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

Doctor Strange

RULK REVIEW : HULK Issue # 50 by talents Jeff Parker and Carlo Pagulayan!

*CONTAINS SPOILERS*

This is truly an achievement.  When a comic title reaches a 50 issue milestone it is a really big deal.  For over the past twelve months we have seen plenty of casualties in Marvel comics, where other well known title properties struggled to find an audience and ultimately (and rapidly) were met with cancellation.  Alpha Flight was cancelled after 8 issues.  Moon Knight survived only 12. Ghost Rider was axed after 8.  So it is quite an accomplishment for a new character… a Red Hulk title… in a marketplace where even the famous Green Hulk historically struggles with readership longevity to begin with… has flourished, reached and will certainly surpass the 50 issue benchmark.  It’s even more astonishing when one reflects upon the protagonist of this comic is actually a 50-something gray-haired stubborn, arrogant ex-military man who has embraced and cherished the right to bear arms more lovingly than his own flesh and blood.  There is simply no one else like General Ross in comics today, which makes this success a direct testament to the great character Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross himself as much as the great writer Jeff Parker who expertly channels him time and time again.  So once again, this is truly a great achievement… and a medal of legitimacy and success that Red Hulk fans can wear proudly.

Packed with an interview “Catching up with Jeff Parker”, a Red Hulk timeline, a Rogues gallery, a reading chronology and “The Objective” bonus story written by Parker and illustrated by the talented Dan Brereton that fleshes out Ross’s road to the rank of General, the 50th issue of HULK is a stellar book even without the meat and potatoes headliner storyline.  But in the excellent feature story “Haunted Hulk Part One“, the Red Hulk has come to the home of Dr. Strange in dire need of assistance for a problem that is supernatural in nature. It appears after the events of Las Vegas being totally overcome by Hell itself (see the VENOM “Circle Of Four” story arc), some sort of apparition has latched on to Ross and wants to see the Rulk’s demise by any means necessary. And if those means requires unleashing any dead vengeful soul that has died at the hands of Ross (directly or indirectly) so be it.  Will the Red Hulk be able to stop this retribution of the dead before they make him join the dead?

Writer Jeff Parker returns to stellar form in this celebratory issue, masterfully channeling the true essence of classic General Ross.  And how much more classic can you get than the Rulk muttering “I hate magic“… or in response to Dr. Strange’s induced misty seance in attempt to probe key memories from Ross’s mind, the Red Hulk remarks “I knew this would turn into some hippie smoke-up.”   Simply wonderful.

After perfectly setting up the father daughter reunion in the conclusion of issue 48, Jeff Parker also finally treats the readers to a slice of the Thad and Betty reconnection that fans have hungered for, yet was missing from the previous issue.  Parker shines the brightest at these quieter poignant moments, and the tender discussion about Betty’s inheritance of the old Ross family home struck all the right chords.  We can only hope, after shockingly finding out the L.M.D. Annie and Ross are now sleeping together (literally and assuming figuratively), that Parker explores their relationship too and how it reached the next level.  Considering we never saw them even kiss, it would be fascinating to learn the details of their courtship.  It certainly must have been awkward, with Ross naturally struggling with the fact she is a L.M.D. and not human.   And can an L.M.D. feel sexual arousal, let alone love?  Enquiring minds want to know.

Even with all this Red Hulk goodness, the best part of this comic (especially for readers who have been there since Issue #1) was to see the 50th issue come completely full circle and mark the return of the Abomination in spirit form, taking the opportunity to seek revenge for his murder at the hands of the Rulk.  It’s one of those moments where you can feel the adrenaline shoot through your veins, and I only wish the battle (or more precisely torture) the transformed Emil Blonsky began dishing out could have lasted longer than a single page.  Alas, it’s a minor complaint… one that could be compared to wishing you had a little more whipped cream on top of your ice cream sundae, but it’s not enough to forget what a damn good sundae it is.

