like revenge.   ‘’This was punishment” Samson assessed.   A very different kind of Hulk was among them now.      
 
 

Bruce in Captivity

Bruce in Captivity

 

HULK Issue #1 exploded onto the comic scene in January of 2008, intriguing readers around the world with the question… ”Who was the Red Hulk?”.   Combining the magnificent cover and interior art of Ed ‘born to draw Rulk’ McGuinness and a solid whodunit story by Jeph Loeb, the debut of the rip-roaring Red Hulk catapulted to the top of the sales charts, ranking #1 as the best selling comic book of its month.   It was a huge success for Marvel and a landmark issue that gave birth to a new Marvel legend… a legend who’s appeal has still not waivered.  Even after three and a half years since its debut, the Red Hulk comics continue to outsell the Green Hulk comics to this day and has built up quite an arsenal of books, posters, video game appearances, action figures, statues, t-shirts and other collectables all in his image. 

History had been made.   A new major character had joined the best of the Marvel Universe lore and he was here to stay.   The Red Hulk cometh… and this was the issue that started it all.   It’s a ”must have”.  

4 out of 5 Stars 

-A.J. 

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


 VARIANT COVERS:

HULK Issue # 1 Variant A

HULK Issue # 1 Variant BHULK Issue # 1 Variant C
 
HULK Issue # 1 Variant DHULK Issue # 1 Variant EHULK Issue # 1 Variant F 2nd Printing
 
HULK Issue # 1 Variant G Marvel's Greatest Comics Edition