When it comes to the art, Carlo Pagulayan is a master at drawing both the Banner Hulk and the Red Hulk.  Pagulayan’s art is fantastic across the board, but his ability to capture the sheer power of the Hulks is simply amazing to behold and a true feast for the eyes.  And unlike many other talented artists before him that have drawn the red behemoth, Carlo Pagulayan actually draws the Rulk significantly different.  Not just drawing the Red Hulk trademark pupil-less eyes, the hairless brows and the spiked out hair (which is all important)… but readers can really see Thad’s age in Carlo’s Red Hulk rendition.  You see, facially, Pagulayan draws the Red Hulk tremendously different from the Green Hulk, so much so that you can view his art in black & white and still immediately recognize which Hulk you are looking at.  And who can ask for more than that?  Pagulayan puts so much care and integrity in his work and this character that it is simply a privilege to have him do art duties in this book.

It can not be stressed enough that Pagulayan  also draws a wonderful Red She Hulk… and the emotions he skillfully conveys when she looks back at Ross one more time before leaving him is as powerful as any balloon of dialogue could provide.  Bravo Carlo!

What a great time it is to be a Red Hulk fan!

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 

 VARIANT COVERS:


RULK PREVIEW : VENOM Issue # 13.1 “Circle of Four” Part Two!

 


NEW RULK : AVENGERS (7-12) Trade Paperback out now!

It’s history in the making! Read how the Red Hulk continues his path to redemption and joins the mighty AVENGERS!  Originally released in a hardcover format, this trade paperback is out now and comes highly recommended!  It’s a terrific read!

Here are the details:

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AVENGERS Volume 2 (Issues 7-12)

Published Date: January 11, 2012

Format: Trade Paperback

Retail Price: $19.99

The Story: One of the greatest secrets in Marvel history is laid bare – and it just may reignite the Civil War between Tony Stark and Steve Rogers! The Illuminati thought their days as the world’s protectors were over – until the Hood escaped from prison and embarked on a quest to gather the all-powerful Infinity Gems, which the super-secret brain trust had taken responsibility for safeguarding. Now, Iron Man, Professor X, Mr. Fantastic, the Sub-Mariner, Dr. Strange and Black Bolt will face a reckoning like never before when Steve Rogers learns of their years-long subterfuge. Will even the combined might of the Avengers, New Avengers, Secret Avengers and Illuminati be enough to take down a cosmically powered Hood? And did somebody say “Thanos”‌? Plus: What is the mystery of the Spaceknight?

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


RULK REVIEW : AVENGERS Issue # 9

AVENGERS Issue # 9So… gentlemen” the Red Hulk inquires, staring down the former members of the covert (now defunct) think-tank The Illuminati, who years ago tasked themselves protectors of the all powerful Infinity Gems. “Where are they?
 

In AVENGERS Issue #9, never has Charles Xavier, Reed Richards, Dr. Strange and Tony Stark appeared so uncertain to answer a simple question.  Taking such a trusting leap of faith in the Red Hulk and Steve Roger’s belief that this once declared enemy of the state has now been truly and successfully rehabilitated was more than difficult. True, both the Reality and Power gems stolen by the villainous Parker Robbins were used to defeat the red monster, and the Red Hulk did facilitate the plan to use the remaining gems to re-obtain them. But would the red beast, who failed to take over the country before, betray the Avengers by seizing the power of the Infinity Gems for himself and reattempt the same feat of mutiny? 
 
Who can you trust
is the underlying theme of this issue, expertly written by Brian Michael Bendis. Without a single punch thrown yet drenched with incredible tension, the electrifying exposure of The Illuminati by the Avengers, which fuels Steve Roger’s disdain for Tony Stark, is effectively balanced by a terrific prison back story that details how Parker Robbins manipulated an Inhuman with kindness into revealing the location of the first Infinity gem. The dialog is sharp, the pace is excellent, and Bendis knocks this story out of the park leaving the reader in an extreme state of suspicion where Rogers distrusts Stark, the Inhuman mistrusts Robbins, and no one but Captain America trusts the Rulk. 
 

To Trust or Not to Trust

To Trust or Not to Trust
 

 

The most pleasant surprise is the artwork of John Romita Jr. While his work has been severely disappointing as of late, Romita seemingly takes his time and puts forth more of an effort in this issue, resulting in some well drawn characters (especially when it comes to their display of emotions.) Of course, it does help that one of Romita’s biggest weaknesses as an artist… i.e. action scenes.. are nonexistent in this issue. And while he still has trouble drawing a good Red Hulk, Romita deserves a bit of praise here for turning the quality up a notch versus his usual lackluster artwork, resulting in one fantastic Avengers comic. 
 

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